Posted in back yard buffet, backyard birding, Color me Spring!

Good news, but potentially bad news too

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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
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 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

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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:

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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

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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…

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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.

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House finch checking out the area below the feeder
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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.

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…and he was definitely interested in food.

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

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…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.

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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!

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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.

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Sip…
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Swallow!
That’s it today from the Back Yard Bird Buffet.
Thanks for stopping by!
Trail Walker