Monday musings

2019_03_04__Backyard birding_0063
My calendar insists that today is March 4th. In sixteen short days, we will observe the spring equinox, the astronomical first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere; in other words, the first official day of spring! Here in Ohio, we will “spring forward” next weekend, turning our clocks an hour ahead for the beginning of DST or daylight saving time. Not that it really saves any time, and sometimes I wonder if I wouldn’t prefer leaving my clock on standard time all year round. Nevertheless, I will conform and save myself from the confusion of never arriving anywhere at the “right time.”

So there you have it; spring is almost upon us, but, oh, how I wish it felt (and looked) more like spring! That won’t happen here on the south shore of Lake Erie until sometime in April, if we’re lucky. But here’s some good news. The birds have begun their spring migration. And I saw undeniable proof this week: a redwinged blackbird appeared in my backyard. No, I didn’t capture his (or her) picture, but I saw it. Truly I did, and that made me smile. Maybe if I carve out time this week for a trail walk in the arboretum, I will discover some tiny snowdrops, another sure harbinger of spring. Meanwhile, a bevy of birds were active in my backyard today, and they were willing to pose for some photo opps. Here are a few that I captured through my kitchen window: First, the blue jays:

Here’s another junco, like the one at the top of the post. They don’t linger once spring arrives, so they will soon be on their way to their summer home. For that reason, they are sometimes called snowbirds.
2019_03_04__Backyard birding_0062
A cardinal and an American robin also made a visit. All of these birds, even the robin, live year round in our neighborhood. I’m not sure how  robins got the reputation for being one of the first signs of spring because they don’t deserve it. We see them all year round, although it is true that we see more in warmer weather. (Although I’ve never actually counted, so that could be inaccurate.)

2019_03_04__Backyard birding_00562019_03_04__Backyard birding_0054

My favorite little birds have been hanging around recently. Despite their reputation as summer birds, they also appear in the winter. I was shocked the first time I saw a bluebird in the middle of winter. But here they are. (Click to enlarge).

The two on the right are males. I’m not positive about the one on the left with the more subdued color, but I think it is a male too. I do know they enjoy perching on top of the “rabbit” that watches over the garden.
And, as always, the “not-a-birds” have been busy scampering around the yard and up and down the trees, “stealing” food from the feeders. They can’t fly, but their agility is amazing as they climb the pole to get to the hopper feeder.

2019_03_04__Backyard birding_00052019_03_04__Backyard birding_0001

That’s it for today’s bird count. You can be sure I will keep my eye out for that redwinged blackbird. Maybe I will hear him before I see him. That’s often the way it is with the redwings. Every spring, their loud, distinctive call announces their arrival. Come back soon to see what I find in the backyard or along the trail.

Thanks for stopping by today. I always enjoy your visits!
Trail Walker

Is it vacant now? A bluebird catastrophe

2018_10_30__untitled shoot_0104

A story I didn’t have the heart to tell until now.

Mr. Bluebird has just peeked into the nesting box. Perched on top, Mrs. B. is wondering if the box is available. “Have the sparrows left?” she queries. “Can we move in?” (That’s my guess at their conversation based on their actions and the expressions on their tiny faces.)

 

A few months earlier, when summer was at its peak, Mrs. B, with a little help from her mate, had diligently built a nest in this very same box. When the nest was ready, the time had come. She laid three tiny eggs in her carefully constructed nest, and both parents went to work keeping watch over their brood. Day after day, she tended the nest, making occasional quick trips outside to pick up more twigs and a grub or two, carrying them back to the nest in her beak. Sometimes Mr. Bluebird would bring her a grub or a worm, although he mostly patrolled the neighborhood, doing his best to keep the house sparrows and blue jays away from the little family.

2018_06_08__Holden Arboretum_00672018_06_14__Backyard birding_0070

Sadly, his best wasn’t good enough. One morning, when Momma and Poppa were both briefly out of the nest, an intruder got inside. How do I know that? I know because I had been keeping a close eye on the nest from my nearby kitchen window. Seeing the pair of beautiful blue birds, tending the nest so carefully, brought me great joy.

