Monday, May 11, 2020

Spring is for the Birds

I love birds and enjoy watching them and photographing them, but it is hard work! This post is a compilation of bird pictures I have made over the years. Especially during this pandemic, the birds have been wonderful company and have piqued my interest in observing their habits and learning more about 
 The picture of this Cedar Wax Wing was amazing. Our son and his family were visiting and we were sitting outside. All of a sudden a flock of these beautiful birds swooped in and did not mind us at all. I quickly got my camera and had no trouble taking pictures because they were entertained eating the berries. I've entered this picture in several contests but it hasn't made the cut. It was exciting to catch him with a berry in his mouth. The flock flew in and had a feast on the Mahonia berries.

Cedar Waxwings are mostly seen in flocks looking for berries. They are very sleek-looking with a pointed crest, light yellow belly and bandit like black mask.  They obtain their mask after the first year and red wingtips after their second year. The tip of the tail is bright yellow and the tip of the wings look as if it has been dipped in red wax. 
Food consists of cedar cones, fruit and insects.

Eastern Bluebirds like open habitats such as fields, pastures, and roadsides. Sings a distinctive "chur-lee chur-lee."They nest in old cavities of woodpeckers, or man-made nest boxes. The female builds and they have two broods per year.  
I had to zoom so far to get this shot it is blurred. They are sensitive to movement so shots are hard to come by. 

Bluebird eggs are such a sweet shade of blue and are tiny. They lay 4-5 pale blue eggs without markings.  The incubation is 12-14 days. Female incubated. Fledging is 15-18 days. Male and female feed the young.
I love the vivid blue of the bluebird. I wish my birdbath had been cleaner!
Here is a link to another post on bluebirds.

I was so pleased to capture this many robins together in the bird bath.
This is a cell phone pic of a robin. 
Robins's eggs are a brilliant blue. They build cup-shaped nests and lay 4-7 eggs without markings. My daughter made this picture at her house in north Alabama. Robins migrate to south Alabama. They do not nest here.

 This Robin was photographed in a savannah holly. There were hundreds of robins and cedar waxwings feasting on the berries.
 I found it interesting in my reading that it is easy to differentiate between male and female robins. The male's  has a dark black head and brick redbreast and the female's head is gray with a dull redbreast.

 A robin is not listening for worms when cocking its head to one side. It is looking with eyes placed far back on the sides of its head. A very territorial bird, often seen fighting its own reflection in windows.

Male Cardinal on the fence. I have cardinals year-round in my garden that visit my feeder. 
Female Cardinal on fountain. Both males and females have a distinct red bill.
Male and female Northern Cardinals Kissing? You have to look hard to see the female she is so light.  During courtship northern cardinals go beak-to-beak as the male feeds the female. Although not every pair of cardinals mates for life, many of them do.  
I feel very fortunate to have gotten this picture. 
I've had these little small feeders for a long time but they require filling often. I was very pleased to capture both the male and female together.

I'm sorry my picture of the American goldfinch is not better. The American Goldfinch is a perky yellow bird with a black patch on the forehead on the male. It has a black tail with a conspicuous white rump. I find it very interesting that the male's color changes in winter. There is a dramatic change in color (more drab) during winter, similar to the female. The female is dull olive-yellow without a black forehead, with brown wings and a white rump. Their nest is the cup type and the female builds it. They only have one brood per year. In Alabama, they are partial to non-migratory: flocks of up to 20 birds move around North America. They eat seeds, and insects and will come to feeders. They like Nyjer thistle seed.

This Brown Thrasher and his wife were so cute taking turns in the birdbath. When I first saw them one was perched on the fence and the other in the birdbath. By the time I got my camera the one on the fence was gone. I am amazed by how polite birds are. They actually take turns. I haven't seen the brown thrashers at the feeder but they love my birdbath.
 Brown thrashers have yellow eyes which helped me be sure they were not a wood thrush. 

