Thursday, December 29, 2016

Drake and Hen Wood Ducks

The drakes are in their full display of colors hoping to impress the ladies!

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Cedar Waxwings

Holly, red berries and a Cedar Waxwing.  Seems like an appropriate photo for Christmas Day. The Cedar Waxwings swarmed in on the holly tree today for their meal.  Groups would eat a while then fly off and another group fly in.  These continue to be one of my favorite birds.

 I hope everyone had some good family time and a wonderful Christmas Day.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Fox Sparrow

In the mornings, I throw out a couple of handfuls of seed on the ground for the doves and other birds who prefer to scratch around.  This time of year there are lots of White-throated Sparrows however I noticed one that looked a little different.

I grabbed the camera quickly hoping it was a Fox Sparrow and indeed it was.  What a wonderful early Christmas present.  It has been around all day so hopefully, it will call the yard home for the winter.

This only the second one I have
ever seen so it is a real treat.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Banding The Hummingbird

The lady who has been researching and documenting hummingbirds that winter over in our State came yesterday to catch and band the hummer.

After getting a photo that showed the tail spread coloration, I felt sure that one was a Rufous.  There are two here but we only caught one yesterday.

It was quite an ingenious contraption she used to catch the hummingbird.  She had built a cage with a hand operated door and placed the feeder inside.

As you can see here, since the temps were below freezing early in the morning, I covered the feeder with a sock, inserted a couple of hand warmers and covered with another sock.  This seems to work well to keep the water from freezing.

Needless to say, the little hummer was not happy at all at being captured!

The bird appeared to be overall healthy and in good condition.  These birds will travel to Alaska and northern Canada in early March for their breeding season.  It seems like they like to migrate to the SE portion of the US rather than going farther south towards Mexico and Central America.

The researcher was a wealth of knowledge and eagerly shared it with myself and my friend whom I had invited to participate in the event.

During the examination of the bird, it was noted there was some damage to the birds beak.  This is caused by bad design of the most common feeders....the typical round hole.  If the bird hovers in flight while feeding, the round hole gives no leeway for back and forth movement resulting in damage to the birds beak.  Fortunately late in the summer season, I had purchased one with the oval hole which is preferred.

The last thing the researcher confirmed.....use only sugar and water....1 pt sugar to 4 pt water for feeding....both summer and winter.  DO NOT USE RED FOOD COLORING!!

The bird was released none the worse for the experience. She did mark the top of the hummers head with a bright orange temporary paint.  I am trying to document the second hummer and this lets me quickly distinguish between the two.  It want last long and will not hurt the bird.   It was a little hesitant about coming back to the feeder for some time however late in the afternoon, hunger and the need for energy won out and after checking out the area closely, the bird came in and drank with

Thursday, December 15, 2016

What a Difference a Day Makes

Yesterday when I spotted the hummingbird trying to bathe, I noticed a considerable portion of its breast feathers were matted with a substance.  The littler hummer also seemed a bit lethargic and anemic.  I am sure some of it could be attributed to the cold and I suspect lack of nutrition was the other reason.

Around 1000 this morning, the hummer showed back up and I had placed a feeder near the bird bath/fountain.  The hummer went immediately to the feeder and drank for quite a while.

Over the course of the day, the frequency of visits to the feeder went from about every 15 minutes to about 25 minutes.  Twice I saw the bird bathe then sit in a nearby tree and do a bit of preening.  By the end of the day, whatever substance that had matted the breast feathers the day before was gone and the little hummer's appearance had greatly improved.

With the hard cold tonight, I can only hope it will be okay.  I will keep my fingers crossed that I see it back tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

December Surprise

Last week I caught a brief glimpse of a Hummingbird at the bird bath.  I figured it was just a very, very late migrating bird passing through.  Today, I happened to be filming some doves when low and behold, here it came again.

During the summer, I would watch as they would get right at the edge of the fountain where water is running over the rock and they would brush up against the running water.  I guess this is there version of bathing.

The hummingbird did this same thing today.  I have to say it was a pretty grungy looking little bird.  I know that on rare occasions, a hummer will over winter so I am beginning to wonder on this one.

