Sunday, February 8, 2015

Winter 2015 Backyard Birds

(A number of new photos were added on February 15 and March 22, bringing to 17 the number of different birds photographed in my backyard recent weeks)

This weekend I spent some quality time on my back porch enjoying the warmer winter weather while photographing some of the visitors to my feeders and nearby trees.

A nice variety of feathered friends feasted on the array of seeds and suet hanging from my (warning: product placement!) Wild Birds Unlimited set up located several feet from my porch. I like the position because the birds are very easy to see and the squirrels can't jump onto it from tree branches or the roof. Also, quality photography is possible while I'm sitting on the porch or stealthily looking down through my upstairs bathroom window.

Chipping Sparrow Pair
I like this photo of Chipping Sparrows because of the front and back perspectives it has. It's neat how symmetrical the feather pattern and colors are in the bird on the left.

These small birds don't spook as easily as most types that come to the feeders. They are focused on their eating and don't mind my presence nearby clicking (silently) just a few yards away.






Bluebird




Bluebirds prefer the periphery of my yard. They don't come to the feeders, at least that I have seen. (That's changed- see below!)

So photographing them is more of a long shot with my camera. I'm pleased with this image, in part, because background is filled with varied tree and branch textures and hues.




Northern Mockingbird 
The larger Northern Mockingbirds aren't above sampling my backyard buffet. One Mockingbird would sporadically flap its wings while on the feeder. I'm not sure what the behavior meant, whether it is mating or intimidation-related.

Getting sharp, close-up shots of birds' eyes- always a challenge- is something I strive to accomplish.

Intensity is often the emotion that comes through in such shots (below).
Northern Mockingbird
Just as serious and intense is this Northern Cardinal. Note, too, the fine quality of the short fur or feathers around its neck and breast.
Northern Cardinal
Along with the effervescent Cardinals, Pine Warblers also bring some bright colors to the winter scene. They don't come to my feeders as often as some of the other species, so I was excited to get a few shots that show off this yellow beauty. 

 Pine Warbler 

Pine Warbler peek-a-boo!
I received assistance from the excellent WhatBird.com bird identification forum to correctly name this mystery visitor. Turns out she's a House Finch. The female doesn't have the male House Finch's red race and chest.  If you ever get stuck on a bird ID, WhatBird.com is the go-to site! Try it, you'll like it. (Note: male House Finch photos are below!)

House Finch (female)
 I was happy also to see a few Brown-headed Nuthatches. You have to be fast with the focus and trigger to get images of this small, quick darting bird. 
Brown-headed Nuthatch 
Bark butter and suet are the Brown-headed Nuthatch's preferred feeder foods. Brownie's larger cousin, the White-breasted Nuthatch has also been around this winter. This one too also often feeds upside-down. No blood rush to the head like humans would experience? 
White-breasted Nuthatch 
The Carolina Wren, South Carolina's dainty but fiery state bird, is one of the regulars, year-round, in my yard. They'll nest too in some of my hanging bird nests on the front porch. 
Carolina Wren 
A few more "old faithful" feathered friends to end this post. The Downy Woodpecker is always enjoyable to watch in action, whether thumping a tree or branch with its sturdy bill, or tasting the easy pickins in my feeders. 
Downy Woodpecker
 This Tufted Titmouse might be trying to decide what to eat next. 
Tufted Titmouse
I almost left out the Brown Thrasher from this post. Such a striking bird this one with its speckled white breast and piercing eyes!
Brown Thrasher 

FEBRUARY 15 UPDATE
Backyard bird activity is at a winter peak right now! Since last weekend's post, I've captured more bird activity and some species not part of the previous post, including this Baltimore Oriole! Not the best photograph (taken from inside the house through a window) but it does serve as proof of such a rare visit. Hope Orioles return to the bark butter and other assorted treats at my feeders.


Baltimore Oriole
Nest-building in the winter? Not sure but this Mourning Dove had a mouthful of material to do something with. 
Mourning Dove
I'm enjoying the color (and this expression) that Pine Warblers bring to my feeders!
Pine Warbler
Eastern Bluebirds, since last weekend's post and picture, have been coming to my feeders. They like the bark butter and the little dried worms I've been putting out. 
Bluebird
The suet is tasty too to the Bluebirds.
Eastern Bluebird
The vibrant blue of the Bluebird is just so lovely!
Bluebird
The Eastern Bluebird- one to treasure- so petite and beautiful! 

Eastern Bluebird
Last weekend I photographed a female House Finch (see above). A few days ago, the male came around. Nice to see the red coloring of the distinctive male House Finch, welcome anytime at my house (the female too, of course).
House Finch (male)
The cackle-happy Red-bellied Woodpecker is an all-seasons, year-round regular at my feeders. 
Red-bellied Woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpecker
A nice surprise today was seeing an American Goldfinch at my birdbath. This is the coloring during the winter. Come spring it will start to get that bright yellow this beautiful bird is famous for having. 
American Goldfinch
Hopefully, even more birds and bird types to come this winter and spring! 
This just in! A Yellow-bellied Sapsucker returned to a tree with a dead branch in the very back of my yard. Over the years I've spotted Sapsuckers in this spot- may be the same bird, maybe not. Always neat to see this uniquely colorful bird.Hopefully, even more birds and bird types to come this winter and spring!

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

A "lifer" bird for me is this Grey Catbird, which came to my feeders one weekend in April. I took this photo from inside my house. I've been hoping to see it again and get some sharper images but I haven't seen it this week. A thrill nevertheless! Maybe the Grey Catbird had heard through the grapevine that we have a new kitten in our house!  























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