Male Red-Winged Blackbird. They are so hard to photograph and this is not a good picture. I see them all over the golf course close to our house but not in our neighborhood. The male is a jet black bird with red and yellow shoulder patches on upper wings. It has a pointed black bill. The female is a heavily streaked brown bird with a pointed brown bill and white eyebrows. In fall and winter, migrant and resident redwings gather in huge numbers (thousands) with other blackbirds to feed in agricultural fields, marshes and wetlands. 
I think this lone goose was late migrating. 

"Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul- and sings the tunes without the words -and never stops at all." Emily Dickinson

This peacock picture was made in Charleston at one of the plantations.

This is a Carolina Wren that built in a planter close to our porch. You can view the post here about the family. It has a distinctive white eye stripe and a short stubby tail often cocked up. It is similar to a house wren. It sings year-round. They build in our garage every year. You would think they would learn we shut the doors at night and they are trapped inside.
You might notice the DIY birdseed feeder. I was inspired to make the bird feeder by Mary@Home is Where the Boat Is, DIY Cottage Bird Feeder seen here.
Red-bellied Woodpecker- I believe this is a female because it has a gray crown. Males have a red crown. They have a zebra back. They nest in a cavity that female and male excavate and have one brood per year. Male and female incubate 12-14 days. The female incubates during the day and the male incubates at night. 

 Pileated Woodpecker- This is a terrible picture but I did make it in my yard. I was facing the light so the picture looked perfectly good through the camera lens but not well at all when I loaded the pics.

Pileated Woodpecker (9597212081), crop.jpg
I borrowed this pic and I am not sure where.

This is a Baltimore Oriole that has stopped by for a visit at my friend's house for a number of years now, usually in February. I made this picture from her window. This bird is a male with a bright flaming orange color and blackhead. The female is a pale yellow bird with orange tones, gray-brown wings, white wing bars, a gray bill, and dark eyes. They build a hanging or pendulous nest that the female builds and has one brood per year. Their eggs are bluish with brown markings. They migrate to Mexico, Central America, and South America. This bird is a fantastic songster and is often heard before seen.
For some reason, he did not show up this year. My friend first spotted him at her hummingbird feeder. Upon reading about them liking oranges we both put out oranges. They also like grape jelly.  I keep hoping one will come to my house. 
Look at the top of this birdhouse and see the mockingbird a very common bird in our area. The Northern Mockingbird is found year-round in our entire state. It is a very animated bird. It performs an elaborate mating dance. Facing each other with heads and tails erect, pairs will run toward each other flashing white wing patches, and then retreat to cover nearby. Sits for long periods on top of shrubs and my observation is they sit on power lines frequently. They imitate other birds (vocal mimicry) hence the common name. Young males often sing at night. Often unafraid of people allowing close observation.
This is a double-crested Cormorant. It is a large black waterbird with a long snake-like neck. It has a long gray bill with yellow at the base and a hooked tip. They are often seen flying in large V formation. Usually roosts in trees close to water. We see this bird on the pond on the golf course near my home.

Great Egret. The male and female are the same. They are a tall, thin, elegant all-white bird with a long, pointed yellow bill. Black stilt-like legs and black feet. The male and female build a platform nest and have one brood per year. Male and female incubate. They eat fish, aquatic insects, frogs, and crayfish. They are now protected but were hunted to near extinction in the 1800s for its long white plumage.

Red-tailed Hawk. Their food consists of mice, birds, snakes, insects, and mammals.  They are 19-23 inches and have up to a four-foot wingspan. The nest is a platform nest and the incubation is long- 30-35 days and both female and male incubate. Fledging 45-46 days and both male and female feed young. They have 2-3 eggs white without markings or sometimes marked with brown. 
The red-tailed hawk is a common hawk of open country and in cities, often seen perched on freeway light posts, fences, and trees. Look for it circling over open field and roadsides, searching for prey. Their large stick nests are commonly seen in large trees along roads. Returns to the same nest site each year. Develops a red tail in the second year. This picture was made in my back yard.

