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! 

Migration update 5-19-17

May 19, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

There have been a few more sightings in the last week, though this has not been a typical spring migration here.  Many birds I usually can count on have not shown themselves and I think the storms had an impact on their movements.

The Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have been active and there are two females that come frequently to the flowers and feeders.  

 

Ruby-throated Hummingbird female 5-12-17Ruby-throated Hummingbird female 5-12-17

 

A Gray-cheeked Thrush was seen, well-camouflaged in the rocky, leaf-strewn swale.

 

Gray-cheeked Thrush 5-12-17Gray-cheeked Thrush 5-12-17

 

A female Blackburnian Warbler was a delight to see at the Bubbler on Friday, 5/12/17. 

 

Blackburnian Warbler female 5-12-17Blackburnian Warbler female 5-12-17

 

A striking Canada Warbler soon followed.  This is one of the most deeply marked birds I've ever photographed.

 

Canada Warbler 5-12-17Canada Warbler 5-12-17

 

A fledgling American Robin discovered the Bubble and played in it!

 

Fledgling American Robin 5-13-17Fledgling American Robin 5-13-17

 

On Mother's Day, I had just decided to go inside when I saw movement in the corner of the Bubbler Basin.  The first Magnolia Warbler of the year had quietly slipped in.

 

Magnolia Warbler 5-14-17Magnolia Warbler 5-14-17

 

On Thursday, 5/18/17 several young male American Redstarts showed at the Bubbler together.  The following three images show first year males in different states of transition to the adult plumage.  They begin with black feathers on their faces, the last bird is nearly there.

 

American Redstart 1st yr male 5-18-17American Redstart 1st yr male 5-18-17

American Redstart 1st yr male 5-18-17American Redstart 1st yr male 5-18-17

American Redstart 1st yr male 5-18-17American Redstart 1st yr male 5-18-17

 

Finally, a first year male Chestnut-sided Warbler showed up.  I usually have so many of this species that I'm telling them they'd better get going.  Not this year, this is the only one that came to the Bubbler of the three individuals I had seen.

 

Chestnut-sided Warbler 1st yr male 5-18-17Chestnut-sided Warbler 1st yr male 5-18-17

 

A bit later, a female American Redstart fluttered down, fan tailed.  At least, I think this is a female since the bird is not showing distinctly black feathering yet.

 

American Redstart  female 5-18-17American Redstart female 5-18-17

 

A young Northern Cardinal also found its way to get a drink.  It's heartening to see nesting success.

 

Northern Cardinal fledgling 5-18-17Northern Cardinal fledgling 5-18-17

 

For all the photos since the last blog post, open this page:  Photos beginning 5/10/17

 

 


Rains, winds and migrants 5-11-17

May 12, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

The winds have not been all that favorable for the birds in this peak week of migration.  The travelers that I've seen here seemed intent on feeding and barely singing.  It takes so much energy to make their journeys. 

 

It had rained 7 out of 9 days and a few Chipping Sparrows showed up as the showers subsided on Thursday afternoon, 5/4/17.  This one found a tiny morsel on a violet.

 

Chipping Sparrow with larva 5-4-17Chipping Sparrow with larva 5-4-17

 

The next day revealed some warblers.  A Golden-winged Warbler looked in at the Bubbler before a squirrel came in too close for comfort.

 

Golden-winged Warbler 5-5-17Golden-winged Warbler 5-5-17

 

It was followed soon after by a Blue-winged Warbler.  

 

Blue-winged Warbler 5-5-17Blue-winged Warbler 5-5-17

 

Nearby, mowers and blowers were deafening, but that did not stop this Baltimore Oriole from coming down from the canopy to bathe!

 

Baltimore Oriole 5-5-17Baltimore Oriole 5-5-17

 

Yellow-rumped Warblers were still here on Friday, 5/5/17.  

 

Yellow-rumped Warbler 5-5-17Yellow-rumped Warbler 5-5-17

 

A female Indigo Bunting looked in from the Smooth Hydrangeas (Hydrangea arborescens) behind the Bubbler. 

 

Indigo Bunting female on Smooth Hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens) 5-6-17Indigo Bunting female on Smooth Hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens) 5-6-17

 

White-throated Sparrows were also here for a while longer before heading north to Canada.

 

White-throated Sparrow 5-6-17 last seen 5/8/17White-throated Sparrow 5-6-17 last seen 5/8/17

 

Rose-breasted Grosbeaks came in a flock of 3 males and 3 females.  These large finches were seen squabbling at the Bubbler and the feeders for several days.

 

Rose-breasted Grosbeak 5-7-17Rose-breasted Grosbeak 5-7-17

Rose-breasted Grosbeak female 5-8-17Rose-breasted Grosbeak female 5-8-17

 

On Sunday, 5/7/17 a Gray Catbird popped in to make its presence known.  I had not heard it that day or since then.

 

Gray Catbird 5-7-17Gray Catbird 5-7-17

 

On Monday, 5/8/17 a few more birds showed up.  Two were warblers, this American Redstart and a Black-throated Green.  

 

American Redstart 5-8-17American Redstart 5-8-17 Black-throated Green Warbler 5-8-17Black-throated Green Warbler 5-8-17

 

I'm always glad to see these 'old friends' but this bird was one I had not seen or photographed here before.  It was a female Scarlet Tanager.

 

Scarlet Tanager female 5-8-17Scarlet Tanager female 5-8-17

 

It has seemed to me all week that the same small flock of warblers kept moving around the neighborhood and I would see a slightly different mix each day.  Nashville, Tennessee and female Black and White Warblers have bathed. 

 

Nashville Warbler 5-10-17Nashville Warbler 5-10-17 Tennessee Warbler 5-10-17Tennessee Warbler 5-10-17 Black and White Warbler female 5-10-17Black and White Warbler female 5-10-17

 

A Gray-cheeked Thrush found a tasty cricket for its breakfast in the cover of the Wood Poppies (Stylophorum diphyllum) and Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense) on Tuesday, 5/9/17.  The insect was down the hatch in two quick gulps!

 

Gray-cheeked Thrush with cricket 5-9-17Gray-cheeked Thrush with cricket 5-9-17

 

Another bird that I never heard call but stopped to check in was this Yellow-bellied Flycatcher on Wednesday, 5/10/17. 

 

Yellow-bellied Flycatcher 5-10-17Yellow-bellied Flycatcher 5-10-17

 

Today has been pretty quiet with showers on and off and northwest winds again.  Maybe tomorrow will be a brighter day and bring some birds!

 

To see all the photos from the past week, begin here:

Birds beginning 5/4/17

 

 


Warblers and Rainbow Sherbet? 5-3-17

May 03, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

April has flown and May has come along with new migrants!  Rains accumulated here to over 8" for the last storm, southerly winds gusted to 30 mph or more on Monday. Birds had dropped in overnight, staying in our low-lying woodland to find food.  A Summer Tanager flew into an oak next to the deck at very close range.  It was busy making short sallies for insects and did not make its "pit-ti-tuk" call.

Open a new page to learn more:

Summer Tanager

 

Summer Tanager 4-30-17Summer Tanager 4-30-17

 

The first female Ruby-throated Hummingbird arrived the same day.

 

Ruby-throated Hummingbird female 4-20-17Ruby-throated Hummingbird female 4-20-17

 

Rose-breasted Grosbeaks worked in the trees to find caterpillars and also came to the feeders.

 

Rose-breasted Grosbeak 5-1-17Rose-breasted Grosbeak 5-1-17

 

A first year male Summer Tanager came to the Bubbler!  It was my very first opportunity to photograph one in this changing, mottled plumage.  

 

Summer Tanager 1st year male 5-1-17Summer Tanager 1st year male 5-1-17

 

Though it was very windy, I was able to spot a small warbler moving in and out of cover looking for food.  This bird has always been a difficult one for me to photograph.  Here is the Common Yellowthroat, back view.

