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! 

Warblers, Creepers, Kinglets, and more, oh my! 10-16-17

October 16, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

A lingering female Chestnut-sided Warbler was still visiting the Bubbler this past week. The last day that I saw it was on Monday, 10/9/17.


Chestnut-sided Warbler 10-9-17Chestnut-sided Warbler 10-9-17


A beautiful male Northern Parula came in on the same day.


Northern Parula 10-9-17Northern Parula 10-9-17


I chased this warbler quite a while to get even one image to share, a Bay-breasted Warbler that had found a meal.


Bay-breasted Warbler with insect 10-10-17Bay-breasted Warbler with insect 10-10-17


The first Brown Creeper of the fall season arrived on Wednesday, 10/11/7 with a cool front after 2.4" of rain. 


Brown Creeper 10-11-17Brown Creeper 10-11-17


Birds were actively feeding in the garden that day. A Tennessee Warbler was finding small insects in this 'Blue Muffin' viburnum (Viburnum dentatum x 'Blue Muffin').


Tennessee Warbler on 'Blue Muffin' Viburnum (Viburnum dentatum)Tennessee Warbler on 'Blue Muffin' Viburnum (Viburnum dentatum)


A Northern Cardinal was feasting on the seeds of Leather Flower, a native clematis (Clematis versicolor).


Northern Cardinal eating seed of Leatherflower (Clematis versicolor) 10-11-17Northern Cardinal eating seed of Leatherflower (Clematis versicolor) 10-11-17


Ruby-crowned Kinglets have been seen in triplets. This one was foraging in the Pond Cypress (Taxodium ascendens).


Ruby-crowned Kinglet in Pond cypress (Taxodium ascendens) 10-11-17Ruby-crowned Kinglet in Pond cypress (Taxodium ascendens) 10-11-17


A Black-throated Green Warbler flew from the same tree over to a small elm (Ulmus americana).


Black-throated Green Warbler in American Elm (Ulmus americana) 10-12-17Black-throated Green Warbler in American Elm (Ulmus americana) 10-12-17


Golden-crowned Kinglets arrived that day, too. Several were busy in the Sugar Maples (Acer saccharum). Listen for their "tsee tsee tsee" call.


Golden-crowned Kinglet 10-12-17Golden-crowned Kinglet 10-12-17


I was able to get another photo of the Brown Creeper on the trunk of the same maple.


Brown Creeper 10-12-17Brown Creeper 10-12-17


Both Golden-crowned and Ruby-crowned Kinglets have been very active near the Bubbler. They are the most challenging subjects, barely stopping for a second or two.


Golden-crowned Kinglet 10-13-17Golden-crowned Kinglet 10-13-17 Ruby-crowned Kinglet 10-14-17Ruby-crowned Kinglet 10-14-17


Summer Tanagers have been around for the past few days. Just after the Kinglets had come in, this bird slipped into the basin. It blends in so well with the color of the Meramec river gravel.

  Summer Tanager 10-14-17Summer Tanager 10-14-17


The White-tailed deer are coming into the woodland frequently now. On two mornings, we've seen a doe with her twins, getting up from where they had slept. Last Sunday night, the lame 3-legged buck came to the basin to drink.


3-legged Buck at Bubbler 10-8-17


A couple nights later, a buck with a large rack munched on the Celandine poppies (Stylophorum diphyllum). My comfort zone is disturbed knowing that these beasts are coming in so close. On 10/14/17, the same buck took a long drink from the basin after eating some of the native hydrangeas (Hydrangea arborescens).


10 point Buck eating Celandine Poppies 10-10-17 10 point Buck at Bubbler 10-12-17


I discovered a 'hidey-hole' for one of the raccoons that have been around. On Friday, 10/13/17 it emerged to scratch an itch before climbing back in to sleep the day away.


Raccoon in White Oak 10-13-17Raccoon in White Oak 10-13-17


We see an opossum occasionally and this is one of the smaller ones.


