Ruby-throated Hummingbird on garden arborRuby-throated Hummingbird on garden arborOne of many ruby-throated hummingbirds in our garden rests on the garden arbor.

Welcome to our blog! It's all about our discoveries here in our Shady Oaks yard, a Sanctuary for birds and other wildlife. We began to restore habitat for wildlife here in 1996 and gauge our success by the diversity of species we observe and document with our photography. We hope you enjoy our images and come back often to see what's new! 

A Bevy of Beauties 5-15-18

May 15, 2018  •  1 Comment

The details of life are exquisite!


This is our 21st spring here and as of today, I have documented 105 species of birds for the year. This includes 26 warbler species and 77 species at the Bubbler.  For a slow start to migration, it has been truly remarkable with 12-14 warbler species here each day. I have been burning the candle at both ends to photograph, go through hundreds and upload the best photos. From those, here are my favorites of the past week.


First are Blackpoll Warblers, male and female. Note those diagnostic orangey legs!


Blackpoll Warbler 5-10-18Blackpoll Warbler 5-10-18

Blackpoll Warbler female 5-14-18Blackpoll Warbler female 5-14-18


Wilson's Warblers wear their little black caps.

  Wilson's Warbler 5-10-18Wilson's Warbler 5-10-18 Wilson's Warbler 5-12-18Wilson's Warbler 5-12-18


The "Firethroat" or Blackburnian Warbler is next. Male is in photos 1 and 2, and a female in photo 3. The female even has a hint of a fiery throat.


Blackburnian Warbler 5-10-18Blackburnian Warbler 5-10-18 Blackburnian Warbler 5-10-18Blackburnian Warbler 5-10-18

Blackburnian Warbler female 5-14-18Blackburnian Warbler female 5-14-18


Black-and-white Warblers were here, male and female which happened to be photographed on the same day. The male has the black throat.


Black-and-white Warbler 5-10-18Black-and-white Warbler 5-10-18 Black-and-white Warbler female 5-10-18Black-and-white Warbler female 5-10-18


Chestnut-sided Warblers, with a male in photo 1 and a female on the Bubbler rock in the next. A Tennessee Warbler grabbed a snack next to the female in photo 3.


Chestnut-sided Warbler 5-12-18Chestnut-sided Warbler 5-12-18 Chestnut-sided Warbler 5-10-18Chestnut-sided Warbler 5-10-18 Chestnut-sided and Tennessee Warblers 5-10-18Chestnut-sided and Tennessee Warblers 5-10-18


A Black-throated Green Warbler enjoyed a bath in the basin.


Black-throated Green Warbler 5-11-18Black-throated Green Warbler 5-11-18


A lovely Yellow Warbler was seen two days in a row. 


Yellow Warbler 5-11-18Yellow Warbler 5-11-18

Yellow Warbler 5-11-18Yellow Warbler 5-11-18


A female Common Yellowthroat came to the Bubbler several days. We both saw the male, but it did not come in closer this year.

  Common Yellowthroat female 5-12-18Common Yellowthroat female 5-12-18


Singing Canada Warblers were here on Mother's Day. This was the first time I had photographed two males! Bird #1 is nicely marked in photos 1 and 2, but does not wear as heavy a "necklace" as Bird #2 in photos 3 and 4. 


Canada Warbler #1 5-13-18Canada Warbler #1 5-13-18

Canada Warbler #1 5-13-18Canada Warbler #1 5-13-18 Canada Warbler #2 5-13-18Canada Warbler #2 5-13-18 Canada Warbler #2 5-13-18Canada Warbler #2 5-13-18


I was very pleasantly surprised to see another Bay-breasted Warbler come in on the same day. Some years I see them, but don't have a chance to catch any photos.

  Bay-breasted Warbler 5-13-18Bay-breasted Warbler 5-13-18


Magnolia Warblers have been very cooperative this year, some years they stay more hidden. They are gorgeous birds, the female is in photo 3. 