Needless to say, I immediately fixed some sugar water and hung out.  If the poor little creature is going to make it through the hard cold the next two days, it will need some energy.  At least there have still been some gardenia and rose bushes with flowers so I guess it may have been hitting those.

I didn't have my still camera out but did capture this video of it.


Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Ground Hog Is Still Hanging Out

The ground hog is still here and as taken up residence under the deck.  It use to live in a burrow at the end of the property outside of the fenced back yard but I think the appearance of coyotes is what drove it to the protection of the fenced back yard.

It does not bother anything and I enjoy seeing it so as far as I am concerned it can stay.  I am a little bit worried about it with the extreme cold headed this way as under the deck has gravel so I don't think it can burrow much.  This afternoon I did take some plastic and staple around the lower edge of the deck to help block any wind.

Yesterday between rain showers, it would come up on the deck to look around.  This is one shot through the kitchen window right before the hawk flew in and spooked it.  I also took a little bit of video so I hope you enjoy.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Cooper's Hawk

A cool wet, rainy day and the Cooper's Hawk made an appearance several times.  Each time the birds around the feeder would scatter.  After surveying the area closely, the hawk finally made a dive into the bushes.  I watched from the window for at least 10 minutes and never saw the hawk come back up so I can only guess some poor bird fell victim.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Autumn Ground Hog - A Sign of A Bad Winter?

After 7 weeks of my camera being sent back to the factory for repairs, I finally got it back about two weeks ago.  After cleaning up the mess in the yard from Hurricane Matthew, I have had an opportunity over the last several days to try it out.

Over the last four days, the ground hog has been coming every day and gorging on acorns.  The acorns this year are large and their numbers are extraordinary.  In February the saying is that if the ground hog sees its shadow there will be six more week of winter.  I wonder if the ground hog sees its shadow in autumn if it means an early winter?

The first day I spotted the ground hog in the yard it was a bit skittish.  Over the last couple of days of my standing quietly at the window, it has finally realized I am not going to hurt it.  Day before yesterday it got so bold that it came up on the deck!  I was quite shocked when it did that.

Early this morning when a hawk flew in, the critter ducked in to the shed where I keep the lawn mover.  After a few minutes peering out until the hawk flew off, it finally came out.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Gathering of Bucks

While it is not so unusual to see a gathering of bucks as rutting season nears, it seems a bit early to see a group now.  This afternoon when I looked out the window, there were six bucks hanging out near the pond.  Shortly after I put some corn out, they came on up.  There are two that I see daily but new ones had arrived from somewhere.

All of the doe hung back in the tree line while the bucks gorged themselves.  There was quit a bit of chasing and attempting to show dominance among the bucks.  The little fawn just walked among them trying to get someone to play.

Of all days not to have the trail camera out!  I was shooting through the window as I was afraid that any attempt to open one up would send them running so they are not the best.  Here are a few.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Crowded Tree House

The young raccoons have grown so much and are quite active.  On days that are overcast like today, the Mom raccoon appears to have her hands full on attempting to keep the youngsters from heading out.

They are so cute and fun to watch but they are a challenge to keep out of things under the garage,  They keep setting off the motion spotlights so I have finally just cut them off.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Back On Line

After almost a month of computer and internet issues, I am close to having things resolved.  Windows 10 auto update crashed my computer.  When I restored back to Windows 7, the computer began having issues.  To top it all off, AT&T then cut the DSL connection to force everyone to go to the U-verse which has been a nightmare.  I have been averaging 18 losses per hour so basically trying to do anything on the internet has been an exercise in frustration.  Late this afternoon they finally notified me they would be running a new line.

A new computer.....back with Windows 7 has me back on line again.  Microsoft tried to slip back in tonight and do the auto-update but I got it stopped.

One of the doe showed up with her fawn on Saturday afternoon.  Then the heavy barrage of fireworks Sunday and Monday night sort of spooked them.  I saw them come back up late this afternoon.

I have been having such a time with one of the young raccoons.  It is definitely very curious and if I don't take in the bird feeders at night, thinks they are its own private diner.  Yesterday afternoon I watched them waiting for the edge of dark to come down from their tree.  The younger one kept trying to engage the adult in play.

