Backyard birds online again

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Since early June I’ve been off the trail more than on it! Two months have passed in what  has been a very busy summer, and I have chronicled very little of it. Shame on me! So to get started again, I am posting a few pictures from my backyard birding collection, starting with a few hummers who stopped by the feeders yesterday:

Like the hummingbirds, the pileated woodpeckers, both male and female, have visited every day for weeks, early morning, again at lunchtime, and finally in the evening. Take a look:

And yesterday the bird featured at the top of this post and also below made an appearance. The bluejay I recognize, by sight and sound, but the other bird is not a regular at my backyard feeders, so I’m not sure what it is. Can someone please tell me?

That’s all for today, Trail Walkers.
See you soon!

Three of a kind

I’m always surprised when the pileated woodpecker appears at the backyard feeder. His visits haven’t been very regular since last fall when we had to cut down the tall tree he liked to land on when he flew in. After landing on the tall oak tree, he and his mate would often fly across our backyard and stop on the fruit trees in our neighbor’s yard, close enough for a really good photo opp. Unfortunately, our neighbors had to cut down both their apple and cherry trees a few years ago, which is probably why we see the pileated pair less often.  Some people refer to the pileated as the Woody Woodpecker bird because he looks just like the cartoon bird. He likes suet, as he is demonstrating here. He also likes the large (woodpecker-sized) seed blocks, and sometimes he will fly in and land on top of the hopper-feeder.

The pileated, a very large insect-eating bird, is native to North America and is described as “a mostly sedentary inhabitant of deciduous forests in eastern North America, the Great Lakes, the boreal forests of Canada, and parts of the Pacific coast.” Some of my blog readers may have seen them in their backyards. (If you have, please let us know in the comment section). The bird in today’s picture is a male, easily identified by the red mustache on his face.

That’s it for today’s post.
Hope to see you soon.
Trail Walker

Too cold for trailwalking

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As I warned in my last post, right after spotting the red-bellied woodpecker above, our temperatures plummeted and for the past several days have hovered around zero (F). Yesterday the high temp here along the south shore of Lake Erie peaked at zero degrees Fahrenheit and went down from there. The “feels like” temp, given the wind chill, was many degrees lower. It was, as I had expected, painfully below my acceptable trail walking minimum of 23 degrees, so I resorted to backyard birding…through my kitchen window. Here are a few of the birds I saw this morning after we trudged out to refresh the feeders.

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Starlings arrive in large groups
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They are pesky, but, taken individually, can be cute.
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Sometimes they search under the feeders.
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A solitary tufted titmouse

That’s all the backyard birding I have time for right now. Maybe I can capture a few more later, but I wouldn’t blame them if they all found a warm spot to huddle together out of the wind.

Thanks for visiting. Hopefully I will soon be back on the trail. Our temperature is supposed to moderate in a day or two. I’m thankful for that prediction because I have had enough of this worrisome sub-zero stuff. I’m fully aware that, while I am warm and cozy, as I watch the birds through my kitchen window, many others aren’t so fortunate. Some have to search out shelters for protection. They need our prayers when the weather conditions become treacherous, something that seems to happen with increasing frequency in recent months, or maybe I should say years.

Stay safe, fellow bloggers, and give thanks for your safety.
Trail Walker

Breakfast time at the Backyard Buffet

It was a dreary morning, but the Baltimore oriole appears unfazed by the wet weather. His bright orange coat is still looking good and adds a little cheer to the backyard buffet when he landed on the dish that holds his grape jelly.

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On the other hand, the pileated woodpecker struggles to make his usual smooth landing before settling down to eat breakfast.

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My funniest picture ever of a pileated woodpecker.
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However, he recovers his composure and carries on.

The pileated comes around every day for his morning meal, and nothing is going to interfere with it. A bird that big has to have his meals on time. Sometimes a fellow just has to do the best he can, regardless of the weather! Eating is serious business for the birds.

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

Spring migration was in full swing…

Two weeks ago, when the annual spring migration was in full swing, birders were all agog over their unique opportunities to see and photograph unusual warblers and other birds rarely seen in our area. Many parks celebrated with special events, and birders planned field trips to prime location along the shoreline. I didn’t have time to take part in the festivities this year, but to my surprise, on Saturday, May 13th, a number of unexpected guests flew into my backyard bird buffet.

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Through the morning and most of the afternoon birds were flying from feeder to feeder and tree to tree, while I stood and gawked in amazement. For me, the most exciting  visitor was the redheaded woodpecker. Downy and red-bellied woodpeckers are common visitors. Even the pileated woodpecker that I blogged about yesterday has become a regular this summer, but seeing that redheaded bird in my backyard was a huge treat and a cause for celebration.

Could I ask for a more photogenic guest? While he may be common in other areas, he is definitely a rarity in my backyard buffet. What an unusual Saturday that was!

