Posted in backyard birding, bird photography, Color me Spring!

Backyard bonanza

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The last few days have brought some surprise visitors to our backyard buffet. Saturday of the second week in May is International Migratory Bird Day…a big occasion here on the south shore of Lake Erie. Birds migrating northward to their summer homes have to cross Lake Erie if the route they take goes through Ohio. Their journey is long, the weather isn’t always favorable, and when they reach Lake Erie, needing to rest up for the long leg of their trip across the Lake,  birders in northeast Ohio find their forests and backyard inundated with an amazing variety of birds, many of which aren’t commonly seen here. Surprises are not unusual, and this weekend we have had a few  right in our own backyard.

One surprise was the reappearance of bluebirds showing an interest in the nesting box we recently installed in the backyard. We weren’t sure they would return because until January I had never seen a bluebird in our backyard, but we bought and installed it anyway with the theory that, “If you build it, they will come.” And they did. They are curious about the little house, although none have moved in yet. It may be too new and in need of seasoning.

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Checking the size of the entrance
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Is he thinking about moving in with his mate?

The bluebirds make me really happy. I can’t help smiling when I see them at the feeders, but the biggest surprise of all, the one pictured below, appeared yesterday.

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I have never seen a redheaded woodpecker in our backyard!
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But today he has come to visit. Serendipity!

There have been other surprise visitors too, but I will save them for another blog post. It is raining again tonight after several dry but chilly days. It doesn’t seem much like May, but I heard a rumor that it might get really warm (maybe even hot) next week. That’s something to look forward to!

Thanks for stopping by. I love it when you visit.
See you soon. ~Trail Walker
Posted in back yard buffet, backyard birding, Color me Spring!, My trail walks

Rainy days, bluebirds, and those amazing birds from Baltimore!

If I were as hardy (or crazy) as my friend, Lisa, I would be in the park taking a trail walk with my dog, getting soaking wet like she did this morning. Instead I am sharing more backyard birds because it has drizzled all day, and the high temperature is only about 48 degrees. Did someone mention spring? Uh-uh, not here, not today, and not this weekend either. Maybe next week. Meanwhile, I will share some birds I photographed through my kitchen window. (I’m blaming the lack of sharpness on my dirty windows.)

There were Baltimore orioles, enjoying oranges and grape jelly at the feeder…

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And the Eastern bluebirds stopped by again…

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If you look closely at their soggy feathers, you can tell how wet it has been around here.

Speaking of birds from Baltimore, I’m from Baltimore too, born and bred in that area. Many years ago, I went east for college, met my husband in Philadelphia, and we eventually migrated to Ohio where we put down new roots near the south shore of Lake Erie. I blame the Great Lakes for our chilly, wet, reluctant spring weather, but spring in northeast Ohio has one big advantage for bird lovers: the big spring migration. Thousands of wonderful warblers, and other migratory birds, often stop for a rest along the south shore of Lake Erie. Inclement, windy days delay their travel plans, as they wait for the weather to clear so they can continue the last leg of their flight across Lake Erie. As a result, we get more time to enjoy them, and I get the fun of taking their pictures.

That’s it for today’s post, blog friends.
I’m hoping to be back soon…
bringing some sunshine and more migratory birds.
Posted in back yard buffet, backyard birding, Eastern bluebirds

Return of the bluebirds

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Way back in mid-winter, a little flock of Eastern Bluebirds vacationed for a week in our backyard buffet. I was totally surprised because, although bluebirds do winter over in northeast Ohio, none had ever done so in our neighborhood. Sadly, after delighting us for a week, they were suddenly gone, and we haven’t seen them for months.

However, last week the lovely lady bluebird pictured at the top of this post put in another appearance. So, for the last five days, I have sprinkled their favorite treat (mealworms) on the tree stump, hoping she was the forerunner of another bluebird blitz, one that would be permanent this time. To my delight, they returned again yesterday. This time I captured a few pictures, and they were showing a little interest in the lovely new bluebird nesting box we recently added to the backyard.

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Sitting on the woodpile
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Closer to the new bluebird house
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Feathers ruffled by the wind

Will they move into the nesting box and become permanent residents? Although I’m trying not to count on it too much, I’ll keep my fingers crossed, and I’ll let you know what happens. Meanwhile, if you have any advice about how to encourage them to stay, all suggestions will be welcome.

See you soon for another spring migration saga.
~Trail Walker
Posted in backyard birding, Baltimore orioles, bird photography, Color me Spring!

Orioles!

Lots of activity in our backyard today. Rose breasted grosbeaks, Baltimore orioles, and a little Eastern bluebird. Here are the orioles, but I’m saving the others for tomorrow when I have more time.

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It has been a cool, cloudy, and overcast day, but these visitors made the sun come out for me and put a smile on my face! I hope they give you a smile too.

Thanks for visiting. ~Trail Walker
Posted in bird photography, Chagrin River Park, Color me Spring!, My trail walks

The wrens have returned!

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When we’re talking birds, migration is a fascinating topic, especially in the spring when the woods are awake with the sight and song of the warblers and other birds that haven’t been around during the cold winter months.

The bird pictured above, a house wren, is small and looks sweet, but according to my i-bird app, they are fiercely territorial and have been known to destroy the eggs of bluebirds and other small birds. So…definitely not sweet! However it is fun to watch them “feather their nesting holes” and settle in for the summer. One afternoon this week I hung around for a half-hour or so and watched for this little one to return to the nesting hole. When she did, I snapped a sequence of pictures as she came to her “front door” and peered outside.

