Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2013 #4

claireplymouth z6b coastal MAApril 16, 2013

This thread is intended to give people a place to post photos and/or talk about birds, critters, wildlife, fish, whatever - topics you might not want to start a whole thread on, but are still garden-related. You can see the range of possible topics in the previous threads:

All of the threads in the Birds and other mobile features in the garden series prior to 2012 are now stored in the New England Garden Forum Gallery. See the top of the main page to switch between Discussions and Gallery. For 2012, see the links posted in Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2012 #7. I'll try to have these threads moved to the Gallery soon.
And for 2013:
Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2013 #1
Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2013 #2
Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2013 #3

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Ever since the epic turkey fight I've been seeing one tom at a time in the yard - neither of them looking injured. Today two showed up at the same time and there was a little half-hearted posturing but no fireworks. I'm not sure if these pictures are of two different toms; I think so but I have trouble identifying individual turkeys. Somehow they both look melancholy (one has nyjer seed on his bill). Maybe the breeding season is just winding down and these two were forced to stay on the fringe.

I'm seeing a few hens now, but usually only a few at a time. The others may be off in the woods with eggs.

And on a whole different scale, I'm still seeing a Red-breasted Nuthatch, a very personable little bird even if it isn't a turkey.

Claire

This post was edited by claire on Mon, May 27, 13 at 17:25

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spedigrees z4VT

That turkey fight was definitely epic!

    Bookmark   April 16, 2013 at 6:26PM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

Never seen a Red-breasted Nuthatch and the close-up shots of the turkeys you're getting now, Claire, simply reinforces that dinosaur lineage - cosmetically at least.

No picture, but I just saw the Titmouse back in the garage poking in a corner. The other day she was banging into the glass in the back door so I opened everything to provide more space for her to fly out. Just now both garage doors are open and I saw her poking around and leaving with a beak full of possum hair. Ralph's contribution to a Titmouse mattress. Nature does provide.
Jane

    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 12:55PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

See, Jane, possums have many good attributes, and deserve to be nourished.

Ants are swarming again! Last year was the first time I saw it and that happened in July. Once again it's on the path near where I drag the hose to refill the birdbaths. I'll have to be careful tomorrow - I want to see where the ants go next and squashing them won't help.

I've seen two woolly bear caterpillars in the last few days - no pics, I just moved them out of my way.

And of course a turkey pic. One of the melancholy toms came out today to feed, looking perfectly normal except when he suddenly lay down to feed. He ate lying down for a while then got up and moved on. It had the feeling of a lot of personal drama - "Woe is me, life is unfair". The toms do seem to like to play to an audience during display season.

Claire

This post was edited by claire on Fri, Apr 19, 13 at 17:48

    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 5:46PM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

Hmm...does seem a bit early for ants to be swarming...I usually see them in early May. Good luck, really. I saw a sugar ant near the bathroom window the other day, sigh...

The possums get even in the summer when they climb onto the deck at 3a.m. and noisily help themselves to any low hanging tomatoes from my Earth boxes, and gnaw through anything they want to, so what goes around...

I have never seen such a dejected turkey (even at Thanksgiving). Can your defeated Tom have an anti-depressant? A glass of whine, perhaps? Poor chap...very sad.

Here's a picture of Spring that needs no words:

Jane

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 11:04AM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

Very sweet picture of the cardinal pair, Jane.

The ants disappeared overnight, but I'm seeing small ant hills in another section of the path about 15 feet away. I don't know if this is a new home or just another ant community waking up.

The epic turkey fight has turned into a soap opera; the two toms were ostentatiously ignoring each other this morning. The defeated tom lay down in the shade (bottom right of the first pic) while the winner stood feeding in the sun. A little later the winner lay down too, but in the sun.

A little while later the sun turkey slowly walked up the path past the shade turkey, which quietly got up and moved away. A little reminder of dominance I guess.

Claire

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 11:25AM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

After all that Sturm und Drang of the turkey toms I thought I should post a picture of a turkey hen.

She was standing calmly today in the garden in light rain, maybe appreciating the absence of the furor. Or she might have been missing the camaraderie of the group of hens, most of which are probably nesting in the woods now. In any case, turkey hens just don't seem to be very theatrical.

