Tag Archives: birds

Birds In The Snowy Garden

Eastern Towhee, male Northern Cardinal, female Northern Cardinal (above the feeder)

Eastern Towhee, male Northern Cardinal, female Northern Cardinal (above the feeder)

When yesterday’s snow let up yesterday we were left with a lovely 6 inches of powder, but freezing rain and sleet overnight brought an icy coating. Several more inches of snow are forecast for today.

Today the birds—amazing creatures—are back out in force at the feeders. Yesterday I took a lot of (mostly) blurry photographs of them as I enjoyed watching the garden’s snowy transformation. While I viewed it all from a safe and warm vantage point indoors, the garden’s feathered friends meanwhile were seriously hard at work finding food through all the daylight hours.

Snowy day Feb 12, 2014 4:15-3

Snowy day Feb 12, 2014 4:15 - Version 2

Looking closely at this colorful scene below there are at least eleven birds gathered around. Sitting at the feeder I believe is male American Goldfinch. I had just remarked to a fellow blogger at the wonderful site Petals and Wings that I had not noticed the males getting their yellow coloring back, but here it is.

Can you spot eleven birds?

Can you spot eleven birds?

The spirea shrub is always a popular place for the birds to wait close to the feeder. Yesterday it was like a bird condo.

Snowy day Feb 12, 2014 4:15-4

The blue hue of the gazing ball that sits in the center of the meditation circle disappeared under the snow.  When walking along the meditation path last weekend I thought I really must cut back the Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue), but now I am glad they are still here to add some interest.

Snowy day Feb 12, 2014 4:15

Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue)

People who are used to measuring snowfall in feet, not inches, will wonder why there is such a fuss about a little snow, but it is unusual to have this much snow in my area. More often is the scenario where there might be a dusting of snow, then the following day is sunny and 70°F.

Neighbors on our community email list were remembering the last such storm in 2002, when we lost power for more than 3 days. Indeed many in the state are without electricity this morning and the roads remain dangerous, with cars abandoned along the sides. Fortunately there is nothing pressing to do today but to enjoy the peaceful scenery.

Snowy day Feb 12, 2014 4:15-2

A Sunny February Day

Today there is flowering on the Red Maple.

Acer rubrum (Red Maple)

Acer rubrum (Red Maple)

Acer rubrum (Red Maple)

Acer rubrum (Red Maple)

Near the front sidewalk a lone hyacinth planted a decade ago is again working its way out into the open.

Hyacinthus orientalis (common hyacinth, garden hyacinth or Dutch hyacinth)

Hyacinthus orientalis (common hyacinth, garden hyacinth or Dutch hyacinth)

February has been wet. There may be freezing rain tomorrow morning and another wet weekend is forecast, but today the sky is deeply blue and the sunshine is warm enough for face and heart.

I am making progress mulching the garden, though the job has been slowed equally by the wetter, cooler weather and a healthier crop of weeds than I had expected.

Though many birds keep watch as I work, only the Carolina Chickadees are brave enough to attempt a move toward the feeder while I am in the garden. From the windows I have been watching them too. Flocks of American Robins have been around for several weeks. They teamed up with Red-winged Blackbirds and Cedar Waxwings on Monday to strip the neighbors’ holly berries and make merriment. Eastern Bluebirds are beautiful but fairly pushy at the feeders. Northern Cardinals are lovely too but seem much more patient. The Mourning Doves make me smile.

Enjoying the Great Backyard Bird Count

The birds have been active at the backyard feeders since early this morning with no signs of slowing down. Here eight cardinals and a sparrow are jockeying for another chance to partake.

The temperature has dropped more than ten degrees to 37° F during the day as rainy, wintry weather returns after a yesterday’s sunny 65 degrees.