Magnolia Warbler 5-13-18Magnolia Warbler 5-13-18

Magnolia Warbler 5-13-18Magnolia Warbler 5-13-18 Magnolia Warbler female 5-14-18Magnolia Warbler female 5-14-18 Magnolia Warbler 5-14-18Magnolia Warbler 5-14-18


All in all, between the weather and dry conditions, the birds have been tumbling in and seemed glad to find food, water and a place to rest! If ever there was a year to share nature's bounty of warblers, this has been the one! 


For all the photos since the last post, start here:  Photos since 5-8-18 





Birds, beyond words!

May 09, 2018  •  1 Comment

Kentucky Warbler 5-8-18Kentucky Warbler 5-8-18

Roger Tory Peterson on the Kentucky Warbler:  "Learn the song; for every ten Kentuckies heard, one is seen."


This May has been the very best of the best so far! It is difficult to put into words how this feels. For years, we've worked together toward removing invasive species of plants, adding natives, and watching the woodland recover. Every layer of the canopy now provides a bounty of food for the birds. This past week has been record-breaking in terms of the numbers of species I've documented here since 1996. I have had six days already with over 50 species each day. The highest count was on Friday, 5-4-18 with 58 species including 16 warblers. It gives me palpitations! I am so very grateful to Dan for his supportive constancy in our efforts; to all of those from whom I've learned about our native plants, native birds, and the insects that are so necessary to their survival. I have had so much help in this endeavor and it's such a joy to share some of what I've seen.


A week ago, I saw a Kentucky Warbler and shared two images. What I didn't say was that I had not laid eyes on one in 6 years and then I only took videos of it. Here is one video from 5-2-12 that shows some of its behavior.


Kentucky Warbler 5-2-12


Yesterday, while I was photographing birds, a swarm of flying ants began to emerge from a log on the path about six feet away from me. Oh, the breeze was carrying them my way, between me and the camera, under my glasses. So, I Ieaned back in my chair out of the way and realized birds were overhead, coming in to catch them. I picked up the camera and moved a few feet to my left to photograph a Blue Jay that had come in for the feast.


Flying ant bounty 5-8-18Flying ant bounty 5-8-18


The Blue Jays have nestlings and these insects would make a perfect meal for them.


Blue Jay foraging ants 5-8-18Blue Jay foraging ants 5-8-18


I began to move back to my spot when I realized that a Kentucky Warbler was on the stone wall just to my left and a step below me! I feel certain that this was the same individual that had been here last week. Shoot, it may have been here all week long, there are so many places for it to hide. This bird was focused on the food, not worried about me and my movements; it quickly caught flying ants, too.


Kentucky Warbler foraging ants 5-8-18Kentucky Warbler foraging ants 5-8-18


The Kentucky continued foraging in the Celandine Poppies (Stylophorum diphyllum) and Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica). It checked out the 'Bubble' and bathed in the basin. What a "Soul-satisfying View" of this bird! The beautiful Kentucky Warbler is a species of high Conservation Concern with a score of 14


Kentucky Warbler 5-8-18Kentucky Warbler 5-8-18

Kentucky Warbler 5-8-18Kentucky Warbler 5-8-18

Kentucky Warbler 5-8-18Kentucky Warbler 5-8-18

Kentucky Warbler 5-8-18Kentucky Warbler 5-8-18


My favorite images from the rest of the week begin with a Northern Parula and Chestnut-sided Warblers.


Northern Parula 5-4-18Northern Parula 5-4-18 Chestnut-sided Warbler 5-4-18Chestnut-sided Warbler 5-4-18


There were two first spring male Summer Tanagers, catching insects as one can tell by the tidbits on their bills.


Summer Tanager 5-4-18Summer Tanager 5-4-18

Summer Tanager 5-4-18Summer Tanager 5-4-18


A young male Baltimore Oriole came down from the high canopy to check out the basin.


Baltimore Oriole 5-4-18Baltimore Oriole 5-4-18


Black-throated Green, Tennessee, Northern Parula and Black-and-white Warblers splashed and played in the 'Bubble".


