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.

red-shouldered-hawk-one
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.

cute-titmouse
Titmice are always welcome in my yard, even though they are quick to scold when the food runs out.
curious-goldfinch
It’s good to see the goldfinches again. They are pretty even in their winter clothes.
chickadee
Chickadees – a perennial favorite.
camo-wren
Carolina wrens – noisy, but cute.
white-throated-sparrow
White-throated sparrow – a bird new to my yard.
thirsty-butterbutt
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.

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

 

Woodpecker Wednesday

Today was the first day of winter. A day I look forward to all year, not because I like the season, but I know the dark nights will slowly shorten, and the sun, although much lower in the sky, will begin to bring more daylight, in anticipation of spring.

It was cold this morning. Too cold to go outside to just stand quiet and birdwatch. I waited until the thermometer hit 50, then took my camera outside.

Although it was chilly, it’s more enjoyable to take pictures outside, rather than attempt a clear shot through the sliding glass door.

downy-and-friend-2
Can’t remember if this was a male or female downy, but this time, it was fine with sharing.
red-bellied-takeoff
This red-bellied woodpecker was spooked right after it landed.

Initially, though, I was inside. And spied a pileated woodpecker back in the woods.

pileated-woodpecker
This stunning woodpecker was all about de-bugging the trees.

And I heard, and saw, several red-bellied woodpeckers. They are so pretty.

red-bellied-peekaboo
Red-belled woodpeckers often announce their arrival before they are seen.

red-bellied-tree

Three types of woodpeckers in my backyard made for a good day. Even if it was the first day of winter.

Feeder frenzy

Fall has always been a favorite, but as the sun and the temperatures descend into winter, I tend to want to curl up inside with a good book and hibernate until the flowers start peeking out of the frosty ground in the spring.

We recently had a new back door installed, which gives us a clear view to my tiny, bedraggled garden, and the nearly-bare woods beyond that. I haven’t had much time to brood about my lack of gardening inspiration, though, since we found a great deal on a camera on Black Friday.

I stand at the door, now, several times a day, camera and zoom lens in hand, ready to discover which hungry birds will show up at the feeders to grab a seed or a tidbit of suet to tide them over during the longer, colder nights of late fall.

I had been fussing about not seeing any birds, and wondering if maybe the hawks had gotten them all, when a swarm of titmice, nuthatches, chickadees, and even a red-bellied woodpecker stopped by for lunch.

chickadee-got-seed
Chickadees always cheerily announce their arrival. They’re usually heard before they’re seen.
upside-down-nuthatch
Nuthatches make a bit of noise when they’re in the neighborhood, too.
nuthatch-mouthfull
Score!

I was delighted when a woodpecker showed up. I hear them all the time, but rarely see them, as they zip up and down the trunks of the tall neighborhood trees. This one steadily chipped away at an old branch, looking for bugs.

red-bellied-woodpecker
This colorful red-bellied woodpecker gave up hunting for bugs and zoomed in to snatch some suet.

It’s sometimes hard to leave the house now, because I have so much fun watching the birds. Until next time, then . . .

titmouse-hello-there
Titmice fuss at me all the time, but up close, they don’t look grouchy at all.

*I may post pictures on Instagram before I get around to writing a blog post. To follow me there, look for the button on this blog or at ddiljak@Instagram.