 

Common Yellowthroat 5-1-17Common Yellowthroat 5-1-17

 

And, here is the bird in full lemony splendor!  The next day, I could hear it calling its "witchety-witchety-witchety" song.

 

Open a new page to learn more:

Common Yellowthroat

 

Common Yellowthroat 5-1-17Common Yellowthroat 5-1-17

 

The nesters have been busy, too.  Here, a Hairy Woodpecker found a super-sized larva for its fledgling to eat.  The adult waved it in front of the young bird, to get it interested, ready and in the right position to take it down.  It seemed to be a bit of a tug of war.

 

Hairy Woodpecker feeding fledgling 5-1-17Hairy Woodpecker feeding fledgling 5-1-17 Hairy Woodpecker feeding fledgling 5-1-17Hairy Woodpecker feeding fledgling 5-1-17 Hairy Woodpecker feeding fledgling 5-1-17Hairy Woodpecker feeding fledgling 5-1-17

 

Success!  The youngster swallowed it all and gets an "Atta, bird!" from its proud parent!

 

Hairy Woodpecker feeding fledgling 5-1-17Hairy Woodpecker feeding fledgling 5-1-17

 

The winds slowed down a bit and more birds were revealed on Tuesday, 5-2-17.  A Bay-breasted Warbler was in the elm and then the shingle oak near the driveway, feeding in the trees.

 

Bay-breasted Warbler 5-2-17Bay-breasted Warbler 5-2-17

 

Then, Black and White Warblers showed themselves.  The male has the dark black on the cheek and throat, the female's cheek is paler and throat is white.

 

Black and White Warbler 5-2-17Black and White Warbler 5-2-17 Black and White Warbler female 5-2-17Black and White Warbler female 5-2-17

 

Another bird that came down is this Blue-winged Warbler.  I've only been able to photograph this one a handful of times so I was very pleased to see it.  It never sang its "bee-buzz" song.

 

Open a new page to learn more:

Blue-winged Warbler

 

Blue-winged Warbler 5-2-17Blue-winged Warbler 5-2-17

 

Serendipity brought in another first year male Summer Tanager! 

 

Summer Tanager 1st year male 5-2-17Summer Tanager 1st year male 5-2-17

 

Here are the three Summer Tanagers from the last few days in one composite photo.  I heard the full song and call of a male on Tuesday afternoon.  The Summer Tanager is our only all red bird and has the large "peanut-like" bill.

 

Summer Tanager 1st year males and adult 5--17Summer Tanager 1st year males and adult 5--17

 

For all the photos from the last few days, begin here:

Photos beginning 4/30/17

 

 


PS Brief break in the rain on 4/29/17

April 30, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

Right after the last post, I stepped outside to hear birdsong and see some activity.  There was a Northern Cardinal foraging for caterpillars in the shingle oak (Quercus imbricaria) near the driveway, the same tree the Blue Grosbeaks were in last week.  

 

Northern Cardinal finding caterpillar in Shingle Oak leaf (Quercus imbricaria) 4-29-17Northern Cardinal finding caterpillar in Shingle Oak leaf (Quercus imbricaria) 4-29-17 Northern Cardinal finding caterpillar in Shingle Oak leaf (Quercus imbricaria) 4-29-17Northern Cardinal finding caterpillar in Shingle Oak leaf (Quercus imbricaria) 4-29-17 Northern Cardinal finding caterpillar in Shingle Oak leaf (Quercus imbricaria) 4-29-17Northern Cardinal finding caterpillar in Shingle Oak leaf (Quercus imbricaria) 4-29-17

 

The bird had found a small caterpillar within the curled leaf. Think "button candy" being peeled off the paper. I followed the cardinal and in a split second, a Scarlet Tanager popped in to challenge it for feeding rights!  The tanager flew as thunder rumbled again.

 

Northern Cardinal and Scarlet Tanager 4-29-17Northern Cardinal and Scarlet Tanager 4-29-17

 

The birds are here looking for food whether we can find them or not.  The growth on the leaves has been exponential with the heat and rains.  The leaves are still soft and supple, perfect for the caterpillars to munch on as well as to provide the ideal place in which to pupate. I took a leaf from a low-hanging branch on the tree to get a look inside.