Opossum at Bubbler 10-15-17


Some days, we're just grateful that we both get to see something special though the perfect photo remains elusive.  I was sitting at the table in the breakfast room, when a head with two furry ears popped up right alongside the deck. It was the beautiful Red Fox. I called to Dan, the fox's ears twitched as it heard me so I dared not move toward the camera at the window. The fox moved off the rock wall and down under the feeders, then toward the garden. We both went in to the other room and watched it as it stood for a moment, stalking. It then turned and went back toward the woods. I got the camera on the off chance it would reappear. It did briefly, in a standoff with a feral cat. The fox then loped up to the street before trotting up the neighbor's hill. It is such a beautiful, healthy animal.


Red Fox 10-15-17Red Fox 10-15-17

Locals share with more October migrants 10-9-17

October 09, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

Some days it truly feels like 'so many birds, so little time'. It has only been a few days since the last post and we are still seeing warblers, vireos, flycatchers, tanagers and hummingbirds. The Brown Thrasher that has been frequenting the swampy thicket was looking for food there again on Wednesday, 10/4.


Brown Thrasher 10-4-17Brown Thrasher 10-4-17


One of the Northern Flickers got into the basin for a rousing good bath that day.


Northern Flicker 10-4-17Northern Flicker 10-4-17


In the afternoon, a larger flock of warblers came in. At one point, there were at least 5 Tennessee and 3 Black-throated Green Warblers on the Bubbler rock!  See the one 'waiting in the wings' in the upper far right?


Tennessee and Black-throated Green Warblers 10-4-17Tennessee and Black-throated Green Warblers 10-4-17 Tennessee Warblers 10-4-17Tennessee Warblers 10-4-17


That day I saw the first Summer Tanager of the fall season, a male molting from its red summer coat to the dull yellow green of winter.


Summer Tanager 10-5-17Summer Tanager 10-5-17


Another female Northern Parula was well-camouflaged as it came in to the Bubbler area.


Northern Parula female 10-5-17Northern Parula female 10-5-17


There are those times when I just feel extremely lucky to be in the right place at the right time. I might have missed this one entirely.  I was listening to several of the Tennessee Warblers making their soft little 'tsip' calls as they were finding tiny larvae in the bark of a small elm by the deck. Then, I thought I heard a more rapid, excited 'chip' a few times and turned to see this Yellow-throated Warbler going to the fountain! What a joyful time it was having!


Yellow-throated Warbler 10-5-17Yellow-throated Warbler 10-5-17 Yellow-throated Warbler 10-5-17Yellow-throated Warbler 10-5-17 Yellow-throated Warbler 10-5-17Yellow-throated Warbler 10-5-17 Yellow-throated Warbler 10-5-17Yellow-throated Warbler 10-5-17


That species has only been seen here a handful of times and now twice this fall. It is considered rare to be seen after September 1, and this was on 10/5/17. 


On Friday, 10/6/17 there were some Tennessee Warblers bathing in the waterfall of the pond. 


Tennessee Warblers at the pond 10-6-17Tennessee Warblers at the pond 10-6-17


A Magnolia Warbler was spotted briefly in the sump puddle on Friday, 10/6/17. This bird is noticeably late getting to its wintering grounds, and so is the Chestnut-sided Warbler.


Magnolia Warbler 10-6-17Magnolia Warbler 10-6-17 Chestnut-sided Warbler 10-6-17Chestnut-sided Warbler 10-6-17


I have been asked whether one can tell the difference between two birds of the same species, and yes, sometimes you can even if the sexes are similar. There were two Blue-headed Vireos, one of which splash-bathed. The fourth photo is a second bird which has a grayer head and may be a younger bird.


Blue-headed Vireo 10-6-17Blue-headed Vireo 10-6-17 Blue-headed Vireo  10-6-17Blue-headed Vireo 10-6-17 Blue-headed Vireo  10-6-17Blue-headed Vireo 10-6-17 Blue-headed Vireo - 2 10-6-17Blue-headed Vireo - 2 10-6-17


Another female Northern Parula, on the right, was seen bathing with a Northern Cardinal and a Nashville Warbler.


Northern Cardinal, Nashville Warbler and Northern Parula  10-6-17Northern Cardinal, Nashville Warbler and Northern Parula 10-6-17


Late in the afternoon, a Summer Tanager was foraging in the Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) and a second bird was out in the garden. Subtle differences but it looked a bit more reddish to me.


