Return of the Red-bellied

Now that the Flicker who had been frequenting the feeders in the winter months has disappeared, the Red-bellied Woodpeckers have once again become regular backyard visitors.

This fellow dropped in the other day to partake of some peanuts. He perched on the rail to grab a nut..

…and then flew to one of the branches strapped to the deck.

It is fascinating to watch them lodge a peanut into a crevice in the wood so they can peck at it. This fellow used his talon to help hold it in place.

Once he had finished with one nut…

…he made sure the coast was clear…

…and then swooped down to grab another.

I am grateful for the return of these Red-bellied birds – though blush-bellied may have been a better suited name.

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Announcement of Availability

I have been enjoying watching the male birds in the backyard announce their availability to the eligible females.

Some, like the Cowbirds, perch on a branch and then poof their feathers while loudly serenading their perspective mates.

The Red-winged Blackbirds do the same thing, but they also show the bold bands of color on their wings as an added element of allure.

Other birds seem to choose procuring food as a favored method of flirting. This handsome male Cardinal arrived (literally) with some grub to offer…

…but the female he was aiming to entice ignored his offering and flew to the other side of the yard. I’m not sure if she was intent on ditching her date or just playing a bit hard to get.

Of course, the winner of the most masterful woo-er award goes to the male Bluebird. Besides his dashingly good looks, this fellow has acquired the art of double mealworm nabbing.

Also, I watched him guarding…

…and glancing…

…while she took a leisurely bath and preened her pretty feathers.

This fellow is for sure the total package.

It’s a fun time of year for backyard bird photography!


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A Springtime Labra-rhyme

Spring’s at last sprung
And the dogs are quite muddy

He chases the toys
While she chases her buddy!

Leaping and lunging
They’re off to the races

With happy Lab tails
And happy Lab faces

Splashing and dashing
Tugging on toys

The picture of pleasure
And unbridled joy

You can look all you like
But you’ll find nothing better

Than water-drenched Labs
In the early spring weather

*If this “whets” your appetite to adopt a Lab, consider Labrador Friends of the South!


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A Declaration of Dominance

This handsome (but “hangry”) Red-bellied Woodpecker landed on the Bark Butter Branch the other day.

Immediately, he declared his dominance to the Red-winged Blackbirds that were waiting in the wings.

He gave a warning to his right…

…and a warning to his left…

and then focused his attention on the suety-spread set before him.

As soon as he flew off, one of the waiting Blackbirds swooped in to take his place, displaying his wing bars to proclaim that he was now in possession of the branch.

Amidst all the food feuding, a lounging lab lay just beneath them soaking up the sunshine.

She mostly ignores the birds (with the exception of doves – taste like chicken!) but heaven forbid that a squirrel should show up – then she’s the one declaring her dominance! She has a special banshee-bark reserved only for furry-tailed intruders!

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Wooing and Pursuing

Mating season is upon us, and the male Bluebird is doing his darndest to capture the attention and win the affection of his female counterpart.

His wooing and pursuing have taken the form of striking impressive poses…

…poofing his handsome feathers…

…and frantically twirling his wings, which must have some sort of flirtatious significance in Bluebird behavior since he does this quite often in her presence.

He has also presented three different housing options to her, which was highly entertaining to watch – think House Hunters: Bluebird Edition.

Wherever he goes, he keeps a close eye on her…

…while she waits and watches his antics, and (in my opinion) gives him cause to believe his affections are returned. I mean, doesn’t that stance look a wee bit seductive?

In the end, I think it will be the frequent food offerings he brings her that will seal the deal.

Besides, she’d be a fool to let such a charming fellow fly away.

Attentive, generous, and easy on the eyes…this guy really is the total package!

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Towhee Time

I was so glad I had my camera in hand when this beautiful female Towhee stopped in for a bath.

Since they are ground feeders and rarely come up to the deck, I don’t get to take their picture as often as I do some of the other birds.

I was glad she wasn’t in a hurry and seemed content to linger…

…sometimes splashing…

…sometimes squawking…

…sometimes sitting and soaking…

…and sometimes getting photo-bombed by another bather!

Doesn’t she look lovely with her ruffled feathers and her water-droplet-bedazzled tail?

Now to convince the male to come and have some Towhee time in the birdbath!


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Clusters of Color

There is a house on the road leading into our neighborhood that is bursting with blooming tulips…thousands of them! The other day, hubby saw their garage door open and asked if his wife could come with her camera and traipse about their lawn taking pictures. The kind residents granted permission and I happily headed over to enjoy the beauty.

Now, I confess that I know little about flower photography (things with wings seems to be more my forte) but who can resist such beauty? Rather than trying to photograph a single flower…like these two lovelies…

I opted to try and capture clusters of color.

If you have any helpful tips for taking flower pictures (other than use a tripod, which somehow just doesn’t fit my style) please pass them along. Summer is coming and there will be more beautiful blossoms just begging for attention!

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