Bird Time

As the garden excitement winds down with the shortening of the days, the Fairegarden enters a new phase.

The bird feeders have all been stocked up for the visiting feathered friends. From inside the warm and dry addition, sitting comfortably in the lazyboy, white hot chocolate within reach, the excitement now comes from watching the birds. The camera is at the ready, sometimes even on the tripod, in case something interesting flies into view. The birds are quick movers, however, and shy, often dining on the side of the feeder that faces away from the house. This results in the much dreaded bird butt backside shots. Persistence is required.

The Black Capped or Carolina? Chickadee is small enough to reach into the squirrel proof suet feeder…
Added: Randy says “No black-capped Chickadees even close to you, has to be a Carolina Chickadee.”

…In addition to the caged cylinder filled with the favorite food of most visitors, black oiled sunflower seeds.

Cute little bird toes!

Great delight is generated by each and every bird that comes to hang here, the regulars like the Chickadee can be counted upon for endless visual interest. But on occasion a new guy/gal will come a’knockin’. Woodpeckers abound, as evidenced by the drills in the dead bits of the multitrunk silver maple that is the largest tree near the house. Identification for this novice birder can be risky, could this be the Yellow Bellied Sapsucker? (Sorry the photo is so dark, it was raining and taken through three panes of glass.) Added: Randy says “The Yellow-bellied Sapsucker is a juvenile, the white on the sides of the wing make it an easy ID.” What would we do without dear Randy?

There is much activity outside the range of the camera by birds that do not visit the human supplied feeders. On a cloudy, rainy, dreary day, the camera cannot see color, turning the view to shades of grey.

But the human eyes could make out that the two on the wire and the little one zoomed in the above shot are Eastern Bluebirds. There were four birds checking out a bluebird house nearby that is mounted on a post in the Azalea Walk, flying back to the power line for some discussion. I hope this foretells of a family of bluebirds nesting there next spring, or perhaps they plan on using the house for sleeping quarters on cold winter nights.

At the farthest reach of the zoom on the Canon SX1, a large group, a flock perhaps? of Cedar Waxwings is identified after the photos are loaded onto the computer. The telltale yellow tip on the tail feathers and the elegant swoop of the cap help make the identification without more light to help the color in the image to be revealed. The Waxwings stop by twice yearly here, the most exciting being one spring a couple of years ago, from whence the photo on the blog header originated. The post about it can be read by clicking here-Thirsty Throngs or at the top of the sidebar.

While sitting in the lazyboy, pondering the meaning of the universe as we waited for the technician to come to the house to revive our internet service, four days without it nearly brought about an emotional meltdown, a larger than usual bird was spotted in the upper branches of the mature maple of the neighbor behind us known as Ferngully Sibling. Many shots were snapped as the wind outside was fiercely howling, parting the breast feathers of the believed to be hawk. This appearance may explain the sudden stillness at the feeders where there had been bustling activity just moments before.

The bird then turned his/her back to the wind. This is believed to be a Cooper’s Hawk, with the rust colored stripes on the breast and rounded long tail with chevron markings. A beauty, truly, and a first sighting ever for my life list.

We welcome all the birds here, being a certified National Wildlife Federation Habitat. Click here for more info on making your garden such a place. Houses, birdbaths, feeders, berry bearing plants, the pond kept unfrozen with the running of the pump, no pesticides used and brush piles maintained are things done to help keep our flying friends safe and happy. They repay us by merely showing up, a good return on the investment.


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23 Responses to Bird Time

  1. Randy says:

    No black-capped Chickadees even close to you, has to be a Carolina Chickadee. The Yellow-bellied Sapsucker is a juvenile, the white on the sides of the wing make it an easy ID. Loved the first photo wow!

    Dear Randy, thanks. You know that I count on you and Lisa to help me with these bird, butterfly and other critter IDs. I will add your comments to the post! πŸ™‚

  2. You have an enviable collection of birdlife in your garden Frances, a real testament to the effort you put in to making them – and their prey – welcome. How wonderful to be able to sit back and admire it all from the comfort of your favourite chair!

    Hi janet, thanks for those kind words. The birds are an integral part of the garden. They certainly keep us entertained in the cold months, and busy keeping the feeders filled! Watching them is way better than anything on television. πŸ™‚

  3. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    We have also had Waxwings in our garden lately. Eating the dreaded Hawthorn berries. Sometimes I wish those trees were gone. They have grown so misshapen and they have those horrid thorns but when I see the tree full of birds eating those berries I remember why I keep them.

    Hi Lisa, good to hear you have been visited as well. A tree full of happy, dining birds is certainly reason enough to keep any thorny tree! πŸ™‚

  4. This time of year I do so enjoy beginning to watch the birds. I love their feathery ways.

    Hi Dee, thanks for visiting. Thank goodness for the cheerful birds, they really brighten the landscape with their antics. The price of the seeds is small compared to the payback. πŸ™‚

  5. Marguerite says:

    What an amazing sighting of a hawk! Beautiful photos. We have the opposite strategy here at my house and try to shoo the birds away. As much as I love them my cats are too deadly to allow the birds to get too comfortable.

