If you wanted to take a quick guess at what kind of picture I’m going to post, might the answer be “birds”? It has been a chilly, wet spring. Going out hasn’t been a lot of fun. There are pools of water all over and for some reason, they seem to be the deepest pooled in the handicap spots in parking lots. Is that a subtle hint? Or — a not so subtle hint? It’s gray today and supposed to rain a little later.

We’ve been getting a lot of days that start out lovely and disintegrate shortly thereafter. In fact, it’s been a daily occurrence. I don’t mind the chilliness and I’m all in favor of keeping the rivers full of water — and my well full of water, too! But couldn’t we get a few pretty days between the rains?

There are more birds. All of them are really pretty now, in their bright breeding feathers. They’ve gotten all dressed up to woo their mates, some for a lifetime (for a bird, this might not be all that long), others until the nest releases its last nestling.

A pretty red House Finch unless it’s a pretty, red Purple Finch. No, I really can’t tell the difference.
Goldfinches all lined up for chow time!
A lovely front view of one of our doves
Cowbird with red finch
Friendly midday squirrel

Pictures for a Sunday afternoon with rain in the air. But for now, it’s merely gray.

ALL CREATURES – Marilyn Armstrong

Many creatures crossed our deck today. When I first peeked out my bathroom window at around 5 in the morning, there were three squirrels hanging onto the feeders. I went back to bed.

When I got up later, there were at least half a dozen Brown-Headed Cowbirds chowing down. I turned on the coffee and looked again. A big Red-Bellied Woodpecker and a small flock of House Finches and Goldfinches were chowing down. I went to take a picture and before I turned it on, they were gone. Vanished. Poof!

House Finches and I think the bird with the blue bill is a Bluebird
House Finches

I went back to the kitchen, cut open a couple of English muffins and popped them into the toaster. More Cowbirds, miscellaneous finches and a couple of Chickadees. I went and picked up my camera. Both feeders were empty.


Back to the kitchen. Garry was setting up the coffee, so I cream cheesed the English muffins. When I turned around there were half a dozen House Finches and a big Red-Bellied Woodpecker. I went and picked up the camera. They did not all fly away.

Red-Bellied Woodpecker

The woodpecker played peek-a-boo with me, then abandoned ship and a squirrel took over his spot. It was the middle of the day when squirrels are not usually out and about, but this squirrel seriously needs to have a chat with an older, more mature squirrel and get a grip on the dangers of squirreldom.

And although the House Finches hung around a bit, mostly, they were out of focus, but then the Cowbirds came back … and they were in focus. Not that they are particularly interesting, but they are big and easy to shoot (with a camera).

BIRDS DU JOUR – Marilyn Armstrong

Garry decided the poor birds must be starving, so he filled the feeders. Then we stood at the window and watched the tree fill up with all kinds of birds.

Molting Goldfinch

Which was followed by birdly jostling and bonking as various birds tried to knock the other competing birds off the feeder.

The Cowbirds are big and solid and don’t move, though they did at least look up when three finches whacked them at the same time.

A trio

The little squirrel was on the rail looking at the free-for-all, birds and more birds … and finally, he left. He didn’t feel like taking on the Cowbird either.

Watching me, watching you …

So there we are, looking at the feeders. On the flat feeder, there are three Brown-headed Cowbirds. They are about the size of a Robin. On the hanging feeder are a few Goldfinches and several Nuthatches with a mashup of chickadees, Carolina Wrens, and three woodpeckers.

It’s not like he didn’t get his turn, mind you …

I find, these days, that I spend less time shooting pictures and more time just watching the birds and squirrels and their interactions. Also wondering how every bird and squirrel in the woods know within a few minutes that Garry has filled the feeders. Is this what they call “Twitter”?

The feeders are full! Come and get it!


Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Cute Factor

I’ve got a lot of cute pictures recently. I have entire SD cards full of cuteness I haven’t had the time to process, so this was an interesting process. Two pictures I definitely wanted … but the rest? Squirrels being incredibly cute all the time and a variety of birds doing funny birdy stuff.

Anyway, this is what I decided on. Mostly because these had the best contrast or texture or something.

