Well, I haven't had time to sketch over the last few days, but since you all know how much we love our birds, I thought I'd take a few minutes and share some photos of just a few of our daily visitors at what we call "the buffet" in our back yard.
Of course, you know I always show you our sweet bluebirds, but we see so many varieties of birds here other than just these vibrant beauties. It seems only fair to show you some of the others in the cast of characters who frequent our backyard.
Now, if you look closely at the blue feeder, (above) on the left, you'll note the very attractive scratch marks at the feeding stations. The birds had nothing to do with those--it's the squirrels who've figured out how to outwit the "squirrel-proof" feeder, and who've created those lovely marks. They have learned to pounce from great distances and latch onto the openings there, with their claws, instead of landing on the perches, which they know will result in their being thrown. The male cardinal here is just an innocent bystander.
Here, (above) you can see further evidence of the squirrrels' mischief. Don't blame this sweet chickadee for that mess.
In the photo of the Carolina Wren, (above) do note the peanuts. When I started putting photos on the flickr photostream website, I noticed a number of photos of birds from Great Britain on peoples' posts, and they all seemed to have something in their feeders. I couldn't figure out what it was until it hit me that they were peanuts in their feeders. We had never thought about feeding the birds peanuts until I saw that, and so we decided to begin putting peanuts out for our birds, and likewise discovered how much they LOVE them. We buy raw peanuts (unsalted) from Walmart and serve 'em up daily, to the delight of the birds. I love watching the birds eat the nuts. They almost all love them.
These jaunty juncoes visit us each winter, and then disappear once the weather heats up.
Note (above) how Joe has a tendency to caption these shots for us! Very appropriate, this one: I often catch the birds looking right at me like this. I suppose I'm a distraction from their meal when they look up and see me with my telephoto lens trying to capture them in the act. I told Joe recently that we need a new container for those peanuts, because this one recently got smashed when a squirrel landed on it and it fell to the ground--the result is that it's kind of all a-kilter now.
The house finches are always here, and they remind me of little gossipy ladies: they tend to gather in droves and fight over the feeding stations, pushing each other around until they are shoved right off the perch and one pushy finch remains to enjoy the feast.
This year, we are seeing a lot of mockingbirds, whereas last year, we'd commented that they seemed scarce. I'm glad they're back, but Joe thinks they hog the feeders. (Well, they do.)
One of my favorite birds is the Northern Flicker. They are quite large in size, and they're pretty dramatic birds to watch. The males, in particular, have a bright red head, those black "bibs" on their chests, and bright yellow under their wings, which you can't really see here, but when they arrive at our feeders, one of us always alerts the other: "oooooh--flicker!" We do the same in the summer when hummingbirds arrive: We're constantly announcing: "Hummingbird!" when they fly in for a landing.
Similarly, the red-bellied woodpeckers are fun to watch. With the trees so bare right now, the red on their heads is so brilliant, and stands out in the winter when it catches the sun. I like how this little guy is posed: my grandmother always used to tell us to point our toe in a photo, because it made the leg look longer and more attractive. She was a character.
Cracks me up to see this little one doing so. I like to think she sent him to visit me as a reminder.
We also have more tufted titmice around this year. I'm not sure what caused their disappearance in the past, but we saw very few last year. This year, it's great to welcome them back again.
These bright yellow warblers are also winter visitors for us here in North Carolina. We get several types of warblers, and when I first came upon this variety, (the pine warblers) I thought I was seeing a goldfinch, but then I realized that it was a smaller bird, and it lacked the black cap on its head, and when I looked him up in our bird book, I learned that he was, indeed, a lovely warbler.
I'll get painting again in a day or so, but in the meantime, you can see why we are infatuated with these guys. This is just a small sampling of the birds we see on a daily basis. At lunch one day a few years ago, we counted 30 different varieties within about a five minute period!
So now you know why I'm obsessed with these characters! I am very fond of our feathered friends.
"These little nimble musicians of the air, that warble forth their curious ditties, with which nature hath furnished them to the shame of art." (--Izaak Walton)