Hats, gloves, and scarves!

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Young deer by the picnic shelter

 

Hello trail walkers! In my last post, I told you that the time has come to open the closet and sort out my hats, gloves, and hand warmers if I intend to continue trail walking, now that early Autumn has morphed into chilly winter weather.  Last week we experienced our first snowfall, a real one that required boots, and stayed on the ground for three days. Most of the trees have lost their leaves, and even the wildlife is feeling the pinch of winter. Although our park rangers frown on walkers doling out treats, a man I passed on the trail today told me the chickadees and titmice were following him down the trail, complaining loudly because he hadn’t brought enough seeds to share, and his pockets were empty.

A few of the pictures in this post are from Chagrin River Park, although most of them were taken in our yard.

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I photographed these leaves again this week because I can’t resist the color.
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It was easy to spot this cardinal when it landed in a tree next to the trail.

The birds in our neighborhood were happy that I had replenished the food supply in their back yard buffet. (Click on any picture below  to see a larger version)

It was chilly on the trail today;
It’s time to order some handwarmers!

Skip aka Trailwalker

Backyard birds online again

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Since early June I’ve been off the trail more than on it! Two months have passed in what  has been a very busy summer, and I have chronicled very little of it. Shame on me! So to get started again, I am posting a few pictures from my backyard birding collection, starting with a few hummers who stopped by the feeders yesterday:

Like the hummingbirds, the pileated woodpeckers, both male and female, have visited every day for weeks, early morning, again at lunchtime, and finally in the evening. Take a look:

And yesterday the bird featured at the top of this post and also below made an appearance. The bluejay I recognize, by sight and sound, but the other bird is not a regular at my backyard feeders, so I’m not sure what it is. Can someone please tell me?

That’s all for today, Trail Walkers.
See you soon!

Idle observations at the hopper feeder

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When the pileated woodpeckers visit the backyard buffet, they are mostly ignored by the other birds. Despite their size and fearsome-looking beak, they don’t seem to be feared, but they are certainly not included in the community activities. They operate solo! The pileated pictured here is a male who is interested in food, but isn’t looking to enjoy a friendly meal with his neighbors.

On the other hand, the smaller birds like the sparrows and finches are more community-minded (although not always friendly). At least as far as I have observed. Here they are, during their social hour at the hopper-feeder on a sunny morning:

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Now don’t take this seriously, but do you know any people who act like that? Are any neighbors in your community isolated or do they all share the communal space? Are they accepting of strangers or openly hostile? Do you see any familiar behavior in these pictures?  This is just a non-scientific, layman’s observation, based on the body language and the expressions on some of those beaks, but I’m wondering if, like some humans, not all little birds are friendly and welcoming during their social gatherings. Can we learn anything from the birds? As I said, this is strictly non-scientific, so don’t take it seriously! Just have fun watching the behavior of the birds in your neighborhood.

See you soon!
Trail Walker

 

Too cold for trailwalking

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As I warned in my last post, right after spotting the red-bellied woodpecker above, our temperatures plummeted and for the past several days have hovered around zero (F). Yesterday the high temp here along the south shore of Lake Erie peaked at zero degrees Fahrenheit and went down from there. The “feels like” temp, given the wind chill, was many degrees lower. It was, as I had expected, painfully below my acceptable trail walking minimum of 23 degrees, so I resorted to backyard birding…through my kitchen window. Here are a few of the birds I saw this morning after we trudged out to refresh the feeders.

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Starlings arrive in large groups
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They are pesky, but, taken individually, can be cute.
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Sometimes they search under the feeders.
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A solitary tufted titmouse

That’s all the backyard birding I have time for right now. Maybe I can capture a few more later, but I wouldn’t blame them if they all found a warm spot to huddle together out of the wind.

