Monthly Archives: May 2016

May 9, 2016

The bubbler draws in the birds:


Lefty, the one-footed Northern Cardinal


American Redstart (female)

The lone male American Goldfinch was munching on sunflower chips early this morning.  A juvenile Red-bellied Woodpecker was checking out the mixed-nut feeder this afternoon.

May 8, 2016

Mother’s Day at Nathan Krestul Park this morning:


Wood Ducks

On our walk to Nathan Krestul we saw three juvenile Red-tailed Hawks.  Here’s one:


Red-tailed Hawk

The back yard is still an active place.  A male American Goldfinch is still hanging around.  Lefty, the one-footed male Northern Cardinal, made an appearance, as did a pair of Northern Cardinals.  Saw fleeting glimpses of a male American Redstart and a female Blackpoll Warbler.   The Brown Thrasher was back for a bath, knocking out half the water in the process.  The Downies and Red-bellies are all hitting the feeders, as are the Carolina Wrens, the Tufted Titmice, the House Finches, and the Carolina Chickadees.  At one point I saw three birds on the mixed-nut feeder:  the Northern Parula, a Carolina Chickadee, and a Carolina Wren.

At mid-day an American Redstart spent a few slightly less frenetic seconds in the oleander.  This is the best shot I’ve been able to get yet:


American Redstart

Shortly after the American Redstart showed up, a female Black-throated Warbler made a brief appearance on a privet.

Here’s Lefty, the one-footed Northern Cardinal:


Lefty, the one-footed male Northern Cardinal

He is able to land on and eat from the feeders:


Lefty, the one-footed Cardinal

Finally, two more reptiles made an appearance in our yard today:  a five-lined skink (on the retaining wall) and a glass lizard (crossing the driveway).

May 7, 2016

Yesterday afternoon my 400-mm lens came back from being repaired by Sigma.  So–after yesterday’s exciting morning– this morning I couldn’t wait to get back from our bike ride and see what birds were about.  We finished our 36-mile ride at 8:20 a.m., when the light was still golden . . . and it was kind of quiet in our back yard.  I did spot an American Redstart in mid-canopy, but it soon left.

Eventually an entire Downy Woodpecker family showed up–parents and juvenile male and female.


Downy Woodpecker (juvenile male)

And an adult male Red-bellied Woodpecker kept hitting the suet feeder with such regularity that I kept a close eye on him and finally got a line on a juvenile on the “woodpecker” branch in an area we call “staging.”


Red-bellied Woodpecker (juvenile)

Yesterday the privet attracted many birds.  Today it was a blooming elderberry that got this House Finch’s attention.


House Finch

A male and a female American Goldfinch showed up–it’s unusual that they’re still here into May.  Here’s the male from the late afternoon:


American Goldfinch (male)

The usuals also showed up.  A Brown Thrasher and a Tufted Titmice took baths in the bubbler.  The Downy Woodpeckers were steady customers at the suet feeder all day, as was the female Northern Parula at the mixed-nut feeder.  At one point I saw her and a female Downy Woodpecker at the mixed-nut feeder at the same time.   Many birds eat at the mixed-nut feeder, including Carolina Chickadees and Carolina Wrens, though the latter are happy to try the suet feeder or the seed feeder or the peanut feeder if another bird is on the mixed-nut feeder.   (But even as I type this, a Carolina Wren spooked the Northern Parula from the mixed-nut feeder.  She took a drink from the bubbler while the Carolina Wren ate, then when it left, she went right back to the mixed-nut feeder.)  Blue Jays showed up a couple of times.  They haven’t been too bossy, so I haven’t put a cage around the mixed-nut feeder–yet.  The American Goldfinches had to share the sunflower-chip feeder with House Finches from time to time.  I saw the adult Northern Cardinals, including Lefty the one-footed adult male, but no juveniles.  A male Ruby-throated Hummingbird appeared at the nectar feeder from time to time for very short drinks. The female adult Red-bellied Woodpecker appeared only once, in the late afternoon for some suet.

While weeding the front yard this morning, I came across a southern black racer, maybe three feet long.  It was about two feet from me, not in a threatening posture.  I stood up slowly and it leisurely disappeared into a bleeding heart vine in bloom.  Then an hour or so later, the front door rang.  It was our neighbor, Jim, with the black racer wrapped around his arm.  “Just wanted to let you know that this guy is in your yard,” he said.  “Oh, yes,” I said.  “We know him.  And I saw him earlier.”  Jim had found it in the side yard between our houses.  I took a closer look and saw a chunk missing from its midsection.  Jim speculated that a hawk had got it.  Maybe a raccoon?  Jim let it go, and it headed it off back toward the bleeding heart vine.

