Posted in back yard buffet, backyard birding, birds, nature

A surprise visitor at the back yard buffet

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In the past week the pileated woodpecker has made several visits to our back yard buffet. I heard her announce her arrival early this evening when I was cleaning up the kitchen, so I took my camera and sat on the patio after supper. It wasn’t long before she flew in. First she swung by the new suet feeder, but didn’t hang around long enough to take a taste of the bark butter suet. However, she soon returned and this time grabbed on to the large suet holder Bob hung from a post way back under the trees, and, finally, as I sat on the patio bench, she returned to the new feeder, the one that was closest to me. I snapped away as she feasted on the bark butter. She was happy, and so was I. Here’s hoping she likes it enough to return often. I think there may be a male in the neighborhood too because last week two pileateds arrived together. At the time, I didn’t have my camera, so I missed the photo opp. Today I didn’t make that mistake! Here are a few more pictures of today’s visitor:

Interesting facts about this big bird:

  • Male and female pileated look very much alike, but the male has a red mustache.
  • They nest in cavities in trees that they excavate. The noise they make while digging these holes can be heard for quite a distance.
  • They will make up to 16 holes in each tree to allow escape routes in case a predator enters the tree, and they peck the bark around the entrance holes to make the sap run. That keeps some predators, such as snakes, from entering their nest.
  • Their favorite food is carpenter ants, and the young are fed regurgitated insects.
  • A group of pileated woodpeckers are collectively known as a “crown” of woodpeckers.
  • Sometimes people call them “Woody Woodpecker” after the cartoon, which definitely resembles a pileated woodpecker.

That’s enough for this post. I hope you enjoyed seeing the big bird.

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


Posted in bird photography, My trail walks, nature

There’s nothing like a cedar waxwing!

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The cedar waxwing pictured above is demonstrating the fondness these birds have for fruit. According to the iBird app, they are the most specialized fruit-eating bird, but their diet also includes items such as carpenter ants, cicadas, caterpillars, cankerworms, and maple sap. Other strange information is  that they sometimes become intoxicated from eating fermented berries in winter, and they will also readily eat apple slices, currants, and canned peas. The yellow or orange terminal band on their tails are thought to vary in color depending on their diet. The most entertaining fact I read about waxwings is that a group of them could be called an “ear-full” or a “museum” of waxwings. Here are a few more pictures:

My walk today was a chilly one, and I was wishing for a warmer jacket. The temperature was only about 57 degrees with a stiff breeze, but the sun was shining, the waxwings came out to play, and I ran into several friends and caught up with their news, so it was a good day for a walk along the trail!

Thanks for joining me
Trail Walker
Posted in backyard birding, bird photography, nature

A bothered and bedraggled blackbird

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This tidy-looking red-winged blackbird with his sleek feathers is delighted with the new feeding tray that Bob set up yesterday. Although he wasn’t overjoyed with the heavy rain showers that came through this afternoon as he was enjoying his lunch at the back yard buffet, the rain didn’t stop him from feasting on the sunflower seeds and other tasty treats. The pictures in this gallery will show how bothered, bedraggled, and downright dismayed he became as the rain poured down on him, but eventually he resigned himself to the rain and finished his meal.

Joining him at the buffet was an equally bedraggled blue jay whose feathers had been well-saturated by the downpour.

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Here’s hoping “the sun will come out tomorrow!”
See you then!
Trail Walker

Posted in Lake Metroparks, My trail walks, nature, nature photography

Penitentiary Glen


Penitentiary Glen is another of the Lake County MetroParks. I don’t go there often because it is on the way out to the Arboretum, which is where I usually end up when I head in that direction; however, it has some good trails. I only had enough energy for a short walk, so the trail around the pond behind the headquarters building was perfect. It includes meadows, a bog, and a bridge from which I could focus my lens on water-dwelling critters. In addition to the frog at the top of the post, here are the pictures I captured along that trail:

It was a short, but very satisfying, walk because there was so much to see. I’m glad you came along today to check it out.

See you soon.
Trail Walker
Posted in Holden Arboretum, My trail walks, nature

Spring trail walk in Holden Arboretum

Today’s visit to the Murch Canopy Walk and Kalberer Emergent Tower marks my fifth time to experience these special features at the Arboretum. Links to those earlier visits can be seen here and here.

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One of my favorite sights in the rhododendron garden is the gazebo pictured above. Sometimes, when I want to just enjoy the peace of the garden, I will take my lunch and sit in the gazebo.

But today I met my friend Lorna at the visitor’s center where we purchased tickets for the Emergent Tower and Canopy Walk, and we are going to head down the trail to the rhododendron garden. Lunch will wait until after we enjoy the garden, climb the Emergent Tower, and make our way back to the patio at the visitors’ center. If I had special ordered the weather for today’s visit to Holden Arboretum, it would have been for a day exactly like this, so let’s head on down the trail. Click on any of the pictures in the gallery and immerse yourself in the sights of summer in the Arboretum.

I hope you enjoyed your virtual walk in the garden. And I know you didn’t get out of breath like I did when we climbed the Tower! Thankfully they have places you can stop and catch your breath while you enjoy the view on the way up. I needed them! Now it’s time for lunch. Lorna and I brought ours, but you’re on your own! Thanks for joining us for this virtual tour in the Arboretum.

