I have to make a confession. I bribed some birds today.
I had a few free hours (gasp!) and I decided to do some backyard birding. I confess to waiting to refill the bird feeders until it was prime photography time – after the household chores were done, the camera was outside, and the light was right! But the birds didn’t mind my manipulations. They were just happy to see fresh birdseed.
The first birds who noticed the refilled feeders were the goldfinches. This scout flew into the yard and sounded a happy “Potato Chip!” to alert the neighborhood. Free nyger! Come and get it!
Rich had noticed a goldfinch doing a tail-spread this morning. I was surprised to photograph the same behavior. The goldfinches are starting to get into their breeding plumage. This one was sporting a yellow head and a starting-to-be-black forehead. In a few weeks he’ll be all yellow and ready to impress his mate!
It’s that time of the year when the Brown Thrasher pair shows up in the backyard. I think they like the free birdseed while they are nesting. Today I saw both of them scavenging in the mulch, and then they took turns in the birdbath. In a splish, splash, they were taking a bath!
We had an unexpected visitor – a Gray Catbird. While they are common birds in wintertime in Florida, I’m not used to seeing them in my backyard. This one posed nice and close to the blind – I had to go vertical or cut off his tail!
Yep, did I mention my bird blind? It’s great! Perfectly situated for afternoon bird photography. The vines have grown over it, making it a nice shady place in the afternoon sun. The birds didn’t seem to mind me too much. Well, most of them anyway.
The purple Firespike bush is in full bloom, and I didn’t realize until today that it’s a Painted Bunting magnet! In the morning I had reported 2 greenies and a male on PBOT. This afternoon I saw at least 6 greenies and 3 males hopping in and out of the firespike. One greenie delighted me when she hopped onto a close flower and started pulling out the petals to get at the nectar inside. I caught her with her beak full!
The male Painted Buntings were the only birds that seemed concerned about the stranger lurking in the bird blind. But they got used to me. This one landed in the red salvia on his way to the bird feeder (fresh millet, mmm!)
At one point I looked over and three buntings had chased the thrashers out of the birdbath. Two greenies, one male, and lots of splashing!!
Although my giant Coral Porterweed bushes are not really blooming right now, this greenie found one of the remaining blooms and plucked it to get at the nectar inside. Maybe that’s why I like the buntings so much – they share my sweet tooth!
It’s been ages since I’ve been out birding, and it was a treat just to sit and listen to the calls of my feathered friends. The happy Brown Thrashers sang their sweet chortling song, kind of like a mockingbird song, but quieter and less repetitive. Around 4pm, a.k.a. “Warbler Hour”, the little Palm Warblers flew in with their chip-chip-chips. And of course, who can miss the cardinals with their springtime calls? The male sat at the top of a bush and sang out his love for his “wife! wife! wife!”
Cardinals are some of my dad’s favorite birds, and I was thinking of him as I photographed the female cardinal, who is also sporting her springtime colors. I’ve often found that cardinals bring me good luck. Some photographers won’t take pictures of common birds, but somehow I find that they lead to me to other “good” birds. Like our Ruby-throated Hummingbird who has been spending the winter in the backyard…
I gasped with excitement when I first spotted our hummer. Then over the next couple of hours, I saw her over and over and over again. She’s clearly used to our backyard! She knows all the good spots to nectar and all the good spots to perch. Our backyard has become a bit of a jungle. Instead of the well-trimmed rose garden I planted when we first moved into our house, I now have lots of native plants that attract these emerald-winged jewels. My porterweed bushes are less attractive than roses with their scant blooms and tall twiggy branches, but for the hummingbirds, they provide the perfect combination of nectar and shelter.
Hehe, did you notice that I said “hummingbirds?” That’s right! The bird photographed above zoomed over my head, hovering just a few feet in the air to stare at the intruder and demand what I was doing in her backyard. I gave her a breathless smile in response, too amazed in watching her to even think of reaching for my camera. I think I passed the test. She nectared nearby, then she flew off…and then she flew off again! There were at least two of them! I heard them chattering to each other, probably laughing at the person whose fancy camera speed doesn’t begin to match their wing-flap rate!
So the cardinals again brought me good luck, and I look forward to more happy hours of backyard birding this spring. Hopefully I’ll be able to blog more often, too! :)