Raindrops Are Falling On The Reds

What does any (in)sane person do when the temperature drops 30 degrees and a misty drizzle is dripping from the skies?  Why fill the feeders and head out with the camera, of course!

Now, I should clarify that this wasn’t what I had in mind for my afternoon plans.  A good book and a cup of coffee was what I had foreseen my immediate future to hold, but when I looked outside and saw the Red-headed Woodpecker huddled against the Dogwood under the damp leaves, I knew my plans had been changed.

Unlike many of my backyard birds, this handsome Red-headed fellow is still getting used to my presence, so as I was replenishing the seed, he flew off to the outskirts of the yard to keep an eye on me.

Meanwhile, a handful of other birds sporting red feathers showed up for some sustenance, so I decided to let them have the spotlight in this post.

A pair of Cardinals, both the he and the she, stopped by…

as did two other Woodpeckers – a male Red-bellied and a male Downy, who has a small patch of red on the back of his head.

A Red-winged Blackbird also dropped in, but only stayed a second and gave but the slightest glimpse of his red wing bar.

Bunches of rain-drenched Blue Jays also made an appearance.

They begged to be included in the post, but since they didn’t fit the title, we shall ignore their pleading and promise to let them shine another time.

As I stood huddled against the house, snapping pictures and trying to stay as dry as possible, the Red-headed Woodpecker skitted (I’m pretty sure that’s a made up word! – a combo of skirted and flitted, but I like it so I’m keeping it!) from tree to tree, continuing to watch me and wait, while I continued to watch him and wait.  I was determined to not take my shivering self back inside until he braved coming closer.

Eventually, he acquiesced and flew over to the Bark Butter branch…

…and then hopped to the deck rail to take a peek at the peanuts.

He must have decided that I was a kindred spirit (aka – a birdbrain) as he opted to come closer and humored me by striking a couple of awkwardly regal poses.

Then he snared a peanut and flew off.

All in all, it was a lovely afternoon spent watching the raindrops falling on the reds!

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Let’s Call Him “Rowdy”

Each spring, I have a tendency to name the first baby bird of the season, and this year is no exception.

The baby Mockingbird that has been hanging out in the front yard Cypress is now flitting about from tree to tree, and in true fresh-from-the nest fashion, he has been exercising his lungs in full force.  Loud, demanding, and a bit unruly – Rowdy seems a perfect fit!

This afternoon, in between rain showers, (while I was in the kitchen with the front door closed!) I heard this little guy calling for food with gusto.  I grabbed my camera and walked outside and found him perched on the front feeder hook.

Now, don’t let his sweet expression fool you; he momentarily quieted down when he saw me.  Normally, he looks ( and sounds) much more like the picture below!

This little fellow was impatiently waiting for his parents to return with food.

It was clear when he saw them en route because he went from a mere squawking stance to a ready to receive food stance.

And sure enough, seconds later Momma arrived with a beakful of Bark Butter.

Then she took off…

…and left Junior watching and waiting and temporarily quiet.

Here’s the funny thing…even as I type these words I hear Rowdy in the front yard, loud enough to be found guilty of disturbing the peace.  There is clearly no rest for the weary parents of baby birds!

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If you live near a Race Trac gas station you’ve probably heard of Sodapalooza, a summer event where a limited supply of plastic cups are sold, which are then refillable with fountain drinks for the rest of the season.

Having heard that the coveted cups were available, hubby and I stopped by four different locations on our way to spend Saturday morning canoeing in the Chestatee River.  The first three stops were already sold out, but the last still had a couple dozen left.  Now, it’s not like we couldn’t live without one of these brightly colored beverage containers, but acquiring one of the cups has become a bit of a craze, so the quest to find one (okay, two!) added to the adventure of the day.

Meanwhile, in my own backyard (though not yet quite as popular as Sodapalooza) an event we’ll call Soakapalooza was taking place.  This male Towhee, who could care less about sipping a fountain drink, showed up and took great delight in sitting and soaking in the fountain.

His feather colors are lovely, but it’s that red eye that really stands out!

Who knows, maybe in time this will become a seasonal craze as well!




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Woodpecker Warfare

My backyard has become a battlefield!
The Mockingbirds are attacking the Crows; the Blue Jays are harassing one another; and the Robins are constantly perched in fighter pilot poses, ready to strike down any invader who happens to enter their no fly zone!

But the biggest battles are taking place between the Red-headed and the Red-bellied Woodpeckers, as each seems determined to lay claim to the frequently fought over Bark Butter branch.

If the Red-bellied arrives, and the Red-headed happens to not be around, he will land on the branch, look about, and then quickly gobble up some food, all the while staying alert to a possible oncoming attack.

The scene is the same if the Red-headed happens to get there first – land, look about, and then furtively eat with a high degree of awareness.

The Red-bellied is usually the one who gets knocked off the branch, so he has learned to land in battle stance.

The other day, the following three pictures took place in a matter of seconds, as the Red-bellied landed and then was promptly displaced by the Red-headed.

You can see why neither can let their guard down!

The Red-headed fellow seems to be more of the aggressor.  I wonder if he is the reason that this Red-bellied’s beak is looking a little worse for the wear.

I do have to hand it to the Red-bellied bird (kind of funny name since his belly has only a hint of red!) as he has taken to trying a different tactic.  Now he pops his head over the deck rail and quickly grabs a peanut.  Perhaps he thinks it prudent to surrender sole claim to the Bark Butter branch.

I know they’re not fond of one another, but I find them both irresistible.

I’d like to think they’d stop this family feud, but I’m not getting my hopes up; I’m pretty sure they will be aggressively defending their territory until their little ones have hatched and moved on.  I guess all I can do is accept the Woodpecker warfare and enjoy watching these beautiful birds as they battle!

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You Can Call Me Flower If You Want To

Yesterday was a dreary, drizzly kind of day, but in the late afternoon the clouds parted and the sun popped out in all its brilliance.  This pinkish-purple Peony looked so vibrant, still dripping with raindrops, that I had to grab my camera and snap a photo or two.

As I was busy taking Peony pictures, I saw (or rather heard) this baby Mockingbird nestled in the Cyprus.  He seemed like he was begging to have his picture taken (although he was probably begging for more of the Bark Butter that his parents have been busy delivering all week!) and as I shifted my focus from the flower to this little fellow, the classic line from Bambi floated through my head – “You can call me flower if you want to.”

I didn’t stick around long, as Mama seemed agitated by my getting too close to junior and I didn’t want to be the recipient of her anger; I’ve witnessed first hand how she can peck the heck out of a crow!  So I fired off a few quick shots and then left them in peace.

It doesn’t look like it will be long before this little one is making visits to the backyard on his own.  Stay tuned for more baby pictures!

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Common Bird, Uncommon Beauty

The Northern Cardinal is a common bird where I live, so common that it is easy to forget how beautiful they are.  Just look at this fellow –

I sometimes wonder what my reaction would be if I was seeing him for the very first time.  A common bird of uncommon beauty!

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No Better Bather

Birds and water are such a fun combination!

The other day this Brown Thrasher showed up and landed on the edge of the birdbath.

He got a couple sips to drink, but he simply couldn’t resist the allure of the water and before long he was splashing away.

Every once in awhile he would hop out and give his feathers a good shake…

…then head right back in for some more drenching.  It seemed like each time he was more exuberant than the time before!

When he was finally finished, he perched on the edge and gave his feathers one last flap and then flew off to a nearby branch to continue his grooming.

There’s really no better bather than the Brown Thrasher – such wild abandon!

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