Saturday, May 17, 2014

Spectacular Backyard Birds

When bringing in the wash this afternoon, a Baltimore Oriole was singing amid the crabapple blossoms in the tree at the side of our home - spectacular!

Baltimore Oriole
Baltimore Oriole

Baltimore Oriole
Meanwhile, the courtship among the Evening Grosbeaks has been hot and heavy, perhaps due to there being (by my count) an extra male vying for the hand of a lady ...

Evening Grosbeak displaying
The courtship stepped up a notch today. Besides demonstrating his overall sexiness through displaying, the males have had to demonstrate that they know what to do when a youngster begs for food ... feeding of females has been more noticeable this year than in any previous year.

"Feed Me," she says.
("Perhaps he will know what to do with my young.")
The Indigo Bunting continues to appear off and on, and is heard singing in nearby trees.

Indigo Bunting

Few people will put the Common Grackle in the spectacular category, but the iridescence of the bronzed body and purple head are breathtaking this time of year. And if anyone reading this says that they don't like blackbirds, remember that blackbirds (Icterids) include grackles, red-wings, and Northern Oriole.
Common (Bronzed) Grackle

Good Birding!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Joy of S*x

Ah yes ... the joy of the Spring activity. A couple of bird walks this weekend yielded many warblers hurrying toward their breeding grounds, feeding frenzily, and singing lustily. Most were high in the canopy, but this Black-throated Green Warbler was closer to lens ...

Black-throated Green Warbler
The walks in the woods are marvelous, but for theatrical entertainment, sitting quietly on the back porch provides front row seats to drama, intrigue, and rivalry.

Five Evening Grosbeak males (perhaps six) are vying for the attention of four (best count) females, so there is sorting, accommodating, and liaisons to figure out. The guys are getting serious, with raised crest, raised tail, and flared wings becoming prevalent and insistent ...

Evening Grosbeak
 Rose-breasted Grosbeaks (we have had five males and a lesser number of females) are gentlemen toward one another, but they have their moments ...

Rose-breasted Grosbeak
For shear truculence, there is nothing that can match the 1 gram package of the Ruby-throated Hummingbird. This guy perched 15 feet in front of us, until an intruder came along. He did his rapid "U" shaped display and totally cowed the poor rival who sped off - tried again - and again - and was driven off each time ...

Ruby-throated Hummingbird
By contrast, the dispute between Northern Cardinal males was almost gentlemanly, but no less serious ...

Northern Cardinals
Two transients made brief stops in the yard - welcome visitors not seen in the yard every year ...

Brown Thrasher ...

Brown Thrasher

Indigo Bunting

Indigo Bunting
Not to be overlooked in the profusion of life bursting forth as the tiny gems at our feet, like the trout lily ...

Trout Lily
... or in the garden, the Crown Imperial ...

Crown Imperial
Listen to the birds ... visually consume the flowers ... celebrate Spring!!

Monday, May 05, 2014

Common Merganser Nuptials

My neighbor reported to me that a pair of Common Mergansers were courting on the gravel island in the river behind his home. I can see the area from my yard, so I have kept an eye on the area.

The truth was even more fun - one handsome drake appeared to be at the center of a love triangle, pursing one on the island, though a merganser on land hardly poses much of a pursuit threat. (On the other hand, she's not great at fleeing on land.)

Next he headed back to the water to impress a second hen ...

That's when the watching became really fun. To a lay observer, it looked like the two hens were displaying for the drake, or trying to intimidate the other ...

Friday, May 02, 2014

Spring Returns - and so do Old Friends

Since returning home to Vermont from our wintering in Philadelphia, we have been immersed in needed work on our home - hence the hiatus in posts.

But today was a Spring day, and early in the morning I headed out to greet returning friends.

Along the Connecticut River, abundant Yellow-rumped Warblers in their prom-going finery were joined by a few Palm Warblers ...

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Palm Warbler

Palm Warbler
Also along the Connecticut River, Osprey were busy building their nest on a transmission tower and pursing their courtship ...

In nearly every location I stopped, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers were actively "singing" and displaying ...

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
During late April in our back yard, we watched many species in active courtship, including Yellow-bellied Sapsucker ...

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
 ... and Belted Kingfisher, a trio of which put on quite an air show one evening as we sat on the lawn.

Belted Kingfisher
In the realm of serendipitous good fortune, Evening Grosbeaks are again performing their pre-nups in our yard, and we anticipate that we will have another summer of helping to raise their young.

Evening Grosbeak
And finally, when I returned home for lunch, I was greeted by a stunning Rose-breasted Grosbeak and his shy lady lover ...

Rose-breasted Grosbeak
 Spring!! ... and after a long, tough winter, a time of exceptionally Good Birding!!


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