Soon after we returned from Belize, I was making a tour of the garden with the cats and camera in tow and saw many signs of the impending change of seasons. The bur oak trees in the front yard have a fine crop of acorns this year and the hazelnuts have fruits that are starting to turn a lovely orange-yellow color (below). On a more recent rainy Sunday morning, I spotted the Huechera that I planted in August. I like how the raindrops have been caught in the leaves.
Below is a photo showing the flaming colors of the maple tree in our back yard. This is always one of the first trees to change color.
The clematis, which didn’t do very well this year, had one last blossom (below). You can see the color of the maple tree in background.
Keith at Holdingmoments had a terrific post on English robins recently (http://holdingmoments.blogspot.com/2009/10/robin.html). American robins, which are much larger than the English robins, are thrushes and their red is only the breast. This robin youngster has lighter orange that hasn’t quite filled in all the way. In Georgia, where we lived before we moved here, robins were year-round residents. Here in Minnesota, the robins are seasonal and they have begun to migrate south. They will be a much welcomed herald for spring when they return. Last weekend, we had a male Downy Woodpecker make repeated visits to our bird feeder. He would be at the feeder for 3-4 minutes to accumulate a supply of seeds and then fly to the nearby hickory tree to insert seeds into crevices in the bark. I tried to get photos, but couldn’t get outside without scaring him away. So I was inspired to take apart the window that looks out to the feeders. This is a double paned window that has mini-blinds between the panes of glass. So I undid the clips that hold the inside piece of glass in place, removed the glass, unhooked the bottom of the blinds from the bottom of the window, slid the top of the blinds out of their slot, and removed them entirely. Then, while the window was apart, I washed the inner side of the outside pane, both sides of the inside pane of glass, went outside and washed the outside of the outer pane, and then re-assembled the window. Voila! Now I can be a very lazy birder. I can sit in my favorite chair with my feet on the ottoman and take pictures using my zoom lens. How lazy is that? I moved the thistle (Nyger) feeder to a position I can also see from my chair. The cats also have window-side seats from which they can watch the birds to their hearts content, or perhaps discontent, since they can only watch, not pounce! Here are some of the pictures I took last weekend after I changed the window. This little chickadee is one of the most chipper and cheerful birds we see here. They stay around all winter and can brighten a very dull day.
The nuthatches also stick around all year. They are only a little bigger than the chickadees. They almost always perch upside-down on tree trunks.
And last but not least, the inspiration for setting up the lazy birdwatcher's blind, is the downy wood pecker. It is the smallest woodpecker in these parts, only about 5 inches long. This one is a male, as you can tell from the red head patch.
It is very selective in what seeds it will take!
After it selects a mouthfull of seeds, it heads to the hickory tree to hide the seeds in the bark.
This view from the back shows the distinctive identifying features of the red head patch, a hint of barred-tail feathers, and white stripe on the back. It is like a small version of the hairy woodpecker, except the hairys don't have barred tails. A handsome little guy, don't you think?