Claire

    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 2:17PM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

The solitary hen is worthy of framing. What a lovely picture. And you're right, now that the storm and stress have passed, this hen has struck a pastoral pose that portrays an air of sophistication. She's beautifully framed in a rustic setting of Spring blossoms. That's a keeper.
Jane

    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 2:39PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

Thanks, I was pleased to see her there. A few minutes ago there were three turkeys feeding peacefully, two hens and one of the toms. The tom isn't displaying, just hanging around with them. Maybe the solitary hen was waiting for the others to show up.

It's still raining lightly.

Claire

    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 3:01PM
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arbo_retum(z5 ,WinchstrMA)

I haven't been on this forum in a long time, claire, but i stopped in tonight and i can't thank you enough for sharing your photos(all you ohers as well). As in the past, they are just heart stopping sometimes! and i soooo enjoy them.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2013 at 3:09AM
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spedigrees z4VT

Jane, I love your photo of the cardinal pair. What a delightful capture. It should be a Valentine's Day card!

Here's a lesser quality image of "my" cardinal in the willows by the brook, taken through dirty glass from about 50 feet away.

When do the turkey chicks (poults?) first appear, Claire? I can't be the only one anticipating their arrival!

Our little house finches are back, and oddly, they chose the swallows nest on the outer rim of the porch to refurbish, rather than the two nests they used last year. It will be interesting to see where the swallows nest when they arrive. I'm scheduling the house painters for September when the birds will be gone and the nests empty.

It has been absolutely freezing here for this time of year, barely reaching 40 F in the daytime and dropping to 20 F the past few nights. Today we have warm sunshine for a change. I've never seen winter hold on for so long, and I hope it is finally relinquishing its grasp.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2013 at 12:51PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

That's a very regal looking cardinal, spedigrees. I'm looking forward to reading about your barn swallow/house finch nesting saga.

I'll be expecting turkey poults/chicks (I alternate between calling them poults or chicks for no special reason) sometime around the beginning of June. This was the first sighting in 2012 on June 3. Other years they came later but were bigger.

This matriarch hen kept her brood together and intact until maturity and I wouldn't be surprised if all six are still around.

Claire

    Bookmark   April 24, 2013 at 4:13PM
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NHBabs(4b-5aNH)

Besides daily sightings of turkeys (both groups of females with males displaying and forlorn lone males) we saw a black bear out in the cornfield the other evening around dusk. Watching through the binocs, he was obviously feeding: lie down, head moving, stand up and walk a few steps, repeat - but too far away too photograph or see what he was eating. In the past when he's been closer, it's been the winter wheat planted as a green manure crop providing fresh greens, but there isn't any this year, so I guess it was corn missed by the harvesting. When he arrived, there were several Canada geese on the field which he was jumping around at (did he really think he might catch one?) and they took off with much squawking and fussing. The geese came back to feed yesterday, so they must not have been overly traumatized. We also had a male cardinal here for a few days which is unusual here.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2013 at 10:07AM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

Poults or chicks, they're cute. Hope you have new ones this year to photograph.

If a bear was a visitor here, I wouldn't hang sugar water out either. Bad enough the possums party on my deck at 3 a.m., but so far, the CT bears haven't crossed East of the Connecticut River. If they find the canoe shack or a traffic-slow bridge, we're sunk.

Most of the male Am. Goldfinches have the full sunshine coat on. This little fellow is close to full coverage as he was basking in the sun yesterday chirping his little heart out.

Cute is cute.
Jane

    Bookmark   April 26, 2013 at 6:05PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

Jane: He actually looks furry, if a goldfinch can be furry. Are you seeing flocks of goldfinches? I'm only seeing pairs now - male plus female - and one pair at a time.

I guess the winter get-togethers are a thing of the past and territorial disputes are the new rule.

nhbabs: I just imagined a flock of bears feeding in your yard and hunting the geese and turkeys. I'm very glad that bears are solitary (and not here).