It is going to be a miserably hot, muggy week this week so not sure I will be going out much.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Day

At a time in our history, when many Americans look down on anything patriotic, yet they are the very people that will cite their right to protest or burn the flag, they can thank those who sacrificed their lives or came home with life changing injuries so that many people, both American and in other countries can enjoy a life free from oppression.


Monday, May 16, 2016

Cedar Waxwings

Early this morning I looked out the kitchen window and the bird bath was filled with Waxwings. Usually I would have had the window open but the recent cold front dropped the temperature to 48 last night so I had not opened the windows.  Hopefully they will come back today when the light is better.

The Waxwings have been hanging around for the last couple of days devouring all the mulberries they can find.  My up the street neighbor has one mulberry tree that has been loaded and she was kind enough to allow me to go up and get some photos.  Thanks Cynthia!

I just love these birds with their animated appearance. They are a lot of fun to watch.  There appeared to be lots of young birds assuming the begging position wanting to be fed.  One young bird really put on a show spreading its feathers and fluttering wings.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Young Birds Everywhere

There is almost a constant of high pitch begging chips, wings flapping quickly and assuming the begging position from the young birds around.

The male Bluebird has taken a lazy approach and brings the youngsters to the suet cage.  He breaks off bits of suet and feeds the youngsters each taking their turn.  He does catch insects but towards the end of the day, I guess he is looking for an easy meal.

The Cardinals were early this morning so the shot was a bit dark.  Always sweet.  I wonder why the males are the primary feeders of the young birds that have fledged?

Around mid day, I heard a flock of Cedar Waxwings.  I kept looking around trying to spot them until I realized they were in my neighbors back yard feeding on the mulberries.

Certainly, the young European Starlings are not much to write home about.  The buzzing noise they make when they are trying to get the adults attention can get on your nerves quickly.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Visitors Over the Last Couple of Days

female Indigo Bunting
Black and white Warbler

Baltimore Oriole

Great Crested Flycatcher
a 2nd but younger Scarlet Tanager

Friday, May 6, 2016

Studying The Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Since the first RBGs arrived on 21 April, it has been a steady stream of them arriving and some departing.  The older RBGs arrived first.  Shortly after, the flood gates opened  to younger birds.  It has been a wonderful opportunity to observe and study their behavior as a group.

I always counted myself lucky to see the 1 or 2 that would come through in the spring and fall so I have surely been blessed this spring.  Late Wednesday afternoon/early evening, I had 12  at one time.  Since they seem not to be able to get along well with each other, it is difficult to try and get a photo as a large group.

What I have learned is that they have a voracious appetite.  They have been through about 10 pounds of safflower seed so far.  Of course a few other birds have come in and eaten also.  The RBGs are extremely protective of their food source.  When they first began showing up, they would not allow another bird on the feeder with them.  As they have become sure of seeds, usually one till be allowed to share, and on occasion, two.

The females are noticeably larger than the males and can be just as aggressive as the males.

They are quite curious.  This one particular male was quite infatuated with the purple carabiner clip at the top of the feeder.  He picked it up in his beak several times and on different trips would repeat the same action.  Not sure what he was thinking.

When a large group begins to gather, they make this little mewing sound as a warning.  It makes me laugh when they get tuned up fussing at each other.

There is a wide variety in their feather coloring and pattern depending on their age.  A new arrival yesterday I thought was a female at fist glance until I saw the red under the neck and noticed the beginning of black feathers on the wings.  He was young enough that he still had the white eyebrow like the female birds.

At first glance in the photo to the left, they all look like females however the bird on the backside of the feeder is the same one as the photo above.  This is a young male.

The younger males from the back side have a very mottled appearance.

The red on their breast appears different on each bird.  Some are very distinct while others are not quite as well defined. As they age, molt and get new feathers, the design begins to look a a wine glass.

After watching their feeding behavior and the way they would try to hang on one of the post of the tube feeders and lean down, I rigged up another feeder to give them more space.  It is just a top of a 5 gallon bucket that I drill holes in the bottom to let any rain water out and drill some holes for the strings.  Inexpensive feeder that they like.