These are recent photos of a few birds that come frequently to our bird feeder.
Twice a day, the female Eastern Bluebird flies out of the birdhouse to preen herself and maybe look around for food. I’ve placed some mealworms on a big oak tree stump, but so far she has not come near them. It has been stormy with lots of rain coming down, which may explain why. In the meantime she has posed gracefully for the camera. First in the afternoon.
Then in the morning.
I have not seen the male bird these past few days, but I am sure he is somewhere nearby protecting her and their nest.
Meanwhile, other birds keep coming to the vegetarian bird feeder.
Our Butterflies Magnolia tree is in full bloom, covered with flowers and hardly any leaf.
I planted the tree near the bird feeder, which is why many birds perch on its branches while waiting for their turn. They also tend to land on it as a place to break apart the sunflower seeds they pick out from the feeder.
Today I noticed some birds that resemble House Finches. Looking them up at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology web site, it turns out they are Purple Finches. These birds are losing out to the House Finches which came to the East Coast after they were brought to New York City in the 1950’s. Between 1966 and 2014, populations of Purple Finches have declined by 52%!
Here’s a photo of a House Finch on the same Magnolia tree.
This evening, I tried to shoot more photos near the bird feeder, and surprised two birds, one full of color, the other blander.
A Northern Cardinal flew in and landed on a magnolia branch. It shook itself as if to get rid of some water, and that’s when I took this photo. He was one of the reddest Cardinals I have ever seen.
A young female House Finch did not see me until I took her picture.
The first one if not red all over, but the House Finch is one of the more dominant birds in our neighborhood. They are also not native to our area, but over the years have migrated from the West Coast to the East Coast.
A Northern Cardinal, all red except for some black patches around its beak, stands out especially well amid the whiteness of yesterday’s snow.
Today skies are mostly sunny and snow is melting at a good pace. I took the opportunity to photograph the various birds that come to our feeder all day long.
Finally, the one and the only Northern Cardinal, resplendent in colors rivaling its human counterparts in Rome.
Lately our weather has been nothing but rain and clouds, so I have not gone out much, relying on the birds around our bird feeder to pose for photographs. They did not disappoint.
This last one is not a bird, although it would like to be one to get at the food.
Last week, there were two sightings of the Snowy Owl on the Jersey Shore, so yesterday I went to the southern tip of Long Beach Island to find and photograph it. After walking for almost four hours, I failed to find the visitor from the Artic. There were only Seagulls and some birds which flew by too fast for identification.
The above Ring-billed Gull had just walked out of a fairly large sea water pond on the beach. The pond banks, shaped by wind,looked intriguing.
Back home, it was cloudy today as the sun obstinately refused to come out. Our bird feeder, however, attracted the usual crowd of small birds, even after one of them was attacked and carried away by a hawk. I didn’t have a chance to capture the hawk, but here are some photos of the small birds.
Yesterday we saw a House Finch flying erratically around the bird feeder, up and down, left and right. It turned out that it was a fledgling trying to land on the feeder perch. His mother was coaching.
Update: looking as closely as possible, I think this young House Finch only has one eye! It may not survive for long, and has been continuing to fly erratically. I will keep the bird feeder stocked up to help him, but its long-term propects do not look good.
Hummingbirds are very small but they move around so fast that up to now I have not been able to see where they go after they fly away. The photo below shows how most of us see these birds.
However, yesterday I saw one fly to a nearby oak tree and perch on a branch.
To give you an idea how small it is, here’s a shot of a female House Finch at about the same distance.
Or, how about a Nuthatch and a Goldfinch for comparison?
These are my submissions for this challenge: https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_photo_challenge/inspiration/
The sources of my inspiration of course vary with the season and the location, but over time they tend to be mostly birds and flowers.
I took the following shot last month at my favorite location, the Edwin B Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge. It was raining so I took the picture through the open car window and the rain.
A young female House Finch was chased away from the bird feeder by an older bird. She flew up and took refuge on a branch of the oak tree.
