Bird Feeder Survey 31January2016

I planned to complete my January bird feeder survey with images of something other than the common, everyday visitors. I’ve seen a Cooper’s Hawk hunting my “fly-through restaurant” on two occasions and envisioned that raptor in my finale. Wishful thinking. Hawk visits are sporadic and unpredictable, and the opportunity never materialized. I was forced to dig a few images from my archives, taken around this time of year, in the same backyard setting.




Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

Oh Joy, Cardinals!

Red and white in good morning light – about as common as hens’ teeth this winter.


Northern Cardinal, male


Northern Cardinal, female

Photos by NB Hunter. 30Jan16. © All Rights Reserved.

Bird Feeder Survey – 28January2016

The number of doves at the feeders is directly proportional to the severity of the winter weather and snow depth. A few visit several times a day, but 20 or 30 might appear in the middle of a blizzard. Ground feeders, doves typically flutter to the ground, a few at a time, from nearby perches on tree branches and overhead wires.


Feeding is fast and furious. Seeds and grain are swallowed whole and stored in an enlarged portion of the esophagus, the crop. This “whole grain” food will be digested later, from the safety of a perch in the trees.


Sparrows and juncos, also ground foragers, swarm the feeding sites throughout the day. They seem to eat more than is physically possible, or necessary for that matter.


American Tree Sparrow


Slate-colored Junco (1 of 2)


Suet blocks, a commercial mix of animal fats and seeds, are a major attraction. Just about everybody pecks at these things at one time or another. Woodpeckers are the primary users, but jays, nuthatches, chickadees, starlings and other species visit them too. Squirrels devour suet blocks in late winter.


Downy Woodpecker


White-breasted Nuthatch


Red-bellied Woodpecker

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.



Stubby the Red Squirrel: an Update

As reported in an earlier post

Stubby the Red Squirrel was discovered at the bird feeders months ago. After watching a Cooper’s Hawk attack and miss a red squirrel in December, I assumed that Stubby was doomed. Nature’s way. Miraculously, this feisty little squirrel is alive and well, doing what high-strung red squirrels do: running back and forth between feeders and retreat cover and battling other squirrels for dominance. Tunneling in the deep piles of shoveled snow between food and cover is the preferred mode of travel.


Looks can be deceiving. Despite this “Bring it on!” game face, Stubby has lost the dominance battle with three other red squirrels and is apt to feed when they’re not around.


Mobility has been the question from day one. Stubby can now motor along quite rapidly on a hard surface. In fact, the short burst from feed to cover is usually too fast for me and, in the absence of bright light, my camera. The healthy hind leg has become strong and powerful.




All things considered, Stubby climbs well. I’ve also seen him hanging upside down on the side of a stump, anchored firmly by the one hind foot while digging for grain.



Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

Bird Feeder Survey – 20January2016

Friendly, cheery, perky, chatty, cute – there just aren’t enough adjectives to do justice to the uplifting presence of a social flock of chickadees, especially on a dreary, bitterly cold, winter day.

Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus; temperature 8 degrees F, wind chill minus 5 degrees F)






Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

Bird Feeder Survey 18Jan2016

Backyard wildlife activity continues to increase in response to frigid temperatures and accumulating snow cover. This, the second of my “bird” feeder posts, features a few more of the regular visitors to supplemental feeding sites around the house.

At least 6 Blue Jays feed aggressively and often, throughout the day.


Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata; 1 of 2)


Most active in early morning and late evening, cardinals tend to visit the feeders throughout the day as the winter weather becomes more severe.


Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)

The Titmouse is an irregular and unpredictable visitor. I usually see just one, and it rarely lingers for more than a few seconds. A dainty eater, it darts in, grabs a seed, and poof! It’s gone.


Tufted Titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor)

Tracks and traces in the snow tell the story of resident cottontails. They’re mostly nocturnal, sneaking into the feeders under the cover of darkness.


Eastern Cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus)

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.


Bird Feeder Survey – 14January2016

Winter weather isn’t always conducive to outdoor photography. There are times when cheating, i.e. setting up beside the wood stove and observing wildlife over bait, is the more rewarding (and sane) thing to do. Mindful of that reality, but wanting to work with the special effects of snow, I decided to create a photographic record of the wild visitors to my “bird” feeders this winter. My goal is to present each visiting species, bird or mammal, popular or unpopular, in an aesthetically pleasing way.


European Starling


White-throated Sparrow


“Stubby” the tailless, three-legged Red Squirrel!

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.



Gulls in Winter

I usually take a scenic, secondary road when shopping for supplies, a route bordered by farms, woodlots ….and the county landfill. The waste water pond at the landfill is sometimes a point of interest for birders, attracting the occasional raptor as well as resident ducks, geese and gulls. A large, mixed flock of gulls, hunkering down on a frigid morning with a sub-zero windchill, provided me with a monochromatic winter scene, very typical of Central New York this time of year.



Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

Snow and Ice…Finally!


This gallery contains 8 photos.

Christmas Eve was a snow-free, 60 degree day. I found a wood tick crawling on my ear after a hike. Unprecedented. My morale was falling as quickly as the Syracuse records for snow fall and temperature. Fact of the matter … Continue reading