Category Archives: Yard Birds

More Bathing Beauties

As I mentioned in the last post, I see mostly Mourning Doves and House Sparrows at the ground birdbath during the day. The Mourning Doves like to park in the water for a long time and rarely seem to splash around, unlike the robin who just got down to business right away. Sometimes the doves have a party. It usually starts with one bird lounging in the bath.

One bathing Mourning Dove

Soon another joins the fun. This one started blowing bubbles to liven things up a bit.

Mourning Dove blowing bubbles

Then a third dove will join in, but the bath might be too crowded so she has to wait on the side. Sometimes it might get a little awkward.

Third wheel Mourning Dove

At this point one of two things might happen. 1) The party gets crashed by House Sparrows.

House Sparrows & Mourning Doves bathing

Or 2) dove orgy. A female Red-winged Blackbird walked in on this threesome.

Blackbird breaks up dove orgy

Shocking, I know!

Shocked Red-winged Blackbird

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Posted in Funny, Wingscapes Birdcam, Yard Birds | 1 Comment

Cedar Waxwings in our yard!

I witnessed a fun encounter with a waxwing yesterday (post forthcoming), and the next day they show up in our yard for the first time. Yard bird #23 is this Cedar Waxwing! A small group of them checked out the trees in the back of our yard. They didn’t stick around too long and mostly lurked within the leaves, but this guy popped out at the top of the tree for a couple of backlit photos.

Cedar Waxwing

Cedar Waxwing

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Just another day at the finch sock

A typical day at our back yard finch sock goes something like this. Birds arrive…

Arriving at the finch sock

… and depart…

Leaving the finch sock

… sometimes in the same moment.

Arriving & departing birds the finch sock

Finches mirror each other’s movements

Finches mirror each other

To get at the best seeds, some birds stretch this way…

Stretching sparrow

… and some stretch that way.

House Finch stretching

Sometimes birds look at the camera suspiciously.

Suspicious Goldfinch

Suspicious House Finch

The birds get along with each other…

Feeding finches get along

… or they don’t.

Finch fight!

Some know when it’s best to just wait in the background for their turn at the sock.

Goldfinch waiting in the background

Just a typical day hangin’ out at the finch sock!

Upside down finch

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Posted in Funny, Yard Birds | 1 Comment

Neighborhood gang

A gang of 8 crows has been cawing around our neighborhood. I first noticed them about a month ago in a field about a block from our house. Now they make themselves known almost every morning, nice and early. I love to hear them cawing, because I know they’ve been in trouble from West Nile around here for the past few years. The other day the gang paused outside our window, making a racket while posing for these shots.

American Crow

American Crow

American Crow

The gang shares the honor of being the 22nd species of bird found in our yard.

The yard list so far:

1. American Goldfinch
2. Dark-eyed Junco (slate-colored)
3. Black-capped Chickadee
4. House Finch
5. Mourning Dove
6. House Sparrow
7. Northern Cardinal
8. Red-winged Blackbird
9. Song Sparrow
10. American Robin
11. Downy Woodpecker
12. Brown-headed Cowbird
13. European Starling
14. American Tree Sparrow
15. Common Grackle
16. White-crowned Sparrow
17. Baltimore Oriole
18. Northern Flicker
19. Blue Jay
20. Cooper’s Hawk
21. House Wren
22. American Crow

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Cardinal feeding a cowbird

Earlier this year I asked my parents if they ever saw any juvenile cowbirds in their yard being tended by a host parent. The answer was no, but they never really thought to look. This year my mom was on the lookout and whattaya know, she saw this:

Baby cowbird begging cardinal for foodFeed me!
Mom took this video of the baby begging and being fed by ‘dad.’ Thanks for sending the video, mom!

I’ve never seen this myself. We have two pairs of Northern Cardinals visiting our feeders but I have not seen any of them with juveniles of any species. We had a lot of cowbirds in our yard until about a month ago, when I changed the mix of food we offer to mostly finch favorites. We’re visiting my parents tomorrow so maybe I’ll have a chance to see this firsthand. Have you ever seen baby cowbirds being tended by a host species parent?

