Backyard Babies

Spring is the season for backyard babies, and the Downy Woodpeckers were the first to bring their little one to the feeders.

Dad had the early feeding duty…

…and later Mom took a turn.

The chickadees were the next to arrive with a demanding youngster.

Several other birds have had babies, but have not yet let them accompany them to the feeders – at least, not when I have been out with a camera.

I’m hoping that Bluebirds will bring their little bundles of joy soon…they are always fun to photograph with their open-beaked, wing-flapping antics.

 

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A Regal Red-head

My Red-headed Woodpecker has returned!

He is always a bit timid whenever he makes his first appearance of the season, hanging out on the trees at the edge of the yard so he can assess the scene.

Eventually, he makes his move to some the branches that hang over the deck…

…cautiously coming closer as he feels less threatened.

Then, once he has deemed me “friend not foe”, he will drop in to partake of peanuts while I am outside with the camera.

Occasionally he even lingers long enough to favor me with a striking pose. Is he not an amazingly beautiful bird!?!

Once my regal Red-head overcomes his timidity he becomes quite territorial. He doesn’t seem to mind the smaller bids joining him in the area, but he lets the Red-bellied Woodpeckers know in no uncertain terms that they are NOT welcome.¬† These poor guys now need to be hyper-vigilant as they eat, always having an eye to their surroundings lest they get ambushed!

Despite his sometimes bully-ish manners, I find the Red-headed Woodpecker absolutely delightful. He is definitely one of my favorite birds to photograph.

Hopefully, there will be baby Red-heads joining him in the near future!

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The Blue Jay Ballet

In the midst of this quasi-quarantine brought to us courtesy of Corona, many people are missing their preferred entertainment options…movie theaters remain closed, baseball is still postponed, and restaurants are mostly offering curbside cuisine.

But I am blessed that one of my favorite forms of entertainment is found right in my own backyard and is still in full swing. In fact, lately, my Blue Jays have been giving repeat performances of their “Nutpacker” ballet.

These beauties dip and dive, then twist and turn, gracefully (and greedily) packing in the peanuts.

They execute near-perfect pirouettes…

…and if a misstep is made…

…they simply act as if it was always a part of the planned performance!

There is no set schedule for their show, rather, it seems to be an on-demand performance, taking place moments after I fill the feeders.

These ever-so-entertaining birds are always willing to give a curtain call…just replenish the peanuts and then relax and enjoy the show.

Usually, there is a bird or two waiting in the wings for their time to participate. Or perhaps they are just understudies hoping for a chance to perform.

And of course, they are sure to take a bow before departing.

Yes, the Blue Jay ballet is a five star performance for sure!

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Joined By The Juveniles

After the Grosbeak that starred in my previous post fueled up and flew off, another handsome fellow paid a visit to the backyard…

…and this guy brought two juveniles with him, whom we shall call Thing One…

…and Thing Two!

You can see that they are still getting their adult feathers in. For most of their first year these guys look more like their Mama (pictured below) than their Daddy.

This trio stuck around and stocked up on seed for about three days, typically only coming to the feeders in the evening hours when most of the crowd had departed.

Who knows, maybe these youngsters will mark this as a favorite feeding spot and put my backyard buffet on next year’s travel itinerary.

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A Rose-breasted Beauty

Every year, towards the end of April, I start scanning the backyard treetops, hoping for a visit from a Rose-breasted Grosbeak. Needless to say, I was thrilled when this fellow dropped in to say hello.

En route to the northern part of the country, these lovely birds often stop for a brief layover in the Atlanta area to get a little R & R – refueling and refreshing! I try to keep my seed trays piled up with sunflower seeds to entice them to treat my backyard as their temporary bed and breakfast.

The Grosbeak is a rather timid bird and is rarely aggressive or overly assertive. When a bossier bird arrives on the scene (think Red-winged Blackbirds and Blue Jays), these guys tend to retreat to the safety of an overhead branch and wait until the coast is a clearer.

Like many of the backyard birds, the Grosbeaks drop down every now and then for a drink from the fountain.

With their bold colors and curious nature, it’s impossible not to fall in love with these beautiful birds!

I wish they were year round residents, but it is always a pleasure to enjoy their brief visit…

…especially when they are willing to pose for a few photos.

