Revealing or Concealing?

I remember when my now 26 year old son was a toddler. Whenever he was out of my sight and was contemplating misbehaving he would call out, “Are you watching me?” The answer was, of course, “I am now!” He never quite learned that calling out his question immediately revealed what he had hoped to conceal.

Well, my Red-headed Woodpeckers have a similar tendency. Whenever they bring their little one to the backyard, they place him on a tree near the outskirts where they try to keep his presence concealed. Then, they fly over close to the feeders and chatter loudly and continuously, alerting everyone to the fact that they are trying to hide their youngster.

Eventually, they swoop down closer, often wearing a “don’t-mess-with-me” expression, like this one.

Then, without fail, they glance every which way to make sure there is no danger lurking about…

…and finally fly over to sneak a quick snack.

I did manage to get a few far off shots of their little one. Honestly, it doesn’t take much to conceal him with his muted, monochrome appearance.

With the extreme heat this summer, the birds have been less abundant, but the Red-heads have remained faithful visitors to the feeders.

If their traditional pattern continues, I know that they will be leaving before too long. So I will savor the last bit of time they are here and then, as I bid them a sad farewell, I will offer the new fall arrivals a heartfelt welcome.

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Pulling, Pruning, and Picture Taking

I took a couple of hours yesterday to pull up a mob of canna lilies that were determined to take over the front yard flower bed and to prune the butterfly bush and the zinia garden. Then, today, as if to say “thank you,” a gorgeous Zebra Longwing arrived and was in no particular hurry to leave.

Zebras are not frequent visitors to my front yard, so I was thrilled to get to spend some time taking his picture.

Looking at him, it’s easy to see why he is in the Longwing family.

This one took his time flitting from flower…

…to flower…

…to flower…

…to flower.

Occasionally, he would even add a little greenery to his diet. Unlike most butterflies, which are primarily nectar nippers, Zebras also partake of pollen. Perhaps this is why they live about 6 times longer than the average butterfly.

I always like when I manage to catch one in flight – which I must confess is more accidental than skillful!

I love the hidden splash of magenta on the underside of his wings.

Hanging out with him was a wonderful way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

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Guardian of the Garden

This Gulf Fritillary has seemingly appointed himself guardian of the garden and regards it as his personal domain.

I mean really, doesn’t he look like he’s striking a rather possessive pose?

Well, all was well and good until the first Monarch of the season showed up.

The Fritillary (cue the Jaws music!) began swooping up from under the Monarch to try and knock him off the blossom.

And when at first he didn’t succeed…well, you know the old adage, he tried, tried again!

The Monarch was more determined than intimidated and held his ground, so I’d  declare him the undisputed winner of the flower fight.

I have to say, I’d never seen this happen before. Butterfly battles are much more intense than you would imagine – if any more happen, I’ll keep you posted! 😉


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Cardinal Comb-over

Summer is the season where my Cardinals are not their usual stunning selves! The phrase “Bald is beautiful!” definitely does not apply to them!

During this time of molting, some of them look like they are trying to use the comical comb-over technique to hide their featherless heads.

It’s safe to say that molting is NOT a pretty process! But thankfully,  their brief period of baldness will soon give way to a splendid new batch of flaming-red head feathers and they will once again be the beauties of the backyard…

…like this gorgeous guy!


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Sunny Sunday Swallowtail

Between the scorching heat here in “Hotlanta” and the duties and distractions of everyday Labs…I mean, life…I haven’t gotten out with the camera as much as I would like. So, setting the lame excuses aside, I decided to take some time this sunny Sunday afternoon to remedy this unacceptable situation. I am so glad I did, as I was rewarded with a visit from a Pipevine Swallowtail, who graciously lingered long enough for me to have a bit of a photo session with him.

You can differentiate the Pipevine from some of the other black swallowtails because of it’s bluish-black spotted body and it’s single row of orange spots.

This guy was not one to sit still, and quickly flew from one flower to the next to slurp up some nectar.

As he gathered nourishment from the zinnias, I stood and nourished my soul with his beauty.

What a great way to spend a summer afternoon. 🙂


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A Triple Taste of Independence

Three juvenile Red-bellied Woodpeckers showed up today shortly after I filled the feeders. It seemed that each was getting its first “taste” of independence!

The first youngster chose the peanut pole as his personal feeding place. I think this one is a male because I can see a hint of red feathers on the top of his head.

The second opted to hang out and sample Bark Butter, and was quick to display a ruffled head feather warning when any other bird approached.

And the third, who seemed the youngest of the trio, was discovering the bounty of the peanut feeder.

To be honest, calling these Red-bellied babies “cute” is a bit generous, but one day they will be truly striking – like this full grown fellow below.

For now, I’ll just enjoy the pleasure of watching these juveniles discover the joys of my backyard feeders.

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Peanut Poachers

The other day I filled up the peanut pole and watched as one blue bandit after another swooped in to load up their beaks.

These Jays made quick work of emptying what I had just filled!

I’m pretty sure that by the time the last peanut poacher departed, there was nothing left but peanut dust.

Now, I could complain that peanuts ain’t cheap, and these birds are eating me out of house and home – but the way I figure it, I am simply paying for the pleasure of  watching their entertaining antics, which is better than Netflix any day!

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