Claire

    Bookmark   April 26, 2013 at 6:37PM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

"Are you seeing flocks of goldfinches?" No, Claire, not now. It may have been perhaps 5 weeks ago or so that about a dozen Am. Goldfinches were daily visitors to the nyjer feeder, then after numerous chases through the yard, the dozen dispersed itself to other areas. On a daily basis, I'd say there are now 4-5 steadies. The BC Chickadees have maintained their number at 3 and just a few days ago, I saw another yard chase. Last week the crows mated in the top of a bare maple tree with their whole family of four nearly adult children watching and screaming from branches below. My puritan upbringing forced me to turn the camera off. Frankly, I'll be glad when they're all on the nest and this irrational dive bombing through the yard is over. The Cardinals seem to be the only ones with their act together and she is obviously with egg. He intentionally 'noses' food out of the feeder to the ground below then flies down for seeds to feed her. Every day. It appears she married well.

Jane

    Bookmark   April 26, 2013 at 10:25PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

A fine male cardinal indeed, Jane, and he'll probably be a great father. Does the female have difficulty perching on the feeder now that she's off balance?

I saw the first Brown Thrasher of the season today. I think there's lots of worms around, according to the robin which comes every day. I also put suet dough nuggets out every morning so that should please the thrasher.

Claire

    Bookmark   April 27, 2013 at 4:55PM
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spedigrees z4VT

What sweet couple those cardinals make, Jane.

Although I did laugh at your description of the crows' mating spectacle.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2013 at 5:23PM
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molie(z6 CT)

And this nest belongs toâ¦..? To me the eggs look turquoise and not exactly like a robin's.

Walking around the yard early this morning, I found lots of small, fluffy grey, cream and slightly red/tan feathers on the grass underneath my China Boy Holly. Whaaaat?

When I picked up my head, there was this nest deep inside the plant. We looked for Mama bird throughout the day. No sign of her. We're wondering if one of the hawks (Cooper or Red-tailed) carried her off. Any ideas?

    Bookmark   April 28, 2013 at 4:04PM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

Hi Mol - that's too bad, but it may not be the worst case scenario. It probably is based on the feathers, but maybe not. Looks like robin eggs to me. Usually, just walk away and let nature take her (I'll never understand it) course. Sometimes the parent(s) will return within a day or two, if they are alive. Check the article below and if, now that you have fewer babysitting duties, you decide to be a 'mother' again, then get out the heating pad and dig some worms.

Claire may have a better answer.

Jane

Here is a link that might be useful: birdtalk.com

    Bookmark   April 28, 2013 at 5:09PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

I don't know much about bird eggs, but I googled and found this link Color of Robins' Eggs Determines Parental Care about male robins being better fathers if the eggs are a brighter blue.

Lots of feathers on the grass is always depressing, but sometimes they get reused. Today I saw a female House Sparrow with a feather in her bill. I have no idea what the feather is but maybe it will end up in a nest.

Claire

    Bookmark   April 28, 2013 at 5:19PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

molie: I'd suspect a hawk got the mother, but Jane (and the birdtalk link) has good advice. Red-tails usually eat mammals but sometimes eat birds. Your Cooper's Hawk would be the more likely prospect.

Claire

    Bookmark   April 28, 2013 at 5:42PM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

Claire, the sparrow pictures are perfect. The article on Robin males and egg color, to me, has enormous implications previously unknown or even questioned about bird behavior. That insight, assuming it is correct, opens up a new avenue of thinking for me. Whoa...talk about a conversation needing margaritas. So glad you found that website. Enormous subject.
Jane

    Bookmark   April 28, 2013 at 10:09PM
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molie(z6 CT)

Jane, thanks for the tips but I'm not really up to the task of "hatching" and reading that link kind of proved it. I guess I'll go the route of letting nature take its course. Today when I checked the nest, it looked the same --- no movement of the eggs and no one around. But I'll keep watching.

Claire, I saw no feathers in the nest, just on branches and below along the ground and that's why I feel there might have been a battle.

Now, to add to the mystery I have going here --- does anyone recognize the bird, below? It's been at the feeders for a while now and, seeing the photos, I realized that some of the feather coloration on this bird matches the feathers I found under my holly. We tried looking in the bird book; my DH wondered if it was an oriole.

Thanks for any help,
Molie

    Bookmark   April 29, 2013 at 9:27AM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

Eastern Towhee, adult male. You lucky duck, Molie. I seldom see them here.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2013 at 9:41AM
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molie(z6 CT)

Thanks, Jane --- Spot on! (Now you know why we like sitting on our deck so much.)