A male House Finch flew up to join her. She at once complained to him.
The complaints were quite noisy and animated. Lots of fluttering wings.
He tried to calm her down.
Sure enough, they both flew down and got their perches at the bird feeder, and ate there happily together ever after.
Yesterday it rained almost all day, and it didn’t stop until this morning. More and more birds kept coming to the bird feeder even in the pouring rain. It wasn’t until this morning that the sky cleared and sunlight came out. The air was pure and clear, perfect for shooting the following photos of birds that were born this year and looked very young and innocent.
Young birds even when they are able to fly still must beg their parents for food since their bodies and skills may not be fully developed yet. Over the past few weeks, I’ve seen bird parents mouth feeding their fledglings, but I was only fast enough to take the following photos of youngsters begging for food from their mother or father.
A few days ago I took the following photos of a young House Finch. When I looked at them closely on the computer, the bird’s beak appeared bloody. This bothered me until today when I went out and saw many ripe, red, and juicy wild strawberries covering part of our backyard. The birds had been eating them with abandon and that explains the “bloody” beak and also several patches of red on some oak tree branches.
Lately, many House Finches have been coming to our bird feeder. They are tough little birds that yield to no one except the larger Red-bellied Woodpeckers. Otherwise, they perch around the feeder portholes and would not let any other bird species come near them until they’ve had their fill. The Juncos, for example, keep a respectful distance and wait until their turn come.
Almost all of the photos that you see on this blog have been cropped, sometimes drastically, so that their main focus, birds small and not so small, are not lost in their surroundings. Today I was able to entice a male Northern Cardinal to come closer. The resulting image required no cropping, and here it is.
In the following photo, a Cardinal was confronting a House Finch. The action took place much further away, so the following photo was cropped to less than half of the original.
Even though he was smaller, the House Finch stood his ground and did not budge from his perch.
After the snow, we got rain, which became ice overnight. In the morning, all the magnolia branches were encased in ice. That did not bother the House Finch which took its regular station over the bird feeder.
In the following photo, I did not change my camera shutter speed, and the diving House Finch became an intricate geometrical blur.
If you are getting bored of my BIF photos, this following picture, taken at Holgate two weeks ago, is for you.
All right, so no more BIF today.
The other day, while trying to capture the Red-bellied Woodpecker in flight, I noticed our magnolia tree was getting loaded with birds.
That was not the end of it. One more bird hopped on.
Then there was our House Finch next to a Junco.
For a photographer, taking pictures of birds in flight (BIF) is probably the ultimate challenge. Birds fly very fast, they won’t wait for you, and you have little control on such matters as lighting and angles. You must shoot at very high speed, bump up the ISO, and just hope that your camera can meet those critical demands.
I have started to do BIF with the small birds around our bird feeder, as you can see in the following photos.
That monster snow storm that everyone was talking about over the past few days shifted east and spared our area. There were only a few inches of snow when I woke up this morning and by noon it was over. Using a snowthrower, I cleared our driveway in less than an hour.
I had refilled the bird feeder and many birds came and feasted, even while it was still snowing. The hawk was nowhere in sight, so the little birds ate their fill. A very cute one is the House Finch which stood out with its red, almost scarlet colors.
Here it is perched on the feeder.
Another cute one is the Downy Woodpecker that I have been photographing since he was a baby.
The following two photos give a sense of proportion between a Cooper’s Hawk and a small bird, the House Finch, that often comes to our bird feeder.
Today, a House Finch perched almost at the same place.
A Cooper’s Hawk is more than three times as big as a House Finch. However, the hawk prefers to eat birds that are larger than House Finches, such as Blue Jays or Mourning Doves.
In addition to cardinals and blue jays, smaller birds inhabit our backyard and the woods behind us. These birds are colorful, but somewhat shy and not easy to photograph as they never stay still for very long. A bird feeder and seeds spread around do help in attracting them.