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Archive for the ‘Wild Bird Wednesday’ Category

Hi everyone! It’s Cindy here. Today I want to show you one of my favorite birds that comes to our feeders.

A Male Baltimore Oriole

We’ve had orioles in our yard every year since we’ve lived here (30 years!) but until recently we didn’t see them very regularly. May of 2018 was the first time we had one come to our hummingbird feeder. Charlie quickly made a orange feeder for them so they wouldn’t hog all the hummer food and they’ve been back every year. The above picture was taken in a different area of our yard near our suet feeder which the orioles like to use too.

You may have noticed that many of the bird pictures I’ve posted recently (here and here) have a similar looking background and the birds are often perched on the same stick so I thought I would let you in on my secret to getting the birds to pose on a particular stick.

The first order of business is to be well camouflaged.

When I first started, the weather was colder so I used my insulated camo jacket with camo gloves and a camo blanket I had to cover my tripod and disguise most of my body.

Here is what the birds saw of me

Now lets see what I was aiming at.

Suet Feeder with posing stick

Charlie found a nice stick in our yard and fashioned a way to mount it on a pvc pipe that was secured in the ground. At first we shoved some suet into cracks in the stick to help attract the birds to land on it. Once they got used to it the birds would land on the stick before going to the suet feeder and also look for the suet on the stick. You can see some of the orange colored suet at the top of the stick in the picture above. That worked well but we didn’t like the way the orange suet stuck out in the pictures so we modified the stick.

Four holes drilled into the back of the stick

We regularly filled the holes with suet

Having the holes filled with suet allowed the birds to hang out on the stick more to give me plenty of opportunities to photograph them. This worked pretty well but my camouflage needed to be better and it would be too hot when the weather warmed up so I upgraded to a LensCoat Lightweight LensHide.

Me in the LensCoat Lightweight LensHide

Here is a side view of the setup

With my camera set to burst mode I would wait for someone to show up. In order to get the shot I was looking for I often would capture a series like this:

Oh look! There is suet back here.

Nom, nom, nom.

Down the hatch it goes.

Now smile for the camera.

This set up has been working very well and allowed me to capture pictures of the birds in our yard like never before. We have plans on setting up another posing stick in our perennial garden near the bird bath and mealworm feeder.

In case you were wondering here is a look at the gear I’m using when I photograph the birds.

FujiFilm X-T4 with XF 100-400mm lens + 1.4x teleconverter
Manfrotto 502AH Pro Video Head
Manfroto 3011BN tripod

A closer view of the tripod head and camera.

This is a very sturdy set up that comfortably holds the large lens and allows me freedom of movement to track the birds.

I hope you enjoyed seeing how I’ve been able to capture pictures of the birds in our yard. Just to let you know I often have to sit in this position for a couple of hours to be able to catch the birds at the feeder.

I’m joining the Wild Bird Wednesday blog hop. You should stop by and see some more birds.

I was not paid to endorse any of the products in this post and purchased all the equipment for myself. The links and descriptions were included in case anyone was interested in the items used.

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Hi everyone! It’s Cindy here. It’s been a few weeks since I showed you some of the birds in our yard. Last week our first Baltimore Oriole showed up (pictures to come at a later date) so we put up our orange feeder. Today we were surprised by an unexpected visitor to the orange feeder. (As always I recommend you click on the image to see a larger view).

Black-throated Blue Warbler on orange feeder

Black-throated Blue Warbler eating from orange feeder

It was a bit of a shock to see him sitting and feeding on the orange feeder since warblers are usually insect eaters, but according to Cornell University’s All About Birds:

Black-throated Blue Warblers search leaves and twigs for spiders, flies, and caterpillars, often taking them from the underside of vegetation. On the wintering grounds they supplement their insect diet with fruits.

He spent quite a bit of time using the orange feeder throughout the day but also landed on other perches.

Black-throated Blue Warbler

Since warblers are usually foraging among the leaves of trees and shrubs it’s such a treat to have one land in the open to get such great pictures of him.

Another bird that before today I wasn’t able to get any pictures of was the Common Grackle.

Common Grackle

Until this year we’ve never had Common Grackles spend much time in our yard and we were fine with that. They are often bullies to other birds that try to use the same feeders. So far they haven’t been too overbearing to the other birds.

What’s down there?

Even though this bird looks mostly black, I just love how their colors come to life in the right light.

Lastly one of our favorite birds that nests in our yard every year is the Gray Catbird. Today I was lucky to catch one after a successful hunt for some natural protein.

Do these bugs make my beak look big?

You may have to click on the image to see what he is holding in his beak but I think it might be some inch worms. Yummy!