Carolina Chickadee is a mostly gray bird with a black cap and chin. Has a white face and chest with a tan belly. It has a darker gray tail. The female is the same as the male. They nest in cavities. They fly to feeders grab a seed and carry it to a branch. To get to the meat inside, it holds the seed down with its feet and hammers the shell open with its bill.

One common bird I have not photographed that we see in our area is the familiar Blue Jay. We also have house finches and mourning doves that I have not photographed. In January and February, my husband saw a pair of Bald Eagles while walking early in the morning. They were terrorizing our local Cormorants in a nearby pond.
I have two hummingbird feeders on my porch and as I am typing this post the hummingbirds are buzzing in and out from the hummingbird feeders.  When I hear the Chickadees distinctive calls I look up and see them at the feeders. Squirrels are constantly moving about. The birds have been pleasant company and I keep my camera handy always wishing for a better shot and when I do I will replace a few of these photos! I have a bluebird family in my bluebird house now. The picture of the bluebird eggs is recent. 
 I hope I have piqued your interest in birds and maybe you learned something you did not know.  I did a program for my Garden Club in March on Birds. I shared lovely pictures from Birds and Blooms magazine of many birds I have not seen. If you are interested in identifying birds and learning more about them I recommend Birds and Blooms magazine. Every time I look at my old issues I learn something new. My research source on this post came from "Birds of Alabama" field guide by Stan Tekiela.


  1. Hi Bonnie,

    I so enjoyed this post! I've only seen Cedar Waxwings once in my life, and it was many years ago. Hal and I were at the beach house in late winter, and I spotted some. They really caught my eye because they're so unique. They almost don't look real because they're so sleek. Those Baltimore Orioles are GORGEOUS!! I've never seen one in person, but I would love to. We used to get a Red-Winged Blackbird at one of our feeders years ago.

    I saw something new to me for the first time this spring. My mom has been getting Rose-Breasted Grosbeaks at her feeder, and one showed up the last time I visited her. They are just beautiful, beautiful birds. Have you seen one at your place before? Bonnie, all your pictures are just lovely. The male and female Cardinals and the Eastern Bluebirds are always a favorite with us.

    I'm glad you're staying well and enjoying the birds. Thanks for sharing this with us and have a great week, my friend!



    1. Hi Denise, I have been intrigued by the Grosbeaks, too. I've seen several pictures on FB of them coming to feeders. They are so pretty. I saw a female blue Grosbeak last week but could not get a picture.
      Watching the birds and especially seeing new birds is so much fun.
      Thanks for your visit.

  2. Good morning Bonnie. This is such a delightful, interesting, and educational post that I enjoyed immensely. The birds have really been active this spring or maybe I had time to notice them. I certainly enjoy their chirping and singing. I need to get the Alabama bird book and try for more bird photos. You have definitely piqued my interest. Your photographs are amazing, especially the two opening pictures of the Cedar Waxwing. Thank you for sharing all of the valuable information. Happy Tuesday my friend!

    1. Thank you, Pam. I am glad I piqued your interest. I can see myself if circumstances would present themselves traveling to specific places to see certain birds. It is addicting.
      I saw a female blue grobeak the other day sitting on my friend's porch. I actually had my little camera in my lap but missed the picture.

  3. Great photos, Bonnie! We see all of these except the cormorant, egret and, of course, peacocks here in WV. I spotted a couple of vermilion flycatchers this past weekend, right in the center of the city. The Canada geese were always my nemesis. The single one always seemed to be the 'lookout scout' from our observations. Even in a gaggle, there'd be one standing apart from the rest, seemingly scouting danger. Btw, the toy snake worked to foil the mourning doves from nesting on my balcony fans. Thank you.

    1. I am so glad the plastic snake worked.
      I should have mentioned the peacock was made in Charleston at one of the plantations.Thanks for your visit.
      I will look up vermilion flycatchers.

