31 January, 2012


I promised to share a fun fact about Woodpeckers as soon as I got the chance to do so. Some of you may already know this. Woodpeckers like to tuck food away to save for later. I vaguely remember hearing about this once, but had not thought about it in a long time. That is, I had forgotten the random information until I saw it happening right in front of my camera lens!

This is a female red-bellied woodpecker. Females have grey on top of their heads, whereas their spouses have a completely red head.

Photos by Javamom, all Rights Reserved

She takes another seed to hide in a completely different tree on our property.

Do you feed and observe woodpeckers in your own yards? They like bugs, yes, but they will also enjoy black sunflower seeds and suet cakes.



"Our" Hawk, part two

This time, the hawk lingered

I think  it had already eaten...otherwise it would be going after the white-winged dove there in the tree.

As I close January, all I can say is that this has been a delightful month of birding and photography every day. Sometimes, it was all about capturing a particular bird, no matter the form of the photo. Hawks (and indeed other birds) being quick, one doesn't have much time to set up the best composition. Other shots captured this month were all about the bird behavior. Happily, I was able to set up and compose some really lovely shots this month, as well.

Have any of my readers enjoyed any special birds or made new birding observations this month?
Let me know!


26 January, 2012

"Our" Hawk

The typical bird 'drop' to launch for flight

Watch out Mr. Finch! Do not move an inch - King Kong is behind you

Seriously...nobody move

And there he goes
(All photos by me, all rights reserved)

In Honor of "our" hawk, I'll share a poem by one of the poets we are studying this term, Alfred Noyes   Enjoy!


The Island Hawk

Hushed are the whimpering winds on the hill,
Dumb is the shrinking plain,
And the songs that enchanted the woods are still
As I shoot to the skies again!
Does the blood grow black on my fierce bent beak,
Does the down still cling to my claw?
Who brightened these eyes for the prey they seek?
Life, I follow thy law!
For I am the hawk, the hawk, the hawk!
Who knoweth my pitiless breast?
Who watcheth me sway in the wild wind's way?
Flee – flee – for I quest, I quest.

As I glide and glide with my peering head,
Or swerve at a puff of smoke,
Who watcheth my wings on the wind outspread,
Here – gone – with an instant stroke?
Who toucheth the glory of life I feel
As I buffet this great glad gale,
Spire and spire to the cloud-world, wheel,
Loosen my wings and sail?
For I am the hawk, the island hawk,
Who knoweth my pitiless breast?
Who watcheth me sway in the sun's bright way?
Flee – flee – for I quest, I quest.

My mate in the nest on the high bright tree
Blazing with dawn and dew,
She knoweth the gleam of the world and the glee
As I drop like a bolt from the blue.
She knoweth the fire of the level flight
As I skim, close, close to the ground,
With the long grass lashing my breast and the bright
Dew-drops flashing around.
She watcheth the hawk, the hawk, the hawk
(Oh, the red-blotched eggs in the nest!)
Watcheth him sway in the sun's bright way.
Flee – flee – for I quest, I quest.

She builded her nest on the high bright wold,
She was taught in a world afar
The lore that is only an April old
Yet old as the evening star.
Life of a far off ancient day
In an hour unhooded her eyes.
In the time of the budding of one green spray
She was wise as the stars are wise.
An eyas in eyry, a yellow-eyed hawk,
On the old elm's burgeoning breast,
She watcheth me sway in the wild wind's way.
Flee – flee – for I quest, I quest.

She hath ridden on white Arabian steeds
Thro' the ringing English dells,
For the joy of a great queen, hunting in state,
To the music of golden bells.
A queen's fair fingers have drawn the hood
And tossed her aloft in the blue,
A white hand eager for needless blood.
I hunt for the needs of two.
A haggard in yarak, a hawk, a hawk!
Who knoweth my pitiless breast?
Who watcheth me sway in the sun's bright way?
Flee – flee – for I quest, I quest.

Who fashioned her wide and splendid eyes
That have stared in the eyes of kings?
With a silken twist she was looped to their wrist:
She has clawed at their jewelled rings!
Who flung her first thro' the crimson dawn
To pluck him a prey from the skies,
When the love-light shone upon lake and lawn
In the valleys of Paradise?
Who fashioned the hawk, the hawk, the hawk,
Bent beak and pitiless breast?
Who watcheth him sway in the wild wind's way?
Flee – flee – for I quest, I quest.

Is there ever a song in all the world
Shall say how the quest began
With the beak and the wings that have made us kings
And cruel – almost – as man?
The wild wind whimpers across the heath
Where the sad little tufts of blue
And the red-stained grey little feathers of death
Flutter! Who fashioned us? Who?
Who fashioned the scimitar wings of the hawk,
Bent beak and arrowy breast?
Who watcheth him sway in the sun's bright way?
Flee – flee – for I quest, I quest.

