Friday, April 4, 2014

This Year is For The Birds

**Picture heavy post**

Well, not really, but they do help fill the gardening void in the winter! We love watching the birds and feed them all year round. Keeping birds in your gardens help with insect control...a nice benefit.

Some of the regular visitors to our yard, especially in the winter, are Redheaded Woodpeckers and Red-bellied Woodpeckers. While in the lower part of the yard (closer to the lake) I was watching a Redheaded Woodpecker peel off bark - or was it insects under the bark?- and then cache these treasures in another tree.

Here he is putting the newly acquired treat into his secret hiding spot.  Redheaded Woodpeckers are wonderful to see flying- the bold contrast of white and black are quite distinctive.

This guy went back and forth multiple times, he was quite busy!


Other Woodpeckers also cache their food - this female Red-bellied Woodpecker thought the soffit of our screened porch was a perfect spot to hide nuts she got from the feeder.


She used this spot a number of times, I guess she thought we wouldn't clean out the soffit.  Female Red-bellied Woodpeckers have red on their heads but only on the back part, males have red all the way from the back collar area to the beak.


Where did they get the nuts to hide? In the feeder hanging on the deck. I use a fruit and nut mix with sunflower seeds added, it is quite a favorite for many varieties.


See the red on her head? This is the female Red-bellied Woodpecker. 


It is hard to tell male and female Redheaded Woodpeckers apart...so I don't worry about it. Guess they are the ones who need to know!


Yes, the Redheaded Woodpecker waiting its turn at the feeder. 


He will share the feeder with the smaller birds. Here he is with a Brown-headed Nuthatch. Love those little guys, their song sounds like a squeaky toy.


This Red-bellied Woodpecker also has a cache in the hickory tree near the deck. He (yes, see the red coming between his eyes?) likes to use this spot while the female uses the soffit.



Sometimes the birds are hard to see while on the ground.  Can you spot the female Eastern Towhee? She has muted colors of rust and tan.



No? Well here is another picture of her closer---

Some birds aren't really wanted around the house.  One of the neighbors had a bunch of Vultures hanging out on his roof.  Those with the red heads are Turkey Vultures. 


Here are his friends-- waiting in the nearby tree. These birds do a good job with roadkill. 



One of my favorite little insect eaters is the Eastern Phoebe. It is such a sweet little bird and isn't very skittish around people. Her song sounds like her name- Phoebe.



These are the sweet little Brown-headed Nuthatches with a Carolina Chickadee. It was not unusual to have four or five nuthatches on the feeder at once.

 One woodpecker who doesn't come to the feeders but checks out all the trees is the Downy Woodpecker.


Like the mess on my deck? I bought one of those dried mealworms blocks and then it rained...a lot! The Pine Warbler and the Cardinals were just as happy to eat off the deck as on the feeder.



And now, it is time for the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds in our garden. I plant a lot of trumpet shaped flowers for them as well as keeping a couple feeders on the railing of the deck.  March 31st was my first sighting of a male Ruby-throated Hummingbird. Since I was watching the hummingbird migration map, I was ready for them, had the feeders out and was keeping watch.

Last year we had quite a bit of hummingbird activity. Was really tickled to see so many at the feeder at once.


Having hummingbirds is a regular event at our house, but this past year we had a hummingbird's nest just off the railing of the deck.  With binoculars or the zoom on the camera we could watch mama feeding her babies or sitting on the nest.



We watched and watched, waiting for the eggs to hatch. A couple babies!!!


Mama took care of the babies for a while and then they were gone.  Was hoping we would be able to watch them fledge, but missed it.


We did get a short video clip of the mama feeding her babies- 



About the time the babies left we had another visitor- a Rufous Hummingbird! This hummingbird is typically found west of the Rockies or wintering along the Gulf Coast. Some other sightings of Rufous were in Georgia and along the coast of South Carolina. You can read about Karin's Rufous and its banding here and here.


See how orange he is? His coloring really jumped out at me. 



He claimed the feeder and chased off the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds for a couple days........then he left.


So if you are on the fence about putting up feeders - either suet or mealworms or seed or nectar- just do it! You will have hours of entertainment!

©Copyright 2014 Janet. All rights reserved. Content created by Janet for The Queen of Seaford. words and photos by Janet,The Queen of Seaford.

24 comments:

  1. I love your photos, Janet. What a great bunch of bird visitors! Except for the vultures. Man they are ugly aren't they? Have a great weekend.

