I’ve been enjoying watching the brightly colored birds passing through my yard in the past couple of weeks. I wrote recently about an Indigo Bunting that joined our feeder party, and he inspired me to get out in the backyard so that I could get closer to the birds. I have a blind, but I’ve also found that if I sit behind bushes or flowers, the birds get used to me. So I’ve spent several happy afternoons trying to capture the color in my own backyard.
The Painted Buntings are such fun backyard visitors. They arrive in my Central Florida backyard in October, and they stay at least through April. I had more males winter in the yard this year. I know spring migration is starting when I see fewer males and more greenies (juvenile and female birds). They have been surprisingly receptive to having a photographer in the backyard. I noticed that they often hopped to a nearby branch, then to a feeder. So I placed a branch near the feeder in a location with a pleasing backyard. I didn’t have to wait long for the birds to start using my perch. Nice! Of course, they weren’t always that cooperative…they liked to land on my bird feeder poles and sprinkler heads, too!
I love my brightly colored American Goldfinches. During most of the winter they are very drab, but starting in March and April they molt into their bright yellow colors. The goldfinches seemed more skittish than the buntings when it came to the irritating Visiting Photographer. (I guess I’m supposed to feed them and then leave them alone!) They didn’t like the sound of my shutter, and they flew off quickly. Especially the brightly colored ones! But I did manage a couple of nice shots. Most of my goldfinches left in the past week or so. I had been refilling my niger feeders at least once a week, and now the seed is only going down by an inch or so a day. It’s sad to see my little friends leave.
My Indigo Bunting hung around for a few days, and I was able to photograph him away from the feeder. He was in the middle of a molt, so some of his feathers were still brown and drab, and some were bright and blue. Birds look so scruffy while they are molting! He posed on some of my salvia plants.
The picture above makes you appreciate how hard it is to photograph songbirds in a pleasing environment. They love the cover of bushes and trees. This bunting was feeding on the seeds of my salvia plants. I was lucky to just get the camera to focus on him, due to all the leaves between me and the bird!
Of course the “piggies” (Red-Winged Blackbirds and Boat-Tailed Grackles) wouldn’t let me photograph the little birds in peace. I call these my “bully birds”, because they fly in and push to get food out of the cage feeders, scaring away all the little guys. But my piggies are pretty in their own right. The bright red on the Red-Winged Blackbirds at this time of year is just gorgeous!
I hope my colorful birds stick around for a little longer. How long until October when they all start to return for next winter? :)
One afternoon when I was out in the backyard, my husband came out to get me and scared away my birds. He since learned to email me or text me on my phone to get my attention. So the next afternoon, I got an message, “Dear strange person living in the backyard…” ! So I made him come take a picture of the strange person in her hiding place. Note the laptop – it’s great for photographer distraction while waiting for birds to come out! :)