    Hi Marguerite, thanks. We completely understand the dilemma of cats. Our own sometimes outside Kitty is not motivated to bother the birds, or squirrels or voles even, he is too well fed and a bit lazy in his mature years. But there are neighborhood strays that can be a danger. We do our best to shoo any cat away, but sad to say, we cannot be on guard 24 hours a day. Such is life, but we still have the feeders. The birds live in the surrounding trees and could be prey at any time, nature can be cruel.

  6. Phillip says:

    I love the birds and I need to get some new feeders. If you ever have tips on finding good ones that are easier to clean, let me know! The chickadees are one of my favorites and we have lots of them here. What is the little Jap. maple in the first photo?

    Hi Phillip, thanks. Are we supposed to clean the feeders? HA My criteria has more to do with keeping the squirrels out of them. All of the ones we hang now do the trick, but our squirrels are not as aggressive as some. I do love the chickadees too, they are quite bold when I am out working in the garden, and love to scold Kitty by my side. The maple is Crimson Queen, pruned into oblivian as all of them are here. I like it to be smaller, so as to keep the daylily hill view unobscured somewhat. It would have been much better to place the tree at the back of the hill, but too late now.

  7. We have the black-capped chickadees here all year & they are the cutest little things. I’m not surprised the bluebirds of happiness have come to the Fairegarden. It looks quite the bird haven.

    Hi MMD, thanks. I wasn’t sure about black cap or Carolina, maybe next time I will remember and not have to be prompted by Randy. We have bluebirds around, but cannot see them from the addition. We need to place a bluebird house within sight of the lazyboy. That is a good job for the Financier, he is in charge of birdhouse installation. The word is out in our neighborhood, free food at Fairegarden. I don’t believe anyone is feeding them now.

  8. Janet says:

    We have some birds that are new to me in our woods in SC. Hoping once the leaves finish falling I can get a better view of some of them. King Bird, Blue Birds, Goldfinches, Titmouse, Chickadee, many different woodpeckers and lots of crows dance through our trees. I love watching the birds.

    Hi Janet, how exciting! We share the others, but I don’t know the King Bird, it sounds like a large one though. I envy your view in the woods of birds and water. πŸ™‚

  9. Cindy, MCOK says:

    I picked up sunflower chips at Wild Birds the other day and asked the owner if he’d heard of any goldfinch sightings. He had spotted one himself: I take that to mean the scouts are in the area and I’ll be seeing golden feathers soon!

    Hi Cindy, what a wonderful thing to look forward to! Our goldfinches are still here, they might remain all winter in fact, but since they turn brown it is harder to spot them. Sunflower chips sound good for humans too! πŸ™‚

  10. Leslie says:

    We get a lot of winter-only birds here also. I see waxwings dining in my Bradford pear each January and look forward to it each year. Your header photo is fantastic!

    Thanks Leslie, how fun! It is too hard to pick a favorite bird, we love them all, but the waxwings are so wonderful. I had a bird book as a child and remember staring for hours at the photo of them, wishing to be able to see one in person. My dream came true the day the header shot was taken. It was the thrill of a lifetime. πŸ™‚

  11. gail says:

    Dear Frances, Lucky you to capture the hawk~They swoop overhead and I never can get a good photo! I’ve seen a few bluebirds, but, none in my garden this fall. The single thing that has improved all bird visits has been adding a lot of bird baths! My goal is to keep planting shrubs, trees and perennials that provide seeds and berries. But, feeders provide the best entertainment all winter long! As you say it’s well worth the investment to get squirrel proof ones! xxoogail

    Dear Gail, thank you. I was lucky that day when the hawk settled on the limb and stayed there while I fumbled with the camera and tripod. We see hawks and vultures all the time, but they are always sky high and moving, no way to identify them let alone get an image. Keeping the birdbaths supplied with fresh water is a priority here as well. Having the pond available helps when things are frozen. The squirrels would empty a feeder in an hour with the cage around it. That would be frustrating!

  12. I liked your backside comment for shooting birds at the feeder. So very true. πŸ˜€

    I too shoot them through the glass in winter and I always think I have a good shot then…not. My cardinal shots are always dark. I too get hawks from the Niagara gorge. They sit in the Mulberry waiting for a feast. They usually get it with patience too. Poor slow doves.

    Thanks Donna. You are the only one to mention it. A weak attempt at humor. It is difficult to get good shots, but at least inside you aren’t scaring the birds away. They don’t stay still for long! Yes, those doves are slowpokes, making them at the bottom of the food chain.

  13. Steve says:

    What in the world is not to like about birds? Thanks, Frances for those gorgeous shots of our Avian buddies. I have a friend who wants to get shots of his onslaught of new “pets” too – but different kinds of “shots”, lol. He got invaded by what has to be 10,000 moles, lol. He saw me laughing and I apologized. When i did, he started laughing as well. Varmits!