Black-throated Green Warbler 5-5-18Black-throated Green Warbler 5-5-18 Tennessee Warbler and Northern Parula 5-6-18Tennessee Warbler and Northern Parula 5-6-18 Black and White Warbler 5-6-18Black and White Warbler 5-6-18


A bird that has only been seen once in the yard visited the swampy thicket two days in a row, an Orchard Oriole.


Orchard Oriole 5-6-18Orchard Oriole 5-6-18


A female Hairy Woodpecker found larvae for its brood in another log in the woodland. 


Hairy Woodpecker with larvae 5-6-18Hairy Woodpecker with larvae 5-6-18


An operatic Tennessee Warbler provided an interlude between sightings of the Kentucky Warbler.


Tennessee Warbler 5-8-18Tennessee Warbler 5-8-18


A lovely Veery came to the Bubbler to bathe after being here several days.


Veery 5-8-18Veery 5-8-18


What a magical, memorable week!


To view all the photos since the last post:  Photos 5-4-18 to 5-8-18






Bringing in the Birds! 5-3-18

May 03, 2018  •  1 Comment

The Bubbler is ready and waiting!  4-30-18The Bubbler is ready and waiting! 4-30-18


Monday was the last morning of April and the air seemed to be ready to burst forth with birds! The Bubbler was ready to accommodate them. Seven new birds showed up that day. A Gray Catbird was first at the Bubbler in between quick forays into the bluebells and poppies looking for insects.


Gray Catbird 4-30-18Gray Catbird 4-30-18


The first Swainson's Thrush had arrived. Last year, my first sighting of this species broke the earliest Missouri record by four days when it came on 4/10/17. This bird was 20 days later. This late migration has not been a figment of our imaginations!


Swainson's Thrush 4-30-18Swainson's Thrush 4-30-18


The first Baltimore Oriole was heard and then found high in one of the sugar maples. 


Baltimore Oriole in Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum) 4-30-18Baltimore Oriole in Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum) 4-30-18


To my delight, a Kentucky Warbler foraged near the Bubbler and I finally was able to snatch a couple images as it worked under the gooseberries and later in back. I do not get to see this lovely bird every year!


Kentucky Warbler 5-1-18Kentucky Warbler 5-1-18 Kentucky Warbler 5-1-18Kentucky Warbler 5-1-18


A Red-eyed Vireo stopped in to drink at the Bubbler.  Only one other time have I seen one do this and it may be the same bird. Typically, they will splash-bathe. The red eye is well lit in the soft morning light.


Red-eyed Vireo 5-1-18Red-eyed Vireo 5-1-18


One of two male Rose-breasted Grosbeaks came for a bath but the dominant Northern Cardinal promptly chased it away before it got any closer than this.


Rose-breasted Grosbeak 5-1-18Rose-breasted Grosbeak 5-1-18


This male Indigo Bunting still has a patchwork of feathering but it will soon become true-blue.  It found a flying insect for breakfast. 


Indigo Bunting with insect 5-1-18Indigo Bunting with insect 5-1-18


Blackpoll Warblers are back!  


Blackpoll Warbler 5-1-18Blackpoll Warbler 5-1-18


The Bubbler has become the hot spot again with very dry days and new birds anxious to get in. The Nashville Warbler on the left was a bit wary to join the squawking Tufted Titmouse when it chased away the Carolina Chickadee. 


Nashville Warbler, Tufted Titmouse and Carolina Chickadee 5-1-18Nashville Warbler, Tufted Titmouse and Carolina Chickadee 5-1-18


Finally, the little bird could say, "It's MY turn!"


Nashville Warbler "My turn!" 5-1-18Nashville Warbler "My turn!" 5-1-18


A family of Cedar Waxwings have been calling while feeding together. This one came down to investigate and rest.


Cedar Waxwing 5-1-18Cedar Waxwing 5-1-18


Tuesday, 5/1/18 was a banner day with 49 species of birds and 8 warblers. But Wednesday would prove to be even better! A Great Crested Flycatcher had arrived on 4/27/18. Last year, this species nested here. Conditions have been very dry and breezy. To my surprise, this bird decided to come and drink at the Bubbler for the very first time. That makes it Bubbler Bird species #120! 