    Bookmark   April 29, 2013 at 10:41AM
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molie(z6 CT)

Follow up: still no action in the nest of robin's eggs. I've not seen a bird there since I discovered the nest. I'm leaving them be. Maybe the eggs just were't fertilized and the mother bird took off? (I'd prefer to think that than think the mom was attacked and killed.) What will happen to the eggs and the nest if I just leave them be? Will a predator carry off the eggs or will another bird take over the nest?

    Bookmark   April 30, 2013 at 6:06PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

Handsome towhee, molie. I have no idea what will happen to the robin's nest and eggs, you'll have to monitor it and let us know.

I just glanced out at the scene where a squirrel has been bopping around for a while and ...wait, that's not a squirrel this time! It's a woodchuck and it's coming towards the porch steps!

Changed its mind and turned to leave.

I do believe it's Guthrie again. Gotta check the fence in the Phlox Protection Zone.

Claire

This post was edited by claire on Thu, May 2, 13 at 11:25

    Bookmark   May 2, 2013 at 10:09AM
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NHBabs(4b-5aNH)

Claire - Your tolerance for woodchucks exceeds mine by a huge margin!

    Bookmark   May 2, 2013 at 10:34AM
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molie(z6 CT)

Claire---yes, I'll keep an eye on the nest before I do anything about it. None of the eggs have been moved, even a smidgen, so I'm sure there's no one home. It's wonderful when Mother Nature's "guests" come into the yard. Regarding your guest >>>> Heeeee's back! Guthrie surely remembers your tolerance and kindness and is probably looking for a tasty treat. (It's been a long, hard winter.)

The other morning I took some photos of the birds we've seen in our yard. Here are two shots an egret --- love to watch them slowly walk along the river searching for breakfast. They're fascinating, patient creatures, but their calls, really squawks, do not match their beauty.

Here's the egret walking away in a mirrored image.

A finch (?) at the feeder

Molie

    Bookmark   May 2, 2013 at 4:45PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

Terrific egret shots, molie! The reflections just accentuate the grace of the bird.

Looks like your goldfinch is still molting the feathers on his head, the final step in his transformation to the breeding plumage.

Now that Guthrie's back I feet guilty that I've been tossing the cantaloupe rinds in the compost bin. I'll save him some tomorrow (I'm a sucker for cute furry beasts - or cute feathery beasts).

Claire

    Bookmark   May 2, 2013 at 5:28PM
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NHBabs(4b-5aNH)

The egret shots are lovely, Molie.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2013 at 5:34PM
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molie(z6 CT)

Thanks, Claire and nhbabs, for the egret comments. Now what I'd really like to photograph is the osprey pair. They've returned!

The utility company installed a huge telephone pole with a platform on top ---no wires attached-- very near to where the pair's nest was last year (some of you may remember that the nest was hit by lightning and the babies died).
This osprey platform is in a great spot that's tucked between two tall tress and thus kind of hidden as you drive along the road. It's more protected than the corner they built on last season. We've seen the pair trolling the river looking for food, but it's hard to predict when they'll stop off in the trees. 'Camera charged and ready' is my motto.

Molie

    Bookmark   May 3, 2013 at 8:06AM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

Claire, awfully nice to have a paw cleaning station. Your yard is Guthrie's yard. No woodchuck would be dumb enough to leave a bayside palace.

Molie, again you make me suffer severe water envy. The egret pictures are wonderful. I like the way the reeds frame the bird's stance. Great captures. In my next life I want a 1/2 acre pond!

Jane

    Bookmark   May 3, 2013 at 8:33AM
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NHBabs(4b-5aNH)

We had a wood duck pair dabbling and preening in a shallow stretch of the stream this morning, but by the time I got back with a camera, they had moved on.

The bumblebees have been really enjoying the quince this spring. I don't usually notice them until the big old rhodie along the ell blooms since then the buzzing is quite loud as we come and go, but there were several yesterday visiting the quince and humming to themselves.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2013 at 12:37PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

That's a beautiful early flower for a bumblebee, nhbabs. I think I saw a carpenter bee the other day (or a very big bumble) but I don't know what they're feeding on this early in my yard.

RE woodchucks: I don't grow vegetables so I can be reasonably tolerant except when my phlox get eaten.

