Thursday, September 11, 2008

More Backyard Bird Drama


She threw me off guard when I saw her out of the corner of my eye. I was hanging freshly cleaned bird feeders. What are you doing here, Ms. Lizard?


I came out of the shade to grab a spot of sun. Just sitting here, resting on a thorn.

Outside of constant chatter about my crowd of hummingbirds, it’s been a long time since I talked about my backyard birds.


I certainly do have birds at my house. I found some Brown Headed Nuthatches elsewhere. They’re usually oblivious when I’m near and they photograph quite well. Not this time… Will you turn around?


That’s better.

Dozens of birds visit my feeders regularly, even when the feeders are empty. It’s been a challenging spring and summer for someone who doesn’t get out of her backyard often enough. I’ve closed the feeders for weeks at a time that started with the arrival of Grackles and Pigeons. I offered safflower seeds for a while. Then a flock of two dozen hell-raising juvenile Starlings arrived who screamed all…day…long for over a week. I had no choice but to close down the feeders as they were disturbing the peace.


Add twenty-plus of these to the mix of Starlings, Grackles, Pigeons, and Mourning Doves. I knew it would happen when two pairs arrived last winter. House Sparrows rule now. Sweet birds are the minority. That’s no joke.


I still have a few Cardinals, House and Gold Finches. My variety has dwindled compared to this time last year. Sigh... Sometimes I think I'm losing interest.


I just don’t know what to do about the House Sparrows. I see them in swarms and listen to their fighting in the evergreen bushes that line the north side of my house. I’ve noticed them bullying nice birds like Carolina Wrens for safflower or nuts. And, and I’m very concerned about the Mockingbirds I haven’t seen in two weeks.

Backyard birding has been a disappointing affair but I smile whenever I can and talk to the birds I enjoy,


Don’t be shy…I can see you even if you can't see me.


Thank you.


Hold that pose while I zoom a little closer. My Fuji allows me to zoom from afar with no need to sneak up on or stalk the birds for a clearer shot. It’s a nice change. I'm still all thumbs, need to practice with birds more often, and learn the camera! It's been very cloudy and we received another four inches of rain yesterday!


That’s better. Thank you. I know when I hear the happy Chickadee-dee-dee song, sweet birds will rule for a few minutes ;-)

Shall I count on the skills of a Cooper’s Hawk for some crowd control? They’ve returned after being away for a few months. Instead of seeing them perched in their observation tower, high in a pine tree, they fly low over the House Sparrows’ bushes. It’s breathtaking to watch them soar so close to my house with amazing speed!

After publishing, Whoa! No need for a magnifying glass to see these photos! I think I'll try another format next time ;-)


Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

Maybe the Coops will thin your house sparrow numbers!! I had zillions of house sparrows until we were forced to remove my brush pile in the backyard. Away went their shelter, away went the house sparrows.

Very sweet zoom of the chickadee-dee-dee!

Mary said...

Thanks for the tip, Linne :o) Now I'm thinking about those bushes but we do have brush piles in the back...

Wendy said...

Awww - love Ms. Lizard. She looked quite at home. Your pics are beautiful and you especially got a good one of the plain old, but sweet sparrow.
My hummingbirds have gone. It seems that one day they're here and the next they're gone. I do leave the feeder up for a few more weeks - just in case!

BJ said...

Great job with the pics! When I was down in Salisbury at my sister's house, the sparrow's were everywhere, hanging out on the bird feeders and in the butterfly bushes. They just eat constantly. I don't know that much about birds, but I sure love to look at them.....and take their pictures if given the chance. I especially love the finches. There were a few of the yellow finches feeding at her house too.

The pic of the lizard is awesome! You captured it very nicely. We had an iguana so I really like them. They are fascinating to watch. Ours was a vegan and we had it for many years. It was three feet long in a 55 gallon aquarium. Eventually had to give it away....but to a nice home where it could grow to it's environment.

KGMom said...

Of all the things you wrote about, the one that makes me most happy--4 inches of rain. WOOOO HOOOOO. You needed it. More on the way, maybe?

A New England Life said...

That's too bad about the sparrows but I think what Lynne said holds true.

My parents have loads of sparrows, and like the ones at your feeders they've driven away all the song birds. It seems the Sparrows mostly hang out in the bushes around the feeders and deck, like Rats. Needless to say my dad has pretty much stopped feeding them. He would never even think of cutting the bushes down though. If he did they wouldn't have a place to hide!

Hey, that lizard has blue on it's throat! Pretty neat : )

Mary said...

New England Life,

OOOPS! Why didn't I see that?!!!

