Random Images of an Icy Spring

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Balsam Fir on a cold, snowy morning

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House Finch

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Cottontail in a cold rain, looking for supplemental feed; nest somewhere nearby

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Cottontail response to the rising sun: retreat cover

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Goldfinches, molting into their breeding plumage

Photos by NB Hunter. © 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.

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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.

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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.

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American Tree Sparrow

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Slate-colored Junco (1 of 2)

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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.

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Downy Woodpecker

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White-breasted Nuthatch

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Red-bellied Woodpecker

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.

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Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata; 1 of 2)

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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European Starling

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White-throated Sparrow

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

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

 

 

Winter Birds: the Red-bellied Woodpecker

I’ve been playing cat-and-mouse with a Red-bellied Woodpecker for weeks. Its feeding behavior is best described as a covert operation, designed to thwart any attempt at a quality image. Feeder visits are unpredictable, brief, and likely to be terminated by the least little disturbance.

Red-bellied Woodpecker with suet from a bird feeder (3 images); the busy background in these photos is snow-covered spruce trees; 2/5/2015:

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Historically a southeastern species, the breeding range of this woodland woodpecker has expanded greatly over the last hundred years. It now covers most of eastern U.S. — and New York state.

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Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.