Posts Tagged With: backyard

The usual suspects, part II

Common Grackles are blackbirds. That means they’re black birds, right?


Look again!


Amazing what a difference a change in perspective makes.


ETA: I will be chasing the Barrow’s Goldeneye tomorrow. AGAIN. Is the third time the charm? Stay tuned!

Categories: Bird photos, Feeder birds, Usual suspects | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

The usual suspects, part I

It isn’t just the males of the species that brighten up their plumage for spring. This female Purple Finch caught my eye today, looking very crisp and bright. They always remind me of pint-sized female Rose-breasted Grosbeaks.



At least, I assumed it was a female, but I don’t remember noticing this hint of red wash on the scapulars before.



I didn’t notice that until I cropped the photo.

Categories: Bird photos, Feeder birds, Usual suspects | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Welcome back!

I know, we still have to get through March, Albany’s two heaviest snowfalls were in March, the Polar-freakin’-Vortex is on its way south again…

but the first Red-winged Blackbirds of the year sang in my yard today.

IMG_0393 IMG_0394

Categories: Bird photos, Feeder birds, First of season | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

Snow day

The view from Kestrel Hill today is horizon-to-horizon snow. 18 inches on top of half a foot already on the ground — that’s a whole world of white.

We had a new roof installed last year, a metal roof. You’ll love it, the  builder assured us, no maintenance and the snow just slides right off! And just as promised, for the several moderate snows we’ve had, the roof clears itself quite efficiently.

Well, this was the first heavy snowfall of the season. And it was impressive, all right: a full rolling broadside as the entire front thundered down. Maybe too impressive! The sleeping cat shot off my shoulder and into the basement. As for me, every time it happens I have to laugh, it’s so exhilarating.

One small problem. I hope no one’s standing on the stoop next time it cuts loose!

Is this the year our reprehensible shed will finally collapse? (One can only hope!)


Since I wasn’t going anywhere anyway, I worked at my Great Backyard Bird Count. I had lots of help:


Lots of couples out for lunch, including the Cardinals.



House Finches…



… and Purple Finches. You wouldn’t believe how many years it took me to tell them apart.



40 or more Robins in the sumac grove.



Two Song Sparrows have stuck it out all season. Angry Birds, anyone?



As well as two Carolina Wrens.

I don’t know how we’ll scale those mountains to keep the feeders full, but I’d hate to disappoint the patrons.






Categories: Bird photos, Feeder birds, GBBC, Usual suspects | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments


I just looked out the window to see something strange. The small birds had deserted the feeders. The only stragglers were a Red-bellied Woodpecker, two Downies, and a Red-breasted Nuthatch. All of them, even the irrepressible Nuthatch, were pressed close against branches and rigidly still. Only their eyes moved.

After several minutes two chickadees flew in calling, and the silence broke. The usual throng flowed in and around, and the silent watchers vied for suet.

I think there must have been an accipiter somewhere just out of my sight, and when it took off the chickadees issued the ‘all clear’.


Categories: bird behavior, Feeder birds | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Smudgy window birds

The snow is falling heavily now. By the time it’s done we should have a new foot over the snowpack already on the ground.

The feeders are teeming. A few diners, taken through my smudgy front window:




A pastel American Goldfinch.


I love the huge eyes of a Tufted Titmouse.


“I know there’s seed somewhere down here…


Ah! There it is!”




Categories: Bird photos, Feeder birds, Usual suspects | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Porch birding

Despite temps in the low 20s, the bright sunshine made it feel quite mild this afternoon. So I bundled up to refill the feeders, a slow process one-handed and in new snow. After dragging a chair to the porch, I slid the door open to enjoy fresh air and birdsong. One of the pair of Carolina Wrens rattled in the woods and a Tufted Titmouse “peter peter”ed.

With the camera set up on a tripod, I was able to snap a few shots.

Mr. Downy Woodpecker helps himself to some suet.



He’s ready for Valentine’s Day with that crimson heart on his nape.

His Mrs., or somebody’s, waits her turn. At least 5 Downys cycled in and out.



The Dark-eyed Juncos appreciated the return of their buffet tables.



So, nothing out of the ordinary, just a pleasant afternoon visit with the neighbors.

Categories: Bird photos, Feeder birds, Usual suspects | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments

Winter moon and abandoned nest

Won’t someone write me a haiku for this picture?



Categories: scenery | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

There are cat/bird interactions…

… and then there are CAT/BIRD interactions.

Hunter (that’s his name and he lives up to it) had a squirrel. Had, until someone dropped in for dinner…

©Dan Miller

©Dan Miller

Ginger, the cat inside, is saying, “Dude, you’re on your own here.”

©Dan Miller

©Dan Miller

Photos taken by Dan Miller. Thanks!

Categories: bird behavior, Bird photos, Feeder birds, Mammals too, OMG bird | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The New Toy

Things are quiet at Kestrel Hill this time of year. I’m prepping for Christmas Bird Counts — if you need me on the next four Saturdays, sorry, I’ll be somewhere on the road driving veeerrry slowly. The feeders are stocked for Project Feederwatch. And somewhere out there is a Snowy Owl with my name on it…

The most exciting thing to happen recently is an addition to my toolbox. A new camera! Yes, I’ve joined the Canon SX50 collective! Recommended by birders and photographers, this is a leap up from my little pocket camera and it’s going to take time for me to learn all it’s capable of. And the way to do that is take pictures! lots of pictures!

Here’s our pond, all frosted over.


A chickadee who moved too quickly — but he was 30 feet up a tree! Great zoom!


Two things I’ve learned so far:

1. The camera doesn’t know what I want to take a picture of. Thus, numerous shots of blurry birds and crystal-clear twigs.

Also, I should wash my windows.

and 2. Timing is everything.


But I’m pretty happy with this Mute Swan, and two Common Mergansers, all at a distance that would have been impossible before.

At full zoom, I’m shaky. I have to practice bracing my arms against my torso rather than extending them as I’ve been used to do with my old camera. By warbler season, I should be ready!

Categories: Bird photos, Feeder birds, scenery, Tools of the trade | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

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