IT’S SOOO COLD AND THE BIRDS WERE HUNGRY! – Marilyn Armstrong

The meteorologists said it was going to get super cold and it got super cold! I woke up early this morning. My back and I were having an unfortunate relationship. There was no point in fighting to sleep anymore.

I wasn’t going to sleep. I couldn’t find any comfortable position, so I gave up and got up.

It wasn’t all bad, though.

Our frozen woods

The early birds were up — the ones I usually miss because I’m asleep when they are around.

A Junco and the Cardinal

I finally got pictures of the Cardinal. I’ve seen him often but hadn’t gotten any recent shots of him. Cardinals seem to be early feeders and they move around a lot. He is easy to see, though — the brightest, reddest bird in New England!

Air battle – two juncos fighting over the feeder. Why when there’s more than enough room for both?
One more little battle. After that, they settled down. I think the boys don’t like each other. They are okay with other birds, not other male Juncos.

There were also a bunch of lady Cardinals lurking around, but they were too shy to come to the feeder and though they settled briefly on the railing, I couldn’t get them in focus fast enough. They are, in their own way, as pretty as the scarlet males. Bright green with a red tail and other markings. Otherwise, they look identical to their more loudly dressed boyfriends.

Cardinals are hard to miss in the winter!
Chickadee coming in for a landing!

Meanwhile, every branch in my woods was covered by a thin, shiny layer of ice. The woods were as shiny as a diamond. If I went outside to shoot it (and I’d probably wind up with frostbite as a result AND all the birds would fly away), the pictures would be better. I had to settle from shots through the glass, but I think you can see the gleaming branches.

Another bright red boy! You’ll never see two red ones together. They are very territorial and if they stray into the other one’s area, they fight in the air, like WW I fighter planes.
Shining like diamonds

Lots of shots of birds today. They were quite feisty about who got the feeder this morning, but they settled down after a while.

WOODPECKERS: NAME THAT BIRD! – Marilyn Armstrong

I am not particularly great at identifying birds, especially since from watching them, I’m come to realize that books and websites notwithstanding they don’t necessarily look exactly like the picture on the computer or the book.

The black and white “laddering” may be complete, or askew, or have a white stripe where none of them has a white stripe. The head may have a BIG red patch, a little red patch, no red at all. A black back. A big white stripe down the back or a big black stripe down the back. Or a ladder-back.

They are all woodpeckers (or flickers, who really are woodpeckers by another name). These are all my woodpeckers. Anyone who cares to jump into the fray is free to tell me what they think this bird is.

The only thing we need to agree on is that they are woodpeckers of some kind. Some of bigger and some are smaller. A big downy and a small hairy woodpecker are essentially identical and the flickers just ruin your concentration. Somewhere in the woods is a big Pileated Woodpecker, but I don’t think he will ever get close enough for me to get a clear picture of him. He is not “human house” friendly and it’s possible he won’t eat seeds.

I don’t have suet because the squirrels would get it before the birds anyway AND I have no place to hang a third feeder. My backyard, once the snow falls, is impenetrable. I can get to the deck usually unless we’ve gotten a 2-foot blizzard.

Following last night’s snow — I think we might have gotten three inches, all told, it has begun to rain and if we don’t get that freeze tonight, the snow should magic itself away in a day or two. Meanwhile, I’m not going any further than the coffee machine in the kitchen — and the fall of yesterday is really hurting today.

I’m one of those funny people who feel fine the day of the accident and really hurts 24-hours later. I and my heating pad have had (ahem!) a warm relationship this morning.

MOURNING DOVES – Marilyn Armstrong

Although I appreciate the Doves — they are our major “clean up” birds — they have got to be the dullest birds in the wood. They stake out a claim on a branch and just sit there.

Occasionally, they turn their heads right or left. Every now and then, they lift a wing and stick their head under it.

Mostly, they sit. Like big, brown cushions, they relax on a thick branch which is their version of a recliner, I think. They seem to be waiting for something, but I have no idea what it might be.

One Mourning Dove
Almost looking at each other!
Notice that their heads moved

Sometimes, they look at each other. Usually, they just stare vacantly ahead. The good news is that they are pretty big and if you can find the right setting (on MY camera it’s “Setting” as primary), they make a pretty picture.

But they don’t do anything but sit on that branch and stare.

Oh wow! Looking at each other! So exciting!

A NEW BIRD – Marilyn Armstrong

I knew we had another couple of other woodpeckers. We have a full red-headed one — not the big Pileated Woodpecker — but a smaller one who is as rare as the big one. Maybe more so. This woodpecker is not rare, at least in the way that birds are counted … but he doesn’t show up much, either.

Gold-Fronted Woodpecker with a Junco

This one is a Golden Fronted Woodpecker. I’ve seen him before but never had a chance to get a picture of him. The woodpeckers — collectively — are early and late eaters, not middle of the day feeders. They feed before I finish getting my coffee put together.

Bright head of the Gold-Fronted Woodpecker

This morning, the oil delivery truck showed up very early and I had to hustle the dogs inside the house. I turned on the coffee … and there he was! Not the one with the solid red-head, but a completely different one. In appearance, closer to a flicker than a woodpecker, but The Book says he is a Gold Fronted Woodpecker and he is quite lovely.

He also only eats from the flat feeder from which I have a very difficult time getting pictures. I managed to get these, however. The odd blind slat reflection is exactly what it looks like — a reflection of our living room blinds on the glass in the dining room.

It’s difficult to take pictures when it is sunny early in the day. The sun shines almost directly in through the back French doors creating a lot of refraction, reflection and odd bounces of light.

Today, I got pictures.

For your amusement and amazement, here is our Golden Fronted Woodpecker. With a black ladder-back and gold around his beak and wings, and one scarlet (almost dark orange) patch on his head. A lovely fellow!

THE VANISHING POINT – Marilyn Armstrong

A Photo a Week Challenge: Vanishing Point

It’s that point in the distance where the road, river, valley, or bridge comes together. It’s the natural end of a parallel set of lines.

Photo: Garry Armstrong – The last of autumn in early November
Curves also have a vanishing point
Down our snowy road – Photo: Garry Armstrong
Worcester-Providence Railroad
Take a walk along the river

WHAT WOULD THE BIRDS DO? – Marilyn Armstrong

I didn’t take pictures today. When I was ready to shoot, the birds were off in the boughs of trees. Sleeping, I presume. They probably had a later dinner, but I was tired and I have a lot of pictures already taken. This is a sort of “best of birds” from the past week.

A pair of Mourning Doves

So today, just pictures. Tomorrow is a feeder filling day. Which may mean I can shoot — or not. It depends on how terrified they are when we fill the feeder. Thursday I’ve got my cardiologist and that’s just outside of Boston so I won’t be doing much that day.

And we are supposedly getting snow Friday and Saturday. So we’ll so how the rest of the week goes.

MORE WEEKEND BIRDS – Marilyn Armstrong

I took so many pictures over the weekend, I’m still trying to catch up with the stuff I’ve already downloaded.

Woodpecker with a red cap
Nuthatch with seed
Yellow warbler with a seed
Black-and-White Woodpecker
Vintage Chickadee