Posted in Back yard bird buffet, backyard birding, Color me Spring!, My trail walks

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
Posted in Back yard bird buffet, backyard birding, pileated woodpecker, spring

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
Posted in Back yard bird buffet, backyard birding, bird photography, Color me Spring!, My trail walks

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
Posted in backyard birding, bird photography, Color me Spring!

Backyard bonanza

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The last few days have brought some surprise visitors to our backyard buffet. Saturday of the second week in May is International Migratory Bird Day…a big occasion here on the south shore of Lake Erie. Birds migrating northward to their summer homes have to cross Lake Erie if the route they take goes through Ohio. Their journey is long, the weather isn’t always favorable, and when they reach Lake Erie, needing to rest up for the long leg of their trip across the Lake,  birders in northeast Ohio find their forests and backyard inundated with an amazing variety of birds, many of which aren’t commonly seen here. Surprises are not unusual, and this weekend we have had a few  right in our own backyard.

One surprise was the reappearance of bluebirds showing an interest in the nesting box we recently installed in the backyard. We weren’t sure they would return because until January I had never seen a bluebird in our backyard, but we bought and installed it anyway with the theory that, “If you build it, they will come.” And they did. They are curious about the little house, although none have moved in yet. It may be too new and in need of seasoning.

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Checking the size of the entrance
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Is he thinking about moving in with his mate?

The bluebirds make me really happy. I can’t help smiling when I see them at the feeders, but the biggest surprise of all, the one pictured below, appeared yesterday.

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I have never seen a redheaded woodpecker in our backyard!
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But today he has come to visit. Serendipity!

There have been other surprise visitors too, but I will save them for another blog post. It is raining again tonight after several dry but chilly days. It doesn’t seem much like May, but I heard a rumor that it might get really warm (maybe even hot) next week. That’s something to look forward to!

Thanks for stopping by. I love it when you visit.
See you soon. ~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 backyard birding, Baltimore orioles, bird photography, Color me Spring!

Orioles!

Lots of activity in our backyard today. Rose breasted grosbeaks, Baltimore orioles, and a little Eastern bluebird. Here are the orioles, but I’m saving the others for tomorrow when I have more time.

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It has been a cool, cloudy, and overcast day, but these visitors made the sun come out for me and put a smile on my face! I hope they give you a smile too.

Thanks for visiting. ~Trail Walker
Posted in bird photography, Chagrin River Park, Color me Spring!, My trail walks

The wrens have returned!

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When we’re talking birds, migration is a fascinating topic, especially in the spring when the woods are awake with the sight and song of the warblers and other birds that haven’t been around during the cold winter months.

The bird pictured above, a house wren, is small and looks sweet, but according to my i-bird app, they are fiercely territorial and have been known to destroy the eggs of bluebirds and other small birds. So…definitely not sweet! However it is fun to watch them “feather their nesting holes” and settle in for the summer. One afternoon this week I hung around for a half-hour or so and watched for this little one to return to the nesting hole. When she did, I snapped a sequence of pictures as she came to her “front door” and peered outside.

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Look closely and, in a few of the pictures, you can see the “sawdust” on her beak, a result of her efforts to excavate the nest. That’s something human mothers don’t have to do to provide a home for their newborn babies.

This same skinny tree has been used before, perhaps by the same wren. Reportedly they can live up to seven years in the wild, so this could be the same little bird I’ve seen in past years. However, this year the entrance to the nest is on the side of the tree facing the trail. In previous years, it was on the other side; the bird would fly up to the (very skinny) tree, land on the side facing the bog, and disappear inside. She is just one of numerous wrens that have returned to the bog in recent days. I don’t know how many there are, but, according to Wikipedia, the house wren is the most widely distributed bird in the Americas, and as I walk along the trail, I can hear their melodic song from high and low on both sides of the trail.

One final fact for this post is that a group of wrens can be referred to by several different names: a chime, flight, flock, or even a herd of wrens. A herd of wrens? That takes me back to my teen years when I would go with my father to inspect the herds of dairy cows that produced milk the farmers were shipping to market in Philadelphia. That was another time, another place, and a very different animal from this herd of wrens that has moved into Chagrin River Park for the summer. I wonder who would possibly have come up with the term “herd of wrens?” As a term for a group of wrens, it certainly doesn’t work for me; nevertheless, the park is filled with their song, and I enjoy seeing and hearing this “herd” of migratory birds.

Thanks for joining me on the trail today.
See you soon. ~Trail Walker
Posted in bird photography, Chagrin River Park, Color me Spring!, My trail walks, northern flicker

Love those birds!

I was standing next to the trail, watching a house wren “feathering her nest,” when I spotted two birds on a branch high over my head. I couldn’t see them clearly with my naked eye, so you can imagine my surprise when I downloaded them to my computer after I got home.

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Female flicker
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Male and female
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Lovebirds!

Talk about serendipity! I couldn’t believe my luck in capturing these two beautiful birds…together! The house wren pictures came out pretty good also, but I will post them another day. Today belongs to the flickers. Hope you like them. For you bird lovers, a group of flickers are collectively known as a “guttering”, “menorah”, and “Peterson” of flickers. Who knew? I definitely didn’t, but now you do!

Thanks for joining me along the trail today.
See you soon. ~Trail Walker