I started to put out a cantaloupe rind for Guthrie but had second thoughts about encouraging him to stay around. So I struck a compromise - I threw the cantaloupe rind over the edge of the coastal bank, which is where woodchucks often hang out. I did that today too. I'd rather the woodchuck get the cantaloupe than the compost pile (which doesn't get hungry) and he can eat it there. There will be fewer photo ops but maybe less plant nibbling.

Claire

    Bookmark   May 5, 2013 at 5:44PM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

Brilliant, Claire. And this way Guthrie gets more exercise. Does he have to climb those 100 stairs back to his nest?

This year (so far) there are fewer House Sparrows here and thus far, they are well behaved. Not positive, but I think I detected a Northern Vermont accent from 2 of them.

Struggling with separating fibers in garden twine tied to the deck that holds back a buddleia, this BC Chickadee wrestled for several minutes gathering threads for her nest. I had to shoot through the kitchen window, so it's not that clear. But look at that foot go! She was determined and she left with a beak full of fibers.

Jane

    Bookmark   May 8, 2013 at 10:43AM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

Jane: I don't know where Guthrie is lodging nowadays - the old burrow that I filled in was never re-excavated and I don't think he's under the porch (although I can't be sure). Maybe the neighbor's dog is keeping him away. The dog would probably want to play with him but woodchucks are rightly skeptical of playful puppies.

That's a great shot of the chickadee in a decorating frenzy. Nice soft aged twine for the babies' crib.

Claire

    Bookmark   May 8, 2013 at 5:47PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

The lawn dragon is finally out of hibernation and patrolling the birdbaths again. I think it must have molted over the winter because its skin is shinier than it was last fall.

Woe to the intruders!

Claire

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 12:23PM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

For some reason the links to previous threads at the top don't work for me.

I tried to look up how your dragon (does he have a name?) looked last year. Was he greenish...verdigris perhaps? Whatever he was, his new look is a 180 degree improvement. You did an excellent job. He appears to have been (en)lightened and like he belongs to a proper dynasty! I don't see the "woe" warning. I see him caught in a perpetual laugh.
Jane

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 12:52PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

GW has been moving the 2012 threads to the Gallery as I requested, and they're over there now, but the links don't work. Not only the links to 2012 but the ones to 2013 which are still in Discussions are invalid.

I tried using the Edit Post feature to correct the links and it works in Preview, but as soon as I submit the edited post the links go bad again. I hope they're not finished with the project.

In any case, the threads are still around, you just can't use the internal links to find them.

RE dragon: It doesn't have a name, in fact I'm not sure if it's a male or female (dragons are hard to sex - you don't really want to turn them upside down to inspect their private parts).

The original dragon was charcoal gray with some light color showing around the scales. This pic is from May, 2012 and you can see the paint chipping off, probably due to multiple bird and squirrel activities.

Last December I decided to paint it lighter gray (granite) and it looked much better but a little blah.

This spring when it got warm enough to paint outside I embellished the beast as you see it.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I saw my first oriole on the hummingbird feeder on May 6 but couldn't get a clear picture. He ignored the oriole feeder I had up. I changed to the jelly/jam feeder type I used last year and he's back.

That's apricot preserves in the jar. I think I saw a catbird in the brush but I'm not positive.

Claire

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 3:51PM
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NHBabs(4b-5aNH)

Jane - I love the photo of the persistent chickadee, and I agree with you about Claire's dragon looking like a new creature with his spiffy paint job.

Claire - The oriole is lovely.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 5:58PM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

I have never seen an Oriole - very pretty bird.
Claire, how come the dragon hasn't been named? There are all sorts of dragon names from literature/movies--Harry Potter's Norbert being the newest, probably. But since your chap's shedding and your hand in his 'regrowth' of scales, I submit for your consideration, "Sparkles", the Bay Dragon. To me, he/she appears to be affable and again, either in constant laugh or yawn, but now he sort of sparkles. He looks much better now in contrast to his original scale covering, IMO.

This little Chickadee landed with a moment of theatrics and all I could think when she examined her foot was, "Rats: I broke a nail".
Jane

    Bookmark   May 11, 2013 at 3:30PM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

Oh, joy. It's Mr. Tunnels back again. Same guy, same tricks, 2013.

