The first Project FeederWatch count for 2009 was a pretty good one. Two new birds entered my count, and both of them are also life birds for me.

The Ruby-crowned Kinglet came by on New Year’s Eve. I had seen him the day before, but couldn’t get a good enough look at him for an ID. He came again on Wednesday. I was sitting on the porch when I noticed him at the suet feeder. They’re tiny birds, but I was close enough to see most of the field marks without binoculars.

I went inside and came back with my Sibley guide and some binocs and was able to study him long enough to ID him. Thus, the Ruby-crowned Kinglet became my last life bird for 2008.

He was good enough to come by the feeders again on both of my count days, but he didn’t bring any friends. He did venture over to the pinecone feeders for some peanut buttered seeds.

On Sunday another new bird showed up at the suet feeder and became my first life bird for 2009: the Orange-crowned Warbler.

At first sight I thought he was the kinglet again, but on closer inspection I saw that he had no wing bars and a yellowish breast. When he turned upside down to get at the suet, I got a good look at his rump, which was bright yellow.

He came back a few times and each time, I was able to use my guide books to narrow him down more and more until I was certain he was in fact an Orange-crowned Warbler, which is one of only a small number of warbler species that winters this far north.

Other than those two, the usual suspects all made an appearance, with the Chipping Sparrows hitting a high count and the House Sparrows still unusually low. Perhaps they’re still leery about the hawk we had last week.

Here’s the count:

  • Black-crested Titmouse (1)
  • Carolina Wren (1)
  • White-winged Dove (6)
  • Carolina Chickadee (2)
  • Chipping Sparrow (9)
  • Bewick’s Wren (1)
  • Northern Cardinal (2)
  • House Sparrow (1)
  • Ruby-crowned Kinglet (1)
  • Northern Mockingbird (1)
  • Orange-crowned Warbler (1)