10 October, 2009

Changing Seasons

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?


  1. Great selection of pictures Wilma; and thank you so much for the 'plug.' :)
    Love your variety of birds from your 'lazy' window lol
    The Chickadee is very much like our Willow Tit, and the Nuthatch just like ours, in the way they go headfirst down a tree.

  2. A great set of photos of your lovely bird visitors. I have only had a woodpecker visit here very briefly.
    The first moggy photo has either a guilty look or is asking when the window is finally going to be opened ;)

  3. Hi Wilma.
    If you came carry on taking picture of such good quality whilst sitting with your feet up in your favoute chair, then I am all for it.
    Your Downy Woodpecker is about the same size as our Lesser Spotted Woodpecker. As for your Chickadee, well over here they are called Tit's. What name do you prefer Wilma?
    Lovely photo's of your garden

  4. Hi Wilma - just caught up with your blog after quite a while - its looking terrific with some fabulous photos - particularly loved the trogan - many thanks for your kind comments on my own blog
    Kind regards

  5. Hi Wilma,
    Thanks for the observations on the my blog. I'll try to correct this asap.
    Very colourful trees now that it's Autumn. Yes the birds can cheer you up even on the bleakest days. The Nuthatch is my favourite.
    Take care,

  6. Hi Keith - I had just taken a series of robin shots when I read your blog; great minds etc... ;-)

    John - the moggy in question (Jazmin) would love for that window to magically open.

    Ken - I think you may have a greater selection of woodpeckers than we do, or at least more variety of colors. Our tend to be black, white, and red along with an occasional species with yellow. As for which name I prefer -- I like the way the chickadees say "chick-a-dee-dee-dee-dee", so I am partial to that name. But, as you are likely aware, tit in the US is slang for breast. So when I read the British birder blogs that feature tits, I am usually laughing at the image that forms in my crazy head, especially as when someone recently mentioned how hard was to get photos of long-tailed tits! Yes, I know, very juevenile of me, but there you go! If I need cheering up, I vote for the tit name. ;-)

    thanks to all for visiting and commenting.


  7. Beautiful autumn colour.
    Nice catch of that Downy Woodpecker and Nuthatches.
    I wish to have that kind of feeder at my backyard. Can't find it here in Malaysia. I may have to DIY.

  8. Clare - I'm so glad you like the trogon. Thank you for your kind comments.

    Madi - the nuthatches are something, aren't they? I do love to watch them.

    Tabib - the green birdfeeder has a tension-loaded, adjustable spring that is supposed to close the access to the seeds when a large animal (well, relative to most birds, anyway) like a squirrel tries to feed. I have it set at the maximum weight because the squirrels never seem to bother it.

    thanks to all for comments and visits.



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