Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Late Summer Yard Birds

It's the first day of fall already! How did that happen? Here I am still getting to know the summer birds in our yard, and fall migration is now well underway, so it's hard to know who's been here all summer and who's just passing through. Eastern Bluebirds light up fence posts:

Black-capped Chickadees are all over the place (and adorable as always):

Just like at our old place in Connecticut, the Tufted Titmice were the first birds to discover the window feeders we put up:

And now the titmice and chickadees come in for seeds all day. We're up to three feeders and these guys empty them every few days! Titmice are so brave and adventuresome, I'm glad they're around to figure out that we're leaving food in these weird plastic things:

Other birds are finding food around the house as well. I loved seeing this tiny Ruby-throated Hummingbird drinking from some hosta blossoms right near a window:

And the American Goldfinches keep coming in to feast on seeds from the purple coneflowers at the front of the house:

Acrobatics are sometimes required to get these seeds, but finches are good at that sort of thing:

Mmm, seeds:

This Northern Flicker was stretching and showing off its super fancy costume the other day; those yellow shafts on its wing feathers really are amazing:

And I never noticed the Mickey Mouse silhouettes on this bird's tail before:

It's always worth admiring Flickers from below:

We have a whole host of woodpeckers besides Northern Flickers in our yard as well. Downy and Red-bellied Woodpeckers are regulars, and I was very excited to hear heavy, deliberate hammering the other day and look up to see a Pileated Woodpecker hard at work on a tree next to the house. Living in the woods is amazing!

A small flock of Swainson's Thrushes has been hanging around recently, giving me the chance to admire these lovely birds with their freckled breasts and beige spectacles:

These small thrushes (smaller than a robin, anyway) have been cleaning the berries off of a dogwood tree near the house:

Yes, I'm just watching you, bird; keep eating:

I was able to admire a Swainson's Thrush up close under very unfortunate circumstances recently, when we found a dead individual under one of our windows facing the woods. It was such a beautiful creature, so small and perfect (the feathers on its belly practically glowed, they were so white), and so horribly sad. We've put static-cling decals on the windows, to try to help the birds see the glass. No more window strikes please!

With all the bird activity around here, there are many more happy sightings than sad ones. The warblers have been moving through in their kaleidoscope of muted fall costumes, but they haven't been very cooperative for my camera. Here's a bright American Redstart tail, does that count?

Huge flocks of Common Grackles -- hundreds of birds at a time -- have been sweeping over the trees around our yard in recent days:

So many grackles!

Now that fall's officially here, I'm excited to see what other creatures will show up in the weeks to come. Ohio is quite the adventure so far!