Thursday, November 11, 2010

Nature Notes: A Few Feathered Friends

Quick Get-Away

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The summer crowd has been replaced by juncos and chickadees, with a tufted titmouse or two jostling them aside.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.

Red Bellied Woodpecker

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.

Bluebird Hunting

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.

White-Crowned Sparrow

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.

Click here to visit Michelle's site and see more Nature Notes.


Karen said...

Nice variety of birdies. I especially like the little woodpecker. I wish we had such a variety where we live!

Rambling Woods said...

Thanks for joining NN Vicki..I added you to the collage...I too am seeing many more birds and the winter flocking is starting. The woodpeckers have really great abdominal muscles and use their tails to balance while they hang on or when they hitch up a tree....Michelle

Linda Myers said...

Guess I'll start paying attention to who's at the feeder.

Thyra said...

They are so lovely those bird-photos. I love that little sweet woodpecker. Well, they make some big holes in the trees that's for sure!
Thanks for sharing. The photo where you see the bird-wings in move is fantastic.

MyMaracas said...

Karen, maybe you do! I see the variety when I'm sitting here next to the window for a while, but the feeder is usually empty when I glance out for only a moment. They come and go so quickly.

Michelle, thanks - I'll try to get in there before Thursdays going forward. And yes, aren't the woodpeckers amazing?

Linda, do! It's a cheap thrill. ;-)

Thyra, thanks. I was pleased with the wing one too, though I expected to completely stop the motion at that shutter speed.

EG Wow said...

I enjoyed reading about the birds at your feeder. Yes, the birds do change at mine throughout the seasons although the downy woodpecker is around all year. Blue jays have started coming to our yard and I think they scare many other birds away. Hmmm.

MyMaracas said...

EG, jays can be aggressive, especially when they have young ones around. I have two that come daily and pick out the corn. They seem to be unusually well behaved, maybe because there's no competition for corn from the other birds.

lifeshighway said...

Great birdfeeder shots. The white crowned sparrow is one that I have never seen before. Perhaps they are not this far down south?

I keep a birdfeeder outside my office window. I helps with the tedium.

MyMaracas said...

Life, they're migratory, from way up in Alaska to as far south as Mexico, so keep an eye out and maybe you'll see them. Here's a link to more info: