Squirrel Scuffles

When several squirrels arrive at a bird feeder, a scuffle invariably occurs. These battles for dominance and feeding rights are usually brief, harmless — and blurry! Two or more squirrels (reds and/or grays) will suddenly leap, run, roll and whirl around as the alpha gives chase. Within a second or two the matter is settled and feeding resumes.

I never fully appreciated this scenario until recently, when I decided to crank up my camera settings and attempt to freeze the action of a Gray Squirrel scuffle. There was more going on than I realized – ears back, eyes closed, a knock-down – amazing!

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An alpha caught in the act, raiding a bird feeder – with no competitors in sight!

 

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Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

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Winter … or Spring?

It’s spring, but we’re still hunkering down under the influence of bitter cold, wind, snow and ice. However, photoperiod prevails, and the lengthening days have livened things up. Large flocks of noisy “blackbirds” arrived last week, and the male Wild Turkeys are beginning to strut in the presence of hens.

The blackbirds – there are 50 to 100 descending upon my feeders at frequent intervals now – are mixed flocks, comprised mostly of Common Grackles and Red-winged Blackbirds.

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These strutting turkey gobblers, sporting impressive beards and spurs, were part of a flock of 10, most of which were hens.

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Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

Doves at Rest

Mourning Doves (Zenaida macroura), common over much of North and Central America, are frequent visitors to bird feeders in winter. They’re ground feeders and typically flutter into a feeding site from a high perch, eat a large quantity of seed very quickly, then burst out of sight, bullet-like. The consumed food is stored temporarily in a pouch or “crop” in the esophagus, and is digested later from the safety and comfort of an elevated perch.

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Photo by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

Village Lights

Earlier in the week, a failed attempt to capture the full moon led to experimentation. Home-sweet-home, lit up by the scenic byway corridor and the prominent historic buildings in the center of the village, became my subject.

Dedicated to the Madison Hall Preservation Committee.

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Photo by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

Snowy Songbird Portraits

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Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis), female

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White-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis) invading the space of a                   female Cardinal

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American Tree Sparrow (Spizella arborea)

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

Backyard Squirrels in Winter

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Squirrels become habituated to bird feeders in winter, to the point of becoming a nuisance. Gray Squirrels will travel considerable distances from their preferred woodland habitat of mature deciduous trees to eat bird seed. Red Squirrels have a smaller home range, but can dominate feeders too, especially if their habitat of choice is present in the landscape – mature coniferous trees such as Norway Spruce.

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Red Squirrel in its escape tunnel in deep snow near a bird feeder

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Red Squirrel feasting on bird seed

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Red Squirrel raiding the suet in a wire mesh woodpecker feeder

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One of a dozen Gray Squirrels visiting 2 backyard bird feeders

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Gray Squirrel digging through snow for bird seed

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.