THEY CAME WITH WINGS – Marilyn Armstrong

Weekly Photo Challenge: They Came With Wings

A BIG DAY FOR THE FINCHES – Marilyn Armstrong

Having not picked up the camera except to shoot a flower or two, once I got started shooting, I didn’t stop for quite a while. I missed the Cardinal who was sitting there until the exact minute I pointed my camera over there. He must be eating because he’s quite a porker of a bird. Garry commented that he could even see his feet past that big red belly.

I think the real issue is that he is an early morning feeder and I am not usually taking pictures early in the morning. That’s when I am sleeping, or at least trying to sleep.

And then, there’s the diver …

But from when I got up and managed to have coffee and a muffin, there were finches. Red ones, purple ones, goldfinches and a couple I didn’t recognize, but they are obviously finches of some kind. This is also an area through which birds heading further north — to Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, and Canada pass. Or maybe this was a house finch who was more orange than red.

Titmouse watching from the wires

Finches do look a lot alike and sometimes, their colors seem to blend from the lightest yellow to the deepest reds. This is part (there are a lot of pictures!) of the collection.

This could also be a Pine Grosbeak — another local resident. All the birds are changing colors right now, which makes the confusion even more confusing

The flat feeder was the big draw yesterday. It was a group celebration of seeds!

There is at least one Tufted Titmouse in the collection as well as a Nuthatch, but the rest are various kinds of finches. House finches and purple finches … and the brown females who are the mates of the purple and red-headed house finches.

I’m sure there was some kind of conversation in progress here!
Goldfinches and a nuthatch
Two red finches. I think one is a house finch and the other is a purple finch. Also a lady in the mix but I don’t know whose lady she is.

I have another fifty or so that are not yet processed. Probably another couple of dozen of Garry’s pictures awaiting me, too. All of these were taken in pouring rain.

All lined up at the feeder. Don’t even know how many are in the feeder!

They eat like crazy when it’s snowing or raining. Some instinctive need to eat extra in case the weather gets worse?

 

MORE SNOWY BIRDS – Marilyn Armstrong

The red finches (House Finch) are back. I’ve heard them called both Red Finches and House Finches and be interested to know if both are accurate or red is just one of many colors for the House Finch.

Regardless, they are back. There were a couple of them a few weeks ago and quite a gaggle of them now. Can finches be gaggled?

I’m still in a ridiculous battle to get some more pictures of the cardinal. He comes by every day. I see him, head for the camera and he is gone when I turn around. It’s definitely personal!

This is a Purple Finch even though he isn’t purple.
Junco and a House Finch. I looked them up. The one in the earlier picture is a different bird. Red Head notwithstanding, this is probably a regular House Finch.

And then, there are woodpeckers. We live in the woods, so I don’t know why I’m surprised we have so many woodpeckers.

Lots of trees. Lots of woodpeckers.

By size, I THINK this is a Downy Woodpecker, but it can be very hard to tell.
And a feathery farewell.

BUSY, SNOWY DAY AROUND THE BIRD FEEDER – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — No lethargy here!

Sunny days? The birds casually drop by for a peck at the seeds. Warm and sunny? They’ve got other things to do, excuse me, sorry. But today, it’s snowing and all of a sudden, our bird feeder is the most important thing in town. At one point, I counted 9 birds on one feeder.

And three more!
Two Red House Finches
More busy snow birds!

We have the fattest Juncos I’ve ever seen, so we must be doing something right.

Red Finch atop Toad
Chickadee
One more Chickadee

This is not one day of pictures. There are a lot of pictures and I haven’t even begun to process most of them.

Red Finch
Two Red Finches and a flying Chickadee

UP UP AND AWAY: WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE – Marilyn Armstrong

Weekly Photo Challenge: Up

Many things are up for me. I am a very short person and I can’t even read the top shelves in my kitchen. And worse, I’m shrinking.

Nonetheless, all my picture will be much upper than my kitchen shelves because I’m basically so frustrated, I do not want to show the world how short I really am.

Also, the terrible thought that what goes up — like when I try to climb up on something to get something else — must come down. Me. Down. Crunch.

Photo: Garry Armstrong
At Tuskegee Airmen event … an antique plane in flight
Downtown — Prudential Tower, Boston – and I sincerely hope it does NOT fall down.
Up and up again

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.

SUNDAY’S BIRDS – Marilyn Armstrong

It was “fill the feeder” day. I didn’t put out the new fancy birdseed because I decided I needed to use up the older stuff first. For a long time, there were no birds.

Later in the afternoon, there was a birdie fiesta in progress. I took pictures. I would have taken more pictures, but (1) I was hungry and needed lunch, and (2) I needed to leave some time to process the photographs.

Chickadee and Titmouse – two birds that seem to get along pretty well together

That’s what I’ve been doing most of the day. Developing pictures. And I ate a sandwich. Which the dogs wanted very much. But I wanted it too. I asked them, “Hey if I’m hungry because you ate my lunch, are you going to give ME treats?” Not one of them could give me a solid “yes” on that, so I went on eating. I actually ate the entire sandwich, but Bonnie cleaned up the crumbs. It’s her job and she’s good at it.

If that isn’t a Black-Crested Titmouse (on the right), I don’t know what it is. But they don’t live up here. The book says so.
And if you don’t believe me, here’s another shot. One impossible Black-Crested Titmouse and his pal, the Nuthatch.

A good friend of mine who lives in Australia reminded me that you can’t always believe the maps in the bird books because he sees birds in his yard that supposedly live hundreds of kilometers to the north, yet there they are.

Notice how he’s using his wings for balance!

He pointed out there are trains, trucks, cars and all the other kinds of transports. Birds travel. They don’t have to fly all the way. Instead, they hitchhike. These birds live in Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma. They also, apparently, live in my woods.

These two little guys were squabbling over who got whatever the other thought was “the prime” position. Lots of flapping!
I love the way Chickadees dive off the feeder. They don’t even open their wings until they are halfway to the ground.

I’ve learned a lot about how birds fly. That they always put down their landing gear before they touch the feeder. That they dive off the feeder with wings still folded and I think they really enjoy doing it. They really like flying. It’s not just how they get from place to place. They seem to have fun, too.

Landing gear is down!
Coming in for a landing!
Don’t you love the way their wings fold and flex?

There was a lot of flying going on. It got pretty competitive. Despite the fact that I really wanted to get more flying, even with my finger ON the shudder, I can’t hold the really big lens up all the time and the moment I let it down for a minute, I miss the take, the landing, and the little in-the-air kerfuffles of bird-on-bird.

Two Chickadees. They like to knock each other off the feeder too. It’s the bird version of “king of the hill.”
Three birds. I think the big one is a Tufted Titmouse, but I can’t tell for sure.

Don’t think bigger birds necessarily win these battles. As often as not, the little ones push the bigger ones away. It’s more about the aggression level of the bird than it’s inherent power.

Yet one more Nuthatch!
A Tufted Titmouse and a Nuthatch.

I took more than 100 pictures today and I don’t think I processed even a quarter of them. I ran out of time before I ran out of photographs. More will come.

Part of the clean-up crew: a Mourning Dove on the deck