Thanks for visiting. Hopefully I will soon be back on the trail. Our temperature is supposed to moderate in a day or two. I’m thankful for that prediction because I have had enough of this worrisome sub-zero stuff. I’m fully aware that, while I am warm and cozy, as I watch the birds through my kitchen window, many others aren’t so fortunate. Some have to search out shelters for protection. They need our prayers when the weather conditions become treacherous, something that seems to happen with increasing frequency in recent months, or maybe I should say years.

Stay safe, fellow bloggers, and give thanks for your safety.
Trail Walker

Breakfast time at the Backyard Buffet

It was a dreary morning, but the Baltimore oriole appears unfazed by the wet weather. His bright orange coat is still looking good and adds a little cheer to the backyard buffet when he landed on the dish that holds his grape jelly.

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On the other hand, the pileated woodpecker struggles to make his usual smooth landing before settling down to eat breakfast.

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My funniest picture ever of a pileated woodpecker.
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However, he recovers his composure and carries on.

The pileated comes around every day for his morning meal, and nothing is going to interfere with it. A bird that big has to have his meals on time. Sometimes a fellow just has to do the best he can, regardless of the weather! Eating is serious business for the birds.

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

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

A guest for lunch

One of our neighborhood big birds, the pileated woodpecker, came for lunch today. He swooped in for a landing on top of the hopper feeder, and Bob spotted him feasting on the suet cake that is right below his “landing pad.” Leaning over the end of the feeder, he would grab a bite of suet, take a look around the neighborhood, then grab another bite. He was in no hurry to leave, and I had time to take a lot of photos.

 

He’s almost prehistoric-looking. Check out that beak and those claws. I wouldn’t want to get between him and his suet because he obviously loves it. Finally satisfied, he flew away, moving unbelievably fast! Maybe next time I’ll be quicker with my finger on the shutter button and get a better shot of the takeoff!
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That was today’s excitement, but I’m betting he’ll be back!
Trail Walker

Big birds in the backyard

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To my delight the sky cleared this afternoon, and I was even more delighted when I heard a familiar sound in the neighborhood. I hurried to the window and, sure enough, the pileated woodpecker was in our backyard. It didn’t hang around for long, but before it swooped through the air to land on a tree farther away, I was able to grab my camera and get off a shot.

A visit from the big Woody Woodpecker look-alike is always a joy, and I thought to myself that I had my big bird photo opp for the day. But a little while later, Bob came home from his walk with Gulliver, rushed in the house, and announced, “Get your camera, and let’s go. The eagles are both at the nest.” So we took off for Bruce Yee Park, just a mile down the road from our backyard, where a pair of bald eagles have recently set up housekeeping. My longest lens really isn’t long enough to get great shots from much distance, but it was a delight to see this pair, Mama sitting on the nest and Papa standing guard in a nearby tree.

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I couldn’t get a clear shot of Mama.
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But Papa sat straight up and let me take multiple photo opps.
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They seem to be taking parenthood very seriously.

Our recent weather hasn’t been conducive to photowalking, and I haven’t added many shots to my trailwalking gallery nor posts to my blog, but this afternoon’s two unplanned and unexpected photoshoots …both without leaving the neighborhood, made up for my recent photographic dry spell. I couldn’t have asked for a better day!

Thanks for stopping by to see my big birds.
Trail Walker

A sure sign of spring!

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Spring has been wearing its fickle face recently, bringing lots of rain, wind, and even a few rumbles of thunder. Thankfully we haven’t had any severe storms, although at times the rain was heavy enough to create a large pond in our neighbor’s backyard. This happens every spring, of course, and, without fail, when the spring rain comes, this mallard couple comes with it.

A year or two ago, they were joined by several other male mallards, but that didn’t go so well. There was an outbreak of territorial jealousy accompanied by noisy quacking and threatening posturing. With multiple male mallards and only one female, peaceful coexistence was not a possibility. Watching their antics, I harbored a suspicion that the lady mallard was enjoying the ruckus…and maybe even egging the guys on! This afternoon Mr. and Mrs. Mallard returned for their annual visit, and happily it was just the two of them!

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