Early this morning before the rain started, I counted birds for a half-hour and then submitted a second checklist for the Great Backyard Bird Count. My very first checklist ever was submitted yesterday on Day 2 of this annual event. Both days there were some birds I could not identify, but I was able to report 68 birds. These are what I counted yesterday:

Start Time: 1:45 PM – Total Birding Time: 45 minutes – Number of Species: 10
Mourning Dove – 2
Red-bellied Woodpecker – 1
Fish Crow – 2
Carolina Chickadee – 1
Tufted Titmouse – 1
Eastern Bluebird – 2
Song Sparrow – 1
Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored) – 1
Northern Cardinal – 6
House Finch – 2

Today’s checklist looked like this:

Start Time: 8:30 AM – Total Birding Time: 30 minutes – Number of Species: 16
Mourning Dove – 1
Red-bellied Woodpecker – 1
Blue Jay – 1
crow sp. – 1
Carolina Chickadee – 1
Tufted Titmouse – 1
Brown-headed Nuthatch – 2
Eastern Bluebird – 1
American Robin – 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler – 3
Song Sparrow – 1
Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored) – 1
Northern Cardinal – 12
Red-winged Blackbird – 12
Common Grackle – 6
House Finch – 4

An Eastern Towhee and more robins showed up today after I finished counting so they were not included in the tally.  This is just a snapshot in time though and perhaps someone else reported them.  In a moment of serendipity, one interesting sight today was a large group of Red-winged Blackbirds accompanied by grackles and other blackbirds. It was only two weeks ago I first spotted a Red-winged Blackbird in this backyard garden and marveled at the Exceptional Sighting. Today for a fleeting couple of minutes, there were a dozen.

Are There Really Birds?

Someone read yesterday’s post, Birds Around The Garden, and asked, “Are there really birds in those pictures?”

Probably, but as the birds scatter pretty quickly when I enter the garden I find them very hard to photograph distinctly.

Flowers are generally much more cooperative subjects. They may be tossed around occasionally by a breeze, but blossoms and leaves settle down eventually and unlike birds, do not seem disturbed by my camera.

But as proof of bird life in my garden I was able to capture a minor image this morning of a cardinal in a pine and later, a couple of pictures of the same cardinal seated above a mourning dove that had escaped upwards when startled by my footsteps. With or without photographic evidence the birds are integral to this backyard’s sense of place.  They lead an active and vocal existence in the back section of the garden, bringing a lot of enjoyment to this gardener.

Birds Around The Garden

The wintry chill arrived as predicted and today’s afternoon is a sunny, 33 degrees (feels like 25). Near the front walk three bluebirds sit unhurriedly on the edge and sip from the semi-thawed bird bath.

Elsewhere a yellow-bellied sapsucker, numerous cardinals and assorted other friends of the garden vie for openings at the two feeders, while an eastern towhee scratches in the underbrush nearby. With heads bobbing, a graceful pair of mourning doves pushes aside leaves in search for seeds.

Camera shy, the birds chide me and warn each other as I walk around the garden.

They tuck themselves into the two ‘Carolina Sapphire’ Arizona Cypresses in the back corner or behind the gardenias or spirea until my approach is too much for them.

Finally then they flitter off to a nearby, safer spot to observe. Rustling, adjusting themselves, they wait.

Back inside, I watch from the glass as these lovely creatures gradually resume their activities and reclaim the garden.

For The Birds

Welcome the birds. Today I finished clearing away the debris from pruning the hollies, gardenias and cypresses this week. As I worked in the day’s chill, remembering yesterday’s mid-seventies warmth, the garden was full of bird activity. Songs, warnings and general bird chatter signaled the rhythm of approach and retreat as I removed trimmings from the garden areas.  A mockingbird was particularly insistent at my intrusion.

The cardinals and house finches and black-capped chickadee enjoyed the restocked feeder, then sat restively in the young red maple.

The robins are back in good numbers with a least a dozen making the rounds all day from tree to post, then tapping at the grass uncovering yummy delicacies. When it seemed safe they sipped, then splashed, at the freshly filled bird baths.

Late this afternoon the robins were joined by several dozen or more cedar waxwings.  The cedar waxwings feasted on the bountiful holly berries, an occurrence observed only once before in this garden.

The sun came out for the last hour of the day. As sunset approached, a serene calm settled over the garden as the various birds found safe quarters for the night. The sky glowed pink for a moment.