  4. Loving all the wonderful pictures! I love seeing the birds. We used to have blue birds everywhere but I honestly don't know when is the last time I have seen one at my place. We have tons of beautiful red birds and oh I love to watch them. Little wrens everywhere too. Just had 5 babies fly out of the nest. Was so fun watching them. God's beautiful creations never cease to amaze me Bonnie. Hugs and blessings to you sweet lady. Cindy

    1. Yes, God's creatures never cease to amaze me, too. I would love to have seen the five babies fly out of the nest. That is exciting.

  5. Bonnie, we are kindred spirits in our love of birds. We have a wooded area behind the house, and I can spend hours watching the birds. We have lots of bluebirds, cardinals, woodpeckers, and hummingbirds. We were so excited to see a pair of orioles last week. I think they may have just been making a quick stop because they are rare to see around here, I have so enjoyed your post this morning. You have captured some beautiful images that belong in a magazine or book. Happy Tuesday, sweet friend!

    1. Shannon, I love hearing that you are a bird lover too. How exciting to have a pair of orioles.
      I have a story about the squirrel proof bird feeder. Iove had it a month and have enjoyed it so much. But recently a baby squirrel has appeared and because he is so little and light weight he figured out how to stand on the top and lean over and grab seed. Sometimes he falls but he keeps climbing right back up. Pretty soon he will be too heavy since he is eating so much seed. I need to get a movie of him. My husband even tried putting duct tape on the first three holes and he is so limber he can lean and reach the seed. The older ones can not eat and they have quit trying. Thanks for your sweet comment today.

  6. What incredible photographs and captures Bonnie! I do think the birdsong this year is much louder for some reason, or perhaps it is because we've all been forced to slow down a little...I so enjoyed all the info your provided for each birds, and am astonished at the variety! We have a "resident" blue heron at our beach house who loves to perch on our boat, fish the shoreline and sneak drinks from our pool. I can spend hours watching him, fascinating!

    1. Thank you, Jenna. I remember some of your pictures of your resident blue heron.
      I really enjoy reading about birds. The more you read the more you retain. I was astonished how long the incubation period was the red tailed hawk.
      Thank you for your nice comment.

  7. Hi Pam, What wonderful photos of the birds in your area. I will admit, I'm a bit green as I love Orioles, Bluebirds, Cardinals and we don't get them here. We do have scrub jays and lots of blackbirds, some finches and sparrows. I'm wondering how you keep your birdbath clean without adding something that will harm the birds. I know scrubbing may be the only way, but it seems to really get bad when it's warm. Thanks for any tips.

    1. I scrubbed the birdbath with a stiff brush several times. I wanted to put detergent on it but there were plants underneath that detergent might damage. It was amazing the improvement in the way the birdbath looked with just using the brush. It took off the black stuff.
      Thanks for your visit.

  8. Bonnie, I have thoroughly enjoyed this post. I, too, enjoy the birds. Feeding and watching them is most enjoyable. Your photos of the bluebirds made me homesick for our home in Virginia. We had them all over our property and I loved to watch them bounce through the air. Do you have Purple Martins? They are absolutely delightful and a favorite of mine.
    I know this post took time to put together. It was quite informative. Wishing you a lovely week.

    1. It is so much fun for me to get the opportunity to take a picture of different birds. It is challenging and makes the reward even greater when I am successful.
      It is enjoyable to feed them and watch them.I have to be very frugal with the dried meal worms for the bluebirds. They are expensive and I don't want to share with the squirrels.
      There are Purple Martins on the pond close to our house but they are so fast it is hard to get good pictures. I forgot to include my pic of their gourd house.

  9. Bonnie, these are extraordinary. That first one, especially, with the berry in her mouth, is exquisite. But they're all gorgeous. You've done remarkable work here, Bonnie. I hope you have some of these enlarged or made into note cards. They really are gems. I love Cedar Waxwings anyway but that first one is to die for. And the nests? Perfection!