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Look closely and, in a few of the pictures, you can see the “sawdust” on her beak, a result of her efforts to excavate the nest. That’s something human mothers don’t have to do to provide a home for their newborn babies.

This same skinny tree has been used before, perhaps by the same wren. Reportedly they can live up to seven years in the wild, so this could be the same little bird I’ve seen in past years. However, this year the entrance to the nest is on the side of the tree facing the trail. In previous years, it was on the other side; the bird would fly up to the (very skinny) tree, land on the side facing the bog, and disappear inside. She is just one of numerous wrens that have returned to the bog in recent days. I don’t know how many there are, but, according to Wikipedia, the house wren is the most widely distributed bird in the Americas, and as I walk along the trail, I can hear their melodic song from high and low on both sides of the trail.

One final fact for this post is that a group of wrens can be referred to by several different names: a chime, flight, flock, or even a herd of wrens. A herd of wrens? That takes me back to my teen years when I would go with my father to inspect the herds of dairy cows that produced milk the farmers were shipping to market in Philadelphia. That was another time, another place, and a very different animal from this herd of wrens that has moved into Chagrin River Park for the summer. I wonder who would possibly have come up with the term “herd of wrens?” As a term for a group of wrens, it certainly doesn’t work for me; nevertheless, the park is filled with their song, and I enjoy seeing and hearing this “herd” of migratory birds.

Thanks for joining me on the trail today.
See you soon. ~Trail Walker
Posted in bird photography, Chagrin River Park, Color me Spring!, My trail walks, northern flicker

Love those birds!

I was standing next to the trail, watching a house wren “feathering her nest,” when I spotted two birds on a branch high over my head. I couldn’t see them clearly with my naked eye, so you can imagine my surprise when I downloaded them to my computer after I got home.

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Female flicker
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Male and female
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Lovebirds!

Talk about serendipity! I couldn’t believe my luck in capturing these two beautiful birds…together! The house wren pictures came out pretty good also, but I will post them another day. Today belongs to the flickers. Hope you like them. For you bird lovers, a group of flickers are collectively known as a “guttering”, “menorah”, and “Peterson” of flickers. Who knew? I definitely didn’t, but now you do!

Thanks for joining me along the trail today.
See you soon. ~Trail Walker
Posted in bird photography, My trail walks, Northeast Ohio

Can you name these birds?

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It was a great day for a bird walk, with lots of little birds posing for their portraits. I even captured a couple I had to look up. How many of these birds can you name? All of them are common in northeast Ohio and surrounding states, and some even live here year round. One is the state bird of Ohio (and several other states). Do you have a favorite? If so, be sure to leave a comment to let us know which one it is.

 

Thanks for walking the trail today. How many did you identify?
Trail Walker
Posted in bird photography, Color me Spring!, Monday Meander, My trail walks

A Monday Meander

Hello friends.
Join me for a morning meander along the trail.
We’ll visit a few of our bird friends to see what they are up to.
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The blue jay is hoping for some peanuts.
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The house wren is feathering her new nesting hole…
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And checking it out to see if the fit is good.
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The red-bellied woodpecker is also visiting his new nest.
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Checking both inside and out to see if it is ready for a family.
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The Great Horned Owl is not on her nest, but one of the owlets is testing his wings. He must be getting ready to fledge.

That’s all the news from the trail on this Monday morning. I didn’t see the belted kingfisher or the towhee, and I’m still waiting for my first glimpse of a Baltimore oriole. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait!

Thanks for stopping by today.
See you soon. ~Trail Walker

 

Posted in Color me Spring!, My trail walks, nature photography, Searching for Spring, woodpeckers

I never would have seen…

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Peek-a-boo! I see you, but you don’t see me!

I really wouldn’t have noticed the little red-bellied woodpecker peering out from its nesting hole, but another, sharper-eyed photographer had located the nesting hole high up in a tree in the middle of the bog. He pointed it out as we walked past the tree a few days ago. So I have Randy to thank for this set of pictures, and I am delighted to give him credit for his generosity in pointing it out so I could take these shots.

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Peering back into the nesting hole
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I zoomed in closer for a better look.
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I’m not sure this is the same bird. Could it be a female?

I’m not absolutely certain if there is one bird or two, so today I returned for another look, but nobody was home. I guess I will just have to keep checking out the nest on future trail walks.

To be updated if there is more to share.
See you soon with more tales from the trail! ~Trail Walker
Posted in belted kingfisher, bird photography, My trail walks

The right place at the right time!

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After visiting the Horned Owl family the other day, I headed for the pedestrian bridge to cross the Chagrin River. I had heard of some good migratory bird sightings on the other side and wanted to check them out for myself. Just starting to cross the bridge, I glanced to the right (downriver) and spotted this little belted kingfisher. It has been years since I last saw one, although I know they’ve been around. Was I excited? You bet! And this fellow posed there long enough for me to get several shots. Here are a few:

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His perch, on that branch overlooking the river, was no accident. He was fishing for dinner, and his next meal would very likely swim downriver, right beneath his perfectly situated perch. And, as I watched, that is exactly what happened.

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Watching the river.
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He spotted something in the water…and dove off the branch.

These clever little “fisherbirds” are fast and accurate, so hopefully he came up with something tasty for supper. Unfortunately, his dive off the branch was so sudden, I didn’t catch the end of the drama. Still, it was exciting to watch, and I walked on down the trail thinking how lucky I was to be in the right place at the right time to get these shots.

Thanks for walking with me today.
See you soon! ~Trail Walker