Birding at Bart Rea’s place today (south side of Casper), trying to get photos of his sightings of a White Throated sparrow. I had my camera on a tripod looking out from the warmth of Bart’s house through a glass storm door while it was snowing.
We were waiting and waiting and just not getting anything for hours. A lone chickadee would swoop in once in a while and grab a single seed and just as quickly, disappear. Finally, another bird looking like a House Finch (to me), swooped in and landed in the bottom of the feeder. Now, if you have ever seen Bart’s feeders, you will know his impressive designs are about the size of a large garbage can. His feeder manufactured from water heater drip pans, 2″ x 2″ mesh, chains, and other hardware, thwarts long armed squirrels from raiding his seed.
While Bart and I were trying to figure out what kind of sparrow or finch it was, a hawk was surveying the feeder for a potential meal. Out of nowhere, it swooped in and landed on the wire mesh, stunning the poor bird. Within a second, maybe two, the sparrow was nailed while trying to escape. The hawk was lightning quick and went from the back side of the feeder to the front to nab its meal. The hawk dropped below the feeder while clutching the bird and sat in the snow just long enough for me to get a few photos.
In the blink of the eye, the hawk flew away with the prize and disappeared into a Blue Spruce tree.
Adding peanuts to my backyard birding has attracted this handsome fellow.
I have noticed that they can find peanuts covered over with thick snow and they are very adept at fighting off the magpies to lay claim to the feeder.
What is amazing to watch is that they will fly to the sunflower seed feeder first, gulping down as much seed as they can possibly swallow, then fly over to the peanut feeder and carefully select from the pile of peanuts, so that they can fit two or more of the peanuts in their beak, then fly away. – Harry
Had two Rose-breasted Grosbeaks take a pit-stop to our feeders for some bird chow. Got close enough to watch the beaks work over some sunflower seeds. Amazing to see the beaks and tongue in action. A first of year for our feeders. -Harry
We had a disappointing end to the Tree Swallows as the nest was raided by a raccoon. To make up for the backyard disaster, Nature awarded us a nest of Say’s Phoebes at the front porch. I was not able to zero in on the nest as the adults did an excellent job of putting the nest at the apex of the roof. I was too busy to capture photos of the adults as they brought in pounds of grasshoppers to feed the chicks. The adults would stop just before the nest on the railing and bash the grasshoppers into oblivion.Took the fight out of them I guess.
The adults where very good at bringing in the food. At times, dragon flies had to be broken in half and shared between two chicks. Other tidbits consisted of flies shared among all four. Yum!
We have cats, so we made sure they were locked up while the chicks where out and about watching and learning how mom caught the food.
The clothes line was a favorite place to perch while waiting for the food to arrive. These shots were taken late in the evening and just before mom herded them back to the nest for the night. The birds seemed tame as we could get within six inches of them.
Early flights proved that the fledglings were quite adept at learning how to fly. They looked like small helicopters fluttering about as they built confidence and skills. At one point, they followed mom into and around our garage. We made sure they didn’t get separated while they explored our property.
They have grown up now and left the nest. Every so often we spot them wandering around, eating more grasshoppers.
Happy birding to all!
-Harry at Bates Creek, 14 miles west of Casper, WY.
Here are a couple photos of the first egg in our nest box. The egg is from our latest Tree Swallows. This is our third year experimenting with a small video camera installed at the top of the box looking down. You can see the first egg and you can make out the bird as she sits on it.
It is a very small camera and quite easy to setup. Focus is a bit tricky, but with a little trial and error, you can get the focal point that you want. I have seen a similar camera offered by Harbor Freight Tools for less money, but I don’t know how good the quality is. They both have color imagery, sound, and have IR night lighting so you can see what goes on in the dark.
With some luck, in about two weeks, we should have some chicks to spy on. These pictures were taken using a 5.0 Mega Pixel camera set at 1/3 Sec. shutter speed at our TV screen, about 6 feet away.