Hanging out with my Wintering Backyard Birds

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It’s been a while since I just hung out in the backyard with my camera. Since the yard is full of wintering birds, now is a perfect time of year to do that – especially when it’s cloudy or icky outside!

I’ve been noticing a Palm Warbler with a light-colored beak this year. Normally Palm Warblers have dark beaks, so this one is a little rare. I’ve nicknamed him “Blondie.” Having a Palm that I can easily distinguish from all his friends makes me realize how much I see the same bird in a single day. Where I’ve previously thought I might have, say, 3 Palms in the backyard because I see them in 3 separate places, I’m having to reconsider that counting philosophy. Blondie sure gets around!

Palm Warbler with Light Beak
Palm Warbler with Light Beak

My most colorful wintering birds are, of course, my Painted Buntings. This year we’re seeing more of them earlier in the year. Over the holidays, I was amazed to look out and see the feeder full with four males feeding together. At least five greenies were perched in the nearby bushes, waiting for a feeder port to become available.

Painted Bunting Male
Painted Bunting Male
Painted Bunting "Greenie"
Painted Bunting “Greenie”

I’ve seen a single American Goldfinch in the yard this winter. Normally the air is full of their cheerful calls – “potato chip! Baby!” But this year the small flock just isn’t here. The House Finches are eating the millet this winter.

House Finch
House Finch

The giant Coral Porterweeds are among the most popular plants in my backyard. Although I planted them for the hummingbirds, they are popular among all the nectar-eaters. Apparently the Painted Buntings have a sweet tooth. They like to bite off the porterweed blooms and then drink the nectar from the base. Yum!

Painted Bunting Male
Painted Bunting Male

Bluebird Housing Shortage

Posted 2 CommentsPosted in Lake Apopka

Yep, it’s definitely starting to feel like spring. I had the pleasure of watching a number of Eastern Bluebirds court and begin the process of nest-building. The only problem was the housing shortage…

Eastern Bluebird
Eastern Bluebird

That’s right, it’s hard to fit three birds into a house built for two. The leftmost and rightmost birds above are males. The middle bird is a female. It was clear that the housing arrangements hadn’t all been sorted out as everybody eyed the best place in the neighborhood!

Eastern Bluebird
Eastern Bluebird

Everybody was checking out the bluebird house. The birds darted in and out of the small hole in the front. At times, the female would flutter nearby, flapping her wings to make herself attractive to her mate. Then she’d fly to a nearby branch and do a one-winged wave.

Eastern Bluebird
Eastern Bluebird

The males concentrated on getting the nursery reading. This one flew in with a bit of nesting material. I wished the nest box was transparent to see the nest being built inside.

Eastern Bluebird
Eastern Bluebird with Nesting Material

This female bluebird seemed to have a solution to the housing shortage. She found a cavity in a nearby dead tree. Both the male and female were checking it out, inspecting it from all sides. It looked bigger than the birdie mansion, so maybe it will work out better for them in the long run. Their babies are sure to have playmates with their friends down the path!

Eastern Bluebird
Eastern Bluebird

Colorful Feathers at Oakland Nature Preserve

Posted 2 CommentsPosted in Oakland Nature Preserve

You know it’s going to be a good morning when your first birds are a Baltimore Oriole, an Eastern Bluebird, and a Pine Warbler together in a treetop. Orange, blue, and yellow – such colorful feathers!

Baltimore Oriole, Eastern Bluebird, Pine Warbler
Baltimore Oriole, Eastern Bluebird, Pine Warbler

Baltimore Orioles are most easily found in Florida during spring migration, but some birds do winter here. They feed on oranges and nectar. My parents have been seeing one in their backyard, enjoying the oranges from their trees. It’s always fun to get close to one of these brightly-colored birds. The male nectared on hibiscus blooms while the female looked on from the treetop.

Baltimore Oriole (Male)
Baltimore Oriole (Male)
Baltimore Oriole (Female)
Baltimore Oriole (Female)

The Eastern Bluebirds were singing in the bright cool morning. While they mostly stayed in the treetops, one did fly in closer and show me his beautiful blue feathers.

Eastern Bluebird
Eastern Bluebird

The Chipping Sparrows were out in full force that morning. They are enjoying the remaining purple American Beautyberries that add such cheerful color to the winter landscape.

Chipping Sparrow
Chipping Sparrow

The loudest sounds sometimes come from the smallest bird. This tiny House Wren alternating between flitting between trees and singing his heart out.

House Wren
House Wren

My last bird of the day was this Eastern Phoebe, perched on the top of a young pine tree. A member of the flycatcher family, he darted out from his perch and caught a bug in mid-air. Then he told me to come back soon!

Eastern Phoebe
Eastern Phoebe

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