Backyard photographyBirds

Backyard Birding on a Gray, Nasty Day

How many American Goldfinches fit on a six-port finch feeder?

If you think that’s an easy question, you clearly haven’t spent a lot of time watching a finch feeder.  The answer is three, ten, or eight, but never six!  The little goldfinches are so busy in their comings and goings at the feeder ports.  I always place my feeder next to a crape myrtle tree because the finches love to perch in the dead branches while they wait for a turn at the feeder.  When a port opens up, and a bird makes a run for it, he’s often run off by the other birds who seem to claim “squatter’s rights.”   A few exercise the privilege of standing on the bottom tray and eating the seed that falls there.  Squabbles are aplenty, and yet the birds are so good-natured about the whole business.  The yard was full of sounds of “potato chip!” and “baby!”

Finch Fight
Finch Fight

It was a gray, nasty day.  When the weather forecast calls for 90% cloudcover, you sometimes reconsider whether it’s worth it to get up at the crack of dawn when you know the sun isn’t exactly going to “rise.”  On this particular day, I enjoyed some extra sleep and wandered into my backyard around 11am.  Yep, as you can see from these photos, there was no light!  And yet the birds were so cheerful.  Here’s a shot of one of the goldfinches waiting his turn in the crape myrtle.

American Goldfinch Portrait
American Goldfinch Portrait

This bird is starting to get some of his yellow color back.  It reminded me that despite this week’s cold weather, spring is definitely on the way.

Sip of Water
Sip of Water

The goldfinches love the water dropper that Rich got me for Christmas.  It attaches to my hose and (theoretically at least) gives the birds a steady supply of fresh water, one delightful drop at a time.  In actuality it needs to be reset every day or so because it can’t keep to maintain a steady flow of drops.  I loved watching the goldfinches land on the perch and bend down to sip the water as it came out.  Then I had to laugh as I captured the image above.  Not exactly a dignified or dainty sip!

Palm Warbler
Palm Warbler

The little Palm Warblers vied for my attention as they hopped onto my American Beautyberry bush to eat bugs.  They are one of our most common birds in winter,  yet I never get tired of watching them.  This guy admonished me for letting the mealworm cup go empty.  Of course I went out and filled it for him!

Turkey Vulture
Turkey Vulture

A Turkey Vulture flew low over the yard and scattered most of the little birds, who probably thought he was the resident hawk.  I thought it was funny that the buntings all scattered when they sensed his flight, but the goldfinches didn’t seem to be bothered by him.  He paused on my neighbor’s roof for quite some time.  Vultures have such interesting, if not pretty, faces.  Kinda like Wood Storks.

Feeder Friends
Feeder Friends

The buntings got brave again and returned to the feeder.  I told them they were very kind to do so, as I couldn’t blog about my backyard without at least one Painted Bunting shot!  This year we have 4 males and 3 greenies that brighten up my millet feeder.  I need to get out on a prettier day and try to stage some shots without a bird feeder in them. :)