Alfred Noyes

24 January, 2012


...and the birds have been extra antsy today, snapping up seeds and suet with urgency, before the storm arrives. Even 18.5 yo college son, who loves sports and country music, noticed ;-).

I look forward to checking out my photos shot during their 'urgency' this afternoon.

Stay tuned! In the meantime, I will share something I had forgotten about woodpeckers (and one reason that led to why I forgot it).


22 January, 2012

Ruby Crowned Kinglet

This is a new bird to our feeders this year. I am pretty sure we have two of these  little, plump, quick kinglets. One has a more distinctive, tiny dot of red on the top of his head, and the other doesn't seem to have one, at all. The only way I can tell, because they are so quick, is by photographing them and checking the details later.

It is a very windy day at the cottage, so it is hard for this little guy to hang on. I thought it rather funny, though slightly trecherous for him!

Hang on, little bird!

Tired bird finally gave up. Thank goodness the suet contains high protein to help sustain his extra efforts at flying and hanging on today.


15 January, 2012

Hawk Stalking

January 8th Hawk Stalking results:

It was competely overcast and chilly, but no wind.

adorable American Kestrel

Red-tail hawk? not sure b/c of the strips.

This is Henry the hawk, one at the edge of our neighborhood that we've watched from afar for years, now. He did not like me getting "close" to take his photo, so I had to be more sneaky, hide behind the car door and shoot from there. My longest lens is a 200-400. Yes, a better one (1200) is on my wishlist!

Later, after observing other hawks down the road, he came back around. My strategy to stay behind the car door worked pretty well, as he didn't scare off so quickly. Not bad for my first time out trying to capture him.

coming in for another landing

The backside of Henry

Henry the hawk (red-tail-pretty sure anyway)

Two red-tail hawks

the hawk on the right

the hawk on the left

so beautiful

 The above hawks keep their distance from our neighborhood.

We have a hawk (Coopers or Sharp-shinned...probably a Coopers hawk, as he is larger) and a falcon that regularly visit our backyard to look for "lunch." I am almost always trying to keep my camera ready for them, but it is not easy. They like to do the hunting and not be 'the hunted.'

We are planning another outing soon!


13 January, 2012

Mrs. Finch

Here is the female finch that I was writing about. See how she has pin feathers sticking out from her eye?

She also has a tumor or two above her left eye. I wonder what happened. She has been around the cottage for months, now, but I also wonder how long she will last, and if she can see out of her left eye. We have a lot of hawks in the area (which may not even bother with her, because she is so small) and American Kestrels (which do like small prey).

Another view of the feathers poking out of her eye.

She decides to try and wash them out ~

Poor girl, trying so hard to wash the irritants out of her eye, or so it seems.

Because here, she seems so weary and tired. The eye malady has burdened her for months that I've noticed her.

More to come, if we see here again. The temps dropped and I have not spotted her at the feeders for a couple of days :-(.


06 January, 2012


Finches are extremely fun to watch. This is the best, unplugged show in town, which may actually make it the best show in town.

Goldfinch is scoping out the situation down below to see if there's anything good to eat or drink.

The 'birdie dive' to get to drop quickly. Forget swooping about. This means business, and quick!

See how much smaller the American goldfinch is than the house finch?

 One of our sets of regular house finch couples. It's as if they see me and ask "what are you doing?"
The female is the brown, streaked on the left and the male is the pretty one on the right. I will share my confusion over the different types of "red finches" for the longest time. Why they don't just call them red is beyond me. The purple finch is a more brilliant and rich red, with hints of magenta or maroon, but he is definitely not purple, in my humble opinion! ;-)

The finch dance that I get to see almost every day. I wish my focus had been better. There is the goal for next time. :-)

 Coming in for a landing with the others. They are sociable creatures and love to stick together in groups. One of my bird books says they can move into a yard by the dozens or HUNDREDS. Imagine that! That's a lot of birdseed.

They don't just eat from  tube thistle feeders or sock feeders. These are eating black oil sunflower seed from a flat surface. When I was a newbie birder several years ago, I thought I must have a tube thistle feeder in order to attract finches, especially gold finches. I was so wrong! I finally gave up on those, just figuring we'd never have a whole bunch of finches. Again, I was wrong. They came later, and seemed to prefer our regular feeders at the cottage. Go figure.

Next time, I will tell you about one of our regular house finch couples. The female has a bit of a health problem.

Until Then!