I hope you enjoyed seeing some of the birds around our yard. These are only a few of the birds I was able to photograph today but I will save some of the other pictures for later.

I’m joining the Wild Bird Wednesday blog hop. You should stop by and see some more birds.

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Hi everyone! It’s Cindy here. Last week I showed you our Bluebirds so this week I want to show you some of the other birds around our yard. Let’s start with the largest.

Blue Jay

There is no difference between male and female Blue Jays but the next pair has subtle difference between genders.

Female Downy Woodpecker

Male Downy Woodpecker

The only gender difference between the Downy Woodpeckers is that the male has a red spot on the back of his head. The next two birds are about the same size and are some of the smallest birds we have around our yard.

Song Sparrow

Tufted Titmouse

Like the Blue Jay the male and female Song Sparrow and Tufted Titmouse look the same.

I hope you enjoyed seeing some of the birds around our yard. There are more pictures to come as more migrants arrive and I’m working hard on trying to photograph some of the more skittish birds in our yard.

I’m joining the Wild Bird Wednesday blog hop. You should stop by and see some more birds.

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Hi everyone! It’s Cindy here. A little while ago my mom emailed me and was wondering if we had our bluebirds back. At the time we had only consistently seen a male Eastern Bluebird.

Male Eastern Bluebird

Just last week he seemed to have found a mate.

Female and Male Eastern Bluebirds

These two were perched on some branches overlooking the nesting box we have at the end of our driveway in our front yard.

Female Eastern Bluebird

Just yesterday I caught the female hard at work.

Does this stuff make my beak look too big?

Under the watchful eyes of her mate Mrs. Bluebird was perfecting her nest in the box. It was interesting to note that she took about 20 – 30 minutes between visits and it kind of makes me laugh to see how much she can hold in her beak.

I hope you enjoyed seeing this glimpse into this year’s Bluebird couple. In a few weeks I hope to report that we’ve had some eggs hatched. I will keep you posted.

I’m joining the Wild Bird Wednesday blog hop. You should stop by and see some more birds.

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Hi everyone! It’s Cindy here. I know some of you are disappointed that Millie & Walter aren’t here today but I’m having fun taking pictures of other subjects too. Don’t worry the pups will make an appearance soon, I promise.

This past Saturday Charlie and I went on a field trip with the Rochester Birding Association to Ontario Beach Park. We started out seeing what was among the crowd of birds on the beach. It was fairly early in the morning and the lighting wasn’t coming from the best direction for photography but I managed to get a few keepers.

First Winter Ring-billed Gull

Bonaparte’s Gull – Non-breeding Adults

Next we moved to the pier to see what might be hanging around there.

Great Blue Heron

There wasn’t much other action beside the heron so the group decided to walk back to the cars. I kept my eyes on the rocks along the pier and spotted a little bird hopping quickly from rock to rock. The leaders stopped to see what had attracted my attention and were surprised to find this little guy.

Least Sandpiper

He was moving fast and pecking at all the cracks and crevices in the rocks.

Hey lady are you happy I stood still for you?

According to the experienced birders this was a unusual find for this location. At this point the group was going to head to another location further down the Genesee river but Charlie and I decided to head home. On the way home we decided to make a stop at North Ponds Park to see what was there too.

One of the three Great Blue Herons at this park

Double-crested Cormorant

Other than the many herons we saw, this lone cormorant was the only other unusual find for this location.

I hope you enjoyed going along on our field trip. I’m joining the Wild Bird Wednesday blog hop. You should stop by and see some more birds.

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Hi everyone! It’s Cindy here. A couple of days ago Charlie and I headed up to North Ponds Park in Webster, NY. It’s only a few minutes drive from our house and offers a nice paved walking path around the two ponds. We left Millie & Walter at home and took our cameras instead (don’t worry we made it up to them later).

The first loop around the ponds I had my 50 – 230mm lens on my FujiFilm X-T3 camera but my longer lens was in the car too. In the west pond we saw a Great Blue Heron wading just off shore. (Remember you can click on the images to see a larger view…I highly recommend it)

Great Blue Heron

After we completed a loop we stopped at the car so I could put my 100 – 400mm + 1.4x TC lens combination on. I had my fingers crossed that the heron would still be fishing when we got back around to him.

Great Blue Heron wading in the water

Thankfully the heron didn’t disappoint and treated us to a nice show.

A little grooming interlude between fishing

Back to fishing

Wading further into the water getting ready to…

…Strike!

He hooked a beautiful sunfish

The heron fought to regain his balance as the fish wiggled on his bill.

Determined not to loose his catch…

…the heron flew off to find a secluded place where he could eat in peace.

