Posted in back yard buffet, backyard birding, pileated woodpecker

He’s still here, and guess what…

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…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:

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Next to the oriole feeder
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On our neighbor’s apple tree
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Scanning the neighborhood from the top of the hopper feeder
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Still scanning
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Leaning over to grab a bite of suet
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Hanging on the trunk of our tallest tree
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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
Posted in back yard buffet, backyard birding, Eastern bluebirds

Rain-streaked and wind-swept


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:



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



Posted in Back yard bird buffet, back yard buffet, backyard birding, nature photography

Bright spots on a wintry day


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)
Posted in back yard buffet, backyard birding, bird photography, My trail walks

It can be a challenge…

… to keep up with the visitors to my back yard buffet. Looking back through recent posts, I realized I’m not doing a very good job of keeping up with the ordinary little birds who visit the “buffet.” The fallen tree episode, starling invasion, Christmas cookie baking, and rapscallion deer visitors have dominated my posts for the past month, so I thought I would make up for it today and post a few beautiful birds that have been recent visitors to the back yard buffet. First the cardinals:

…and then the red-bellied woodpecker, providing a little competition for the starlings…


And then the downy woodpecker, both male and female, have been frequent visitors at the suet feeders.2016_12_16_places_back-yard-birding_0124

And I can’t forget the house finches who are always hanging around.

House finch checking out the area below the feeder
I love the way this cardinal is waiting for the finches to give him some space. Very unusual!

So there you have it, a few of the little back yard birds that haven’t been getting their share of blog space recently. In the future, I will try to dedicate more space to them because they’re really too cute to ignore.

Thanks for visiting the back yard buffet today.
Trail Walker
Posted in animal photography, back yard buffet, deer

Return of the Rapscallions!

The new bird feeder, destroyed by the rapscallions last week, has been replaced, thanks to a warranty from the manufacturer. Yesterday I hung it in the back yard buffet, in place of the feeder the deer had destroyed, wondering how long it would take for them to discover it. It was mid-afternoon, well before dark, but unfortunately I didn’t have to wait long before five or six of these ladies came wandering into the back yard buffet.

They cavorted around our back yard and next door in our neighbor’s, wandering around and browsing for food under the snow, while I kept a close eye out the window in case they got too near the new feeder. All was going well, and then this fellow came onto the scene.


…and he was definitely interested in food.


As I watched through the window, camera in hand, he came closer and closer…



…until he finally reached the tree stump, just a few feet from the window from which I was watching and only a few feet from the newly replaced feeder. Thinking it was about time to chase them away, I moved. He looked up, spotted me standing inside the window, and apparently unsettled by how close I was, he turned his back and, stepping over the fallen tree trunk, left the back yard buffet.


As soon as he was gone, I put on my jacket and hurried outside to bring in the new bird feeder…or is it a deer feeder? I’m really not sure.

Thanks for stopping by the Back Yard Buffet today.
Trail Walker

Hawk incursion!


A few minutes ago, while I was in the Back Yard Buffet, refilling the water bowl and keeping an eye on Gulliver as he wandered around the yard, a small hawk zoomed into the Buffet. It paused very briefly right in front of me as I stood near the brush pile, but thankfully didn’t linger. The Buffet, which a minute earlier had been filled with patrons little birds, was suddenly empty. Gulliver and I were alone. Obviously something had set off an alarm. The little birds vanished, and I saw the hawk fly off into one of the tall trees. Standing there in amazement, I wondered if I had conjured up the hawk, it had all happened so quickly.

Here are some of the birds that were feasting on the peanuts, suet,  and other premium seeds at the Bird Buffet until the hawk did his fly-by.

I’m sure they’ll return. The air is very cold this week with wind chills in the single digits; the ground is frozen; the birds are hungry; and Skip’s Back Yard Buffet serves up a good menu. I just hope my patrons continue to be on the alert against further hawk incursions. This is the second one I’ve seen this week. Apparently the hawk is hungry too.

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

P.S. If anyone knows how to discourage the starlings from taking over the Buffet, please leave your suggestion in the comments. They are pretty birds but pesky, and they invade like the Huns.


Posted in back yard buffet, backyard birding, nature photography

A little bit of water…

…is a very good thing to put out for the birds. Unfortunately we don’t have an electric outlet in our back yard buffet, so we can’t keep a fountain running throughout the winter. The best I can do is put out a fresh bowl of water in the morning and refill it when it begins to freeze over. With temperatures sinking well below 32 degrees (F) this week, that can be a challenge, but when I see even one little bird take a sip, the extra effort becomes worthwhile.

