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 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.