Monday, September 28, 2009

Backyard Birding

Sometimes it's the easiest kind of birding... a nice cup of tea on a comfy chair under the gazebo... why go seek out birds when they can come to you?

For the past few years we only put out safflower seeds, since that seemed to be the only kind the squirrels weren't a fan of. We're fans of squirrels, but unfortunately so is the household dog - in a big, loud, explosive, screen-busting way. So we do our best to avoid inviting squirrels onto our property. The safflower seeds were a hit with the doves and cardinals, but that seemed to be the limit of what we could attract, besides the odd chickadee. Mid-summer though, while Davis and I were out west, his parents decided to put out a mixed-seed feeder at the far end of the yard. Instead of a plague of squirrels though... we got a plague of grackles and sparrows, plus a bunch of their rag-tag friends.

This freckled friend was hanging out in our maple tree. We tentatively identified it as a Swainson's thrush. To me, all three speckly brown thrushes - Swainson's, Bicknell's and the gray-cheeked - look exactly the same, so I more-or-less went with Swainson's because it seems more common in this area.

I think this is the matriarch of the gang of Northern cardinals that frequent our feeder. There seems to be a family of six that probably nested nearby, and we also get the occasional straggling male pop by.

I love any birds with crests. It gives them such a punky, what-choo-lookin-at demeanor.

We also have a pair of white-breasted nuthatches that regularly peruse our maples for bugs and other tasty bits. This one was flying solo today.

Grackles, even without the crest, still tend to give off punky vibes. Check out this guy's yellow glare - he's all, "take a picture, it'll last longer."

I like the set-up on our garden, with the little waterfall and goldfish pond, mostly because the birds like it too. It's a little too deep for the teeny tiny birds, but the grackles, robins, and jays will often stop by for a dip.

Drying himself off in the sun...

And then a nice snack for the road.

The sound of geese calling always makes me feel a little funny in the chest. Part of me wants to jump up and go with them - see what they see and travel where they travel, down south to the warm countries or up to the wild north. If you know of any pre-teens or about that age range, I highly recommend The Fledgling by Jane Langton. It's a wistful, dreamy story about a girl who befriends an old goose who teaches her to fly. It was one of my favourite books when I was 13 or so, and I plan on reading it to my children one day.



  1. Awesome photos! I totally get what you mean about birds with crests ha ha :) Such a neat observation. Did you ever see that movie called Fly Away Home? Oh my, it's a wonderful story. If you haven't seen it, definitely put that on your list. I can't wait to have a yard someday so I can have seeds for birds and I also want what my dad has--a little table and chairs for squirrels. You a put a corn cob on and they come to feast :)

  2. They are all so cute. I love the little robin having a bath! Birds are so fun to watch and listen to.

  3. Wonderful pictures. My camera is just a point-n-shoot digital, so my bird pics suck.

    We had a white-ish cardinal who lived around our house for a few years. We called it Pinky; I don't think it was an albino. And we have a squirrel named Stumpy who loves to stare people down from his tree. Slightly unnerving.


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