I checked on them every time I passed by the window, and then, one morning, tragedy struck. I glanced out the window and was horrified to see a house sparrow sitting on top of the nesting box, and the bluebirds were nowhere to be seen. I checked the nest often for the next few days. Occasionally I spotted Mr. Bluebird, perched on a nearby branch or on one of the feeders, his eyes scanning the neighborhood, but the momma was nowhere in sight. The house sparrows were around though, entering and leaving the nesting box they had quickly claimed as their own.

2018_06_15__Backyard birding_00682018_06_15__Backyard birding_0059

Finally, after a few days, we opened the box and discovered three tiny eggs, with a hole pecked in each one. We sadly cleaned out the box, hoping an empty box would discourage the sparrows. It did, but except for a very rare visit to the neighborhood, the bluebirds were gone. They didn’t return to the nest.

Then one day, months later, at the end of October, I was excited to see a bluebird, not just one, but a pair of bluebirds, in the backyard. I began to keep a close eye on the nest, as I had months earlier, and eventually, as I watched, Mr. Bluebird entered the nest, not once, but several times. And one of those times, a house sparrow flew up and tried to enter the nesting box when the bluebird was already inside. With a flurry of feathers and much beating of wings, the brave bluebird repelled the invader, as I stood at the window and cheered.

 

2018_11_07__untitled shoot_0024
Mr. Bluebird defending the nest!

What will happen next? I don’t know. I’m rooting for Mr. and Mrs. Bluebird, but the sparrows are persistent. I’m keeping my fingers crossed!

Please keep your fingers crossed too.
I’ll let you know what happens!
Trail Walker

Bad weather for birds

The weather wasn’t too bad in the morning, and a lonesome male bluebird stopped by to check out the nesting box. I’d like to think he was scouting for a home for his mate and future family, but I won’t be holding my breath on that score.

2018_03_07__Spring_Backyard birding_00142018_03_07__Spring_Backyard birding_00182018_03_07__Spring_Backyard birding_0020

However, as the day progressed, the weather worsened. In late afternoon I looked out the window to see snow falling and rapidly covering the ground with a coating of that white stuff, which looks magical in December, but by March…not so much! After the bluebird visitation this morning, there was very little bird activity. I took one last glance out the window as the light was fading,  and saw only some snowbirds (juncos) and a couple of mourning doves,  sheltering at the base of one of the feeders.  When the dove posed next to the water bowl, I snapped her picture.

2018_03_07___Backyard birding_0013

That was all the excitement for the day, and it was enough for me. I’m laying low for few days, recovering from a tumble off our back steps that resulted in an entire night in a massively crowded emergency room. And, no, I don’t know how it happened. They kept asking if I had passed out, lost consciousness, or felt dizzy, and all I could say was ,”No, no, and no,” whenever anyone asked.

That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it!!!
See you soon, Trail Walker

Ongoing saga of the backyard buffet

2017_05_26_Places_Backyard birding_0040
It’s clear to the eye that this is another rainy morning, but nevertheless, the birds arrived for breakfast as usual. The redbellied woodpecker, shown in the picture above, wasn’t happy to discover that the hopper feeder had been totally emptied overnight. She is not sure how this happens and neither are we, although we are beginning to suspect collusion between deer and raccoons. To my dismay, the deer wander the neighborhood at night, although sometimes they don’t wait until nightfall. Anytime will do for them. They come up the hill out of the park, cross one street, and walk down another street into our neighborhood. They know exactly where the softies live who put out food for the birds, and that becomes their next meal, of course. This has been their routine forever. So I don’t put out as much food, only enough for the birds to eat during the day, leaving only a few leftovers for the marauding deer. That left the bird buffet pretty much unscathed until I purchased a hanging fuschia plant because someone said hummingbirds love them. It’s true; they do, but so do the deer. Unfortunately!