Great Crested Flycatcher 5-2-18Great Crested Flycatcher 5-2-18 Bubbler Bird #120 Great Crested Flycatcher 5-2-18Bubbler Bird #120 Great Crested Flycatcher 5-2-18


The day was certainly not over. A fine looking Blue-winged Warbler was foraging in native hydrangeas behind the Bubbler. These birds are all so hungry and thirsty when they first arrive. Singing happens after satiation.


  Blue-winged Warbler 5-2-18Blue-winged Warbler 5-2-18


I saw the first Ovenbird of the year before 8 am. A bit later, it popped out from under the deck a few feet from where I was sitting. I didn't move a muscle for fear of flushing it much further away! In a bit, it flew up to a dogwood and studied me for a while. It pays to give these birds space and respect. They're curious, too! It was soon walking along the woodland floor and finding more food.


Ovenbird 5-2-18Ovenbird 5-2-18 Ovenbird 5-2-18Ovenbird 5-2-18


Chestnut-sided Warblers were finding larvae in the small elms.  A gorgeous Bay-breasted Warbler made several attempts to get near the Bubbler, but there was simply too much activity for it to find a way in. Some birds prefer it a bit more quiet.

  Chestnut-sided Warbler 5-2-18Chestnut-sided Warbler 5-2-18 Bay-breasted Warbler 5-2-18Bay-breasted Warbler 5-2-18


A female Summer Tanager made a couple attempts to get closer to the water. The bird was just getting comfortable when peace was interrupted by noisy mowers and blowers nearby.  The spell was broken at 3:30.  I went back out at 5:00 when it was quieter but birds had scattered. About 7:30 pm, we heard fussing and we saw a Barred Owl bathing in the sump puddle. That brought the day's totals to 52 species with 11 warblers and 8 new arrivals. What a great start to May!


Summer Tanager female 5-2-18Summer Tanager female 5-2-18


To view all the photos since the last post:  Birds late April into May



You are invited to view my new exhibit, "Warblers!" opening May 1, 2018

April 29, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

Wood Warblers have often been called the gems of the forests, the butterflies of the bird world. Their arrival is highly anticipated in spring as they move through our area along the Mississippi Flyway from central and south America to their breeding grounds.

This migration is a wholly American phenomenon! The wood warblers are only found in the Americas and their adjacent islands in the Western Hemisphere.

They are considered Missouri birds because they spend part of their lives here in our state.


Golden-winged Warbler 5-7-16Golden-winged Warbler 5-7-16

Golden-winged Warbler

"Chickadee Warbler"

Conservation Concern Score:  16

May 7, 2016

Margy Terpstra ~ Kirkwood, Missouri


NABCI, the North American Bird Conservation Initiative, was established in 1999 by the governments of Canada, the United States, and Mexico.
In 2016, for the first time, a team of experts from these countries gave all 1,154 native North American bird species 
a Conservation Concern Score.

432 species (37%) had a score of “13” or higher. 
These species are now on the Watch List because they face the highest risk of extinction without significant conservation action.  

This exhibit includes 29 different species of warblers, five of which are on this Watch List, like this Golden-winged Warbler.


Near the end of May, I will share a link to the gallery of images. The 8" x 10" metal prints will be available for purchase.

Contact me for information at:


I would like to thank Shelly Colatskie at Powder Valley Nature Center for inviting me to put together this collection for display. I've been photographing warblers here in our Shady Oaks yard since 2003 and it is a joy for me to be able to share my images of these beautiful neotropical migrants. 

The exhibit is free! You are invited to stop in at Powder Valley, stroll through the Art Hallway and see these beauties close up.  


The area is open every day, but building hours are restricted, see below or check here:  Powder Vally CNC

Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center

11715 Cragwold Road

Kirkwood, MO 63122-7000


Building Hours:

Sun Closed

Mon Closed

Tue 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM

Wed 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM

Thu 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM

Fri 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM

Sat 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM





End of April birds 4-29-18

April 29, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

Carolina Wren 4-26-18Carolina Wren 4-26-18


What's going on?


