Sunday, January 31, 2021

January in the Bird Garden

American Robin.  Shoot them when you have a chance.  They are scarce at best except in winter.


Black-and-white Warblers seem to be more common this winter than in the past. That black cheek patch and heavy marking on its flanks tell us this one is a male.  He looks a little scruffy, fresh from a bath.


Not much of a shot.  Taken through a window.  This is a female Purple Finch. They will periodically come this far south in winters when pickings are slim farther north.

I haven't stopped photographing hummingbirds with multiple flash, but it is getting harder to get motivated when I have been shooting the same species year after year.

Surprise visitor, a Summer Tanager female.  She has been hanging around since I first saw her at the feeders on December 17.

Even a bird as common as Tufted Titmouse can make a nice portrait with the right light.

The bully at the feeding station.  This male Yellow-rumped Warbler, now showing
 signs of molting, chases everything it can away from the feeders. 
A White-breasted Nuthatch got fed up recently and chased this one off! 

Now is the time to get good shots of Eastern Bluebirds. They are abundant, they sit up nicely, and they hold still.  In good light they are a no-brainer for bird photographers. 

The Brown-headed Nuthatch is my nemesis bird (one of many).  They are quick, they never sit still,  and I cannot get them posed in a natural setting. Hope springs eternal.

Hermit Thrush is another 'get 'em while you can'.  They like low light and stick close to
cover and the ground.  Fastidious, they take a bath every day.

No, this was not shot at home.  The dog and I placed a recorder and a trail camera in a secluded location near SkIO.  The dog was pretty much indifferent to the process, she was only looking for a place to poop. We were rewarded by this transient Eastern Screech-Owl about 2:00A.M. 

Thursday, April 30, 2020

April on Skidaway Island - in spite of the Coronavirus

No doubt spring is the time to get out with a camera and search out colorful migrants.  I did the same, but mostly with a sound recorder since this is also the time of year when they are most vocal.  The month's highlight for me was recording a rare visitor, the Blackburnian Warbler.  While I was at it I did manage to identify 107 species on the island for this month, a little better than my average over the past 10 years.

At the same time I am a strong advocate for creating your own bird garden, right in your backyard.  There are only a few migrating song birds attracted to feeders.  If they are going to stop by your place it is usually for water.  Water and cover are the magnets for migratory birds.  Cover provides shelter, and bugs for the protein they need to continue their long trips. Water for drinking and bathing.

Of course, new photo opportunities abound with strategically placed shrubs, trees and water features.  Here are some of my results from my garden during the month of April,  including some local birds which do come to the feeders, and even a real ordinary bird like a Common Grackle. 

Black-and-white Warbler.
For a bird with only two colors this male is pretty spectacular. 

Brown-headed Nuthatches don't often pause long enough for a picture.  You take what you can get.

Gray Catbird. A frequent winter visitor, but more commonly seen as a migrant. 
A voracious eater of suet and peanuts for protein and fat to make the rest of the haul.

A female Northern Parula.  This one and her mate often come to the water feature for a bath.

The poorly named Worm-eating Warbler can sneak right by you
without your knowing it was even there. This was shot from inside the house.

Yellow-rumped Warbler.  We have them all winter, but they never dress up until spring, like this male. 
The last have gone through by the end of April. If you see them out west they will have a yellow throat. 
Many still refer to them by their original names, Myrtle Warbler in the east and Audubon's Warbler out west.

A female Yellow-throated Warbler. They are not considered migratory.
This breeding species is particularly fond of suet.
And year-round it is a pleasure to look at.
Common Grackle can look like a pretty ho-hum blackbird,
but look closely as the purple/bronze hues in it body feathers. In fact,
until the early 1980's this species was universally known as Bronzed Grackle. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Chatham County Common Backyard Birds

Common Backyard Birds of Chatham County, Georgia

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are common breeders in
Chatham County and increasingly seen in winter.

Eastern Screech-owls are becoming hard to find. 
Please report any observations to me.

Barred Owls are adaptable and locally common.

Red-headed Woodpecker likes dead trees.
It is scarce in winter. 

Red-bellied Woodpecker with its ladder-back. 
The red belly is hard to see.

Downy Woodpecker is the smallest
member of that family.

Northern Flicker is a resident,
but more often seen in winter months.

Pileated Woodpecker is our largest member of that family.

Carolina Chickadee is found in every backyard with a feeder.

Tufted Titmouse is another very common backyard feeder bird.

White-breasted Nuthatch comes easily to backyard feeders.
It's call is a nasal horn sound.

Brown-headed Nuthatch sounds like a rubber ducky.

Carolina Wren is one of the most common backyard species, 
often seen close to the ground.

The Eastern Bluebird can often be found nesting in 
man-made boxes. It relishes dried mealworms to eat.

American Robin is a resident, but more abundant 
during winter months.

Northern Mockingbird is a member of the family of 
mimic thrushes for its ability to copy other birds' songs.

Brown Thrasher is the state bird of Georgia and a mimic thrush.

Blue Jays are often the neighborhood noisy bad boys; 
they are related to crows.

American Crows are among the smartest 
and most resourceful birds on the planet.

Eastern Towhees are actually sparrows. 
The female is brown rather than glossy black.

Northern Cardinal female is brown with a striking large red bill.

Northern Cardinal may be the most common bird in your garden.
  Their brilliant red plumage is at its best in early spring.

Painted Buntings are a signature bird on our coast.
The female and young Painted Buntings are green.

Winter Visitors to Chatham County

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker is a member
of the woodpecker family.

Eastern Phoebe is common in winter.  
It is a flycatcher.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet. The ruby crown on this little bird
is only seen when it is alarmed.
Gray Catbird sounds like a cat. 
They will come to water features.
Hermit Thrush will easily come to a water feature. 
Otherwise it likes to stay hidden.

Chipping Sparrows will easily come to bird feeders.

White-throated Sparrows feed on seeds on the ground.  
They are seen more often in late winter. 
American Goldfinch in winter plumage.

American Goldfinch in breeding plumage just before 
they migrate back north. 

Yellow-rumped Warblers are among the 
most common birds we see in fall and winter.

The yellow rump.