That’s it today from the Back Yard Bird Buffet.
Thanks for stopping by!
Trail Walker
Posted in back yard buffet, Back yard photoshoot, Moments to remember

It was a cold and cloudy morning…

It was a cold, cloudy morning at the end of November. A storm had blown through the neighborhood during the night, but we hadn’t heard a thing (although others did), and this is what Bob saw when he took Gulliver outside for an early morning walk.



The top of one of the very tall oak trees in our back yard had broken off. Fortunately it didn’t fall all the way to the ground, nor did it hit anything on the way down. Instead it broke off and lodged in the branches of another nearby tree. Because the tree top was securely stuck where it had fallen, we had a few days to arrange for a crew to take down the entire tree before it caused serious damage.

So on Saturday morning, the crew arrived and set things up so the tree would (hopefully) fall in the right direction without taking out anything below it (think cars, sheds, bird feeders, bedroom windows, and such). Preparations took a couple of hours, but the actual toppling of the tall tree happened very quickly. To my disgust, I missed the big event. When I heard it crack and start to topple, I grabbed my camera and dashed out, but it had already thudded to the ground,  pretty much where the crew had predicted.


Grabbing their power saws, the men cut the part of the trunk and branches that had landed in our neighbor’s yard into sections. We trimmed and moved most of it over onto our property, but at the end of the day, our back yard, including the area I call the “back yard bird buffet,” was still a huge mess of logs, stumps, branches, and twigs.

Family and friends to the rescue!

The next day after church our daughters Becky and Alison, sons-in-law Mike and Marty, and several of Mike’s friends showed up with pizza and landscaping equipment to continue the cleanup job. Mike, a paramedic and lieutenant in the Willoughby Fire Department, sometimes works landscaping jobs with another paramedic. This is the wonderful volunteer crew that spent several hours putting our “Back yard Bird Buffet” back into business.

We can’t thank them enough for the hours they spent that cold Sunday afternoon. We’ve decided to leave the brush pile right where it is for the winter. Because it provides plenty of places to perch as well as protection from the elements and possible hawk incursions, we are seeing a huge increase in bird activity. Take a look…

There you have it: the saga of our fallen tree. As there are still about six more very tall trees out there,  I wonder if I should worry every time it storms?

Thanks for stopping by today.
Trail Walker
Posted in back yard buffet, bird photography, First snowfall

First snowfall


Put together the first snowfall of the season with blustery wind and very cold temperatures. Then throw in a brand new brush pile that the birds are absolutely loving, and suddenly you have open house at the Bird Buffet. The juncos, mourning doves, blue jays, sparrows, titmice, chickadees, and more all spent an exciting day gathered around the brush pile and other new additions to the back yard bird buffet. The red-bellied woodpecker made its first visit in a long time, and the downy woodpecker was enjoying the suet. Watching them was great fun. Here are just a few pictures, and there will be plenty more coming because I have pictures I haven’t even had time to process. Eventually they will make their way to the blog. I hope you will come back to see them.

Thanks for stopping by today. See you soon!
Trail Walker
Posted in back yard buffet, backyard birding, My trail walks

Hey, people, what’s happening?


This little house finch is curious about the changes we’re making to the back yard buffet in preparation for winter weather. A new season of back yard birding is about to begin, so we purchased a beautiful new hopper feeder from Wild Birds Unlimited, my favorite store for all things bird-related. Bob installed the pole and feeder in (hopefully) a prime location, not too far from our back door (for when the snow  accumulates), but also within easy flying distance from the sheltering branches of our neighbor’s apple tree.

The apple tree is a favorite launching pad for the little chickadees, nuthatches, titmice, and downy woodpeckers that frequent the Back Yard Buffet. For our anniversary last week, our daughter Becky gifted us with a few extra attachments for the pole that will provide more space and variety and hopefully keep the neighborhood birds well fed and returning for more throughout the winter. It should also provide a refuge for them in the bad weather that is sure to come our way soon.

Here are a few of the first visitors to the renovated “Back Yard Buffet”…

That’s it for now from the renovated Back Yard Buffet.
Stay tuned for future updates…
and cross your fingers for no hawk incursions!
Trail Walker