Jane

    Bookmark   May 11, 2013 at 3:39PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

Jane: I'm not good at naming things, and I've just rejected about 937 names for the dragon. 'Sparkles' is too perky - this is a dragon with gravitas. I'm leaning towards 'Slither' but I'm nowhere near that yet.

I can actually see that chickadee with red toenail polish!

Great pic of Mr. Tunnels. Now that the weather's warmed up a bit I've been eating some meals out on the deck and a chipmunk immediately scampers over to my foot and gives me that "So where's the peanuts?" look. It doesn't just eat what it needs, it stuffs the pouch and runs off to store it and then comes back for more...and more... and more. I'm waiting for the chipmunk to climb up onto the peanut/nugget feeder., but why should it when it can just cajole me into feeding it on the deck.

Claire

    Bookmark   May 11, 2013 at 5:44PM
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pixie_lou

starting to download 2 months worth of photos! I bought some special "grackle and squirrel deterring" bird seed. The problem is that it also deters most of the other birds! However Mr. House Finch has decided he likes the safflower and is a daily visitor to the feeder.

It took me a while to identify this guy, but I'm pretty sure this is a green heron.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2013 at 5:52PM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

Pixie, very nice green heron. Wonderful to watch their deliberate hunting. Hope your wrist is better.
Jane

    Bookmark   May 11, 2013 at 10:30PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

pixie_lou: That finch looks delighted to have the whole pretty feeder all to himself. I've never tried safflower (I like grackles) but I've read that it just takes a little time for many birds to get to like it.

I've never seen a green heron - could it be hunting your snapping turtles (young ones, that is)?

Claire

    Bookmark   May 12, 2013 at 9:08AM
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pixie_lou

Claire - I also like the grackles, but they empty the feeder in 3 days. I went thru a $10 bag of birdseed in a week. And that's from a squirrel free feeder. I just can't afford that for 1 feeder! So I tried the grackle deterring food.

I have a bunch of tiny little fish in the pond. Not sure what they are. But it was glinting silver in the sunshine in greenies mouth! At first I though greenie was a duck, but thru binoculars I noticed he wasn't a duck. As I continued to watch him, his mannerisms were that of a heron, so that's how I was able to make the ID.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2013 at 10:02AM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

I can sympathize with the grackle food intake, pixie_lou. I just tell myself that these are my flying organic pesticides and I hope that they eat winter moth caterpillars for dessert.

The grackles usually leave once the babies fledge and can fly strongly.

I have a catbird now and it likes the jam jar feeder. For some reason today the catbird decided to feed from the top rather than use the perch. The jar is full so I guess it can reach all right.

Claire

    Bookmark   May 12, 2013 at 5:24PM
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pixie_lou

Who knew the cat birds liked jam.

Saw this cow bird in the yard a few weeks ago. At first I was thrilled - it was a new bird to me. Then I read how parasitic these birds are, so I'm no longer disappointed that he hasn't been back.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2013 at 7:40AM
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molie(z6 CT)

Claire, I used to not mind grackles at all until ---- yesterday morning! I saw one attack a small bird at the feeder, take him/her down to the ground, and peck itr to death. I could see the little bird writhing beneath the grackle --- then it stopped. All that was left were some feathers. (Could this have been the bird that got Momma Robin?) It was sad to see. I know, I know, this is Nature., and each species has its part to play.

I'm curious about your jam jar feeder and the birds that love it. Does it also attract bees?

Jane, Mr. Tunnels is quite handsome, in fact, even a bit rakish as he tackles the offerings in your yard. 'Hmmmm, yes, I've always like what they serve at this place. I give it Three Stars!'

Loved the Chickadee checking her nails --- my DH's favorite birds are the chickadees. I didn't tell him that the tiny bird Mr. Grackles caught was whitish black. :(

    Bookmark   May 15, 2013 at 10:35AM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

Pixie, don't be disappointed in the Cowbirds. Cuckoos are brood parasites too and people carve them into clocks for time immemorial (did I really just say that?).

Molie, learned something new today. I did not know that Grackles would kill other birds, but, according to biokids, Umich.edu, "Even though they are highly social, common grackles do sometimes attack other grackles and other species of birds. They attack others by biting, pecking, scratching, and flying toward them. Common Grackles eat other birds' eggs and nestlings, and sometimes kill and eat other adult birds. They commonly eat adult house sparrows. Common grackles defend a territory around their nest. The breeding pair defends the nest by mobbing, chasing or diving at predators, including humans."