 

 

 

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Holly Berry Bandits

Cedar Waxwings are the bird world’s best bandits!


Around the time that my front yard Holly Tree is bursting with berries, these marvelous masked beauties arrive and help themselves to the booty. Since the tree is ginormous, it usually takes them about four days of feasting to strip the tree bare.

The pattern of these “berry-men” (Yes, I am a Robin Hood fan!) is to pillage and plunder and then retreat to the backyard to find a protected place to soak up some sunshine.

Waxwings are highly social and usually hang out as a group…

…often looking like they are enjoying casual conversation with one another.

Because they typically stay in the tree tops, it can be a bit tricky to get a clear shot of them.

Often, just when I think I have one in focus, off he flies!

Along with the plentiful supply of perches, these guys like my backyard because of the water supply. Every now and then one will drop down and take a fountain shower…

…or get a refreshing drink.

They only stick around until the berries are gone and then they move to the next food source, so I was glad to be able to snap a couple of morning shots…

…and a couple where the early evening sun was highlighting their buttery bellies.

These breathtaking bandits are always welcome in my backyard!

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A Lakeside Labra-romp

Although we are still under shelter-in-place orders here in Georgia, the state parks remain open, so we took the “toddlers” to the trails for a much needed Labra-romp. Social distancing was a breeze since, save for a lone jogger, we had the area to ourselves.

Tucker, our three year old beast, is in his happy place when he gets in any body of water. You can pretty much hear him shouting, “I was made for this!” as he bounds about, chasing after the fetch stick.

Two year old Chaco (named for the brand and the breed) is his constant companion. Although her preference would be to follow all the scents along the shoreline, she does enjoy playing in the lake with her brother.

It is so entertaining to watch the two of them racing…kicking up spray…him chasing the toy…and her chasing him! They are both totally intent on their mission!

Every now and then they take a brief toy tugging break, but then it’s back to the dashing and splashing.

I love taking the camera along, although it does sometimes feel like this kind of photography should carry a warning label, like the kind you sometimes see at an amusement park stating, “You will get wet on this ride!”

Seriously though, you can’t help but smile when you see a dog having this much fun.

I think our near future definitely calls for another Labra-romp lake trip!

 

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A Snack Between Showers

Today’s forecast called for steady rain with waves of thunder storms, so when we had a brief break in the wet weather, I filled up the feeders and ventured out with the hopes of taking a few photos.

The birds were happy to oblige, dropping in to scoop up some snacks before the next round of showers.

The Blue Jays, of course, popped in to re-stock their peanut supply.

This female Red-bellied Woodpecker (who is currently much sought after and much fought after!) sampled Bark Butter from several places while her would-be-beaus battled to be her suitor.

Of course, the Red-bellied aren’t the only ones giving evidence that mating season has arrived. This male bluebird has been striking pretty poses…

…and bringing food offerings in his efforts to woo the female. (He really is a keeper!)

And this sweet female Downy Woodpecker…

…has clearly captured this fellow’s attention, who seems to be relying on his good looks to win her over.

He constantly flared his head feathers to impress her, and to give any opponents fair warning that he was a force to be reckoned with!

He was definitely my favorite bird of the day. Isn’t he the cutest?

Such a wonderful way to enjoy a Sunday afternoon!

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Corona Cuisine

In these days where Corona is creating chaos and disrupting our typical routines, dining out has been temporarily relegated to drive-through services or curb side delivery.

This grab-and-go mentality is nothing new to my backyard birds.
Many of them have been  enjoying the quick and convenient food supply offered by the peanut pole for quite some time.

Others are regulars at the trunk side pick up that the Dogwood tree makes available.

Although I hate the hardships that this virus has created and will be glad when it is no longer a threat, I am enjoying the extra moments that I have had to sit on my deck with camera in hand.

Stay well – and Happy Easter!

 

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Sippers, Drippers, and a Triple Dipper

With the weather warmer and less rainy, the backyard birds aren’t just showing up for feasting, they are enjoying beverages and bathing as well.

Some are sippers…

Some are drippers…

And this Brown Thrasher was a triple dipper!

First he sipped…

…then he dripped…

…then he lingered and exuberantly dipped.

Birds and water are a winning combination!

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