Sunday, January 24, 2010

Backyard Birding Bonanza

(Yes, I am well aware that's a silly title, but I liked the alliterations, and it's my blog, anyway.  Right?)

We have had lots of bird action at our feeders in the last few days!  I wasn't able to get good photos of many of our visitors, so I've only a few to share.  But what I have, I pass on for your viewing pleasure.

These Eastern bluebirds, which I adore, only visited for one day.  I don't have a bluebird house, so they don't hang around.  (I really need to get one!)  The vivid one on the right is, of course, the male, and there are two females as well.  I didn't notice the downy woodpecker in the upper left hand corner until after I uploaded the photo to my computer.  I couldn't have taken that shot on purpose in a million years!

Here's a closer shot of one of the females.  The male didn't stay long at all, so I was thankful to get a photo of him.

The downy woodpeckers love our homemade suet and eat it exclusively.  This is a female; males have a red splotch on the backs of their heads.  Downies and hairy woodpeckers look remarkably alike, but downies are 5 inches and hairies are 7 inches.  We get downies far more often than hairies.


We've had a lot of goldfinch action over the last several weeks.  They eat a bit of the black oil sunflower seeds, but prefer nyjer.  The males are starting to get their warm weather feathers in, that bright gold we associate with goldfinches.  Their numbers will increase as we inch toward spring.

I was really excited to get a passable photo of this brown thrasher, the state bird of Georgia.  Thrashers are typically quite shy and also groundfeeders, but this one (I'm assuming it's the one -- for all I know there are several who come!) visits at least once a day.  It likes the black oil sunflower seeds and my homemade suet.

I took about a zillion photos of this guy, and this is the only one that came close to sharing. But at least I have the one!  This is a male house finch.  He came alone for about two days, then his missus joined him.  I didn't get a photo of her.  Females are a grayish-brown and white, with a streaked breast and belly.  He ate a bit of nyjer seed, but they both preferred the black oil sunflower seed.

As usual, we had our share of titmice, Carolina wrens, male and female Eastern cardinals, American robins, Carolina chickadees.  But we also had a cute little brown-headed nuthatch, which was so fast I was never able to photograph it, and our first yellow-rumped warbler of the season.  Also, a female Eastern towhee has been munching on our black oil sunflower seed.  They are groundfeeders, and the male never ventures up to our tray feeder; but she has several times!  I've yet to get a decent photo of either of them.

As we get closer to spring, our feeders will become like fast food joints, and we'll be refilling them at least twice a week (sometimes more).  I'm looking forward to seeing the male goldfinches burst into color, and the arrival of the cedar waxwings, who stripped our holly tree of its berries in a matter of three days.

Backyard birding is one of our family's joys and is a great way to sneak in nature study with your children.  If you haven't done so before, have a go at the Great Backyard Bird Count this February (click on button at right for more info).  You may get hooked!


  1. I think it is a great title! (I'm doing alliteration inter alia in my Brit Lit classes on sonnets right now--this beats lots of Shakesp:))
    And that first photo is FABULOUS. You could put that on a postcard or in a National Geographic piece on birds. I can identify about 3 different kinds of birds and I'm intrigued about the whole "if you put food out they come" concept. Like, how does word get out? I put up a humming bird feeder just before they all migrated (or whatver humming birds do--they disappered) and I'm so excited about them coming back again:)

  2. Hi, Tanya! Thanks for your comments (she said, blushing). That first photo is pretty nifty, and, I said, completely by chance. And you are right: hummingbirds do migrate. They'll be back soon! I need to do some research to try to find out when they are expected around here so I can hang my own hummer feeder.

  3. I agree. That first photo is a doozy!!!!!


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