We lost sight of him but are sure he enjoyed a nice lunch. That was just the series I was hoping to capture. I can’t believe how lucky I was that the heron stayed in place while I changed lenses. From the first picture I took, (at the top of this post) with my shorter lens on, to the time the heron flew off with lunch it was about an hours time. I’m not sure I would have had the patience to sit for an hour waiting for some action but I happened to time it just right.

I hope you enjoyed this Great Blue Heron fishing adventure. I’m joining the Wild Bird Wednesday blog hop. You should stop by and see some more birds.

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Hi everyone! It’s Cindy here. A few weeks ago I showed you some of the birds that were feeding on our serviceberry tree. We also have a shrub form that sets its fruit just a little later than the tree. These shrubs have been a hot bed of bird activity recently. As you will see each type of bird has their own method of feeding on the berries. Don’t forget you can click on the images to see a larger version.

Let’s start with the American Robin.

The stem is a good form of roughage.

Grasp the berry in your beak and then…

…toss your head up and pop it in your mouth.

Another bird that uses the swallow whole method is the Cedar Waxwing.

First you have to find the right berry.

Pluck the berry from the stem and…

…down the hatch it goes.

We haven’t see or heard from our Baltimore Orioles much in the past few weeks but I did see one in the serviceberry bushes enjoying some fruit.

Female or Juvenile Baltimore Oriole stabbing a serviceberry.

The last of the birds that usually snarf the berries whole is the Eastern Bluebird.

Let me see which one is the ripest.

I’ll take this one…

…but I’d prefer to take it to another tree to nibble on it.

The bluebird surprised me by flying off to another tree with the berry. He set it down on the branch and surprisingly it didn’t roll off. Then he settled in and picked away at it until it was gone.

Some of the smaller species enjoy the serviceberries too but they can’t eat them whole. Here the Tufted Titmouse demonstrates how they eat.

This berry looks tasty.

I’ll hold it in my claw so I can peck at it.

Finally one of the smallest birds in our yard, not including the hummingbirds, also enjoys eating the serviceberries. Here a Black-capped Chickadee demonstrates his method.

I like to grab the berry while it’s still attached and hold it in my claw.

It’s easy to peck at while you hold it.

Do I have some berry on my beak?

If you look closely at the last picture (click to make bigger) you can see a tiny piece of berry in the chickadee’s beak.

While I was shooting these pictures Charlie was on a photo safari of his own in the yard and captured this picture.

This is how I get pictures of such small birds.

Here I am shooting pictures with my new FujiFilm X-T3 camera. I have a 100-400 mm lens and a 1.4x multiplier. As you can see I am hand holding the camera. I could never do that with my old Nikon. This set up weighs about 4.7 pounds (2.1 kg) compared to the Nikon equivalent that weighed over 9.5 lbs (4.3 kg). I do use a monopod occasionally for extra stability and to lighten the load from hanging around my neck. I’m really enjoying getting back into bird photography. Our yard is so full of bird activity right now I’m having a difficult time keeping up with all the pictures I’m taking.

I hope you enjoyed this glimpse into the birds we see around our yard. I’m joining the Wild Bird Wednesday blog hop. You should stop by and see some more birds.

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It is a busy time of year for all the birds around our yard. Many of our feathered friends have babies that they are feeding and the parents are working hard to keep up with those voracious appetites. In addition to the fruit on many of the shrubs we have planted in our yard we offer two feeding stations.

Tufted Titmouse at mealworm feeder

Our mealworm feeder is always a popular stop for all our birds but our other feeding station is just as busy.

Tufted Titmouse at suet feeder

Tufted Titmouse grabs a beak full of suet

What you can’t see in these pictures of the tufted titmouse are the young ones that are screeching from the bushes behind the feeder. This titmouse made numerous trips to try to quiet her brood.

Blue Jay on suet feeder

One of the biggest users of the suet feeder are the blue jays. They are a bit sloppy too.

Blue Jay grabbing some suet

Blue Jay flies away after taking some suet
(notice how much is falling to the ground – you may have to click on the image to see)

The blue jays are some of the messiest eaters. There is quite a large area of crumbs under this feeder. A few birds are smart enough to feed on that too.

White-breasted Nuthatch picks some suet from the cake

We use C & S Hot Pepper Delight in our suet feeder. This works the best for us as it is a no melt variety and the hot pepper keeps the squirrels and chipmunks away. We’ve tried other brands of hot pepper but found the rodents weren’t deterred by them. In case you are wondering birds will happily eat the hot suet because they don’t have well-developed taste buds.

C & S Hot Pepper Delight

Don’t forget you can click on the images to see a larger version.

I hope you enjoyed this glimpse into the birds we see around our yard. I’m joining the Wild Bird Wednesday blog hop. You should stop by and see some more birds.

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