Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Friday, May 16, 2008

10 Tips for Bird Photographers

This Week in Photography has a good roundup:

10 Tips for Bird Photographers

Disapproving Cardinal

In homage to Sharon (aka Birdchick) and her Disapproving Rabbits:

Disapproving Cardinal
Disapproving Cardinal

Friday, May 2, 2008


Spring has sprung here (finally!), and we're starting to get some flowers and buds on trees.

The last of the dark eyed juncos finally left about a week ago. I'll miss you, juncos!

Dark-eyed Junco hasn't headed north yet

The ducks are back! No baby ducks yet, but I love that the mallards come up to my deck. They're like vacuum cleaners, gobbling up all the seed leftovers that even the mourning doves won't touch.

After the horrible winter here that appears to have wiped out 80% of my backyard finch population, there are a few house finches that are still around (4 is the most I've counted, down from upwards of 30). I have yet to see the goldfinches return. I had 4 that wintered here, but haven't seen them since our last deep freeze.

Finch Couple

This week, 4 white crowned sparrows have taken to visiting my feeders. One is out there right now. I had 2 come by over the winter, so I'm really glad to see these guys. A male and female cardinal stop by every so often, and of course the grackles and red-winged blackbirds have returned.

I've cut back on the offering of cheap bird seed, putting it only in 1 feeder now. The mourning doves and sparrows gobble it up, but so do the grackles and brown headed cowbirds. Oy. So I've been introducing safflower seed in one of the feeders. I also have nyger and sunflower hearts and year-round suet, and occasionally I'll put out the fruit and nut songbird mix (though the grackles usually mog that, too). I don't mind the grackles - it's just that they come here and eat EVERYTHING. I have 6 feeders, and filling them all used to last all day - but now that the grackles are back, they'll plow through it all by noon! So I've got to find something the grackles don't like.

I added a couple new birds to my life list a couple weeks ago, with a visit to Renwick Lake and to Lockport Prairie.

I met with double crested cormorants:
Double Crested Cormorants

and blue winged teals:
Blue-winged Teals

Also saw the herons nesting, which was pretty cool.
Great Blue Herons

There's a strange bit of green ivy-like leaves growing as sort of a blanket under the tree in my back yard. It's growing up some of the brush and twigs as well. I just noticed that it's only under my tree, and not all along the brush down the creek. A few of the same little leaves have sprouted up under my feeders. It must be something from the bird seed, growing! I wonder if it'll turn into any pretty flowers or anything. They look very green and lush right now.

That's all my news. We've got thunderstorms on tap all day today, so I put out minimal seed. It's been raining all morning, and while the birds had a little bit of a break just now, the rains are back and they've flown for cover in the tree. They're still singing, which is so nice to hear!