Morning Surprises!

2018_04_19__back yard birding_0004

2018_04_19__back yard birding_0004-2

You can see from the pictures above that “someone” flipped open the hopper feeder, helped him or herself to all the birdseed inside, and left behind a puzzled and confused squirrel. The first time this happened, I was surprised, but now it happens almost daily. I’m actually surprised when it doesn’t happen. If I looked out the kitchen window in the morning to see birds feasting on the seed I had poured into the feeder yesterday afternoon, that would be the surprise.  At first, I blamed the deer herd that makes nightly excursions up the hill from Chagrin River Park. I assumed they were the four legged marauders that had raided the Back Yard Buffet, but I’ve changed my mind about the likely culprits. It must be raccoons! Our thief can even twist open the plastic twist-ties that I use to secure the latch of the suet feeder. What other animal has the dexterity to lift the awkward, heavy lid of the hopper feeder and untwist the plastic ties and carry off the suet? What really surprised me this morning was seeing the squirrel standing inside the feeder. I know he’s not the thief because he and other members of his clan feast at the buffet all day long. They aren’t out and about after dark, and this morning he seemed to be perplexed that all the food was gone. He’s not happy and neither am I. I’m fighting a losing battle. The birds (and squirrels) are the real losers…and my bird-feeding budget of course!

The second surprise that appeared in the back yard buffet this morning was a welcome one. Flickers are rare visitors. I see them in the park occasionally but never right outside the kitchen window. This one found his (or her) breakfast on the ground underneath the hopper feeder, and was a very happy bird.  I was happy too because I thoroughly enjoyed the unexpected photoshoot! (Click on any picture to enlarge them.)

Thanks for stopping by the back yard buffet this morning.
See you soon!

~Trail Walker

Birds before breakfast

2018_02_23__Backyard_Backyard birding_0019

I was excited when I glanced through the kitchen window  at the backyard buffet and discovered an Eastern bluebird posing for multiple photo opps. The sky was overcast, as it usually is in February. A sunny blue sky would have been appreciated, but it wasn’t essential because this colorful visitor arrived with his own special brand of sunshine. And talk about blue! The hue on his wings suggested that they  had been dipped into a can of brilliant blue paint. Take a look at these photos of his morning grooming session.

2018_02_23__Backyard_Backyard birding_00162018_02_23__Backyard_Backyard birding_0018

2018_02_23__Backyard_Backyard birding_00242018_02_23__Backyard_Backyard birding_0020

Mr. Bluebird wasn’t our only visitor yesterday.  Look who else stopped by to say hello! These unexpected sightings…all before breakfast, made this a memorable morning.

2018_02_23__Backyard_Backyard birding_00122018_02_23__Backyard_Backyard birding_0011

The pileated woodpecker didn’t hold his pose for as much as a minute. He flew in, landed long enough for me to click off two shots, and whoooooshhh, he was gone!   But I got the shots, which made this a very good morning!

Thanks for stopping by to say hello.
Hope to see you soon!
Trail Walker

Back to birding in the back yard

2018_01_30_Chagrin River Park_Winter night shoot_0041

It wasn’t a fabulous day for photography, so I decided to take some shots through the kitchen window.  This stump and several others are what remains of a large oak tree we had to cut down last year.  I decided to take advantage of them to create tables, just for the wildlife. The little birds (and the squirrels and chipmunks) loved the idea, and this is the result.  They are also popular with the deer that roam around our neighborhood at night, but for some reason, today it was just birds. To my surprise, there wasn’t a hoof print in sight. Near this stump is another on which I place a water bowl and handfuls of black oil sunflower seeds. Occasionally, as you can see here, there is some quarreling between the visitors. It looks to me like the sparrow is complaining because the house finch is just a little greedy. Look at that mouth full of seed! Definitely more than her share, according to the sparrow.

2018_01_30_Chagrin River Park_Winter night shoot_0037

The breakfast and lunch hours are the most popular times for visitors. Sometimes I can almost liken them to the regulars at the neighborhood deli…except for the greed factor that is. Here are a few more visitors that showed up yesterday when I was watching out the window:

2018_01_30_Chagrin River Park_Winter night shoot_0052
Junco, or snowbird as they are commonly called

 

2018_01_30_Chagrin River Park_Winter night shoot_0055
Another junco with a full beak!
2018_01_30_Chagrin River Park_Winter night shoot_0067
An especially greedy house finch
2018_01_30_Chagrin River Park_Winter night shoot_0049
And a bossy blue jay

That’s it for today. I did spot a red-bellied woodpecker, but couldn’t capture her picture. Maybe next time!  Did you notice what a monotone day this was? I’m thankful for visits from the blue jays and the little house finches with their rosy breasts. Otherwise winter weather can be a little dull.

Hope to see you again at the back yard buffet!
Trail Walker

Good news, but potentially bad news too

2017_06_03_Places_backyard buffet_0019
Despite the chill in the air, the little ruby-throated hummers were active at our feeders over the past few days. This one doesn’t seem to mind temperatures in the high 50s under overcast skies nearly as much as I do. He’s wearing his summer colors, while I am wearing my winter socks and warm sweater. (Sigh)! Apparently he enjoys the ease of perching on the new feeders as he sips sugar water. That is good news that cheers me immensely. The little summers are such a joy to see.