It's a boy!

Thanks :o)


JeanMac said...

What a camera - and operator!

MicheleRF said...

Thanks for sharing your lovely B.Y. Birds, Mary. I've never seen a brown-headed nuthatch before. We have the white- and red-breasted varieties here in NW PA.

NCmountainwoman said...

Mary, you threw me for a loop there for a minute. Title: "More Backyard Bird Drama." First two giant pictures: a lizard! I was a tiny bit worried about you, but then I saw the real birds and felt that all is well. At least you are getting some "nice" birds in addition to your usual dregs of the bird world.

I'm so happy you are having such fun with your camera.

Anonymous said...

Whoa! Yes, these are big pics! I love the detail on Ms Lizzard. When I read the specs on your Fuji, I had a feeling you were really going to love that zoom.

beckie said...

Mary, I liked the big pictures! Such detail and they jump right out at you. Of course most of that is the excellent photograper. Wish, I knew what advice to give you about the nasties of the bird world, but I have them too. Very rarely do I get a pretty bird at the feeders. I have quit feeding all of them while there is so much out there for them to eat. Will start again when the weather gets cold and all the flowers are gone.

Jayne said...

My feeder activity has pretty much been mostly house finches and mourning doves Mary, so I know what you mean. It's been hazy, hot, and not fit to fill. :c) Hang in there! Love your shots with the new camera.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Yep, when you feed birds you attract the good, bad and noisy.

I love the lizard picture. It looks like it has as many thorns on it as the flower behind.

Q said...

Dear Mary,
My 24 inch monitor loves your format! You are doing so well with your new would take me ten years to learn the how to's of it. Already you have taught the camera to see what you see!
The Mockingbirds will return soon. I always think they go on Holiday.
Your new, "little birds only" feeder will make a difference for the clingers too. I agree with Lynne, House Sparrows are good Cooper and Sharp Shinned hawk food. I do hide food too so the little ones still get a nice meal.
Sweet lizard!! I do love them too.Nature is just amazing.
So happy to read you had another 4 inches of rain. Soon you will be able to wash windows again.
Flood warnings here...crazy weather.
Blessings to those who are preparing for Ike. He's a big one.
Enjoy your Hummers...they are a joy of summer.

Anonymous said...

I like the big pictures. Makes me feel I'm standing there with you. Keep up the good work.

Peg Silloway said...

Fantastic photos, Mary! I'm with the folks who like the large format. The lizard is amazing - you have such a gift with your ability to not only see but capture those fleeting moments.

Sandpiper (Lin) said...

Beautiful pictures as always, Mary. I've been looking back at some of your posts that I've missed during my down time. Thank you for stopping by and commenting. (Of course I remember you! Yours is one of my favorite blogs and I always enjoy my visits!) I've been taking a break from blogging, so haven't been around. I'm still not back 100%, but beginning to feel more relaxed. Hope all is well with you and your family. Hugs


Such gorgeous photos, every single one of them. And your text and captions are rich with humor and bittersweetness. (Blogger is telling me that bittersweetness isn't a word, but you know what I mean.) :o)

Dog_geek said...

I love the little fence post lizard - great find! And all the birdie pictures are lovely, too!

Mary C said...

Mary, a lizard!? Wow! Cool! As for sparrows, it sounds like quite a few of us have had more sparrows at the feeders this summer. But at least I'm still getting house finches and lesser goldfinches. Somedays it seems like there are as many house finches as there are house sparrows. And it's been fun watching the hummingbirds around here because we have one or two bullies always standing guard and chasing off other hummers. Now that would be a photo challenge - taking a photo or video of one hummer chasing another. ;o) I'm sure glad to hear you got more rain.

Rose said...

I love to see all your birds, Mary, even the "ordinary" ones. And you're right--I didn't need to enlarge these pictures, but I like them this way. I didn't even need to put on my reading glasses:)
The lizard is fascinating--that is one creature we don't have in Midwest backyards.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic pictures Mary! I love the close-ups!


RuthieJ said...

I love your little lizard! it's nice to see all the detail of her skin revealed by your new camera too.
I have a boatload of house sparrows too and the Cooper's Hawk is still hanging around, so there's always hope.... :-)

jason said...

I absolutely LOVE the lizard photos, Mary! It's almost as if it decided to do a bit of posing for you given that it had already been caught in the open. And that's a marvelous shot of a female cardinal. She got caught with her mouth full, didn't she?

Larry said...

That's funny what you said about the photo size-I was like holy smokes-the giant finches are after me-god save us all! -Actually-I love the photos-really nice Mary.