I generally have Mourning Doves around my feeders but they are usually on the ground eating. It is rare that they land on the feeding station. The last one that did was ill and I found it dead a day later.
I typically have Mourning Doves show up at my bird feeders but it is very rare that they actually land on the feeders. Generally find them out in the yard or under the feeder. This one turned up over a couple of days at the feeder and actually spend a good portion of its time on the feeders. I thought it looked sick and the next day I found a dead Mourning Dove near the feeders.
This is going to be a shorter list than normal because we really didn’t have much of a winter this year. Things started off great in December when we had a nice 6 inch snowfall. All of the outdoor enthusiasts were excited hand started getting their skis and snowmobiles ready for action. The birds started showing up at the feeder and I was optimistic that it was going to be a good year. Unfortunately the weather turned warm and we were without snow for most of the winter. I like to photograph birds during snowstorms but what little snow we received came at mostly at night when it was impossible to photograph. The end of the winter was just as strange. With a little over three weeks to go the weather took a dramatic change. Temperatures hovered around 70 degrees and even reached into the 80’s. All of the Goldfinches disappeared and most of the other birds became scarce.
The most common bird this winter was the American Goldfinch. In fact, it has been a constant visitor for the last couple of years. I don’t know if they are just lazy or what but they were at the feeder regardless of the weather.
The Black-capped Chickadee showed up later than normal and there were fewer of them. It wasn’t until the middle of winter that they appeared at the feeder with any regularity. Often when the weather was nice they were nowhere to be found.
The Junco’s pattern was similar to the Chickadees. They showed up late and were mostly around when we would get some snow. I have a log that I’ve drilled some holes in so I could put suet it the holes. When I first fill it up the Junco’s seem to like to visit it and try and land on the vertical log.
Downy woodpeckers have been at the feeder most of the winter. They primarily like to feed on suet. If I have some peanut butter suet available they will usually head for that first. They are the only birds that have continued to be at the feeder throughout the entire winter.
Northern Cardinals frequent the feeder late in the day or on days when there is a snowstorm. In the past I’ve had a Coopers Hawk visit the feeder so the Northern Cardinals like to visit when the hawk is not likely to be around. It’s only been during snow storms that they visited in any numbers.
Red-bellied Woodpeckers visited the feeder occasionally during the winter months. They usually were feeding at my suet filled log.
House Finches visited the feeder on rare occasions. I was able to capture this male during a snowstorm but the female eluded my photo opportunities.
Late in the winter I had a number of Mourning Doves visit the feeder. Normally they are ground feeders and it’s difficult to get a photo of them. This one landed on a pine tree and sat there for quite a while.
RIP – As I mentioned I normally have a Coopers Hawk showing up at my feeder. He turned up early in the winter and then I didn’t see him again. One day I was shoveling off the back step and I found his body. Apparently in his eagerness to capture a bird he hit the sliding glass door.
This has been an amazing spring for bird photography around my farm. First I had more Baltimore Orioles than I’ve ever had. One appeared and then a few days later I had as many as eight at one time. They were followed by a several firsts including pair of Scarlet Tanagers who were followed by a couple of Turkey Vultures. These were in addition to all of the usual suspects.
The Eastern Bluebirds returned the third week in April this year. Normally I’m able to get lots of photographs of them when they first return because I use some Sumac Berries to attract them to an area where they can be photographed. This year it didn’t work and they remained an elusive bird and I have fewer photographs of them than in any previous year. The female was attempting to perch on a wire during a heavy wind. The male was fluttering his wings.
As I mentioned this has been an amazing year for Baltimore Orioles. Normally I have a few of them come to the feeding station around the first of May but this year they came in large numbers. I was going through a quart of grape jelly every couple of days. The numbers appearing at any one time dropped off by the middle of May but they continued to come to the feeder until the end of May. I suspect they leave to raise their young. In past years they have returned to the feeding station in July.