2017_06_03_Places_backyard buffet_00152017_06_03_Places_backyard buffet_0013
And multiple members of the goldfinch family have been enjoying their tube feeder and visit often. Here is one resting on “shepherd’s crook” between visits to the feeder.

2017_06_05_Places_backyard buffet_0006

The bad news is that I haven’t seen the bluebirds for several days. They have deserted the nesting box. I thought I glimpsed one at the new box late yesterday, only to discover it wasn’t a bluebird, it was this bird:

2017_06_05_Places_backyard buffet_00022017_06_05_Places_backyard buffet_0001

A wren! Now wrens are cute little birds, but they’re not noted for their kindness to other small birds. I’ve never before seen a wren in the backyard buffet. A new bird can be interesting to watch, but, given the reputation of wrens, I fear for the fate of my beloved bluebirds. According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, “When nesting, wrens become very aggressive, often chasing other birds out of nesting sites and sometimes destroying other birds’ eggs.” Does anyone have any advice about how to handle with this situation?

I will say, there is never a dull moment in the backyard buffet!

See you soon. Hopefully with good news!
~Trail Walker

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…

2017_05_04_backyard birding_back yard buffet_00262017_05_04_backyard birding_back yard buffet_0025

And the Eastern bluebirds stopped by again…

2017_05_04_backyard birding_back yard buffet_00122017_05_04_backyard birding_back yard buffet_0007

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.

Return of the bluebirds

2017_04_28_Places_Backyard birding0005-Edit
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.

2017_05_02_Places_Backyard birding0067-Edit-2
Sitting on the woodpile
2017_05_02_Places_Backyard birding0062
Closer to the new bluebird house
2017_05_02_Places_Backyard birding0063
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

He’s still here, and guess what…

2017_04_19_Places_back yard buffet0066

…He’s not alone! He brought a friend.

Yesterday morning I heard the distinctive call the pileated woodpecker makes when he swoops in for a landing at the backyard buffet. So of course I picked up my camera and headed for my post at the kitchen window (It actually makes a good bird shooting blind, although I do my shooting with a Nikon D7100 instead of a gun). Sure enough there he was at his favorite suet feeder, and for the next 10 minutes, I tracked him from feeder to feeder and even over to our neighbor’s apple tree. I shot lots of pictures! Here’s a sampling:

2017_04_19_Places_back yard buffet0093
Next to the oriole feeder
2017_04_19_Places_back yard buffet0059
On our neighbor’s apple tree
2017_04_19_Places_back yard buffet0041
Scanning the neighborhood from the top of the hopper feeder
2017_04_19_Places_back yard buffet0021
Still scanning
2017_04_19_Places_back yard buffet0069
Leaning over to grab a bite of suet
2017_04_19_Places_back yard buffet0091
Hanging on the trunk of our tallest tree
2017_04_19_Places_back yard buffet0114
Swinging from the feeder on the old swing set

Now how observant are you? Can you tell which bird is our usual P.W. and which one is the “friend?” Here’s a hint: the friend is a female. Take another look at the pictures. Three are of the female friend. Can you pick them out?

Here’s another hint: the male has a red mustache and a full head of red hair.

Are you an expert on pileated woodpeckers or were you as surprised as I was to discover that our guest is actually two different birds? (The female is sitting next to the oriole feeder, hanging on the trunk of our tallest tree, and swinging from the feeder on the old swing set.) S/he had me fooled! What a surprise.

Hope you enjoyed this visit to our backyard bird buffet.
See you soon. ~Trail Walker

Rain-streaked and wind-swept

2017_01_10_places-backyard-buffet_back-yard-birding_0107

After several day’s absence, the Eastern bluebirds reappeared at the Backyard Buffet this morning. Unfortunately, our recent weather has not been kind to the little birds. Instead of sunshine and blue skies, they have been welcomed by rain, wind, and cold temperatures. This morning the weather was especially unpleasant and has gone from unpleasant to miserable as the day progressed.

When I spotted them through my kitchen window, I quickly grabbed the camera. Unfortunately, I had to shoot through a rain-streaked window and a lot of haze. Most of my pictures didn’t turn out so well, but here are two more that aren’t too blurry:

2017_01_10_places-backyard-buffet_back-yard-birding_0125

2017_01_10_places-backyard-buffet_back-yard-birding_0115

Eager to encourage regular visits, I set out a good feast, but I hope the stalwart little birds don’t get discouraged by the weather. They’re probably wishing they had taken a southern vacation instead of hanging around Lake Erie!

That’s today’s update from the Backyard Buffet.
Thanks for stopping by.
Maybe we’ll have better weather for your next visit.
🙂  Trail Walker

 

 

Bright spots on a wintry day

2017_01_06_places-backyard-buffet_back-yard-birding_0008

Overnight the temperature dropped to single digits and several inches of snow fell. The Backyard Buffet looks much more appealing when the ground is covered with a blanket of white, and because that same blanket had covered over much of their natural food, the birds were looking for food at ALL the feeders. That includes the hawk that visited yesterday, so all the little birds must be alert to the danger. We saw him on the ground at the edge of our backyard this morning, but he flew away too quickly for a photo opp. He is a beautiful bird, but I wish he would go scrounging for his meals among the snakes and rodents (If some of them aren’t hibernating) in the nearby park instead of in the Backyard Buffet. 😒

Enjoy these bright spots
That’s all for today.
Look for more Backyard Buffet adventures tomorrow.
See you then! -Trail Walker (aka Carolyn or Skip)

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: