Surveying the surroundings

The bird is likely a type of finch or sparrow.

Merlin ID app identified this individual as a female house finch. Female House Finches have streaked brown and white plumage, which provides camouflage among the branches and leaves. They lack the red colouring that male House Finches display.

Her soft, earthy tones express her role in the finch family, not the flashy singer commanding attention but the diligent creator of the nest and nurturer of her young.

House Finches, Carpodacus mexicanus, are small, social birds well-adapted to human environments. The females, measuring 5 to 6 inches long, are predominantly brown with crisp, streaked patterns across their back, chest, and sides. Their solid and conical beaks are adapted to their seed-based diet. They will also consume fruits and insects when available, especially during breeding.

These birds are known for their vigorous singing, and the females' more subtle vocalisations often go unnoticed. Yet, her role is critical. She is the primary nest builder, weaving together twigs, grasses, and feathers to create a haven for her eggs, usually in the nooks of buildings or other artificial structures, a nod to their comfort in urban settings.

Originally from the western United States and Mexico, House Finches have expanded their range to cover the entire country, thriving in various habitats. Their conservation status is of "Least Concern," reflecting their successful adaptation and resilience.

Juniper Berry Banquet

Overlooked commonplace backyard residents feasting on juniper

As Spring sweeps in New Jersey, my enthusiasm for photography rises. I especially enjoy photographing tropical migratory birds like Warblers. These vibrant coloured tourists travel from Costa Rica and the Caribbean to the woodlands of New Jersey, offering a photographic buffet.

In my quest to photograph these elusive tropical birds, I've often overlooked the more quotidian birds that are easier to find in New Jersey. This happens due to familiarity, where I become so accustomed to seeing or experiencing something that I no longer actively notice it. It's a common psychological phenomenon associated with the concept of 'inattentional blindness', where our focus on distinctive aspects of our environment leads us to overlook others, even if they are obvious or familiar. This tendency to overlook the familiar is a common human challenge, as it can lead to missing out on the beauty and importance of everyday experiences or subjects.

The juniper trees in my backyard, predating the construction of our home 20 years ago, only grabbed my attention recently. One morning, the energetic chirping of birds drew my eye to the branches. I could see many birds hopping between the branches and flying between the Juniper and the woodland beyond the fence line. Peeking through my XF150-600mmF5.6-8 R LM OIS WR telephoto lens, I was captivated, seeing various types of birds feasting on the berries.

That morning, I observed not only the American Robin but also Bluebirds, Juncos, and Sparrows. However, the American Robin stood out with its round body, long legs, and striking orange chest. There were far more of them than any other type of bird. Their melodic song filled the early morning in our backyard, providing a delightful soundtrack to my birdwatching.

The adaptability of the American Robin is impressive. They flourish even in suburban settings like Montgomery Township. They often nest along the roof near the bends in our home's water drains.

With their regular diet of earthworms and insects dwindling, the American Robin shifts to fruits and berries during the late Autumn and Winter months. Juniper berries and other backyard offerings like holly and dogwood are essential to their diet. These become critical for their survival and energy, particularly those gearing up for their migratory travels.

In this shift of seasons, there's a lesson in adaptability and resilience from these winged beauties.