Thursday, November 11, 2010
Nature Notes: A Few Feathered Friends
Have the birds at your feeders changed with the season? Mine have.
All summer, a pair of cardinals arrived every morning and landed as soon as I stepped far enough away. They obviously watched and waited for me, no doubt cursing my tendency to sleep in. Haven't seen them in weeks now, though I saw cardinals in the woods all last winter.
The daily traffic was mostly goldfinches, various native sparrows, and mourning doves. There are a few goldfinches still, but they are wearing their drab winter colors. House finches are still here, too.
The summer crowd has been replaced by juncos and chickadees, with a tufted titmouse or two jostling them aside. I love that the chickadees are so dainty and tame. They dart in and grab one seed while I'm sitting only a few feet away, and dart away again. The juncos travel in flocks, and they remind me of little chickens in tuxedos as they peck at fallen seed on the deck.
Woodpeckers are new arrivals. The red-bellied woodpecker above is a daily visitor now, and just today a hairy woodpecker stopped by too. The red-bellied ones use their tails for stability while they feed, something I hadn't seen before. There are pileated peckers in the south woods, but they haven't ventured near the house yet.
Though they are beautiful, I'm not all that happy about woodpeckers because they're hell on the trees. You wouldn't believe the size of the holes they make.
For the last couple of weeks I had three eastern bluebirds swooping in daily to the birdbath around 10:00 AM. Oddly, they showed no interest in it when the weather was hot. I managed to grab my camera and snap a few shots the last time I saw them, and the pics might have been keepers had I not left the setting on monochrome.
The only sparrow I'm seeing now is my favorite, the white-crowned, and that one not often. I actually like sparrows as long as they're not the non-native English sparrows, which kill bluebirds.
Flocks of migrating starlings, literally a thousand strong, often alight in the woods or even on the lawn. It's loud, and it's amazing in an Alfred Hitchcock sort of way. Thankfully, they have never noticed the feeder.
I'm including a few recent photos, just to spice up the page. That tack-sharp thing still eludes me. Part of the problem is that, except for the chickadees, I have to shoot from an upstairs window that is much too far away from the edge of the deck for my modest little lens. The other issue is that I still haven't found quite the right combination of shutter speed/ISO/and picture and focus modes. I'm working on it.
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