So, now that we know that about Grackles, the Cowbirds don't look so bad.
Jane :)

Here is a link that might be useful: Grackles: UMich.edu

This post was edited by corunum on Wed, May 15, 13 at 14:36

    Bookmark   May 15, 2013 at 2:12PM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

On the lighter side, Mr. Catbird is still chasing the bride to be. This morning he watched her while his tail feathers got carried away until the time his 'fiancee' flew away with him after her ending yet another meeting of unrequited love. Watch his feathers.

She's coming

She's so lovely

She's leaving

Wait!

Jane

    Bookmark   May 15, 2013 at 2:27PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

molie: It's always upsetting when a bird (or any animal) gets violently killed. This is breeding season and hormones are raging.

pixie_lou: Cowbird females are sneaky - they pal around with females of other species and then slip eggs into their nests. Sort of like putting the kid up for adoption before it's even hatched. The males sing a very pretty song.

I guess the bottom line is that birds don't live by the human standard of conduct. Come to think of it, not all humans do either ....

Very cute series of photos, Jane. I once saw a catbird try to catch a hummingbird, maybe thinking it was a big insect. The hummer got away.

molie: I've only seen orioles and catbirds at the jam jar feeder, although I think a raccoon destroyed my last one. Bees don't seem to be a big problem during the season but in the fall, when the birds have gone south, wasps and hornets get desperate for food and get stuck in the jam.

Claire

    Bookmark   May 15, 2013 at 6:10PM
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molie(z6 CT)

Catbirds and cowbirds? Never knew about those before and will have to do some research because I'm curious about the "cat-" and "cow-" prefixes.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2013 at 9:12AM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

molie: Catbirds make a mewing sound, hence the 'cat', and cowbirds evolved following herds of bison and eating the insects kicked up by the hooves. When they ran out of bison they hung around livestock.

It's hard to sit on a nest full of eggs when you have to follow a herd of buffalo.

Gray Catbird

Brown-headed Cowbird

Claire

This post was edited by claire on Thu, May 16, 13 at 9:58

    Bookmark   May 16, 2013 at 9:56AM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

Did not know that about the Cowbirds - great explanation, TY, Claire.

The Catbirds living here are now married and singing up a storm. I think this is the male resting on an arbor on the deck, and the notable black spot on top of his head looks like a beret, monk's beanie or a yarmulke from the back. Seems the only notable marking difference between the M/F is the size of this little hat.


Jane

This post was edited by corunum on Sat, May 18, 13 at 8:15

    Bookmark   May 17, 2013 at 5:57PM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

A female hummer is now at the feeder as of last night. Have learned that the white throat at this time of year denotes a female. Young males look quite similar to females until the ruby throat feathers develop sometime in August into September. Apparently, this far north we do not see immature males in the spring.

Jane

This post was edited by corunum on Sat, May 18, 13 at 9:54

    Bookmark   May 18, 2013 at 8:47AM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

That is a very unusual view of the back of the catbird on the arbor. It looks like the bird has a warm sweater on to watch the football game.

Very white throat on that female hummingbird. I just went into my hummingbird photos to try to find immature males. I did find two pictures, both in July 2011 of what is probably immature males and I think two different ones. The throat feathers are just beginning to darken up.

July 28, 2011

July 24, 2011

Claire

    Bookmark   May 18, 2013 at 1:54PM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

Thank you, Claire, for taking the time to search through your pictures. This is one of those questions that had I waited and thought it through..., but now I'm glad I did post it. Your pictures are clearer than mine of an immature male, but that red dot seems to hit right in the 'Adam's Apple' area at the beginning of their adult development; interesting. Not sure what made me question the timing of male hummers' development, but now I'll be on the lookout as summer passes into fall for immature males. This photo was taken on 7-28-2012 which is just a tad ahead of what hummingbird.net stated for males to start adult plumage. (and I'd better plant more cannas and zinnias on the deck) TY, Claire.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2013 at 4:22PM
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pixie_lou

Mrs. Mallard laid eggs right behind my garden boxes out behind the pond. I discovered her, and the eggs, by accident. The eggs have hatched or were eaten. I see all the empty shells, but no babies swimming in my pond.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2013 at 5:44PM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

Pixie - Is Mrs. Mallard still there without ducklings or are they all absent?