My favorite. This is the cutest little Tufted Titmouse I think I’ve ever seen
Two chubby Doves nesting in the seeds and not leaving until they feel well fed
This little squirrel has become really hard to convince he should leave. He moves in the middle of the day, shoos the birds off the feeder and hangs on for dear life

This little squirrel is not afraid of anything, although I think he really should be. I finally had to go outside and walk up to the feeder and explain to him that he’d been there for hours and it was time to let some of the other kids have a seed. He would just hop onto the nearest branch, wait for me to go back inside, they hop back on the feeder.

Same squirrel. Back again.
Two little birds, sitting on the feeder. The fuzzy one is molting.

I finally went and stood there and every time his/her little head popped up I would say — just like I talk to the dogs — “No. I said you have to leave now. I wasn’t kidding. No, get back down. You have to go find other food now.” He kept popping up, like a little furry jack-in-the-box. But cute? Absolutely. He really should be more careful, though. He is not careful and he doesn’t watch for the Hawks.


I have a lot of news to convey. So much that I thought I’d just show pictures of the bright yellow Goldfinches that have been hovering around the house. We are surrounded by wildlife apparently lured here by the vast quantity of black sunflower seeds.

Isn’t he lovely?

The doves nestle into the flat feeder and don’t leave until they are so full they can’t eat one more seed. The finches are out in force, as well as the usual other local scavengers. And there’s a brown bird with a black and white striped wing that appears to be the lady of the White-winged Grosbeak, although they are not common in our part of the woods. They are conifer loving birds.

Two well-fed doves

Our woods is 90% oak trees and whatever fir trees we have are pretty stunted and uninspiring. My guess is that black sunflower seeds have mystical powers and draw creatures of all kinds.

One Tufted-Titmouse sitting on the rail …

This got me thinking about house insurance. And bears. It has been recommended that if there are bears hanging around, that maybe we’d like to remove the bird feeders. Which made me wonder whether or not our insurance includes destruction by bears. I’m betting not. I could be wrong, but rarely does insurance cover the things on which you need coverage.

Double trouble

Meanwhile today I learned my son does NOT have my heart disease — which means my granddaughter doesn’t have it either — at least not from me. Garry got a “thing” removed from his face and apparently his vast number of hours of lying in the sun have done him no particular harm.

AND my chimney is not falling down. All the bricks I found didn’t fall out of the chimney. They had been tucked under the house to keep our dog Tinker from digging there, so they were just old broken bricks.

Now all I have to worry about is replacing the mailbox, replacing the back door and storm door, and putting a storm door on the front of the house. Phew!

So … bright yellow Goldfinches it is.


In the course of buying a lot of birdseed, I went whole-hog and bought 20-pounds of black sunflower seeds. Black sunflower seeds hold the most oil and the Russian cultivar, Black Peredovik sunflower, are oil seed sunflowers used most often for birdseed.

Opening move
A quick twist to the right
A diving right twist

It was bred as a sunflower oil production crop. The seeds are medium-sized and deep black. They have more meat than regular sunflower seeds and the outer husk is soft so even small birds can crack into it. It is rated the number one food for wild birds by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Deep diver
Missed something on the other side …

The two times a year when birds need these seeds the most are winter and during mating season. It’s definitely mating season. I can tell because the birds are all changing into their mating colors. Bright colors. Scarlet and brilliant yellow and bright blue.

Catching a breath of air and a few seeds

But, you ask, what about the poor squirrels? Don’t they get some of the good stuff?

Beware birds! The hanging squirrel is here!

Of course, they do. You might say they get it first because we filled the feeders this afternoon and by twilight this evening, we had two squirrels chugging down black sunflower seeds, one in the flat feeder and the other going through some serious moves on the hanging feeder. The kid on the flat feeder wasn’t leaving — not nohow for any reason. He was deep into the seeds and I’m pretty sure he knocked down at least a pound of them.

The last seed
One last munch

This is the first time we’ve had a full “twin act” in progress. I was sorry I didn’t have a wider lens so I could get them both at the same time.

I took a few pictures.


Squirrels on the deck

How about a dove?

Squirrel on the flat feeder
Nuthatch on feeder
Posing for a better shot?
In the sunlight of spring

Spikes and pokes, sharp and pointy, we’re nearing the end. I started with birds and squirrels and it looks like I will end with them, too.