Thursday, August 31, 2017

Michigan Backyard Birds

Do you sense a theme to the items I purchased in Michigan?
I am most pleased with the Motawi Blue Jay tile.  Motawi Tileworks of Ann Arbor, MI are nationally famous.  They have lots of interesting tiles.  You can take a peek here.

My cousin has been feeding wild birds for 13 years now.  She has two nicely sited feeder set-ups - well protected - and also provides water.  The backyard has several mature plantings and a size-able Maple tree. As is common in the midwest, the yards are not fenced, so it is possible to watch the birds in the yards to the left and right. There is a large pond with shelter trees at the end of her yard.  All in all super good wild bird habitat.

So let's take a look at who flew in, or by, or above...

There was a very active male Downy Woodpecker working away on the Maple tree.

Downy Woodpecker being a woodpecker - upside down because he can.
We also heard and saw a Pileated Woodpecker fly by and I'm more than semi-convinced I also saw a Hairy Woodpecker.

The feeders were swamped with House Finches
Here's a male...

...and here's a female House Finch.
There were also Purple Finches.  

The House Sparrow swarmed the feeders first thing in the morning.

They were super busy feeding their fledglings.

On the last day there I spied a Song Sparrow.  I saw a House Wren on my first day in Michigan, but did not get a photo. 

As I enumerated the backyard birds, there were some surprises as far as my cousin was concerned.  She had no idea that she had Cedar Waxwings perched atop the trees edging the pond.

Mourning Dove sare ground feeders.  This one was watching my cousin's chickens to see if they'd allow it to feed with them.

Black-capped Chickadee were feeder regulars.

A pond = Great Blue Heron.
Crazy bird was perched on a neighbor's roof before flying into the pond.

The American Goldfinch were in their bright summer finery.

This photo is a bit of a cheat. I saw and hear Canada Geese flying overhead, but none lighted. (This was taken in Traverse City, MI).

And now on to the New to Me Michigan Birds!

I'm starting off with Chimney Swifts.  I did not get photos of the birds as they are constantly in flight, but we saw them several times flying overheard.  Their short fat bodies make them easy to ID and they were another new to my cousin bird.  

Here's a Common Grackle. I know they are considered a pest. Fortunately there was just a couple of birds.

The Gray Catbird is one of Cousin K's favorites.

They have a dark patch atop their head...

...and rust colored tail feathers. 

I got to add to my grosbeak collection with this male Rose-breasted Grosbeak.

I think he was molting from summer to winter feathers. So looked a bit ragged.

Boy oh boy but Blue Jays do not sound anything like my Scrub or Steller's Jays! 

They were surprisingly shy and hard to photograph.

Cutest Michigan Bird!
I was thrilled to watch a small flock of Tufted Titmice.

It appeared to be a couple of adults with their fledgling babies.

Cousin K has a couple of hummingbird feeders as well as shrubs like Rose of Sharon which the hummers loved.

So I got to add Ruby-throated Hummingbirds to my Life List.

There was a male and female bird, but I only got photos of the male.

And isn't this a lovely bird perched on a Tulip Tree?
It's a young Baltimore Oriole.

I suffered severe Oriole Envy as the birds were very active in Cousin K's backyard.  This is an adult male.

And here's the lovely female Baltimore Oriole.

I only see my Bullock's Orioles once or twice a year if I'm lucky, but Cousin K's Baltimore Orioles are regulars during their summer stay in Michigan.

The most iconic eastern bird has to be the Northern Cardinal.

Cousin K assured me they were much more handsome in the winter with a snowy background.  I thought they were well turned out as it was.

I even got to see a female Cardinal!

A super good backyard birding experience with a total of 23 species.  Sitting with my sister and cousin watching and listening to the birds was a lovely way to wile away the evening.

And look at my new piece of garden art!
A faux light house / bird house.  
Memories of Michigan.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Wednesday's Walk

While we do not have any weather issues to match those of Texas, the winds have shifted once again and our air quality leaves much to be desired.

At over 107,000 acres, the Chetco fire in southern Oregon is rated the #1 forest fire concern in the US, with the town of Brookings under the threat of immediate evacuation. Sunday and Monday the smoke was so heavy and thick that after just a few minutes outside, my eyes began to burn. It's best I think for us to take a virtual walk outside.

Here's our sunrise Tuesday morning.

I am seeing more and more bird action as the sunflowers mature. It will be interesting to see if the American Goldfinches hang around a bit longer with this bounty available to them.

And we still have daisies...

...and Butter and Eggs.

This shot was one second away from showcasing a female Tanager eating at this cluster of blackberries - birders are like fishermen - always focused on the one that got away!

Moth Mullein (Verbascum blattaria). 

Jimsonweed (Datura stramonium)

Sow Thistle (Sonchus olerasceus)

I was not able to ID this - it looks like a dandelion, but the stems are long and narrow and the flower much smaller.

The Red Elderberry blooms and blooms, but I never see the ripe red berries...

...and here's why!  
The Black-headed Grosbeaks eat all the berries while they are still green. 

Late August is a mix of signs of early autumn... 

...and summer's exuberance. 

Look at our sun as it set Sunday evening.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Birds Birds Birds

Well I chose the Chickadees to stitch next.  The photo is in the second row, on the far left. 

Birding continues to be very good...

...except when this guy (Cooper's Hawk) comes by. Then I go 20-30 minutes without anyone at the feeders.

Otherwise, there are California Scrub Jays...

...and Black-capped Chickadees...

...and Song Sparrows.

The Song Sparrows are singing again.

I still have lots of Quail though I'm sure that the bobcats and hawks have picked off some.

I do know that this widower used to have the care of three chicks.

And now he is guardian to just one.

Watch and beware.

A young Rufous Towhee.

I'm hearing and seeing small groups of Cedar Waxwings once again.
I think the Hawthorns are flush with ripe berries.  These birds also supplement their fruit and berry diet with insects as needed.

I've been hearing Red-breasted Nuthatches off in the distance.
Then this one flew in... 

...and this one came even closer (on the right).

Gotta love something that can eat upside down. It puts my eating in  bed while reading to shame.