I’ve only seen Scarlet Tanagers a few times in my life and never been able to photograph one. I was shocked when I looked out the window one day and noticed a male Tanager around my feeding station. I quickly grabbed the camera and started photographing him. He came to the feeder every couple of hours during the day. The next day the female joined him at the feeder. the day after that they were gone. It was an amazing experience to be able to see and photography one up close.
I usually see them around in the spring. I thought they might be nesting in some of the pine trees near the house but haven’t been able to confirm that.
I usually have a few of these around each spring.
I see these more frequently down in the valleys but sometimes they come to my feeding station for the Niger seed. They are very skittish so about the only time I can get a photo of them is when I happen to be photographing other birds and they show up at the station. The female had just taken a bath.
The Grey Catbird usually shows up in the spring. Some years they nest near the house but this year they were around for just a brief time before leaving.
The American Robin usually migrates but with the warming trends can be found in the area in the winter. They usually don’t arrive at my feeding station until April at about the same time as the Eastern Bluebirds.
Another spring bird and a frequent visitor to my feeding station.
The Ruby-throated Hummingbird usually arrives with the Baltimore Orioles around the first of May. It is usually a project to keep them fed.
Tree Swallows are a frequent visitor to my farm frequently competing for rental space in my Bluebird houses. The Bluebirds seem to be the first of check the houses out but the Swallows seem to get the houses in the end.
The Red-breasted Nuthatch is an infrequent visitor to my feeding station. One year I had a pair that were around for the winter but that is rare. This year I have a female that came to the feeder for about a week and then was gone.
I see Turkey Vultures flying over the farm fairly frequently but have never seen them perched. When I first saw them from a distance I thought they were immature Bald Eagles but as I approached the tree they were perched in it became clear that they were Turkey Vultures. I started taking photos and then walking up closer and taking more photos. They let me get fairly close to them.
Northern Cardinals are year around visitors to my feeding station and they continued to visit the station again this year. The female was photographed during an early spring blizzard.
Mourning Doves are frequent visitors. Normally they spend their time cleaning up the seed that falls on the ground but this spring I did see them perched on my Niger seed feeding station. The dove was photographed during the early spring blizzard.
Juncos are normally a winter bird and they leave when the snow is gone. This year we had a late March blizzard so they were still around well into April.
Red-bellied Woodpeckers are frequent visitors to my suet feeders. This year, for the first time, I created a suet feeder by drilling holes in an old log and filling the holes with suet. They really seem to like it better than just hanging suet in a metal cage.
Another bird that is around all year. In the first years after they were introduced in Wisconsin I had as many as 50 wandering around and any one time. Since the introduced hunting the numbers are down. I usually see them in the spring before the grass in my prairie gets too long. This year I had one charge me while I was working in the garden. Don’t know what that was all about.
A year around visitor. The numbers vary from year to year. Some years I’ve had almost none but this year they have been around in large numbers. I much prefer photographing the females because they have much more interesting colors.
A year around visitor to the feeding station.
More bird photos can be found at Philip Schwarz Photography.
On Wednesday we had our third major Blizzard of the winter. I watched the 10 pm weather and the report was for rain and a few inches of snow. When I looked out the window it was already snowing hard. On Wednesday morning it was a full blown blizzard consisting of heavy wet snow. The windows were covered with snow and ice and you could hardly see 30 feet it was snowing and blowing so hard.
The week before had been warm and there were few birds around the feeder so I took some of the feeders down. When I got up on Wednesday morning the feeder was packed with frantic birds. Unfortunately it was difficult to get any photographs because it was snowing and blowing so hard and the windows were covered with ice. I decided to go out and put up some more feeders and took and ice scraper and cleaned off the basement windows so I could get a few photographs.
In an earlier post I had indicated that the Dark-eyed Juncos had left the feeder. They were back in record numbers during the blizzard. Also in an earlier post I had indicated that the spring birds had returned to Gilbert Creek and Hoffman Hills. The day following the storm I couldn’t find a single bird at either site.