Note: If you want to see my earlier posts about the Canopy Walk and Emergent Tower, click here and go back to last fall’s trail walks with more pictures.

See you in a day or two for another trail walk.
Trail Walker
Posted in bird photography, My trail walks, nature

Announcement: the wrens have returned!

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House wrens were showing up all over the place this morning…at least all along the trail I was walking. I’m really not sure how many different wrens I saw, but I’m sure there was more than one. Wrens apparently are cavity nesters, and for several years I have watched them go in and out of this dead tree. Every year they return to the nest, and I was delighted to see them return this spring. It took some patience on my part to get this picture because the wren(s) don’t make a direct approach to the nest, and I took lots of pictures before she finally posed on the top of the tree. Here are a few of the outtakes:

Watching the wrens was a lot of fun, and took up most of my time today, but here are a few others I added to my gallery this morning.

A tufted titmouse that landed right in front of my camera:

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A black-capped chickadee

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A tiny hummingbird sitting on the very top of a tall tree:

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…and FINALLY,  a tiny chipmunk let me walk really close to him to get this picture. He was well hidden behind a branch, but I got this shot by slowly walking around the end of the branch until we were almost face-to-face. Maybe he thought I hadn’t seen him. That’s the advantage of carrying a 300mm lens.

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That’s all for today. Hope you like them too. Tomorrow I meeting a friend for a trail walk at Holden Arboretum. The pictures will be different, so stop by to see what I find along the trail.

Thanks for joining me on the trail today.
Trail Walker
Posted in backyard birding, bird photography, My trail walks, nature

Back Yard Birding and more

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I know some people take their feeders down when spring arrives, but we still like to keep some food and water available for these little creatures. So the other day I parked myself on a back yard bench to decide how to rearrange the feeders, and here are a few of the visitors that stopped in to say hello:

So with all those visitors to entertain me, I stayed longer in the back yard than I had intended, but eventually I got up from the bench and went with Bob to take Gulliver for a walk in the park. There I encountered a few more birds (but no squirrels this time). Take a look at these beauties:

A white-crowned sparrow

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A little yellow warbler sitting on a branch

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A downy woodpecker admiring some yellow flowers

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And last of all, on the trail back to the parking lot, we saw an indigo bunting. 

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With that beautiful bunting, my day was complete!!! The ruby-throated hummingbird at the very top of this post and the indigo bunting are my favorites. I enjoyed sharing them all with you. If you have a favorite, please leave a comment to let me know.

Thanks for stopping by today.
See you soon.
Trail Walker
Posted in bird photography, My trail walks, nature

Mother Goose and her family

It’s not easy to raise your family if you are Mother Goose. You may start with 10 or 12 little ones, but life in the bog can be very dangerous for a flock of little goslings. Yesterday when I saw Mother Goose swimming in the bog with her babies and another adult goose (presumably Daddy Goose), there were only two, so I quickly grabbed a few portraits of the little family.

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That’s the family album. I hope you like them!

See you soon.
Trail Walker
Posted in bird photography, My trail walks, nature

Turkey on the trail

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It’s not “Turkey Day” here in Ohio. That comes around in November when we celebrate Thanksgiving with feasts that usually include roast turkey; however, I was having a not-so-great photo day in the park…until this turkey crossed the trail. He was almost close enough to step on my toes, so I figured he had to be my blog post for the day. Turkeys have strangely small heads, so it makes me wonder about the size of their brains, but they do come in beautiful colors, especially the males. The female’s colors are more subdued, according to my iBird app.

There is quite a large population of turkeys in Chagrin River Park. Years ago, maybe around 10-12 years, there were just a few. Now there are two or three large rafters (groups) of turkeys that you may encounter anywhere along the trail. When dusk comes, they always return to the same group of trees. Once there, they flap their wings awkwardly and fly up to perch on tree limbs for the night. It’s a strange sight to see. Each bird chooses a separate limb, and they all flap around from tree to tree, until they find one that feels “right.” I’m always surprised to see that they don’t roost near the trunk or in the V where two large limbs meet. They seem to prefer perching in the middle of the limb. I can’t understand why they don’t fall off during the night.

If you look closely at a tom turkey (a male), you will see a piece of dangling flesh hanging below its face. That is called a snood, and according to this source, “it’s integral to the mating game, signaling to other toms that they should get out of his way and letting hens know that he’s got what they’re looking for.” If you want to know more (the R-rated bits), click on the link and read to your heart’s content. I think I know enough already.

Thanks for following the trail with me today.
Trail Walker
Posted in bird photography, My trail walks, nature

Just because it’s May!


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Yellow warbler

…and just because today is cloudy, windy, and only 49 degrees in northeastern Ohio, I decided to post a gallery of 10 cheerful orange and yellow birds that I recently photographed on a  (much warmer) trail walk in Chagrin River Park. Maybe they will help me remember that it is still spring.

That’s it for today’s trail walk photos. No matter what your weather or your situation today, I hope they cheered you up and put a smile on your face.

See you soon.
Trail Walker