Early April in the Backyard

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I hope you’re not getting tired of all my posts about my own backyard.  All these years of gardening for the birds (and more gardening for the birds), and this year is the first year I’ve really spent significant time enjoying the results of my efforts.  Early April is definitely my favorite time in the backyard!

My firebushes have grown into tall, dense trees, and the birds love their cover.  There’s a particular branch that I call the “waiting perch.”  It stands out from the rest of the bush and is close to the feeder, but the birds feel safe as they sit on it waiting for a turn at the feeder.

Painted Bunting "Greenie"
Painted Bunting “Greenie”
Painted Bunting (Male)
Painted Bunting (Male) in Native Firebush

It’s quite convenient when beautiful birds have such predictable places to perch!

Across the yard, one of my Brown Thrashers took a bath.  He proceeded to preen and shake out his feathers in a firespike bush.  Notice anything funny?   Yep, he got photobombed by a male bunting!

Brown Thrasher Photobombed by Bunting
Brown Thrasher Photobombed by Bunting (middle left)

I’ve seen several hummingbirds in the early mornings.  They fly in, nectar for a little while, and then move on.  Migration is tough on these tiny birds and I’m happy to think that my yard helps them on their journey.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Male)
Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Male) nectaring on Wendy’s Wish salvia
Female Ruby-throated Hummingbird nectaring on Purple Firespike
Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Female) nectaring on Purple Firespike

We’ve had a couple of Prairie Warblers this spring (or the same one that stayed for several weeks).  I love seeing them in the springtime when their colors are so bright and vibrant.  This year I got to hear one singing for the better part of one morning.  Such a treat!

Prairie Warbler on Crape Myrtle
Prairie Warbler on Crape Myrtle

Of course, backyard life isn’t always perfect.  When a hawk flies through, everybody scatters.  The small birds head for the cover of my viburnum “fence” and the doves freeze in their tracks.  The squirrels disappear and the bunnies hop to safety.  It stays very quiet for 20-30 minutes afterward. Sometimes the hawk even has the nerve to sit on top of the bird feeder to survey the yard!

Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk

Some of the first birds to come back are the Red-winged Blackbirds.  They send in a sentinel to check things out, then that bird calls all his friends.  “All clear!  The hawk is gone!  Birdseed in the feeders, come and get it!”

Red-winged Blackbird (Female)
Red-winged Blackbird (Female)

I was in the blind one afternoon when I was surprised to see a juvenile Mourning Dove with his parents.  They milled about beneath my biggest feeder.  It seemed a little early for a juvie.  He seemed to know his way around the yard pretty well already.

Juvenile Mourning Dove
Juvenile Mourning Dove

Not far from the doves was one of our neighborhood squirrels.  I have baffles on my feeders and the squirrels (knock wood!) pretty much stay on the ground.  But never fear, the birds knock down so much seed that I am quite confident that our squirrels are not going hungry!


You haven’t forgotten my migrant blue-gray gnatcatchers, have you?  Turns out they have stayed for several weeks.  Their song really brightens up the backyard, as do their antics when they chase each other from branch to branch.  I think they’ve seen me photographing other birds on pretty perches, and they wanted to participate.  This gnatcatcher found a discarded day-old perch on the ground and sat on it – but he forgot one important part of posing for his portrait: you’re supposed to open your eyes! ;-)

Elevate Old Perches and Ask the Birds Not to Blink
Elevate Old Perches and Ask the Birds Not to Blink

As sad as I am to see our winter feathered friends start to leave, it’s also fun to welcome our summer friends back to the neighborhood.  This was the morning that I heard our first Common Nighthawk! :)

eBirdFind my birding list from today on eBird.

2 thoughts on “Early April in the Backyard

  1. I sure don’t mind your backyard birding posts! I love seeing the birds you see in your backyard and I always learn a lot. You’ve obviously put in a lot of thought into what plants would benefit our little friends, I admire that very much. I think most birds who live/visit around my backyard are bug eaters though. I have several pairs of cardinals who visit my feeders all day long, ruby throated hummingbirds, and I see woodpeckers (pileated, red bellied and downy), doves and hawks regularly. I had the visit of a blue jay this morning and I was excited because I rarely see them here. I like that your hummingbirds have real nectar to sip from. Mine have to be content with the one I make myself. They must like it because, even though the most I have seen at once is two, they keep coming back.

    I spend most mornings in backyard too, observing my own birds… and squirrels, and chasing the neighborhood cat away (grrr). No bunnies for us though. We’ve had the odd armadillo and sometimes some possums. Sadly (for me), though, our backyard has very large trees and most birds prefer to stay there. I’m horrible at recognizing bird calls (save for the red bellied woodpecker and the cardinals!) so I just sit there and enjoy their songs… and wish I could recognize them. But I’m far too forgetful for that. I did spot a funny sight this morning, this little grey and yellow bird (I’ll have to look it up) thought it was a hummingbird and was drinking the nectar from one of the hummingbird feeders… or maybe he was gorging on one of the ants that was partaking in the nectar, I’m not too sure. Anyhoo, it was a little startling to see. I hope my pictures turn out.

    I envy your painted buntings. I’ve tried seeing them at the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive but haven’t spotted them yet. Are they on the trees right outside the front gate? I’m just not sure where to look for them.

    1. You’re lucky if you have regular hummingbirds! Yes, the Painted Buntings at Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive are often visible right around the Lust Road gate. I’ve seen them across the canal (by the Ash-throated Flycatcher’s tree) and also in a palm tree on the left side of the road as you drive in. Mine have left already. Keep watching for some more blog posts about them!

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