 

Shingle Oak leaf (Quercus imbricaria) with caterpillar 4-29-17Shingle Oak leaf (Quercus imbricaria) with caterpillar 4-29-17

 

I gently began to pry open the folded area on the leaf and the caterpillar crawled out.  It was just beginning to form its sheltered space.

 

Shingle Oak leaf (Quercus imbricaria) with caterpillar 4-29-17Shingle Oak leaf (Quercus imbricaria) with caterpillar 4-29-17

 

It was also in a hurry to get away.  I offered the caterpillar a twig, it climbed on and I took it back over to the oak where it found a new leaf for its temporary home.  No caterpillars were harmed in this investigation!

 

Shingle Oak leaf (Quercus imbricaria) with caterpillar 4-29-17Shingle Oak leaf (Quercus imbricaria) with caterpillar 4-29-17 Shingle Oak leaf (Quercus imbricaria) with caterpillar silken webbing 4-29-17Shingle Oak leaf (Quercus imbricaria) with caterpillar silken webbing 4-29-17

 

So, this is the stuff of life for these birds! Yes, the leaves get some holes, but not all the leaves are used. In fact, the birds keep the trees healthy by eating many of these invertebrates. There will be some left to become moths that will feed the next generation. There is no need for any other form of control. Stand back and the tree still looks beautifully cloaked in green.  

 

 

 


Rain! 4/29/17

April 29, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

Be careful what you wish for, they say.  There can always be wide swings in temperature and rainfall here in the Midwest. Our two day rainfall total was over 4" by 10:00 this morning, and more storms are on the way. 

Birds have been busy here this past week.  Yellow-rumped Warblers and White-throated Sparrows are still here fueling up for the next leg of their journeys.  

 

Yellow-rumped Warblers 4-22-17Yellow-rumped Warblers 4-22-17 White-throated Sparrow 4-23-17White-throated Sparrow 4-23-17

 

A Ruby-crowned Kinglet got close and personal with "the bubble". This bird is most likely a female since it didn't flash a ruby crown. It had a great time!

 

Ruby-crowned Kinglet 4-24-17Ruby-crowned Kinglet 4-24-17 Ruby-crowned Kinglet 4-24-17Ruby-crowned Kinglet 4-24-17 Ruby-crowned Kinglet 4-24-17Ruby-crowned Kinglet 4-24-17

 

Palm Warblers have been around for several days now, finding food in the swampy thicket and small puddles in which to bathe.

 

Palm Warbler 4-26-17Palm Warbler 4-26-17 Palm Warbler 4-26-17Palm Warbler 4-26-17

 

Another Hermit Thrush was seen on Wednesday, 4/26/17.

 

Hermit Thrush 4-26-17Hermit Thrush 4-26-17

 

Several days, Indigo Buntings have been here foraging in small flocks with adult and mottled first year birds, like this male.

 

Indigo Bunting 4-26-17Indigo Bunting 4-26-17

 

About 30 American Goldfinches were in the oaks one morning and several stayed around to bathe.  They look so beautiful now in their breeding plumage.

 

American Goldfinches 4-25-17American Goldfinches 4-25-17 American Goldfinch 4-27-17American Goldfinch 4-27-17

 

On Thursday, 4/2/7//17 I heard a Blue-headed Vireo singing sweetly. It finally came down into view and perched in this small elm tree.

Here is the page with its song:   Blue-Headed Vireo

 

Blue-headed Vireo 4-27-17Blue-headed Vireo 4-27-17

 

Vireos like to splash-bathe and this bird wasted no time finding the basin and getting a quick bath before the rains came.

 

Blue-headed Vireo 4-27-17Blue-headed Vireo 4-27-17 Blue-headed Vireo 4-27-17Blue-headed Vireo 4-27-17

 

There's a break in the rain, so it is time to have another look and listen.

 

To see all the photos from this past week, begin here:   Birds since 4/21/17