Backyard photographyBirds

Backyard Birding Bonanza

It’s not that often that I fill my memory card.  Or run out of camera battery.  Two Sundays ago, I did both – in my own backyard!  It was a gray, windy morning.  I didn’t expect there to be much bird activity.  But a flock of American Goldfinches flew in overnight.  They didn’t mind when I took my chair outside at 8am.  Or when I scooted closer at 9am.  Or when I scooted even closer at 10am.  These clearly weren’t the same scaredy-cat birds from the previous weekend!  The buntings joined in the party too, and I finally captured the images I’d envisioned of the birds in my flowerbeds, eating salvia seeds.  Such a great morning of backyard birding!

American Goldfinch Party
American Goldfinch Party

Every day that goes by, we have more bright yellow goldfinches hanging out in the backyard.  They haven’t completely finished their molt, but they are getting close.  Like this guy who flew into the back crape myrtle and waited for his turn at the busy feeder…

American Goldfinch on Crape Myrtle
American Goldfinch on Crape Myrtle

Did I mention a busy feeder?  A picture just didn’t capture the flurry of activity.  I switched into video mode and chuckled at the guy on top, who couldn’t find an open port, so he hung upside down from the top of the feeder and made his own spot!

When I first stepped out into the yard, one of our Brown Thrashers was hanging out in the vine over my bird blind.  He couldn’t have posed on a better perch.  Both thrashers are active in the yard every day, so I don’t think they have a nest. Yet!

Brown Thrasher on Coral Honeysuckle
Brown Thrasher on Coral Honeysuckle

Our pair of cardinals is getting ready to nest, too. I was hoping to catch a few shots of the male feeding the female.  They do this little nuzzle that’s very sweet.  Alas, they did not grant me that moment.  Instead, Mrs. C. showed off her fresh spring colors on a pretty perch (not one of mine, but still pretty!)

Northern Cardinal (Female)
Northern Cardinal (Female)

The Painted Buntings love my birdbath, and I love watching them splash around.  Even better is watching them preen after they bathe.  This male looked almost as undignified as a cat after a bath…

Male Painted Bunting after Bathtime
Male Painted Bunting after Bathtime

As the morning went on, the birds became very active in my back bed of native red salvia plants.  The seeds are very popular.  This goldfinch certainly approved!

American Goldfinch on Salvia
American Goldfinch on Salvia

Finally I worked my chair close enough to get a good vantage point on the salvia, where the backgrounds didn’t include brown streaks from bushes behind.  Instead you see the field of flowers and the happy birds gorging themselves on seeds…

Painted Bunting "Greenie" on Salvia
Painted Bunting “Greenie” on Salvia
Painted Bunting "Greenie" on Salvia
Painted Bunting “Greenie” on Salvia
Painted Bunting "Greenie" on Salvia
Painted Bunting “Greenie” on Salvia

The greenies weren’t the only ones enjoying the salvia.  The males don’t mind venturing out into a field of red flowers where they blend in almost as well as the greenies.  This is the more dignified shot before the bird took his bath. ;-)

Painted Bunting (Male) on Salvia
Painted Bunting (Male) on Salvia

As I was watching the buntings, I suddenly found myself saying out loud, “one of you is not like the others!”  I kept my eye on the new visitor until she showed herself fully – an Indigo Bunting female!  Yep, I sure do love my backyard birding in the springtime. :)

Indigo Bunting
Indigo Bunting

I heard a little squabbling and found the source.  A goldfinch and a bunting were fighting over the cardinal’s pretty perch.  The greenie wanted to sit on it and the goldfinch didn’t want to let him.  After several little spats, they both took off and continued their fight in mid-air.  I didn’t see who won!

Goldfinch Squabble with Bunting
Goldfinch Squabble with Bunting

Remember my Palm Warbler who got the last laugh when I tried to manipulate him onto a pretty perch?  Well, I tried again.  This time I didn’t try so hard.  I just attached a powderpuff branch to the mealworm feeder pole.  Then I sat back and laughed.  The warbler flew in and sat in the bush behind the feeder.  He looked and looked at his feeder.   Then he hopped down to the flowerbed nearby, and looked some more.  Then he flew under the feeder, grabbed a few mealworms that had dropped, and looked up.  Finally, he flew up and sat on my perch!  He returned several times in the course of the morning.  Maybe birds are easier to manipulate than I thought.  (Again, like cats!)

Palm Warbler on Pretty Perch!
Palm Warbler on Pretty Perch!  Note to self: next time find a better background :)

The salvia flowers weren’t the only ones to attract birds.  The goldfinches loved sitting on my coral porterweed, too.   Actually, they’d sit on the bigger (and more stable in the gusty wind!) porterweed branches, then pull the salvia branches to themselves to eat.  Smart little birds.

American Goldfinch
American Goldfinch

Finally I noticed that my stomach was rumbling and it was 1:00.  I’d been out there for 5 hours, and it barely felt like 15 minutes!  A Red-winged Blackbird flew in to remind me to feed Squirt his lunch.  What a great morning!

Red-winged Blackbird (a.k.a. Piggy)
Red-winged Blackbird (a.k.a. Piggy)

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2 thoughts on “Backyard Birding Bonanza

  1. Such gorgeous shots! I can’t get over how many birds you saw in your own backyard! it looks like quite the paradise for them though. I have several feeders and we see mostly Cardinals… and squirrels. The squirrels are eating all my bird seed right now. Grrr. Thanks for sharing your Sunday morning with us!

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