Then one morning, I looked out the window at the bird buffet and noticed that the lid to the hopper feeder was wide open. The pileated woodpecker was sitting on top of it, but that wasn’t what caught my eye. The open and empty  feeder is what caught my eye. Some greedy varmint had lifted the lid, flipped it back, and eaten all the bird seed. All of it! The deer didn’t do that! We must have raccoons roaming the neighborhood under cover of darkness. That’s when I began to think we are fighting a losing battle here. Squirrels and deer any time of the day and raccoons at night. This may be a lost cause!

2017_05_26_Places_Backyard birding_0057

However, as I continue to wage my war with the unwelcome wildlife, there are still the bluebirds to enjoy. A few days ago, Mr. and Mrs. Bluebird got up the gumption to enter the new bird house, and apparently they liked it.

2017_05_29_Places_backyard buffet_01842017_05_29_Places_backyard buffet_01542017_05_29_Places_backyard buffet_01492017_05_29_Places_backyard buffet_01762017_05_29_Places_backyard buffet_01502017_05_29_Places_backyard buffet_0178

I’m not sure, but I think they may put in a bid on the property. I hope they do because I would be happy to have them as neighbors.

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

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

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

 

 

Back to the bluebirds

2017_01_03_places_back-yard-buffet_0020

I’m always delighted when I see Eastern bluebirds, especially when they are visiting my Backyard Bird Buffet. When yesterday dawned cold and soggy, I wasn’t expecting to see them, but as Bob and I watched the regular, daily visitors to the Buffet, a little flock of bluebirds joined the crowd and made themselves at home.

First this little male visited the new seed cylinder. I didn’t see him munching at the cylinder, but apparently it also works well as a perch and a place to check out the activity in the backyard.

A female joined him…
2017_01_03_places_back-yard-buffet_0020

…and he kept watch while she tasted a tidbit.

2017_01_03_places_back-yard-buffet_0022

Next they flew to the stump where they were joined by another female.

2017_01_03_places_back-yard-buffet_00242017_01_03_places_back-yard-buffet_0027

Uh-oh, an intruder!

2017_01_03_places_back-yard-buffet_0031

A hungry one!
2017_01_03_places_back-yard-buffet_0030

Fortunately red-bellied woodpeckers are not a threat to bluebirds and other songbirds, so peace was restored in the Bird Buffet until a hawk flew in for a visit. At that point, all the guests at the Backyard Buffet scattered for safety. No one was left for the hawk to harm, so he flew away too.

That’s the end of Tuesday’s adventures at the Backyard Buffet.
Thanks for visiting! See you soon.
Trail Walker

A joyful ending to 2016

2016_12_31_untitled_untitled-shoot_0041

A little flock of Eastern bluebirds came by this week to help me finish off my backyard buffet posts for 2016. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I looked out the window and saw them because I have NEVER before seen a bluebird in our neighborhood. They aren’t uncommon in northeast Ohio, but they are usually seen in spring and summer. I did capture this one in November at Holden Arboretum,
2016_11_17_places_holden-arboretum_0155

…but was completely taken by surprise to see a little flock in my backyard on Wednesday, dining with the sparrows, starlings, titmice, and other familiar year round birds. On Thursday, I was away from home from before sunrise until long after dark, so on Friday I kept an eager eye out the window, hoping they would return. They didn’t, and I began to wonder if they had just made a brief stop here on their way to a warmer climate and had already moved on. Imagine my joy this morning (Saturday) when they reappeared among the usual breakfast time visitors. I picked up my camera, which is always on the shelf below the window, held my breath, and began snapping away. Here is a little bluebird portrait gallery, some taken on Wednesday and some today.

I’m excited to be able to share a “new” bird (new to my backyard buffet) on the last day of 2016. Every year has its ups and downs, and every day brings things for which I am thankful, but, as we come to the end of what has been a very unusual year for many of us,  it gives me joy to share these beautiful birds with you.

Happy New Year, Trail Walking Friends!
Let’s look forward to 2017 with hope, faith, joy, and love.
See you soon!
Trail Walker

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: