Photography · Writing

Back Yard Photographer – Grackle (beauty or beast?)

Colorful Grackle

Depending upon the day and how many of the Grackles have landed in my yard – I waiver between beauty and beast. Their color is fascinating. They appear black with bright yellow/green eyes from a distance, but as they get closer their varied colors start to show. The blue of their head stands out as well as the iridescent bronze color of their bodies. These colors will become brighter or darker depending upon the light and the birds surroundings.

Here’s a couple photos showing the sharp contrast in colors:

As far as these birds being beasts, their behavior tends to get them characterized more as a beast and/ or just a plain pest. They travel in flocks. On any given day, there are anywhere from 2 to 10 Grackles in my yard at a time. With this number, they tend to take over and truly become pests. For the farmers, the Grackles are pests as they can destroy crops.

I refer to these birds as the back yard bullies. Most of their consumption is from the ground below the bird feeders. However, I have noticed they do try to eat seed from the feeders once in a while. This doesn’t usually last long because they are too big to balance on the typical bird feeder. They also love suet. I discovered this by accident as I was putting suet out for the Downy Woodpeckers. I had several suet feeders for a variety of birds to enjoy. Shortly after I put the suet out, the feeders would be taken over by the Grackles. They could eat all of the suet in less than a day’s time. They also chase the other birds away by charging at the birds. Once in a while even a squirrel will get chased away. The Grackles have size going for them as well. To the smaller birds, I am sure the Grackles appearance alone can be intimidating.

Some beast like photos:

Fortunately the birds have learned how to get along with one another, so the finches, the cardinals and the other song birds still enjoy their time at the feeders and in the yard. They seem to have developed a schedule as the smaller birds will come to the feeders earlier in the morning and later in the evening. The Grackles seem to have the middle of the day to eat and play in the bird baths. It is good to see nature finding ways to get along peacefully.

Grackle

No matter if the Grackles are showing how beautiful they can be or how beastly their behavior is, I still like to watch them. 🙂

Thank you for stopping by and checking out my blog! I hope you liked the photos and some of my rambling. 🙂

All photos are originals by Kim Lawless

Photography

Back Yard Photographer – Signs of Spring

American Robin

According to the calendar, Spring arrived a few weeks ago. I prefer Nature’s signs of Spring. They are much more fun to photograph. 🙂

Temperatures are trending warmer and the days are longer. More opportunities to capture photos of the birds and such in the back yard. Below are photos taken over the past few days. These birds have been in the yard earlier, but this was the first chance I had to capture their photos. Their colors are also much brighter as they are wanting a mate.

Hope you are getting to enjoy nice weather and some time outside!

Here’s a few photos:

Daffodils – the first flowers to bloom in my flower garden
Male Northern Cardinal showing off his colors and songs for his future mate.
Grackle – a bit of a pest, but some interesting colors
Male House Finch showing off his changing red colors
American Robin looking at the sun rise

Thank you for stopping by and checking out my blog! Hope you enjoyed the signs of Spring! 🙂

All photos are originals by Kim Lawless

Photography · Writing

Back Yard Photographer – White-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatch

A favorite past-time is watching the birds that venture into my back yard, photographing them and then identifying the ones I haven’t seen before in the yard. One day, in early December I had put a new suet cake out. The downy woodpecker really likes it. Downy woodpeckers are fun to watch as they move all over the suet cake and will hang from the cage, where the suet is placed, at varying angles to get to the food.

Here’s a photo of a downy woodpecker, in case you don’t know what they are:

Downy Woodpecker

On this particular day after the downy woodpecker had had it’s fill of food, I noticed a different kind of bird on the suet. It seemed to be about the same size, maybe a little smaller with a shorter tail.

White-breasted Nuthatch playing King of the Suet

I took a few more pictures of this bird while watching it eat the suet. He was interesting to watch as well. He had a lot of the same maneuvers as the downy woodpecker. Once inside, I had to check to see what kind of bird this was. I like to visit http://www.allaboutbirds.org to help me identify the bird and to learn something new. This website has helped me to become the bird nerd that I am today. 🙂 This is where I found out that this bird is the white-breasted Nuthatch. A few things about this bird:

  • Stores seeds in furrows in the bark so they can eat the seeds later
  • Join flocks of foraging birds (chickadees and titmouse) during Winter not only to find food easier but also to watch for predators.
  • Move quickly and at angles while eating. (I’ve seen them in action – they are quick!)
  • They like sunflower seeds, peanuts and suet
  • One of the common back yard birds

A few more photos:

He does like the suet!!
Resting in the tree

In the above picture there is a house finch just above the white-breasted nuthatch. The house finch really blends in with it’s surroundings.

Thank you for stopping by and checking out my blog! Hope you like the photos!

All photos are originals by Kim Lawless

Photography · Writing

Back Yard Photographer – Bunch of Birds

Over the past few weeks there has been a variety of birds stopping by the yard. Below are a few of my favorites. Hope you like them too. 🙂

Chillin’ in a the butterfly bath

There is a story to the above photo. This year I have been trying to focus on attracting butterflies and hummingbirds to the flower garden. I had read that having a small amount of water with some rocks (for landing and resting purposes) would help attract the butterflies and hummingbirds. I had some extra flower pots in my garden shed that I painted bright yellow. I then turned it upside down, turned over the bottom part of the pot (so I had a place to put the water) added the water and some rocks. I have seen a few butterflies, but mostly the birds (all sizes) have stopped by to rest and get some water even though I have a much bigger bird bath for the birds. Oh well, these little guys seemed to be having a good time. 🙂

Oriole on a can

The above picture also has a story. Early Spring I had been reading about attracting Orioles to the yard. A couple suggestions were to put grape jelly and/ or oranges in a bright orange feeder. Apparently the Orioles are attracted to the bright orange. I had grape jelly for my oriole experiment, but not a feeder. I didn’t want to buy a feeder until I knew the Orioles would come around. (I’m a little thrifty – maybe just cheap) A couple of years ago my oldest daughter got married. Her wedding colors were orange and blue. We had a few of the decorations left, so I used one to make the feeder. It is an empty dog food can, cleaned and painted orange. (The ribbon is not necessary for the feeder, but a must have for the wedding. 🙂 ) For the oriole experiment, I drilled a few holes in the can to string thread through to hang it and a few to put the skewer through so the birds had a place to land. I trimmed the ends of the skewers, so there weren’t any sharp ends. I also had a tealight candle holder that fit perfectly into the top of the can to hold the grape jelly. After I put everything together, added jelly into the tealight holder I hung it from the feeder. Within a few days we started to see Orioles. The one in the above photo stops by several times a day now. Guess the experiment was successful.

Charlie the woodpecker lands in the yard

In a previous post about woodpeckers, I had mentioned Charlie the woodpecker (seems I like to give these visitors names) liked to fly over our yard from his home to a bush in our neighbor’s yard that had berries on it. I was hoping to get a picture of Charlie in flight. That hasn’t happened yet. However, he is now stopping in the yard and getting the seeds and berries that drop out of the bird feeder. I’m glad I still get to see Charlie.

House Finch in the wind

The female house finch in the above photo is standing on a fence post facing into the wind. She looks like she is steadying herself against the wind. It was really more of a slight breeze and not a wind, but she is so tiny it doesn’t take much to blow her off her perch.

Male House Finch

Close up of a male house finch, is the above photo. He is often found nibbling on the sedums.

Hummingbird

A hummingbird is in the above photo. It isn’t a perfect photo, but I’m happy I can at least tell what it is!! 🙂

Thank you for stopping by and checking out my blog!

All photos are originals by Kim Lawless

Photography · Writing

Back Yard Photographer – Red-headed Woodpecker

Charlie

Meet Charlie. (Woody and Red seemed a bit obvious, so I went with Charlie.) For a bit, I would refer to him as my husband’s friend, because Charlie would only stay around long enough for my husband to see him. As soon as I would grab my camera, he would fly away.

Charlie and his mate live in some trees by a stream near our home. I get to watch them from a distance, never really close up. Here’s a photo of one of them landing in the trees. It is out of focus, but for a while it was the best photo I had.

Charlie Landing

Then one evening Charlie landed on our deck. During the day I had been power washing the deck to get the paint off so I could re-stain it. I think Charlie could sense the fresh wood and came to check it out. That evening was one of the many times I didn’t have my camera handy and I missed the shot.

Charlie did start to become too comfortable in the yard and on the deck as he soon ventured to our roof. It is not a good time to be woke from a deep sleep by the sound of a woodpecker pecking vigorously at your roof. Fortunately, it only took me stepping out onto the deck for him to fly away.

As I continued to work on getting the deck refinished, Charlie kept coming around (thankfully not back on the roof!). Once I started staining the deck, he moved onto our neighbors yard and would perch upon the fence. This is when I was finally able to get some better, closer photos. Here’s a couple:

Being Aloof

In the above photo, he tried to ignore me and just stared off. He was just being aloof.

In the below photo he was staring at me. Charlie didn’t seem too happy that I was still taking his picture. 🙂

We are done now.

This was the last time Charlie visited the fence and he hasn’t come back to the deck. However, we do see him fly over our yard as he goes from the neighbors mulberry bush back to his nest. Now I’m trying to get a photo of Charlie in flight. He has given me several opportunities, but the photos were just too blurry. Charlie knows I’m going to keep trying until I get it. Thankfully he continues to indulge me. Hopefully the next photo I post of Charlie will be him flying. 🙂

Thank you for stopping by and checking out my blog! I hope you liked the photos. 🙂

All photos are originals by Kim Lawless