Feathered friends of our garden
They're so flighty
With as many pictures as I've managed to accumulate of all the insects, spiders,
and other tiny occupants of our Lush Gardens, you'd think that I'd have paid
equal attention to the avian contingent. Unfortunately, I've found capturing
the diversity of bird life quite challenging. I seldom take the time to just
sit, wait, and watch, and when I do see a bird whose photo would make for a
nice addition to these pages, it's usually so skittish that it's gone by the
time I bring my camera to the ready.
So for years, the bird selection on these pages was rather limited –
so much so that they were lumped in with the mammals and amphibians (who still
have their own page). But now, at long last, I decided to
dedicate a page to the chirpy, squawky, twittery set. I even set up a tripod
to capture their antics at our patio feeder. For now, the selection is limited,
but I hope that, guided by the brand new bird field book that Amy just gave me,
I'll soon learn to recognize a larger variety of back-yard birds. I'll share
my progress with you on this page. The photo quality isn't going to be anywhere
near that of dedicated birdsters. That's OK – I'm just having some fun.
The photo at left was my first attempt at bird photography in the garden. This
mockingbird probably thought it was safe enough, well out of reach, so it sat
for a picture. It was in late winter, most likely scoping out a nesting
location in our weeping cherry. They also occasionally visit our bird feeders,
where they are a step larger than most of the little flitting things.
Frequent visitors to our bird feeders, these colorful birds are known for
their climbing prowess, often taking an upside-down stance on trees and feeders.
The photo at right shows the funky uptilted beak angle, just right for getting
Definitely the dandy around our patio, especially when
they crowd around our feeders in the winter. We usually seem to have one couple
around (only one male and one female appear at our feeders at any one time,
anyway). This one here had been pecking at some seeds left on our snowy table,
which left his beak crystal-covered.
One of the few birds I can confidently identify, robins make quite a show of
themselves in spring. They stay away from me quite effectively, so taking their
picture is harder than I would have thought.
Robins are also the birds most likely to nest in our garden. We spotted this one
in late May, about 7 ft up in an arborvitae.
Dark-eyed juncos (Junco hyemalis) are American sparrows with
gray-and-white coloring. They're quite prevalent around our winter feeders,
and are among the least skittish birds. These stayed put on the near edge
of our patio table (atop a small hypertufa trough) while I snapped their
photo from a few feet away. The patio door glass separated us, but most
birds are long gone before I even get that close, glass or no glass.
American goldfinches (Carduelis tristis) like to splash about in the
area where our bog filter fords over into the swimming pond. They never let me
get close enough for a good photo, but I liked this shot, where one of the
boy-birds hasn't quite readjusted his do after a good wash-up.
Apparently quite common, I don't recall seeing the red-marked male form
(photo above left) of this house finch very often; the less conspicuous female
looks superficially like several other "brown jobs", so she may have been
around without me noticing much. This species was once restricted to the western
half of the continent, but is now widespread across all of North America.
Cute little bird native to a broad swath of the northern US
and Canada, where it lives year-round. We see it primarily during winter, when
it makes occasional visits to our feeders. The closely related Carolina
chickadee looks very similar, but its territory doesn't extend quite far enough
north, although it does include a slice of southeastern Pennsylvania.
I have a hard time telling all the brownish little birds
apart, but at least this white-throated sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis)
has a yellow mark to tell it apart from the others. This is the white-striped
form (there's also a tan-striped form, whose throat patch and eye stripes are
light brown). A visitor to our winter bird feeders.
Mourning doves (Zenaida macroura) are not uncommon around our house.
They are not overly skittish, so they can often be observed reasonably closely
through our glass patio doors. They seem so gentle!
I believe the photos above show a Carolina wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus),
identified by its slender downcurved beak, chunky body, and long often upturned
tail, with reddish brown top feathers and buff bottom, and a prominent white
eyebrow stripe. Probably quite common around our bird feeders (this one spotted
in late April), but I'm not good yet at identifying birds by sight. This one
was fun to watch – quite animated!
In June 2014, a pair of these little wrens decided to use a shelf in our garage
where we store paint cans to build their nest. We tried to keep the garage
doors open for them, so that they could feed their littluns, but in future
years I think we'll try to encourage them to nest in a more conventional
location. Still, it was entertaining to see them perform their choreographed
sequence to get from outdoors over to that inside corner of the garage: fly
up to the top of the overhead garage door, trip trip trip across the top of
the door (making a racket) over to the bracket that holds the door, from there
a quick flutter up to a supply shelf (see picture above), another quick
airborn dash over to the end of the paint-can shelf, and then hopscotch across
the full row of paint cans over to the nest. Quite a show, but they seemed
more more afraid of a camera than they were of me, so I didn't get many
Visitors to this page have left the following comments
|Wanda Perkins||Apr 11, 2014||Love your goldfinch picture. I'm building a bog garden and love the look of yours. I would appreciate any pictures you could send me of this bog garden. Thank you.|
The area in this picture isn't an actual bog - it's a "bog filter", which is apparently pond-builders' lingo for a pebble-filled filtration zone through which pond water is circulated and clarified. Very different from the type of environment in which you find interesting carnivorous plants. A few more photos of this area are in the big pond page.
|Marcia Chamberlain||Aug 27, 2015||Hi Rob I am your mom's cousin if you do not recall the name. Recently your mom, Lyle and Landa and I were at Roger's house and there was a plant your mom took a picture of that hummingbirds seemed to love. it was very tall with dark red flowers growing out of the plant stem at intervals. Did she send you the picture and were you able to identify it? You can email me or leave a message on Facebook please. I really am enjoying your site!|
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