Summer Tanager in Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) 10-6-17Summer Tanager in Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) 10-6-17 Summer Tanager 10-6-17Summer Tanager 10-6-17


A very thirsty Red-eyed Vireo perched and took many drinks at the small bubbler rock in the basin on Saturday, 10/7/17. I have not seen this behavior before with a vireo. It's dry!


Red-eyed Vireo 10-7-17Red-eyed Vireo 10-7-17


Several American Goldfinches were feasting on the seeds of the Eastern Blazingstar (Liatris scariosa) late in the afternoon. This plant is a true workhorse with its abundant purple blooms supplying nectar for hummingbirds, bees, Monarchs and other butterflies, and now seeds for these birds and others. It provides a perfect blend of autumn colors for these molting goldfinches to find protective cover in as well!


American Goldfinches eating  Eastern Blazingstar seeds (Liatris scariosa) 10-7-17American Goldfinches eating Eastern Blazingstar seeds (Liatris scariosa) 10-7-17


Yesterday was another day of warblers with seven species seen in the afternoon! American Redstarts, Black-throated Green, Tennessee, and Nashville Warblers were in the flock. A female Yellow-rumped Warbler made an appearance.


Yellow-rumped Warbler 10-8-17Yellow-rumped Warbler 10-8-17


I was surprised to see a female Chestnut-sided Warbler still in this mix. Perhaps it is staying with this flock for protection, but this is late for this species.


Chestnut-sided Warbler 10-8-17Chestnut-sided Warbler 10-8-17


My last warbler of the day was a Common Yellowthroat who was very tentative at first about making an appearance. It finally did after coming in 'the back door'.


Common Yellowthroat 10-8-17Common Yellowthroat 10-8-17 Common Yellowthroat 10-8-17Common Yellowthroat 10-8-17 Common Yellowthroat 10-8-17Common Yellowthroat 10-8-17 Common Yellowthroat 10-8-17Common Yellowthroat 10-8-17


And, that's a wrap!

For all the images:  Photos beginning 10-4-17





Red-breasted Nuthatch - ps

October 03, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

In the last post, I featured the Red-breasted Nuthatch that showed up on Friday, 9/29/17. Kathy Bildner asked if it was different than the one we usually see here and the answer is 'yes' - great question!

The White-breasted Nuthatch is a year-round resident for us in Missouri. The Red-breasted Nuthatch only shows up in 'irruptive' winters, when food is scarce to the north of us. There were only a couple reports last year of any Red-breasted Nuthatches being seen and maybe this year we'll have more sightings.  Here's a comparison photo so you can watch your feeders and bubblers for them. 


Red-breasted and White-breasted Nuthatches 1-24-17Red-breasted and White-breasted Nuthatches 1-24-17


Their calls are different, too. The Red-breasted Nuthatch sounds like a little tin horn. Just look for the 'Sound' tab at the links below to listen to them. 


More on the species:  White-breasted Nuthatch

More on the species:  Red-breasted Nuthatch


More information about the phenomenon of massive winter irruptions known as: Superflights


September has flown and October has brought in many migrants! 10-3-17

October 03, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

It has been very busy! So I'll hit the highlights.

Tuesday, 9/26 was slow going until a female Golden-winged Warbler came to bathe about 11 a.m.  Taking photos has become more challenging with the sun sinking lower in the sky.


Golden-winged Warbler female 9-26-17Golden-winged Warbler female 9-26-17 Golden-winged Warbler female 9-26-17Golden-winged Warbler female 9-26-17


It was nearly 6 p.m. and I saw a Gray Catbird checking the basin from a high perch.  It flew over to the garden and another catbird popped in to get a closer look.


Gray Catbird 9-26-17Gray Catbird 9-26-17 Gray Catbird 9-26-17Gray Catbird 9-26-17


It exited the scene as the first bird came back, or maybe it was a third one. This is a handsome bird, velvety looking, and often heard before seen.


Gray Catbird 9-26-17Gray Catbird 9-26-17 Gray Catbird 9-26-17Gray Catbird 9-26-17


One, possibly two Blue-winged Warblers were at the 'bubble' on the large rock on 9/28. My friends gave me a heads up on this one. Wally George told me that the latest date for fall on record was 9/15 and I should report it. Connie Alwood recommended I submit these photos to eBird, which I did. This adds to the scientific data overall. The first bird seen was at 12:47 and the second at 2:44 pm. It may be the same bird, but  the wing bars looked slightly different to me.  


