Monday, March 3, 2014

Bird Watching

Yesterday brought us a beautiful preview of Spring ... with bright blue skies, puffy white clouds, and temperatures hovering near 80 degrees.  The birds were "in their glory" as they flitted and swooped and fought each other for space at the feeders in courtyard.  They must have known that the spring-like weather was short-lived and winter would make its presence known today, along with icy winds, a low temperature of 27 degrees, and snow flurries, no less!

But back to yesterday ... as I mentioned, the birds were loving the sunshine and my husband and I enjoyed watching their antics at the feeders while sitting in the rocking chairs on our porch.  I had my camera and zoom lens in my lap (just in case), and noticed our little female cardinal flitting about in an urn of pansies on the other side of the courtyard.  She was happily rummaging through the pansies for sunflower seeds that had fallen from the feeder above the urn.  I quickly zoomed in on her and captured the following pictures of her seemingly playing a game of "Peek-a-Boo" amongst the pansies.

Isn't she cute! 

I love this next shot ... can you see her peeking out from under the flower? 

Here she is munching on a sunflower seed ...
(you can click on the pictures to get a closer look, if you'd like) 

As I watched the cardinal, I saw a flash of orange in the holly bushes behind her.  I was amazed (and delighted) to see a large black bird with splashes of orange and white on his breast and wings.

I was sitting about 20-25 feet away and tried to zoom in on the other bird, but he was partially hidden by the holly branches.
I did manage to get a couple of shots that helped me identify him as an American Redstart.

According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, American Redstarts are "lively warblers that hop among tree branches in search of insects.  The male is coal-black with vivid orange patches on the sides, wings, and tail.  True to its Halloween-themed color scheme, the redstart seems to startle its prey out of the foliage by flashing its strikingly patterned tail and wing feathers. These sweet-singing warblers nest in open woodlands across much of North America."   

I have never seen a redstart here in Mississippi, or anywhere, for that matter ... and I think he may be migrating and just passing through. I'm so glad he stopped to visit and hope he will decide to stay a while. We have lots of berries and will soon be overrun with a smorgasbord of insects, which I understand they like. I would love to capture more pictures of him, especially with his tail feathers spread, like the one in this picture taken by Kevin T. Karlson, which I found on the Internet ...

If it wasn't so cold today, I'd go sit outside and watch for him.

While I'm sharing bird pictures, we have enjoyed watching the goldfinches this winter.  We have kept Tractor Supply in business buying nyjer thistle and sunflower seeds, and have counted 50 or more at our feeders at one time.  

 Sometimes they get feisty if they're not ready to give up their perch!

They'll probably be leaving us soon, and we'll miss them, but will continue to enjoy our cardinals and .... WOW!  I just went to the kitchen to get a Coke and happened to glance out the window, and guess what I saw foraging amongst the pansies in the urn!   None other than the little Redstart himself!   

I literally ran to get my camera and managed to get this picture before I scared him off by trying to go out the door to get a closer, clearer shot.   I am so excited that he is still here, though, and will try to "stake him out," if and when it warms up some this afternoon.

[Follow-up:  Here are a couple of "fuzzy" pictures I captured late that afternoon.] 
 I guess he decided he would stay for a while.
If I can get just a few good pictures of him before he leaves, I'll be happy.

As I was saying, before I so rudely interrupted myself ... we will continue to enjoy our birds and will welcome any "passers-through" with feeders filled with sunflower and wild bird seeds. 

I'm not sure what kind of bird this little fellow is, but that sunflower seed in his beak is almost as big as he is! 

My little Chickadee ... isn't he (or she?) sweet!
 I love his, or her, ruffled feathers in this next shot ...

I hope you are enjoying your birds, wherever you live ... and remember to keep food out for them, especially if you still have snow and ice.

Hopefully, this cold spell we're experiencing for the next couple of days will be our last one.


The Quintessential Magpie said...

All so sweet! I love how you are not supposed to know that the cardinal is there in your flowers watching you !

Loved this...



Stacey said...

You are such a gifted photographer. You know how much I love birds too. Wish I could capture them the way you do.

racheld said...

Ahhhh, your GIFT, Girl! I just cannot tell you.

I feel as if I've been privy to the private lives of good friends, pursuing their daily rounds, gathering for lunch, exploring their world.

The peekaboo in the pansy pot is simply charming, and the gentleman who came right past the "Please Seat Yourself" sign and sat down on the next stool at the diner---he's quite the handsome guy, as well.

We've been invited up to "Caro's House" for brunch quite a few times this snowy season---up into the bursts of sunshine and BRIGHT, and your Pansy Girl's cousin Celeste peeks in from the leafless Luck Bush, right beside my chair at the window. She joins us every Sunday, it seems, and does not shy away when I go out with a little dish for her.

What a wonderful album---You MUST see about publishing all of these---all of your work. It's magnificent and I just can't say how valuable it is. I just wish I could help--something this special and marvelous needs to be shared far and wide.

love and,


Pat said...

Hello Janie,

What a treat to meet your backyard friends. Your photos are beautifully sharp and a pleasure to see.

Blessings to you and family.
Pat in Tallahassee