    Hi Steven, thanks, you are so right! Poor friend with the voles, I feel his pain. You can’t get rid of them easily, that is for sure. I am hoping by hardware cloth cage system will save the bulbs and plants in the one location anyway. We have to cooexist! πŸ™‚

  14. Eliza says:

    I really like birds, but I think cedar waxwings may be my favorite. I’m so jealous of the photo in your header and love the grouping shown in this post. You seem to have an excellent backyard birding situation. πŸ™‚

    Hi Eliza, thanks for the kind words. There is something so exotic about the Cedar Waxwings, but I know some people who don’t see them much feel the same about Cardinals, which are common as dirt here. πŸ™‚

  15. debsgarden says:

    Bird watching is one of my favorite garden activities anytime of year, but especially through the winter. We have several feeders visible from different rooms inside the house. Sadly, my camera hasn’t much telephoto ability – so I rarely get a photo of them. Nevertheless, we have a great variety that come by. We have a Cooper’s Hawk pair that have nested in our woods for several years now.

    Hi Deb, thanks for adding to the conversation. I am so glad you are able to enjoy a good variety of birds at your place. Even without taking photos, watching the birds from the house is a voyeur’s peek into their lives. Even my 20x zoom on the Canon SX1 does not the sharpness I would like, but that is okay. I enjoy it just as much with the binoculars. I am in love with the Cooper’s Hawk, what elegance! πŸ™‚

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  17. town mouse says:

    Oh, so lovely! I am so looking forward to sitting in the living room again and looking out on the garden. Alas, we are still remodeling.

    All the more wonderful to have a look at your photos. That hawk is quite impressive!

    Thanks Town Mouse. I am so glad to hear of your views of the garden, despite remodeling. We too are having some remodeling done, and workmen tramping back and forth in front of the lazyboy. But that is temporary. Hope yours is as well. We were thrilled with the hawk ID. πŸ™‚

  18. Eileen says:

    I wish I was better at identifying the birds in our area. Oh, I know the more common ones but every so often I see a bird that I have no idea what it is.


    Hi Eileen, thanks for visiting. We are not very good at identification, relying on others to help us. A good beginner bird book, one of the Petersen ones for your area will help you alot. Good luck! πŸ™‚

  19. Nutty Gnome says:

    What a beautiful collection of birds Frances – and some great photos too.

    Thanks Liz. We do enjoy the birds in winter, and often see new to us visitors then, since we are paying closer attention. They are as welcome as flowers here. πŸ™‚

  20. Carol says:

    I love birds in the garden, and every year I say I am going to learn more about them, because I really don’t know much about them. Maybe this will be the year?

    Hi Carol, thanks for visiting. If you get a simple bird book for your area, like the Petersen guides, and a pair of binoculars, not necessary but fun, set the feeders so you can see them from inside, it will help winter go by faster. πŸ™‚

  21. Patsi says:

    That sure is a Hawk. The National Wildlife Federation Habitat interest me…will check it out.
    I have the same feeders which so far have kepy out large birds like Starlings, Grackles or Red winged Blackbirds . We get 20 at a time and they scare the other birds away.

    Hi Patsi, thanks for adding to the thread here. I hope you join the Habitat program, they allow you to purchase a sign that helps explain why your yard looks the way it does to neighbors! HA Keeping the seed for the little birds is important, whether squirrels or those larger birds are the unwanted visitors. We are lucky that they don’t hang around here.

  22. Rose says:

    What would we do without the birds in the winter?? And how wonderful to have Randy for the correct i.d.s. The bird feeders nearest the living room window have also been filled here–Sophie and Toby enjoy their winter “bird television” as much as I do.
    Glad you got your internet restored; I need to take my computer into the shop for some much needed work but I’m afraid, too, of going into internet withdrawal:)

    Hi Rose, thanks for stopping by. Randy, and Lisa are a great help in identifying the birds, butterflies and other critters and insects, that is for sure! How cute that your dogs like to watch the birds with you. Hazel and Kitty will watch with one eye while napping in the sunshine by the sliders. We were without the internet, then had it back, then lost it again. It was traumatic!

  23. kerri says:

    Our feathered beauties do provide plenty of winter interest, don’t they? I agree that the investment in seed is well worth it.
    I just did my first Feederwatch count for the season this past Friday and Saturday.
    How lucky you are to have bluebirds and cedar waxwings. None sighted in our yard, sadly.
    The hawk is a beauty.

    Hi Kerri, thanks. We so enjoy the birds all year, but especially so in winter. The waxwings just have a stopover here, I would have missed them completely if not fooling around with the zoom on the camera that day. The bluebirds are shy, but we love seeing them when they venture out in the open here. The hawk is regal, a lucky sighting for sure. πŸ™‚

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