Darn spring cleaning!

Sometime things around the house require my attention. I try not to let that happen too often, but when it does, and I begin to trip over the dust bunnies, something has to be done about them. That has happened to me recently. Consequently, I haven’t been out on the trail with my camera very often. Sad, but true! However, I have managed a few trail walks recently and some backyard birding, so I finally have something to post on my blog. Today. I’m sharing a few shots taken through my kitchen window. Let me know what you think.

To my delight, the bluebirds have been in and out of the nesting box multiple times per day. They make me smile on a regular basis! The blue jays and red-bellied woodpeckers are also faithful visitor to the seed cylinders and suet.

And then, on occasion, the pileated woodpeckers will swoop in for a meal.
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The last picture made me hold my breath until I actually got the shot. Never before has one of the big ones landed that low in the yard, and I was afraid she would fly away before I grabbed a shot or two. My hubby had planted some colorful flowers in a plastic tray on top of one of the stumps just outside the kitchen window, and they apparently attracted her eye. Since this visitor doesn’t have a red mustache to match the red crest, I’m pretty sure it’s the female. Both the male and female are nesting somewhere in our neighborhood. It’s exciting to have both stop in at the same time.

That’s all I have time for today. Thanks for visiting.
Come back soon!
~Trail Walker

A late afternoon trail walk

On cold days, I’m not always excited about putting on all the winter paraphernalia yet another time, especially as the sun is slowly sinking behind the trees; however, today I pushed open the door of my comfort zone and headed out for a chilly hour along the trails in Chagrin River Park.

My first goal was another look at Momma Great Horned Owl, so I chose the trail that led to her dead tree. From my vantage point, a fair distance from the tree, I could see that she was enjoying an afternoon nap, carefully camouflaged in her cozy nest.
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Unfortunately the light was too low to capture a clear picture with my Nikon, so I shot a few photographs, turned away and went in search of other nearby birds. Flitting in the treetops along the trail was a black-capped chickadee that was kind enough to pause for a little portrait shoot.

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When I reached the fence post at the juncture of two trails, I was happy to find the lady cardinal was still willing to pose…

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…as were the blue jay and red-bellied woodpecker…

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From a tree that overhangs the split-rail fence, a white-throated sparrow flew down to grab some peanuts; a pre-dinner appetizer perhaps:

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By this time,  my hands were thoroughly chilled, so I decided it was quitting time. “Tomorrow will be another day,” I said to myself, and hopefully the sun will shine.  Walking back to my car, I took the trail that skirts the bog and paused to watch a few mallards that hadn’t gone in for the night.

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By now it was really time to leave the trail and go home to download my pictures and get supper on the table. I’ll come back in the morning. Hopefully the light will be better!

I’ll look forward to seeing you then!
Trail Walker

Return of the pileated woodpeckers

The light was dull this morning, and I couldn’t get a great picture, but look who reappeared in our backyard this morning. We haven’t been visited by the pileateds for months, and this morning I heard the distinctive “I’m here!” call, ran to my window, and there he was high up on the tall oak tree. “Guess who’s in the backyard,” I called to Bob, “and there are actually two of them!” The one shown in today’s post hanging out on the oak tree for about 15 minutes, seemed to be drilling in the bark for food.  I only caught a glimpse of the second bird, which was higher in the trees and moving around more then the male. I’m not sure if they were two males or a male/female pair, but whichever, I was really excited to see them.
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That was my backyard birding highlight for the week, but here are a couple two more recent visitors:

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A white-breasted nuthatch

…and two bluejays, who seem a little uncertain about sharing the feast I set out for them on the tree stump.

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Just some ordinary backyard birds, but fun to watch from my post inside the kitchen window.

Thanks for visiting my backyard buffet today.
I hope to see you again soon.
Trail Walker

 

Lazy (and wet) Sunday afternoon

The temperature was hovering around zero with freezing rain tapping on the window pane, so backyard birding seemed like a better idea than trudging down the trail in the park. Call me a wimp, if you want,  but I’m happiest indoors in weather like this.

