Sunday, September 25, 2011

Pileated Woodpecker

3rd weekend in a row of rain and clouds. Finally next weekend is suppose to be nice weather however of course, that is a work weekend. Never fails. I went out a bit this morning and had about two hours of mostly couldy skies with occasional openings in the clouds for some sunshine. Not a great deal seemed to be out. Still lots of hummingbirds around and they are extremely active but not much else.

I could hear the Pileated Woodpeckers off in the distance and walked toward their direction. There is just something about these birds I like. Their animated call can be heard over a great distance. Their red feather head topper and face stripes seem to give them an animated quizical appearance. It spent quite some time on the tree ducking its head in and out of various holes in the tree.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Passion Flower

Passiflora - There are about nine species of the vine found throughout most of the US.

Spanish Christian missionaries during the 15th and 16th centuries adopted the physical structures of this plant as symbols of the last days of Jesus and particularly his crucifixion.

The blue and white colors of many flowers represent Heaven and Purity.

The 3 stigmas represent the 3 nails and the 5 anthers below them the 5 wounds. (four by nails and one by lance).

The pointed tips of the leaves represent the Holy Lance.

The tendrils represent the whips used in the flagellation of Christ.

The ten petals and sepals represent the ten faithful apostles (exlcuding St. Peter and Judas)

The radial filaments of the flower vary from flower to flower and can number more than a hundred represent the crown of thorns.

The chalice-shaped ovary with receptacle represents a hammer of the Holy Grail.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

A Week of Outstanding Birding

After 12 days straight the weekend arrives and to put it bluntly, the weather sucks. Almost a 30 degree drop in temperatures from Thursday until today. Hopefully the clouds will lift at least for a little while tomorrow.

Yesterday afternoon I came home in a hurry to get the dog to a scheduled vet appointment for her yearly vaccinations. I was running late and when I walked by the window I noticed a new visitor at the feeder. The Cardinals who usually dominate the feeder were sitting off to the side. One would attempt to come to the feeder but the the female Red-Breasted Grosbeak would have none of that. I lifted the flap on the dog door and got off about two shots before she flew. She came around to the front feeder and after getting her fill at the feeder, she popped down for some water. It seems every time she comes the weather is not conducive to good photo taking. It was a treat to get to watch her for a while.

Thursday on my lunch break, I did a quick hour of birding hoping to spot the female Summer Tanager. Lady luck was on my side and I was able to get some good shots and watch her for a while.

As I was standing watching various birds when a Pine Warbler landed on the tree right in front of me. I have trying for a good shot and once again luck blessed me. So even with today definitely not a good day for outside, I am thankful that I have had such a good week of outstanding birding for the limited time I was able to get out.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Birding Is Getting Good

Spring and fall when so much birding activity is taking place is so much fun and almost overwhelming at times. Fortunately I have a little flexibility at work and can adjust my hours somewhat to take advantage of the morning feeding frenzy.

The last three days have been simply wonderful to the point of what to photograph first before it flies away. Tomorrow morning I have taken a little leave time to take full advantage of the wonderful birds that are coming in. This is my long work week of 12 days straight so I think a couple of hours out early one morning are deserved. Beautiful weather this past weekend and of course, with the upcoming weekend off, it is suppose to rain.

As I was walking this morning I saw a bright flash and at first thought it was a Cardinal. But then I realized, orange! I saw the female Summer Tanager the morning before and wondered about the male. Well here he was in all his glory. He had a cicada that was just about to get the better of it. I watched for quite some time and he would work on it for a while then lay it on the limb to seemingly rest.

Walking a bit further, a Red-Eyed Vireo. It seemed very shy but curious. It would peer over a leaf then under a leaf but never come fully out in the open. As I walked on, in a moment it flew by, stopped and once again repeated the behavior.

The Red-Headed Woodpeckers were rowdy and loud flying from tree to tree. There were also several young ones around who are just starting to get their distinctive red feathers on the head.

Lots and lots of Pine Warblers and Prairie Warblers but none of my pictures are very good. That is my goal tomorrow.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Appreciation of Our Year Round Birds

I am very guilty of many times overlooking the beauty of our year round birds over the excitement of migratory species that come in. Today was a prime example of being so busy and intent on getting a shot of the hummingbird with the "ruby-throat" showing that I almost did not observe the Goldfinches that were nearby.

What a loss that would have been. I suppose seeing them almost daily at the thistle sock and scrounging among the dried cone-flower seed heads, they become the norm. But much would be missed by not observing them in nature seeing what they eat in the wild.

I am not really sure what these plants are, most would classify them as just a weed. To the Goldfinches, they appear to be fine dining. Twice today when I visited the area, there were always at least a half dozen birds manuevering for the best position and seed heads. Their lively antics of hanging upside down in many cases and guarding their find made for fun viewing.

Soon they will begin their fall molt and their appearance will drastically change to a far more subdued coloration. Come spring, they will once again molt taking on a brighter more sunny appearance. A sure sign spring has arrived.

Thursday, September 1, 2011


So small, so sweet looking
and such an aggressive little personality when their space is invaded by another.

It is always a thrill to spot the first one in the spring and sad when they depart in the fall.
They are still here for now and in greater numbers than have been here all summer.