The mortality rate for Mallards is high, but maybe the family has moved on. I choose to think they found a bigger pond.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2013 at 5:00PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

Unfortunately, pixie_lou, it looks like your mallard babies have gone the way of the snapping turtle eggs last year... although it's always a nice thought that they've "found a bigger pond" as Jane suggests.

Claire

    Bookmark   May 20, 2013 at 6:04PM
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pixie_lou

jane - i'm with you. believing they have moved to another pond. i've seen mr. mallard a few times, but haven't seen mrs. mallard.

i feel so bad that i "discovered" her. I had no idea she was behind the garden box. I know I scared Mrs. Mallard - she didn't fly away until I was literally 2' from her. I'm not sure if she abandoned the eggs after I found her - I didn't want to go check on her again.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2013 at 10:05PM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

There are 3 Cat Birds here daily (all day long) and it appears that two of them may have a nest in the old yew bush on the corner of the house - which is also where my office windows are. The vocalizations are a gift. I'm not hearing much of that cat-enticing mewing, but rather, very intricate songs that I'm guessing cover at least 2 1/2 octaves.

This morning within 19 seconds (the photo data says so) these two had an interesting, non-aggressive exchange. If anyone is interested in seeing the full exchange, I hope the link below works.

Jane

Here is a link that might be useful: Cat Birds - Flickr set

    Bookmark   May 22, 2013 at 9:08AM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

Maybe they were discussing the day's To Do list? Interesting interchange.

Claire

    Bookmark   May 22, 2013 at 9:37AM
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spedigrees z4VT

That's a beautiful series of photos of your catbirds, Jane. They look like a garden ornament perched atop the shepherd's hook. We have catbirds. Their catlike calls are one of the few birdsongs I recognize.

Mr Tunnels! Ha ha! Great name!

Claire, your dragon looks wonderful in his new tri-colored metallic coat of scales.

In addition to being the summer of the trees here, it also is shaping into another summer of the birds, even more so than last year. The house finches have babies in last year's swallow nest on the outside ledge under the porch roof. I think the female is building a second nest in the nestbox inside the porch while Dad cares for the first batch of babies. The barn swallows meantime are feeding little ones in the original ancestral swallow nest inside the porch. And, oblivious to the nesting birds, the hummingbirds are constant visitors to the nectar feeder hanging from the eaves. All these different birds, and others (goldfinches and occasional Baltimore orioles) perch on the branches of our crabapple tree in the front yard, and they look like brightly colored jewels amidst the pink blossoms. I really need to take some pictures with a better camera.

In the barn, a pair of tufted titmice have refurbished their nest from several years ago and are in some stage of rearing little titmice. They are supposed to be cavity dwellers, but I guess their nook up in the eaves is close enough. Their nests are such delicate affairs with moss siding, like filigree.

Perhaps the nicest surprise is that I have a pair of tree swallows nesting in my birdhouse, on the sawed-off utility pole out in my "orange garden." I had boarded up the entry hole to the house in frustration during my battle with the English sparrows. Since I hadn't seen an English sparrow in several years, I cautiously unblocked the door, hoping for bluebirds or tree swallows, and my wishes were rewarded.

With the birds in residence on the porch, I scheduled the house painting until August or September, explaining to the head painter that his guys could just take down the nests prior to painting because the birds would be gone then.

He asked "Do you want us to try to remove the nests so they can be put back up?"

I replied, "No... demolition!"

His somewhat relieved reply: "Ah demolition! That's a word I understand!"

LOL! It made me laugh! These birds are master carpenters. They will rebuild next year from scratch, I've no doubt.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2013 at 7:08PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

spedigrees: So nice to read about your bird nesting saga again. I hope you'll post some pictures when the eggs have hatched.

Maybe your porch painting will inspire the birds to build fantastic new nests; although probably not painted to match your house.

Claire

    Bookmark   May 24, 2013 at 5:10PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

This thread is getting long so I'll start 2013 #5 soon.

Claire

    Bookmark   May 27, 2013 at 4:37PM
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