I was visiting with my parents yesterday and as usual, we ended up standing at the window watching the hummingbirds in the backyard. I was sent out on an expedition to trim a tree branch that was too close to the bird feeder. In the five minutes that I was standing outside, at least two hummingbirds flew by. They nectared at the Coral Porterweed and I was amazed at how comfortable they were around me. So I went back inside, grabbed my camera, and settled down on the ground near the porterweed. The beginning of a fun-filled hour in another backyard birding paradise!
The Palm Warblers are definitely back! At least five of them were hopping all over the grass. This one came closer and closer, unconcerned about the crazy person and the big camera. He hopped up onto the flowerbed edging to pose for the camera.
Birds aren’t the only critters that fly in my parents’ backyard. The squirrels are huge fans of their bird feeders. The squirrels devise all sorts of clever ways to evade the squirrel-proof feeders that my mom puts out. Then they hang uncomfortably upside-down while snacking on the bird food. My dad will got out and tell them to scat. Then whoosh! They may not have wings but they sure do fly. So that’s why we call them “Wingless.”
House Sparrows are undoubtedly the most frequent customers at my mom’s feeders. There must be at least a hundred sparrows in the yard at any given point. While it’s nice to have the constant chatter of feathered friends, the sparrows do have a habit of cleaning out the bird feeders. And chasing away the “nice” birds. And generally being pests. My mom would be really happy if some of these customers would find another eatery. But I can’t do a blog post about my parents’ yard without at least one sparrow photo. (Sorry, Mum-mum.)
Here’s a bird my mom was excited about. The Loggerhead Shrike counts have been decreasing across Central Florida according to our Christmas Bird Counts. But a shrike regularly shows up in my parents’ backyard. Often they hear it calling. Yesterday it showed itself, and how handy that I had my camera at the time!
This Northern Mockingbird is the king of the yard. At least, he thinks he is. He kept chasing other birds away. The big bully.
It’s funny how one person’s rare bird is common to another person. For example, this week I had the pleasure of identifying some birds for a man from England, who had seen a juvenile Laughing Gull that made its way to the west coast of England last year – and then the man saw tons of them when he visited Florida. Well, I don’t get White-winged Doves at my house in Orlando, but my mom always has them in Winter Haven. Go figure!
Hey, the little Palm Warblers hopping on the ground sure come up with interesting meals. This guy was such a good bug-diver. When he came up with a blue dragonfly, he posed for a moment so that I could photograph his triumph.
The Gray Catbirds returned to Florida a week or two ago. My mom has heard them, and caught glimpses of them on her birdcam, but they hadn’t been super sociable while my parents were outside. So I was happy when a Gray Catbird hopped out of the bushes, stole a berry from the American Beautyberry, and then headed to the birdbath for a drink. Click-click-click!
Now, if you recall, I went out to photograph hummingbirds. While I observed all these other birds, I heard a few hummingbird chatters, but didn’t see a single hummer. So my mom took pity on me and came out to refill the feeders. Then she showed me the best spot, near the sleeping hibiscus. As we walked up we saw at least three nectaring hummers! Only one showed off his flashy red gorget for the camera…
Any day that I get to photograph hummingbirds is a good day. I love watching them! and it was great chatting with my mom as we waited for this guy to come close.
OK, I know you want at least one more shot of Wingless before the post ends. So here you go!