Backyard photography

Happiness is…

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American Goldfinch

Happiness is… …watching the American Goldfinches turn yellow and play in your flowers :) … seeing the female Indigo Bunting from last weekend – she stuck around! … finally snapping a picture of the elusive Prairie Warbler who has been mocking you for the past three mornings, and as a bonus, getting to hear him sing! … watching the cardinals take a bath in the birdbath that you cleaned for them yesterday (it’s always nice when they appreciate your efforts!) … admiring the colors as your goldfinch poses in the shade while the background behind him is alight with color. …watching the Painted Bunting hop out onto the “waiting perch” as he considers a flight to the feeder. …laughing at the Palm Warbler as he finds every mealworm you’ve dropped under the feeder… …listening to the happy calls of the American Goldfinches as they circle your yard.  “Baby!”  “Potato chip!” …saying hello to the Brown Thrasher and realizing that since the pair of them have stopped visiting together, his mate must be busy sitting on eggs at a nest nearby. … laughing at the Red-winged Blackbirds who are so certain that they are missing something because they can’t get into the […]

Backyard photography

Springtime Morning of Backyard Birding

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American Goldfinch

Recently I spent a weekend morning in my backyard – rather unusual for me, since mornings are usually when I venture beyond the backyard.  It was fun to see my yard in morning light.  This is the time of year that I love backyard birding the best.  Flowers are blooming, the air is fresh and not too hot, the goldfinches and buntings are getting into their best costumes for spring, and knowledge that they will soon be leaving makes the quiet opportunities even more special. Within a few minutes, the alert was out.  Fresh food at the feeders!  Fresh food!  Come and get it!  The Red-winged Blackbirds are like birdseed magnets.  They pose in the nearby shrubs as they alert the neighborhood. The little Palm Warblers came to see if I put out any fresh mealworms.  They don’t mind having me around.  This one perched in the flowers very close to where I was sitting.  So close, in fact, that I could barely focus on him.  (That’s a nice problem to have!) Our Common Ground Dove flew in and landed on the feeder perch.  He looked a little scruffy.  He’d lost some feathers since the last time I’d seen him. One of […]

Backyard photography

Backyard Birding from my Blind

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Ruby-throated Hummingbird

I have to make a confession.  I bribed some birds today. I had a few free hours (gasp!) and I decided to do some backyard birding.  I confess to waiting to refill the bird feeders until it was prime photography time – after the household chores were done, the camera was outside, and the light was right!  But the birds didn’t mind my manipulations.  They were just happy to see fresh birdseed. The first birds who noticed the refilled feeders were the goldfinches.  This scout flew into the yard and sounded a happy “Potato Chip!” to alert the neighborhood.  Free nyger!  Come and get it! Rich had noticed a goldfinch doing a tail-spread this morning.  I was surprised to photograph the same behavior.  The goldfinches are starting to get into their breeding plumage.  This one was sporting a yellow head and a starting-to-be-black forehead.  In a few weeks he’ll be all yellow and ready to impress his mate! It’s that time of the year when the Brown Thrasher pair shows up in the backyard.  I think they like the free birdseed while they are nesting.  Today I saw both of them scavenging in the mulch, and then they took turns in the […]

Backyard photography

American Goldfinches in my Backyard

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Being a Real Bird - Eating Seeds Straight from the Flower!

Sadly, I’ve realized in the past week or two that the American Goldfinches in my backyard have migrated home for the summer.  It’s always sad to see them go.  They are such cheerful little birds and their songs are so sweet.  I enjoy hosting them for the winter. The video below was taken back in January when the birds had not yet started to molt into their breeding plumage.  In the wintertime they are rather drab little guys.  They love to fight over ports on the niger feeders.  It seems that it’s impossible for 8 birds to settle onto the 8 ports on the feeder.  They are always having little skirmishes over who gets which port.  This year the birds used my Porterweed plant as additional perches. At one point I noticed them sitting on the porterweed and reaching over to sample the niger.  Silly birds!  We also had one bird this year who consistently chose to eat upside down.  He looked pretty silly hanging from the top of the feeder when everybody else was eating rightside-up! As the spring days pass, the birds start to molt into their bright yellow breeding plumage.  That’s pretty much when they tend to […]

Backyard photography

Backyard Birding with My American Goldfinches

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American Goldfinch Squabble

I finally pulled out my bird blind for the first time this winter.  It’s a great way to get shots of the birds in my backyard.  My blind is basically a big camouflage tent.  There’s room inside for me, the Beast, my tripod, even a chair.  I zip myself in as Rich laughs, then I hang out in my backyard for a few hours.  Last spring I got some great shots of my Painted Buntings with this technique.  On this particular afternoon, it was rainy and gross out, but I had fun doing some backyard birding with my American Goldfinches, who were pretty active at the niger feeder. Niger is the preferred seed of these cheerful little birds.  I place my feeder near a crape myrtle, and its bare winter branches make great perches for the goldfinches as they wait for turns at the feeder.  Every year Rich and I laugh at the “goldfinch conundrum” – how to fit 8 birds on an 8-port feeder.  It doesn’t happen often! This year my Coral Porterweed has grown very tall near my feeder, and its flower stalks provide additional perches for the goldfinches.  I have to laugh every time I see one […]