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

Woodpecker morning

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A quick look out the kitchen window this morning reassured me that Mr. and Mrs. Bluebird are still around. Both were sitting on the new bluebird nesting box I wrote about in yesterday’s blog post. They didn’t stay long enough for a photo opp, but I was very happy to see them. Next the pileated woodpecker announced his arrival. He was alone. His mate didn’t put in an appearance, but several other woodpeckers did. Take a look:

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A starling shared the hopper feeder with the pileated.
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Pretty soon a red-bellied woodpecker flew in.
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For a while, the red-bellied and the pileated dined on opposite ends of the hopper feeder.
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Just look at the difference in the size of these two woodpeckers!
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And finally a downy came for his breakfast. Mr. and Mrs. Downy are constant guests at the Backyard Buffet.

Breakfast time ended when the pileated woodpecker flew over to the trunk of the huge oak tree on the edge of our property. I took this picture so you could see how high up he was. We think he may be nesting in that hole because he lands there often, and Bob actually saw him fly in to it a few weeks ago. Baby pileated woodpeckers??? Wouldn’t that be a treat!
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See you soon. Thanks for visiting today.
Trail Walker

Mr. and Mrs. Bluebird go house hunting

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My last 10 days have been busy, so busy I haven’t had any time to post my pictures of the drama in our backyard, but Mr. and Mrs. Bluebird have been even busier. Their hunt for suitable housing has been a challenging one.  2017_05_15_Places_backyard buffet_0060

Mr. Bluebird took the initiative in the house hunt. Maybe his mate was nagging him to get out there and find them a place to raise their young. For a few days he was very industrious, while she sat on the sidelines and watched.

He seemed to be really attracted to the brand new box. He tried to enter the door, but halfway in he would change his mind, back out, and fly over to the old, weather-beaten box. Time after time, he repeated that maneuver, going into the old box, then flying over to the new one, but he never could seem to get into the shiny new box. Maybe he had the wrong key? Eventually, the landlord (My husband), decided to lend a hand. Out he went with a drill and a file to make the entrance a little wider, but Mr. Bluebird still didn’t seem to find the entrance satisfactory.

After watching this process for a few days, Mrs. Bluebird must have lost her patience watching him try out first one box, then the other…over and over again, because eventually she flew over to supervise.

Before long she tired of the role of supervisor and flew over to a nearby tree where the goldfinch must have given a sympathetic ear to her complaints. Then for a while she simply sat on the sidelines and watched.

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However, her mate wasn’t finished yet. Back he flew to the new nesting box for another go at getting inside.  He tried and tried. He was determined!2017_05_15_Places_backyard buffet_01492017_05_15_Places_backyard buffet_01462017_05_15_Places_backyard buffet_00732017_05_12_Places_backyard buffet_0167

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Mr. Bluebird looks with longing at the beautiful nesting box. He really wanted it, and he put his heart into getting in, but it was not to be.

For several days, I spent a lot of time at my kitchen window, watching this drama unfold. The hapless house hunter never did get into the new home he had set his heart on. I thought they may decide to settle for the run-down box I won at a raffle several years ago, but I’m not sure. He persevered and made a valiant attempt, but at this point, it doesn’t look as if he succeeded.  It would be exciting to see their little family hatch and fledge. I’m not giving up hope yet, but I didn’t see them today, so it is possible they have moved in somewhere else. When I have some news, I’ll let you know.

Thanks for visiting the backyard buffet today.
See you soon. ~Trail Walker

A guest for lunch

One of our neighborhood big birds, the pileated woodpecker, came for lunch today. He swooped in for a landing on top of the hopper feeder, and Bob spotted him feasting on the suet cake that is right below his “landing pad.” Leaning over the end of the feeder, he would grab a bite of suet, take a look around the neighborhood, then grab another bite. He was in no hurry to leave, and I had time to take a lot of photos.

 

He’s almost prehistoric-looking. Check out that beak and those claws. I wouldn’t want to get between him and his suet because he obviously loves it. Finally satisfied, he flew away, moving unbelievably fast! Maybe next time I’ll be quicker with my finger on the shutter button and get a better shot of the takeoff!
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That was today’s excitement, but I’m betting he’ll be back!
Trail Walker

You can set the table, but…

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…you don’t always get the guests you expected!

After breakfast, I cleaned the kitchen and went outside to prepare the backyard buffet with  a delicious feast for the birds. Apparently the feast was appealing enough to attract the attention of a little herd of deer that wandered up from nearby Chagrin River Park.

After the deer were finished feasting, very little remained for the birds’ breakfast! As the Scottish poet Robert Burns wrote…

“The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men / Gang aft a-gley.”

Maybe I could adapt that line to read, “The best laid plans of mice, men, and backyard bird feeders often go awry.” Although that isn’t nearly as poetic as the original, it is definitely true.

That’s all for today’s backyard birding adventure!
Thanks for visiting! It is always good to entertain company.

See you soon!
Trail Walker

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