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Posts Tagged ‘bird-watching’

The advent of nicer weather has not only warmed my toes, but it has forced me to get my camera out again. I have taken to sitting in a lawn chair with the camera on my lap, 75-300mm lens on, and lens cap off. I am stalking birds without moving very many muscles and while sitting in the open. Sometimes I have a book nearby or my Kindle, but I am waiting.

I cannot possible share all the photos I have taken – the ones I kept, that is. And I have only scratched the surface of the variety of birds that use our yard for habitat. The dying lodge pole pine tree out front is never empty: nuthatches, Northern Flickers, Band-tailed Pigeons, Black-Capped and Chestnut-backed Chickadees, Bushtits, English House Sparrows, House Finches – those are just a few of our regular visitors to the tree. But I cannot see much of the tree from my perch in the backyard, and most of those birds are safe from the lens.

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I discovered – by accident – that one of our female Anna’s Hummingbirds is fond of showers. She sat under the sprinkler on a ninety-degree day, spreading her wings and chasing drops on the grape vine.

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It is fascinating to me that as much as she loves the sprinkler, I never find hummingbirds stopping by one of the two bird baths in the yard.

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They take their water with sugar. The male Anna’s is much too shy for a photo.

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She came back to the sprinkler and played on yet another day. I think she winked at me.

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I prefer to buy hummingbird feeders with perches so the wee insectivores can rest a moment. Somewhere, I read that professional photographers like to use feeders without perches so they can capture hummingbirds in flight. I can see why. I have a mix of styles in my yard and the ones with perches get the most use, but the birds don’t hesitate to hover around the other feeders as well.

Juiced up, they fly to the top of the dying pine tree and catch small insects.

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The Song Sparrow has lived around here for years. There are always a couple of nests nearby – thankfully, they are not in our yard. They have nested in our yard, in the crazy Camellia. That’s a sad story and I cried: when the babies fledged, we were outside with Murphy. He spied the fledgling running across the grass and –

Well, I rescued the baby from him (he is a bird dog and he has a soft mouth), but it died in my hand. No punishment was meted out to the dog (he is only a dog), but the sparrows learned – and they have not nested in our yard since then. Next door, yes. But not in the Yard with the Killer Dog.

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If you go to AllAboutBirds.com and click on the “typical voice” button, you can hear what this Song Sparrow was singing.

I have been trying to capture him taking a bath in the bird bath out back, but so far, he has eluded me. I have noticed that some birds don’t seem interested in bathing, but they will come to the water to drink: chickadees, finches, English House Sparrows, the Pileated Woodpecker, the flickers, and the pigeons all relish the water. But the thrushes, the scrub jays, the starlings all love to use the big bird bath out front as a bathtub. The Song Sparrow uses the bird bath in the back yard as his bathtub.

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The birds are wary here – the dogs have easy access to this bird bath. But the neighborhood cats have easier access to the one out front. Perhaps that is why the smaller birds come out back for water and the larger birds use the one out front.

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The female House Finch gives me the Evil Eye. “Hey! This is almost empty over here!”

Blame the Black-capped Chickadees.

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They came through with their fledglings and cleaned out the bird feeder. There’s seed all over the ground.

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But you really can’t be mad at a bird like this, can you?

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“Chick-a-dee-dee-dee!”

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Not all of my photos are a success. I had a hard time following this female English House Sparrow as she worked her way along the fence. I think she saw the camera and was camera-shy.

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There are plenty of photos of bird’s butts as they duck behind leaves. (That’s a Bushtit.)

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Exit: Stage Left. Or is it Right?

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Ack! Camera! Flee!

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Bird on a Hot Tin Roof?

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And then there’s this. The Band-tailed Pigeon stare. I don’t dare have an empty feeder with birds that look like this…

(click on the photo. That red-eye glare will give you nightmares…)

 

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