We’ve been seeing some wonderful birds this winter in our yard at our feeders. Let me share some of them with you, starting from December. This first set of pictures were taken that month, before and after the snow started. I have pictures here of some old friends and some new-like this Downy Woodpecker. Do you think someone should tell her that bugs don’t live in concrete or vinyl siding-or does she know something that I don’t?
We also see plenty of our old standbys, the Chickadees and the Titmice. They like to come and dine about 9:30 in the morning and about 4-5:00 in the afternoon-with an occasional snack or two throughout the day. The Titmice are one of Yang’s favorites, and he likes to call them “little faces.” With their big, expressive eyes, you can understand why. In this picture we have one of the cute chickadees.
One of my favorite birds is one of the first signs of winter: the Slate-Colored Junco. That’s the name they went by when I was first birding; however, I’ve noticed them now called “Dark-Eyed Juncos.” Maybe they all invested in brown contacts. I love their blue-grey coloring (though some are more brownish) and their white tails that flash when the fly away, as they give a call that sounds like castanets. We have large numbers of them in my yard, which it just fine with me.
These two Juncos don’t look to happy to meet.
“Who You lookin’ at?”
The Goldfinches haven’t flown away until the spring. They’ve just changed their sprightly spring plumage for heavy winter coats. One fellow appeared to have a white cap of feathers, even with his winter color. So, I dubbed him Whitecap. Original, aren’t I? However, closer viewing of him through these photos shows that his cap is more light yellow than white. Nevertheless, he’s staying “Whitecap,” as Slightly Light Yellow Cap” is way too much of a mouthful.
Here’s another nice shot of Whitecap, with a Goldfinch pal (in the upper left corner) who apparently thinks he’s a bat. I’ve got to stop watching Forever Knight when these guys are in the windows.
Here’s another one of Snowcap, after he was reading up on Edward Taylor and thought he ought to go out and starting preaching to Juncos. Of course, if Snowie believes in predestination, that suggests that even other species can be saved.
I particularly like this picture because it includes so many: Juncos, Goldfinches, and another of my favorites, the Carolina Wren, on the left. She doesn’t quite look like a wren because she doesn’t have her little bum cocked in the air, but her long beak and white eye-stripe give her away. We have at least one pair who come to my feeders. They’ve been around the house for several years, but it’s only the past three or four that I’ve seen them year round, and so frequently in the winter. I often hear them in the trees of the woods behind my house and across the street. I named this pair, Carolina and Carey. Additionally, note the Goldfinch coming in out of inter-dimensional travel in the upper middle of the photo.
We also had an unexpected visitor on our suet feeder. Regard this handsome Mockingbird. Usually I don’t see them in the winter. However, I was informed that they don’t travel south, but hide out in deep woods during the cold months. Apparently this guy didn’t get the memo about hiding out. He or she comes to see us just about every day to chow down on the suet. I know these birds tend to be highly aggressive, but this one really doesn’t seem to mind sharing.
Now, there’s one last interesting addition to our flocks: Mr. Cooper, as in Cooper’s Hawk. This guy showed up low on the Canadian Maple in our back yard, right outside my living room window. The first time I saw him was in mid-January, when I couldn’t get any good shots. Then, this week, he popped by and I was lucky, getting these three pix. Now I definitely know what caused the splash of blood and feathers on the snow near the tree last week. Still, he does leave alone the little birds-hardly worth consideration as hors d’ouevres? Anyway, click on the photos to get a good look at him-or her.
Anyway, now I think I understand why White Ears (named for these white tufts in his ears) has been keeping a low profile recently.
Summer is almost officially past, so I’m posting some images from my gardens. We have three kinds of morning glories flowering in our yard. We’d have four, if the large blue ones would flower, but they won’t. So, we have some deep purple, some magenta, and some orchid ones. I don’t know all the names of the types, but they are lovely. Every year, I collect the seeds from these flowers to replant them in the spring. Sometimes, we get some interesting hybrids. I managed to get pictures of one of my favorites. Sometimes the orchid morning glories will sport a broad, deep purple stripe, as you see here. The seeds will actually reflect the combined types. Orchid seeds are cream colored and purple or magenta ones are black. These hybrid seeds are usually cream with a black stripe. Sometimes, the orchid ones will also blend with the magenta to produce a pink flower. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a picture of the one pink flower I’ve seen so far, but I did tag the flower so that I can retrieve the seeds.
The birds have also been having a grand time in our yard. We’ve seen lots of cardinals, including the Daddy Cardinal taking the kids out for dinner. We also have Hairy and Downy Woodpeckers, scads of Gold Finches and Purple Finches, Chickadees, Titmice, and Nuthatches. I even saw a hummingbird three times this year! One time was in early September! The young gentleman Coopers Hawks have since taken off and rarely visit now. We named them Shawn and Gus – I know you know that I AM telling the truth about that! In this picture, you can see one hawk in the foreground and if you look carefully, the other is in silhouette in the triangle of railings on the right.
The drought has certainly left my pumpkins gasping for life. I’ve seen so many pumpkin and gourd embryos wither and die. Still, some made it. Here is an odd shaped pumpkin, which some critter took a chunk out of. Still, the pumpkin lives and now resides on my sideboard in the dining room. The pumpkin below isn’t a rogue that needs to be caged to protect the other flora and fauna. The vine climbed over the garden fence and the pumpkin embryo became fertilized hanging over the outside of the garden. Since we found evidence of some creature trying to dig into the garden, we developed protective caging from milk cartons. The ploy worked, for this pumpkin matured and now resides in state on the what-not table in my parlor. You can also see a crown of thorns embryo ready to flower and be fertilized. The good news is that this little guy is happily growing away. Maybe I’ll have some more pictures of it later.
Here are some of our eggplants and peppers. These guys were delicious! Yang can cook! So, I guess the drought didn’t totally blacken my green thumb.