May 6, 2016

The morning arrived with temperatures in the mid 50s, a rare and welcome day in May.  Lots of bird activity early in our back yard.  Here’s a list of pairs (male and female) I saw:  Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Downy Woodpeckers, American Goldfinches, Northern Cardinals (and the one-footed male Northern Cardinal known as Lefty also showed up, separately as always), American Redstarts, Black-throated Blue Warblers, and House Finches.  Also saw a Northern Parula, a Ruby-throated Hummingbird (male), a Rose-breasted Grosbeak (male), a couple of Carolina Wrens, a couple of Carolina Chickadees, a couple of Tufted Titmice, a couple of Mourning Doves, a few Chimney Swifts flying overhead, and a Blue Jay.

The best shot of the lot:


Red-bellied Woodpecker

The female Northern Parula who is defying all my expectations of Northern Parula behavior did it again this morning.  In addition to hitting the mixed-nut feeder three times before 10:00 a.m. , she also sought out the nectar in the white flowers of a privet.  Then she descended to the bubbler and hovered above it, trying to get a drink.

Later in the morning I watched a male Northern Cardinal tend to two juveniles.  Here’s a shot of one who, like the Northern Parula, found the nectar in the privet irresistible.


Northern Cardinal (juvenile)

Speaking of juveniles, there are two juvenile Downy Woodpeckers, a male and a female.  I’ve seen the juvenile male on the suet feeder.  This afternoon, I watched the adult female feed the juvenile female.

May 3, 2016

Yesterday while scanning the woods behind our house for a Pileated Woodpecker, I spotted a Worm-eating Warbler.  This morning brought a Northern Waterthrush foraging below the bubbler.  And I’m still seeing at least one American Goldfinch every day, including today.

The Northern Parula below is acting unlike any other that has been in our yard.  For starters, it has developed a taste for mixed nuts.  And it allows close approach–within ten feet.  Every other Northern Parula for the past few years has been strictly interested in the bubbler, for both drinking and bathing.  Most of the time, they are extremely cautious, alighting on the bubbler, doing a couple of 360s before taking in the water, and then fleeing quickly for the upper canopy.


Northern Parula

May 1, 2016

May began in a birdy way.  Just after dawn this morning I saw three American Goldfinches in our back yard–as well as a Black-throated Blue Warbler, a couple of Carolina Wrens, a Red-bellied Woodpecker, a Downy Woodpecker, a Ruby-throated Hummingbird and a Northern Mockingbird, which was surprisingly agile on the hanging suet feeder.  On our bike ride this morning my better half picked out a Pileated Woodpecker on a pine tree.  We stopped and soon spotted a second Pileated Woodpecker on a nearby pine tree.   After the ride, we relaxed on the deck for a while–training our binoculars on whatever birds showed up:  a Carolina Wren, a brilliantly colored male American Goldfinch, a loud barking Red-bellied Woodpecker.  I heard Chimney Swifts overhead, so then we pointed our binoculars up and tried to keep the Chimney Swifts in view as they raced across the sky.  A short time later, my better half was studying an oak tree in the front yard, trying to determine what limbs to trim, when it became clear that a bird had made its nest there.   One fewer chore to do!


Nesting Mourning Dove

The American Goldfinches are staying very late this year.  It’s unusual to see both them and the Ruby-throated Hummingbird at the same time.  As for migrating birds in our back yard this spring, we’ve had a Black-and-White Warbler, who bathes in the bubbler, and both a male and female Black-throated Blue Warbler, both of whom alight in the oleander and get near the bubbler, but never actually take a bath.

A male Northern Parula has taken several baths in the bubbler this spring.  And recently I’ve seen a female Northern Parula feeding at the mixed-nut feeder–very odd!  It’s the first time I’ve ever seen one at a feeder.  But spring brings surprises.  Last year it was the juvenile Downy Woodpeckers, who would drink from the bubbler.

Finally, in the vein of “spring brings surprises,” here’s a snapshot from today of Lefty, the one-footed male Northern Cardinal who showed up a couple of weeks ago and is still hanging around our yard.


One-footed Northern Cardinal (his better side)

In the afternoon I went to see Gram at Westminster Woods, where we saw this Green Heron:


Green Heron

We also heard an Osprey in the platform nest, but it never made an appearance.

On the way home, I stopped by Nathan Krestul Park.  I saw a Pileated Woodpecker fly across La Vaca Road.  So I scouted around in the woods until I found it, and then spotted a second one.  Back in the park, an Osprey was hunting and getting harrassed by a male Red-winged Blackbird whenever it flew near the water’s edge.  It dove once, but came up with nothing in its talons.  Twenty-seven White Ibis flew in.  A Red-tailed Hawk showed up, and all twenty-seven White Ibis took flight.  A female Red-winged Blackbird was squawking loudly at the water’s edge.