The downside of bird-watching

I’ve got a new zoo post coming, but in the meantime, I wanted to share what I found swooping down in my backyard a few days ago.

I saw some big wings rise up out back, but when I got to the door, I didn’t see anything. I was out weeding a bit later, and stopped, dropping the weeds, and stared. There it was – a hawk – right back there in the woods. I moved as quickly and quietly as possible around the front of the house to get my camera. I snapped a lot of photos, but these two are the best.

This turned out to be a red-shouldered hawk – a new one for me.

When I reviewed all my pictures, I realized the hawk was chomping down on one of my little yard-birds. I’ll spare you that photograph.


Did the bluebird see his shadow?

I’m not sure how they can tell, but the birds always know when cold weather is coming. It was quiet out earlier, today, when it was warm, but as the skies grew cloudy the birds began to fly in for suet, black-oil sunflower seeds, and fresh water. I started taking pictures, but these don’t even cover all the birds I saw.

Titmice are always welcome in my yard, even though they are quick to scold when the food runs out.
It’s good to see the goldfinches again. They are pretty even in their winter clothes.
Chickadees – a perennial favorite.
Carolina wrens – noisy, but cute.
White-throated sparrow – a bird new to my yard.
When they sit still, it’s easy to see yellow-rumped warblers have more than a butterbutt.

It was cloudy when my camera was out, but the sun peeked through several times today. I guess spring will have to wait.

Snow birds

It rarely snows in this part of North Carolina, and although some was tentatively forecast for last night, we could hear the sleet falling as we went to bed, and again this morning.

Still, some wet flakes fell while we slept, dusting everything in about an inch of powdery white, and started back again after breakfast.

I had filled up the suet cage in anticipation, and threw out plenty of seeds and stale bread throughout the day to keep the ground-feeders occupied. My husband thawed the birdbaths and made sure the birds all had water to drink. And my youngest grandson and I enjoyed the show.

Suet is like a magnet for these brown-headed nuthatches.
Snow makes the color on mourning doves really pop.
I haven’t been able to ID these cute little yellow and black birds. Suggestions, anyone?
A real snowbird – a dark-eyed junco.


Duck, duck, goose!

I took a break this week from spying on my “yard birds,” and found some water birds at Joyner Park. We spied them while walking, and after we were through, I picked up the camera and was happy to see the flock of geese, and a mallard duck and his mate.

Mama duck blends in with the leaves so well, I didn’t even see her until I started editing my photos!

It’s easy to lose track of time when taking pictures. But birds are so much prettier up close!

This is one of many Canadian geese we saw this week.
We see lots of these Canadian geese in this part of North Carolina.

Birds, old and new

I guess I can count myself as an official amateur birder, now, since feathered critters seem to be all I’m taking pictures of nowadays. I’m overdue for a zoo trip, but until then, I’m honing my picture-taking skills with these small, energetic and thoroughly enjoyable creatures.

Today we attempted some exercise at Joyner Park, but I took my camera, and spent more time bird watching than walking. I kept hearing a red-bellied woodpecker – probably a pair of them – but was unable to locate either.

There are numerous seemingly drab birds darting around the brush and hopping from branch to branch at the park, but a good camera with a zoom lens can reveal surprises.

This pretty little bird appears to be lost.

I snapped picture after picture of a fluttery little specimen jumping from branch to branch, not having any clue what it was. I was able to lighten one of the pictures, and after consulting a bird book, decided it is a golden-crowned kinglet, a bird that lives in southern Alaska and central Canada, but migrates south for the winter. It’s apparently frequently spotted in the North Carolina mountains. I wonder if it will spend the winter here, instead.

I snapped some pictures of a fat mockingbird, but this profile picture turned out best. Mockingbirds are territorial; I’ve seen them chasing all kinds of other birds, and was “attacked” by one myself once. They can be funny, though. I once heard one mimicking a car alarm.

My husband spotted this one. He was so far back in the branches it was hard to get a good shot.

Apparently, we have plenty of pileated woodpeckers around, although it took finding a camera with a good zoom lens to locate them. I’ve only just started photographing birds, but the colors, and the variety, continue to amaze me. I look forward to discovering more.

American robin