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  2. I hear the red bellied around here, but don't see them much. In a few months, I will be awaken by their tapping on the metal rain gutters at my house and the neighbors'.
    Ray

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  3. Great post! I enjoyed seeing all the birds that come to your garden. We get the rufous hummers here, and they chase each other all over the garden. I swear they do more chasing than eating. Your red-bellied woodpecker looks a bit like our Northern Flicker. They sometimes hammer on our house, calling for mates, not because our house is infested. It sounds like a jackhammer.

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  4. Right you are Alison -- those rain gutter sounds here are from the Northern Flicker. I have seen the red bellied around, but my birder friend says the flickers are the ones making the racket.
    Ray

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  5. Where do you get a dried meal worm block? Never heard of it. We get lots of the red-bellied woodpeckers but haven't seen a redheaded one at the feader. Did you keep the hummer nest? I've never been able to find one.

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    1. A little late to answer but I got the worm block at Lowe's -- haven't seen them lately though, might be seasonal. The hummer nest disappeared at the end of the season.

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  6. Watching the birds has become a favorite winter activity for me, and during the summer seeing the hummingbirds is a highlight of the day. Great pictures of all your visitors! Wow on capturing the Mama hummingbird feeding her babies! And how exciting it must have been to have such an exotic visitor as the Rufous.

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  7. We have a love/hate relationship with many of these lovelies. They try so hard to kill our trees. I do love seeing your wonderful photos.

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  8. Oh lucky you to have Red-Headed Woodpeckers! We don't have any on our farm and I'm not sure why.

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  9. Great photos! Can I ask some logistical questions about feeders since I don't have any yet and you seem to be quite the expert?

    1. Do you leave them up year round or just in winter when other food sources are scarce?

    2. Do you have a cleaning routine for the feeders?

    3. Do you have any issues with squirrels (or other undesirables) raiding the feeders?

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    1. Aaron- I leave up at least the thistle sock. I battle the squirrels, possum and raccoons- so sometimes a break from the seeds is a good idea.
      Cleaning routine for the hummer feeders for sure! Bleach and water and a scrub when I refill the sugar water.
      Haaha.. yes (see answer above!) I did get a feeder hanger that is a long pole that anchors on the deck railing.. too far for the critters to reach. The feeder is supposed to be squirrel proof.... it just slows them down a bit. They knock the feeder, seed falls out and then they eat what is on the ground.

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  10. Wonderful pictures of your birds Janet. I have never saw a brown headed Nuthatch before. How wonderful. I love watching then hanging upside down. :) Have a great week.

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  11. I have several feeders and feed the birds all year long, too. I haven't seen any hummers yet but will put up my feeders tomorrow, anyway. Our hummers are so territorial, I can't imagine more than one at a feeder. We have the same red bellied woodpecker as well as the little downey's. I'd love to see the red headed woodpeckers, too!

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  12. Love them all! Thanks for sharing....

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  13. Your photos are lovely! Happy Easter.

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  14. I had no idea that Rufous was making his way north and east.

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  15. Fabulous...I have my hummer feeders up and ready now. Lots of nesting activity here...love those red-headed...we seem to have all other woodpeckers but these.

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  16. What a wonderful visit with feathered friends! I can appreciate the patience and time you spend and enjoyed your stories.

    I gave up hummingbird feeders because I am not motivated to keep them as clean as I think necessary for good bird health. I have channeled that energy into making sure there are plants with nectar that they find suitable. I am rewarded with an occasional HUMMMM and a rare sighting, which is enough for me.

    The same with pileated woodpeckers -- one will never perch still for a photo, but I listen for their Pock, Pock cries and drumming on Pecan trees.

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  17. What a fantastic post! Thank you for sharing photos of all your feathered neighbors. I have been working hard on adding a variety of feeds and plants to the Lot to attract more than our inner city sparrows. It seems to be working as we’ve been blessed with both a family of red breasted grossbeak and chickadee this season.

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  18. how lucky to get those shots of the hummingbird nest. The nest is so small, it's almost impossible to find them in a tree. and to not only see the nest but the babies too! You can't really tell in a photo but I'll bet they were positively tiny. Great find.

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  19. Nice post, fully informative thanks for sharing

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  20. WOW! Great shots of so many different birds. So beautiful!

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  21. Thanks everyone! I certainly enjoy the birds. For those of you who have smart phones - Cornell Bird site has an app called Merlin bird ID. Nice to have as you encounter mystery birds while out and about. Available in iPhones and Android.

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