Monthly Archives: February 2016

February 28, 2016

A rare morning at home.  We took the dog for an early walk and spotted a Wood Stork at Nathan Krestul Park–the first time I’ve ever seen one there.  We also caught glimpses of a Belted Kingfisher, and heard it plenty!

Back at home, just after dawn, an adult Yellow-rumped Warbler and a 1st-winter showed up and ate the mixed nuts and sunflower chips.  Mr. and Mrs. Red-bellied Woodpecker arrived for suet and peanuts, respectively.  A Carolina Wren partook of the mixed nuts, as did a Ruby-crowned Kinglet.


Ruby-crowned Kinglet

The Mourning Doves and squirrels scoured the deck and the grass for dropped sunflower chips. Bird by bird, the American Goldfinches began to appear.  The males are beginning to get their bright yellow feathers, which signals that their departure is not far off.  It also means the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are on their way.


American Goldfinch

In the afternoon, I took Gram for a spin by the lake at Westminster Woods.  On a platform atop a pole in the middle of the lake a pair of Ospreys appeared to be nesting:



Also spotted this Double-crested Cormorant with its entourage:


Double-crested Cormorant

I stopped by Nathan Krestul Park on my way back home, and saw this juvenile Wood Stork–maybe it was the same one I’d seen that morning?


Wood Stork (juvenile)

The usuals were present:  the Little Blue Heron, the Tricolored Heron, a Belted Kingfisher, a handful of Red-winged Blackbirds, several Yellow-rumped Warblers.  Also saw a juvenile Little Blue Heron:


Little Blue Heron (juvenile)

February 27, 2016

The American Goldfinches are still enjoying the sunflower chips.


American Goldfinch

Two adult Yellow-rumped Warblers also showed up and ate sunflower chips, mixed nuts, and suet.

Late in the day this Orange-crowned Warbler showed up to take a bath:


Orange-crowned Warbler

February 22, 2016

When I came home from work today, I saw that the American Goldfinches had cleaned out the tube feeder.  So I refilled it with sunflower chips and then sprayed out the bubbler.

Up high in a leafless trees the Baltimore Oriole surveyed things but did not descend.

Once I left the back yard, a Red-bellied Woodpecker helped himself to suet, and then a Gray Catbird took a spirited bath in the bubbler.  A pair of Northern Cardinals checked out the pergola and the oleander.

As usual, the American Goldfinches did not appear in the late afternoon.

February 21, 2016

Our back yard is still getting mobbed by American Goldfinches.  Sometimes up to ten pack each of the three feeders, with more below on the ground.  Here’s one waiting patiently to join the fray:


American Goldfinch

Yesterday morning a Black-and-White Warbler showed up again at the bubbler.  And a Yellow-rumped Warbler showed up at the suet feeder.  The Hermit Thrush has been been back just before sunset the last two days to bathe.  This morning the Baltimore Oriole discovered the peanut feeder, which is in a slightly quieter location than the suet feeder.

This afternoon was lovely and warm, and Gram was game to go sit by the lake.  We saw a Great Egret:


Great Egret

Yellow-rumped Warblers were everywhere at Westminster Woods.  Here’s one:


Yellow-rumped Warbler

As we were heading back to Gram’s apartment, we came across a woman named Pat who was cleaning out a nesting box near the lake’s edge.  She said that last year two families of Bluebirds made their nest there.

February 17, 2016

Today was mild enough–70 degrees–for Gram to go out to the lake with me at Westminster Woods.  Almost immediately we watched this Anhinga work its meal off the twin skewers of its beak, into its mouth, and down its throat.




Then it swam to a log, hauled itself out, and slowly flapped its wings to dry.


Back at home, I found two American Goldfinches trapped inside the gazebo (and most of the sunflower chips gone from the feeders).  The wind must have blown open the door, and these two got curious.  After I propped open the door with a chair, each one found its way out.

At dusk I saw a male Northern Cardinal, but no Hermit Thrush.

February 15, 2016

I’m now running three sunflower chip feeders, and I’ve had up to three dozen American Goldfinches mob our back yard at once.  Here’s the “Dinner Bell’ feeder:


American Goldfinches on Feeder in Pergola (photo shot through window)


American Goldfinches on Feeder in Pergola (photo shot from back door)

What you don’t see are the dozen or so American Goldfinches underneath this feeder, looking for dropped chips on the ground.

I’ve hung the latest sunflower chip feeder where the nectar feeder hangs during summer–one foot away from Sprinkles’s perch in the window in the breakfast nook.  Sprinkles–the cat–now has many enriching, if not nourishing, moments watching the goldfinches chow down.


American Goldfinches on Feeder Outside Breakfast Nook Window (shot through window)


An American Goldfinch Waiting for Room at the Dinner Bell

Yesterday a Ruby-crowned Kinglet showed up for the first time this winter, as did an Orange-crowned Warbler.  The Ruby-crowned Kinglet likes the mixed nut feeder.  The Orange-crowned Warbler prefers to bathe in the bubbler.