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Posted in Yard Birds | 4 Comments

Do-it-yourself suet log feeder

My dad made us this great suet log feeder to add to our back yard feeders.

Homemade suet log feeder

Homemade suet log feeder

He used a piece of oak firewood about 16″ long and drilled four 1 3/8″ holes for suet logs or suet dough.

Filling a homemade suet log feeder

With a hook screwed in on top we can hang this almost anywhere.

Hook on top of log bird feeder

Homemade suet log feeder

We’d seen our resident Downy Woodpecker struggle a bit on a cage suet feeder, but she has no trouble with this one.

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Cooper’s Hawk in our yard!

Yard bird #20 scared away all of the other birds enjoying our feeding station.

Arthur noticed the feeder birds scatter and even the resident bunny high-cottontailed it out of the yard. Because of this Arthur was on the lookout for a hawk when Coop landed in the tree behind our yard. It had a look around and did a bit of preening in the tree.

Cooper's Hawk Preening

Next it dropped down behind the fence for a few seconds and then flew into a tree in our neighbor’s yard. Just a few seconds after that, it landed on our fence where we oohed and aahed (more like “Where’s the ?$&#!?! camera!?” and “Try to get the scope on it!!”) over it for a short, precious minute.

Cooper's Hawk

There’s something light and feather-covered in one of the Coop’s talons, but it looks much too small to be an entire bird. Probably no more than 30 seconds passed from the hawk flying between the tree, ground, tree and fence again, so what’s in the talon and what was left behind (and where?) is a bit of a mystery.

Cooper's Hawk on our back yard fence

We love our feeder birds – all of them! Welcome, Coop!

This is a late addition to this week’s Bird Photography Weekly. BPW is a regular collection of user-submitted bird photos from all over the world. The new edition comes out every Sunday and everyone is welcome to participate. Thanks to Birdfreak for hosting this great blog meme – go have a look!

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Posted in Bird Photography Weekly, Yard Birds | 1 Comment

Homemade bird feeding pole “system”

Today Arthur and my dad made a bird feeder pole for our back yard. First we all went to Home Depot to pick up the materials. The pole system is based on several feeders my parents have, all made by my dad. We used black pipes normally used for natural gas and/or plumbing systems. For this project we used:

One 2′ long, 1 inch diameter pipe (“the base”)
One 10′ long, 1/2 inch diameter pipe (“the long pole”)
One 18″ long, 1/2 inch diameter pipe (“the arm”)
One 1/2 T-section joint
Two 1/2 inch end caps
Two each: S-hook, nut/bolt, large washer, small washer

At Home Depot, we had an 18″ piece cut off the 10-foot pipe, and the cut side of the 18″ pipe threaded.

Here are Arthur and my dad preparing for the project. (My dad’s wearing dark glasses because he just had lens replacement surgery on his eyes.)


First, the T-section was screwed onto the top of the long pole.


Both 18″ arms were then screwed into the sides of the T-section.


They used a drill to cut holes in the end caps and then used the bolts, nuts & washers to secure the S-hooks to the ends of the caps. Pliers were used to tighten the S-hook around the bolt. The end-caps were then screwed onto the ends of the arms.


We then used a sledgehammer to pound the base pipe directly into the ground. We first hammered one end of the pipe in slightly, to prevent too much dirt entering the pipe from below. When the pipe was buried with only a few inches above the ground, we slid the long pole into the base. Since the pipes were not meant to nest this way, the long pole wobbled a bit. We used shims to make the fit more snug. I think the final result is pretty cool:


This system is much more substantial than the shepherd’s hooks we’re now using for our feeders. We can finally hang our Wingscapes Birdcam and hopefully get some more interesting shots than the ground images I’ve gotten over the past months. Here’s a sample we got late this afternoon.


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Posted in Products, Yard Birds | 17 Comments