Like this Carolina Wren, I've been scratching my head about this spring's migration. In the last few years I've seen many more species arrive by the end of April. We birders look forward to spring and the arrival of these birds with the greatest anticipation! The extended cold weather seems to have affected their food supply. Now that small insects are emerging, things should pick up around here! It takes them a few days to feed and gather strength at each stop before they can move on. They have been seen in good numbers in southern parts of the state, a very good sign.


So, in the meantime, we enjoy watching the Yellow-rumped Warblers and hearing the plaintive song of the White-throated Sparrow. 


Yellow-rumped Warbler 4-22-18Yellow-rumped Warbler 4-22-18

White-throated Sparrow singing 4-22-18White-throated Sparrow singing 4-22-18

Listen here:  Song of the White-throated Sparrow


More folks have seen Ruby-throats by now, too. 


Ruby-throated Hummingbird 4-22-18Ruby-throated Hummingbird 4-22-18


The Hermit Thrush was here up until a couple days ago so I think it has moved on.


Hermit Thrush 4-23-18Hermit Thrush 4-23-18 Hermit Thrush 4-24-18Hermit Thrush 4-24-18


The cottontails are out and about, munching on violets.


E. Cottontail eating violets 4-22-18E. Cottontail eating violets 4-22-18


Eastern Gray Squirrels spend most of the day chasing each other, but these two were seen resting together in the thicket.


Eastern Gray Squirrels 4-24-18Eastern Gray Squirrels 4-24-18


This video captured one of the Barred Owls we've been hearing. The only creatures moving in the water are the American Toads, so we assume that was what the owl took for a meal.


Barred Owl catching a toad 4-21-18


On Tuesday, 4-24-18, the first Orange-crowned Warbler was in the woodland looking for insects in dried leaf clusters and a Brown Creeper found a centipede for a meal.


Orange-crowned Warbler 4-24-18Orange-crowned Warbler 4-24-18 Brown Creeper with centipede 4-24-18Brown Creeper with centipede 4-24-18


The first House Wren of the year showed up at the Bubbler Pond the following morning.


FOY House Wren 4-25-18FOY House Wren 4-25-18


Both Golden-crowned and Ruby-crowned Kinglets came to the Bubbler that Wednesday. The Ruby-crowned made my day, excitedly flashing those red crown feathers!


Golden-crowned Kinglet 4-25-18Golden-crowned Kinglet 4-25-18 Ruby-crowned Kinglet 4-25-18Ruby-crowned Kinglet 4-25-18 Ruby-crowned Kinglet 4-25-18Ruby-crowned Kinglet 4-25-18 Ruby-crowned Kinglet 4-25-18Ruby-crowned Kinglet 4-25-18 Ruby-crowned Kinglet 4-25-18Ruby-crowned Kinglet 4-25-18


On Thursday, 4-26-18, these Northern Cardinals were pair-bonding. The male offered his mate a healthy larval tidbit, proving his commitment to her and their nestlings.


Northern Cardinals pair-bonding by feeding an insect 4-26-18Northern Cardinals pair-bonding by feeding an insect 4-26-18


A new year bird announced its arrival with a "tu-Wheep!" on Friday, 4-27-18. The Great-crested Flycatcher has returned.


FOY Great-crested Flycatcher 4-27-18FOY Great-crested Flycatcher 4-27-18


So, I continue to watch and wait, enjoying the antics of the Ruby-throat at the Virginia Bluebells while the fragrance of Golden Currant wafts in my direction.


Ruby-throated Hummingbird at Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica) 4-28-18Ruby-throated Hummingbird at Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica) 4-28-18 Ruby-throated Hummingbird at Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica) 4-28-18Ruby-throated Hummingbird at Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica) 4-28-18


Tuesday, 5-1-18, my new exhibit called "Warblers" will be on display at Powder Valley Nature Center in Kirkwood, MO. Check out the information about it in the next blog post and stop by the Art Hallway sometime soon! I'll be opening the online gallery in a couple weeks for those of you who aren't able to get there.