Springing to Life in 2018

Warm spring days, blossoms and bees; all’s right with the world.

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Photos by NB Hunter (April 23, 2018). All Rights Reserved.

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A Solitary Siskin

A Pine Siskin, alone at the feeders, lingering on its winter range. It’s 14 degrees F with snow cover… that may have something to do with this unusual sighting.

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Photos by NB Hunter (7April2018). © All Rights Reserved.

Squirrel Watching

Faced with a 30 degree drop in temperature and the arrival of a snowstorm, we all turn to our survival checklist. I was headed to the woodshed. Cream Puff, the resident red squirrel anomaly, was busy eating – and burying – sunflower seeds.

The firewood could wait – I had to watch and photograph Cream Puff in action. She had an impressive routine, which she repeated for an hour: grab a bite at the feeders, put a sunflower seed in her mouth, sprint 40 feet, bury the seed, sprint back to the bird feeder, and so on. She moved fast and the light was poor, so I tried my best to “pan” the action, swinging the camera at her pace.

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At one point the snow was so heavy that it overwhelmed my auto focus. It was winter again and the squirrels were fat, happy, and well prepared. On the other hand, I now had to shovel several inches of heavy, wet snow in order to get firewood to the house!

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Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

Juncos Dawn to Dusk

Slate-colored Juncos are by far the most common winter visitor at the feeders. Dozens arrive in the early morning hours, usually before I’ve finished my coffee and want to brave the elements to scatter bird seed.  The predawn flock of small, dark objects hopping and fluttering about is my signal to get moving. Once outside,  the soft, barely audible twittering of the flock gives me pause. If I needed a reward for my efforts, that would be it.

They’re common, they’re not very colorful, they don’t dazzle with aerial maneuvers….they’re just juncos. But, they have a special place in my archives.

 

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Photos by NB Hunter (Feb., 2018). ©  All Rights Reserved.

 

Weathering the Storm

A Tufted Titmouse occasionally visits our feeders in winter, but it’s unpredictable and rarely lingers. This visit was different, influenced by harsh wind, snow and subzero wind chills.

The little songbird was in survival mode: it found shelter and food, put its back to the wind, puffed its feathers for insulation and hunkered down.

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Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

Bird Feeder Highlights

Lingering Arctic weather has driven a variety of birds to the feeders, prompting me to post a mid January update on our backyard visitors.

A small flock of Pine Siskins arrived last week – after an absence of several years.

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These small, sparrow-size songbirds are an absolute joy. They’re semi-tame and approachable when swarming a feeder. But, they can also be pretty feisty when quarreling over ‘Nyger’ seed!

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A Red-breasted Nuthatch, the masked bandit of the feeders, continues to entertain. So tiny and so quick – I know it often comes and goes undetected.

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Red-bellied Woodpeckers sit atop the pecking order when it comes to foraging on a suet block. They visit often, and the “zebra back” always commands our attention.

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Photos by NB Hunter (January, 2018). © All Rights Reserved.

Doves – Incoming!

Bird activity at the feeders intensified as the weather worsened. More than 20 Mourning Doves are now regular visitors, giving me ample opportunities to watch and photograph flock behavior. Sometimes they flutter down to one feeder or the other, quickly fill their crops, then explode into the air and back to their perches. At other times they linger, drifting back and forth between feeders. This is my best opportunity to capture them in flight, shooting as they brake for a soft landing.

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Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.