The female Baltimore Oriole continues to make an appearance, too, both at the suet feeder and the bubbler (for a drink, not a bath–yet).


Baltimore Oriole (female) in Oleander Before Descending for a Drink


Baltimore Oriole (female)


Baltimore Oriole (female)

The usual suspects are all making regular appearances:  Northern Cardinals, Carolina Chickadees, Tufted Titmice, Brown Thrashers, House Finches, Downy Woodpeckers, and Red-bellied Woodpeckers.  Have not seen the Gray Catbird lately, though.  A Blue Jay showed up on the mixed nut feeder, but all of the sunflower chip feeders are designed to thwart the larger birds.


Red-bellied Woodpecker at His Favorite Staging Area

Finally, at close of day, as is its wont, the Hermit Thrush showed up to bathe:

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Hermit Thrush


Hermit Thrush

February 12, 2016

Stopped by Nathan Krestul Park on my way home from work, a beautiful, windy day with temperatures in the low 70s.  The first bird I saw was an Osprey aloft, stalled into the wind.  It plummeted to the water, plucked out a fish,  and flew off far back into the trees to eat it.


Osprey with Its First Catch

A Great Egret, a Tricolored Heron, and a Little Blue Heron were all looking for their own meals in the water.


Great Egret


Tricolored Heron

Above me in the small trees at the water’s edge Red-winged Blackbirds called incessantly and Yellow-rumped Warblers flitted around in the low brush.  A Turkey Vulture soared overhead.  Far back into the trees I spotted a Northern Flicker.  Across the water I heard a Belted Kingfisher, and then spotted her in a tree.  Then the Osprey scored a second fish:


Osprey with Its Second Catch

Near the bridge a pair of Mockingbirds were looking for their meals in a tree.  This one was particularly agile:


Northern Mockingbird


Northern Mockingbird

Then I watched the Osprey hit the water again, but this time it did not fly off with a fish.  Instead, it took a bath!





Osprey Drying Off in the Wind Following a Bath

February 7, 2016

The day started rainy, windy, and cold–about 42 degrees.  The rain stopped by 8:30 a.m., and the birds appeared.  A female Baltimore Oriole showed up–first time this winter–and took an instant liking to the suet feeder:


Baltimore Oriole (female)

She was acrobatic enough to make good use of it:


Baltimore Oriole (female)

A dozen American Goldfinches jockied for one of four perches on the cylinder feeder.  Here’s a typical scene (four more were on the ground below):


American Goldfinches

And then–out of the  blue–two Pine Siskins , which I’d never seen before:


Pine Siskins

They joined the American Goldfinches for sunflower chips:


Four American Goldfinches and two Pine Siskins

The usual suspects were around, too.  Both a male and female Red-bellied Woodpecker (first time I’d seen her in weeks) visited the suet feeder when the Baltimore Oriole had cleared off.  A male and a female Downy Woodpecker went to the mixed nut feeder, as did two Carolina Wrens and two Carolina Chickadees.  A pair of Northern Cardinals also alternated on the mixed nut feeder, as well as the safflower feeder.  Two Brown Thrashers showed up:  the more visible one kept poking its beak in the mud below the feeders, while the other stayed in low cover behind the retaining wall.  Two Tufted Titmice visited the cylinder feeder, the mixed nut feeder, and the safflower feeder.  The safflower feeder also hosted a female House Finch.  A male House Finch mixed it up with the American Goldfinches in the cylinder feeder.  All those pairs put me in mind of Valentine’s Day!

Happy as the American Goldfinches were to eat together, they preferred to drink alone, like this one:


In the late afternoon, the woods behind our house were alive with movement.  Soon enough, a dozen or so American Robins alighted in our back yard and on the retaining wall.  They kicked up the leaf litter by the oleander, took drinks at the bubbler, and ignored the feeders.  In a few minutes they were gone.


February 5, 2016

Stopped by Nathan Krestul Park on my way home from work.  The first thing I saw was a Belted Kingfisher booking it out of the park.  It eventually flew back, but stayed under cover on the opposite shore.Such a wary bird this year!  Last year the resident Belted Kingfisher would practically pose for me.

The tide was out, but the ground was soaked.  Across the water I saw eight Hooded Mergansers.  Two pairs swam deep into the swampy area, but four females decided to take advantage of a log not usually exposed to the sunshine:


Lots of Palm Warblers and Yellow-rumped Warblers.  And a Snowy Egret, energetically sussing out fish with its orange feet, and the pair of herons that have been mainstays for the last few months, a Little Blue Heron and a Tricolored Heron.   These two birds appear totally at ease with each other, hunting in the same spots, and flying off together to fishier pastures, as it were.