The watering-hole gang


Although they don’t look exotic, house sparrows are considered an exotic species. They are non-native birds that were introduced into North America in the mid-ninteenth century, and to say they have thrived is putting it mildly. Currently they are thriving in my backyard, and I am not thrilled! Before the big oak tree on the back of our property fell in November and we ended up with a large brush pile in our backyard, flocks of these sparrows were happy inhabitants of a large shrub at the corner of our neighbor’s driveway. Now they have relocated from the overgrown shrub to the brush pile. To say they are happy is an understatement, but me…not so much! Currently the tufted titmice, nuthatches, chickadees, downy woodpeckers, and blue jays are coexisting with the sparrows, but I am concerned that they will drive away the little bluebirds and other migratory songbirds with their noisy behavior, overwhelming presence, and tendency to take over nesting boxes. As the proprietor of the backyard bird buffet, that would make me a very unhappy home owner.

At the moment I am somewhat entertained by their antics at the “watering hole” as evidenced by these pictures of the male and female house sparrows:

…but this gang is aggressive and wearing out their welcome with me!  As winter wanes and the migratory warblers reappear on the annual return journey from their winter homes in warmer climates, I am hoping to offer them a safe haven in my backyard buffet. Unfortunately, the presence of a noisy flock  gang of house sparrows is definitely less than welcoming.

If any of you bird lovers have suggestions for how to discourage these invaders, please pass along what you know. I don’t want to play host to unfriendly invaders that are detrimental to all the beautiful songbirds that could find a happy home here. Meanwhile I am using the power of google to learn what I can before the time arrives for the spring migration.


That’s the latest update from Skip’s Backyard Buffet.
Thanks for visiting! See you soon with another report.
Trail Walker (aka Skip)

A surprise visitor

I glanced out the window and was surprised to see this northern flicker sitting on the grass by my patio. He seemed to be picking up insects, and he kept it up for at least five minutes. This is the first time I can recall a flicker visiting our backyard bird buffet, so I was delighted to catch him with my camera. I have seen them on the trees in the park, but never in my backyard. It was a rainy day, one that was going to keep me indoors, so what a gift to be able to capture his picture, just by opening the window and leaning out a little. These are the best of the 10 or 11 shots I took before he flew away (The red in the lower right corner is the leg of the patio chair). (Click on a picture to enlarge the gallery.)

That’s it for today’s post, which involved a glance out the window rather than a walk “along the trail.”

Thanks for stopping by.
Carolyn aka Skip

Cloudy, cool, and delightful!

It’s been a great day for birding, considering the weather and the fact that I didn’t take my camera out of the house. Ten different species of birds visited my bird buffet today, and I got reasonably good pictures of eight of them…standing inside my kitchen window and aiming my lens at the birds as they flitted from feeder to feeder. That many different species would have been enough, but what made me happiest was glancing out the window and seeing the first hummingbird of the season, sipping sugar water from the feeder I had just filled. (Click a bird to scroll through the larger pictures).

That’s the lot for today. Unfortunately, the downy woodpecker and Baltimore oriole got away without waiting for a photo opp. Maybe they will visit another day, but I’m not complaining. It was a successful day of birding, and I did it all from inside my kitchen window! Thanks for stopping by. If you have time, leave a comment so we can have a conversation, or stop by my other blog and leave a comment there.

Cheers! Carolyn aka Skip

Rainy day blues

Have you ever thought about how inaccurate that phrase is? The rainy day grays would be a better description in my opinion. Sitting at my computer this afternoon, I glance out the window above me, and what I see is gray, not blue. Gray is the color of rainy days, and a very accurate description for today. Two days ago, we celebrated a perfect, sunny-blue-sky day with the temperature topping out at 80 degrees Fahrenheit…our highest so far this spring. It seemed almost like summer, and a marvelous antidote to our long, snowy, and record-breaking frigid winter. A mere 48 hours later, we have plunged back into mid-March. That is to say: wet, chilly, overcast, and basically gray.

However, and this is my point here, despite the grayness of the weather and sky, I’m feeling sunny-blue-sky joyful. Although that may seem contradictory, my mood isn’t determined by the weather. Four things happened today that have me feeling sunny-blue-sky joyful:

  1. A good friend needed a ride to a doctor appointment. Taking her there got me out of the house, and we thankfully escaped the worst of the wet weather…driving between the cloudbursts. While I waited for her to finish her appointment, I encountered another patient who was waiting for a ride home. My conversation with this amazing 94-year-young stranger warmed my heart. That’s a story for another day, but I just hope our conversation blessed her as much as it did me.
  2. Out of the blue (a much better description for today), another good friend called with the news that she had made a big pot of chicken rice soup and wanted to give me some…my second mood brightener of the day, and a very tasty lunch when I arrived back home.
  3. The third source of my joy was the birds that visited my back yard “bird buffet,” 10 different species in all, and I got decent pictures of eight of them. They seemed positively energized and delighted by the falling rain and new bird seed waiting for them at the buffet.
  4. And to top it all, a hummingbird stopped by to sip fresh sugar water. It’s our first hummer of the summer (forgive me for being a little silly, but hummingbirds have that effect on me). Here he is. Doesn’t he look happy? These are far from the sharpest hummingbird photos I’ve ever taken, but capturing tiny, quick-moving birds is one thing cloudy gray skies don’t do well.




So that’s my day.  For the record:
  • Exercise: No walk today. Too much rain and too little time!
  • Weather: In a word, wet. Another word: cool.
  • It has been a day full of blessings for which I am thankful.
  • If you want to see the other bird buffet visitors, click here. They are posted on my nature blog.

Thanks for stopping by!

Skip aka Carolyn

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