    1. Coming from you I am so appreciative of your compliments.Thank you so much.

  10. I loved seeing your pictures of the various birds, Bonnie. I get Cedar Waxwings, too, as they migrate. I gave pictures of them. I also saw robins, and I get cardinals and bluejays, but not bluebirds. I gave a hawk that will come and perch for hours. He’s visited me 33 times since my husband passed away. I always record his visits.
    You did a great job of the seeded birdhouse!! Happy bird watching!

    1. Thank you for your visit, Kitty. I wish you could get bluebirds because they are so beautiful. I wish they weren't so shy though. I would give them tons of meal worms if they would pose.
      33 times is a lot of visits.
      Have a good week, Kitty.

  11. Bonnie, you've certainly captured stunning photos of your little friends. I feel like I could just reach out and touch them. I love seeing bluebirds and I agree, the blue is breathtaking. You certainly have the lovely gardens to attract them. We've had a lot of bluebirds this year and last spring. My husband ordered and hung a bluebird house but I guess they didn't like it, not one moved in. I'm going back for another stroll and make sure I don't miss anything. Thanks for sharing your knowledge, all so interesting.

  12. I had to share this post on FB...we are in N Illinois and we of course have most of these birds. I believe the Pialated Woodpeckers go further north, as we only see them in early Spring and Late Fall, as they must migrates.

    Cormorants are bird garbage cans, and basically way more than their body weight everyday in fish, frogs, minnows and anything else that is in a lake or river. We had some on our lake, and the fish population dropped drastically.

    Such a great post, I read every word. And, when the State parks open here, I can get to see some bluebirds in the marshes. They have lots of pole boxes out and the birds dive everywhere. Love all your photos! And, I know how hard it is to catch good bird photos, squirrels too---they have a second sense when the camera whirrs and disappear so fast!

    1. Cormorants eat way more than their body weight everyday...I should proof read, sometimes, LOL. Thanks, Sandi

    2. Thanks for your visit. Yes, birds are so fast and it is hard to get good photos. My zoom lens is my best bet but it is heavy and big to carry on nature walks.I have gotten a few good cell phone pics but not many.

  13. Hi Bonnie, I love seeing all your bird varieties and photos! I so enjoy watching them flock the feeders and have noticed them waiting their turn at the birdbath. :) We have a couple of nesting pairs of bluebirds this spring. I love that the male and female both provide food for the chicks, so fun to watch. I would love to see a flock of Cedar Waxwings, they look fake, almost look like a painting! What a wonderful capture you made of the one eating the berry!

    1. Mary, so glad you liked my photos. I am loving hearing the baby bluebirds in my box. It is fun to watch Mom and Dad go in and out feeding them.
      I do find it so interesting how they take turns.

  14. Hello Bonnie,
    This is a wonderful compilation of a variety of birds as well as informative and interesting notes.
    I have a Book on Bird species that belonged to my Parents and it is still interesting to look through and identify different species.
    Since we have been warming up so nicely in the mountains we have had the arrival of Hummingbirds, Western Tanagar, Robins, Mountain Bluebird and of course the Woodpeckers never seem to leave.
    I enjoyed these photos so much! I always, always enjoy seeing blue Robin Eggs.

    1. I am so glad you enjoyed the photos. I enjoyed making them. Old books on birds don't go out of style or change. Good that you have your parents book.
      I would love to have a nice coffee table book with colorful photos. If you see one let me know the name please.

  15. All these birds are beautiful, but, most of all, blue eggs impressed me. I couldn't even think, that it is possible. I definitely must read more about it.

  16. A lovely post with beautiful birds. I love watching the birds. I have a large birdhouse feeder. We get all kinds of birds. I have two large hummingbird feeders with plenty of hummers. I have noticed an oriole has been drinking from the hummingbird feeder here and there. The orioles nest in our palm tree every year. Thanks for sharing these beautiful birds Bonnie. Happy Memorial Day weekend.

  17. You have some really wonderful birding photos! I love watching them too and occasionally try to take photos of them. They are difficult to capture as they rarely sit still for more than a moment or two.


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