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Trio of bluejays

The bluejays don’t seem to mind much as long as the rain isn’t pelting down, but I do mind, so I decided to do a little backyard birding from inside my kitchen window today.

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In most tree-shaded backyards, birding usually includes squirrels, and my yard is no different.  This squirrel is sheltering under the bird feeder, and he looks pretty happy about having the food all to himself.

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Most days I prefer birding along the trail in the park, but today I am thankful to capture my birds through the window. I hope you enjoyed the view.

Thanks for joining me. Let’s hope for sunny weather soon.
I’m not a trailwalker today!

 

A triple surprise!

Walking the trail in Chagrin River Park Thursday afternoon, I was intent on taking pictures of some little birds enjoying the first sunshine we’ve seen in a week or more…

…when I spotted this big bird that had landed on a tree high above my head. I was too far away to get a good shot with my 300mm lens, but I took it anyway. What I didn’t notice, until I looked at the picture on my computer, was the little bluejay perched right behind the hawk. A triple surprise! First the sunshine and then the hawk sharing his treetop lookout with a little bluejay. Totally unexpected!

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I’m glad you were here to share this surprise!
Thanks for walking the trail with me.
Trail Walker

Molting: more normal than you might think!

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When I posted a picture of this pitiful-looking bluejay on my daily photo site, some viewers expressed sympathy for him and his (normal, but sickly-looking) appearance. Molting, the process that causes some birds to lose their old, worn out feathers and get new ones, does leave the poor bird looking pretty sad for a short time.

Molting, sometimes called shedding, is a process in which an animal routinely casts off a part of its body, either at specific times of the year, or at specific points in its life cycle.

For some of us, who photograph birds, a bird like this bluejay may look alarming in the advanced stages of the molting process; however, it is a natural process that occurs regularly (often seasonally) in bird and other animals. Many pet owners, for example, will be aware of shedding when they must clean their dog’s or cat’s hair off the sofa or vacuum it from the floor. Shedding is a form of molting. Chickens are another example of animals that molt, which I knew, but I didn’t know they often stop laying eggs until their new feathers grow in. Another interesting fact I discovered is that salamanders and frogs shed their skin, and then often eat it. These are just a few examples of molting. Students of biology and people who regularly work with animals in the course of their daily jobs would probably take our bluejay’s scraggly appearance for granted, knowing it is caused by a normal process, but I didn’t recognize it for what it was. Now that I know (a little), I thought I would share what I learned with the rest of you.

Thanks for reading this far. If you have anything to add to this rudimentary information, please join in the conversation by adding a comment below.

See you along the trail soon.
Carolyn aka Skip

It’s that time of year…even for the birds

Despite the intense heat and humidity of the past week, the birds at the “backyard buffet” know the time has come to change into their winter wardrobes. I think the duller goldfinch (top) is a female because her coat is more subdued all year round, whereas the male goldfinch has a bright yellow coat with black trim during the summer months and gradually loses his bold colors as autumn approaches. (If you don’t agree with the identification, please leave a comment to share your information with the rest of us.) The sorrowful-looking bluejay, pictured on the right, usually so proud of his snazzy coat with the royal blue feathers,  is going through the process called molting (or moulting) as he changes from his summer to winter garb.  It’s normal and happens every year, so don’t feel too sorry for him. His appearance will soon improve, but meanwhile he is probably the scruffiest-looking bird in the neighborhood. It’s a blessing he can’t see himself in a mirror.

Cooler weather is coming soon, maybe by tomorrow afternoon, according to the forecast. I’m breathing a sign of relief and looking forward to hitting the trail for a real photowalk. I  hope you will be here to go with me. Thanks for visiting today. Come back soon.

Carolyn aka Skip

PS: It was so hot today I took all these pictures from inside, looking through the window.

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