Blue-winged Warbler 9-28-17Blue-winged Warbler 9-28-17 Blue-winged Warbler 9-28-17Blue-winged Warbler 9-28-17


The first Red-breasted Nuthatch for the year came in on Friday, 9/29 just after noon and stayed about 15 minutes. This is an irruptive year for them, and perhaps we'll all see more.  


Red-breasted Nuthatch 9-29-17Red-breasted Nuthatch 9-29-17 Red-breasted Nuthatch 9-29-17Red-breasted Nuthatch 9-29-17


Birds have been busy feeding and I was fortunate to capture this Tennessee Warbler with a meal of some kind of Lepidoptera.


Tennessee Warbler with Lepidoptera species 9-29-17Tennessee Warbler with Lepidoptera species 9-29-17


Robins and Cardinals have been eating the fruit of the American Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) in the garden.


American Robin eating Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) 9-28-17American Robin eating Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) 9-28-17 Northern Cardinal  eating Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) 9-28-17Northern Cardinal eating Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) 9-28-17


We all need rain in the area, it has been very dry.  That's the bad news.  The good news is that birds are drawn to the water that is available.  The Bubbler has been very busy the last few days!  Here are some examples, but be sure to check the gallery.  I've added nearly 100 photos just from the first two days of October! I'll add the link at the end of the post.


A Northern Parula and a Black-throated Green Warbler were on the big rock together, splashing in the 'bubble' on 10/1.


Black-throated Green Warbler and Northern Parula 10-1-17Black-throated Green Warbler and Northern Parula 10-1-17


A Ruby-crowned Kinglet checked out the area that day. They first arrived on Friday 9/29 as well.


Ruby-crowned Kinglet 10-1-17Ruby-crowned Kinglet 10-1-17


A Red-eyed Vireo was also eyeing the bathing options. Typically, the vireos splash bathe. For the first time that I've ever seen, it hopped down to the rock and got in to bathe.


Red-eyed Vireo 10-1-17Red-eyed Vireo 10-1-17

Red-eyed Vireo 10-1-17Red-eyed Vireo 10-1-17 Red-eyed Vireo 10-1-17Red-eyed Vireo 10-1-17


A Blue-headed Vireo looked and then returned the next day to do some belly flops!


Blue-headed Vireo 10-1-17Blue-headed Vireo 10-1-17 Blue-headed Vireo 10-2-17Blue-headed Vireo 10-2-17 Blue-headed Vireo 10-2-17Blue-headed Vireo 10-2-17


Cover, food and water - that's what we all offer to these beautiful birds when we provide a habitat garden for their benefit.  A female Northern Parula found a meal before a bath. 


Northern Parula female with insect 10-2-17Northern Parula female with insect 10-2-17 Northern Parula female 10-2-17Northern Parula female 10-2-17


And, there have been more Black-throated Green Warblers in the last two days than I saw in the spring.


Black-throated Green Warbler 10-2-17Black-throated Green Warbler 10-2-17 Black-throated Green Warbler 10-2-17Black-throated Green Warbler 10-2-17 Black-throated Green Warbler 10-2-17Black-throated Green Warbler 10-2-17


Here is the link for all the photos added since the last post. Enjoy!

Migrants and more



Fall has arrived! 9-25-17

September 25, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

Fall has arrived as of last Friday, 9/22/17. One wouldn't know it by the temperatures as new records have been set for daily highs around 93 degrees. The light has certainly changed as we have lost nearly 3 hours of daylight since the Summer Solstice. Migrants have been coming through the yard in small flocks at different times of the day, and it seems much less predictable without strong northwest fronts to help the birds along. Still, there has been a good variety!


A first year male Common Yellowthroat showed at the Bubbler on the same day as the female Black-throated Blue, Wednesday, 9/13/17.  


Common Yellowthroat 1st Fall male 9-13-17Common Yellowthroat 1st Fall male 9-13-17


Nashville and Tennessee Warblers are two of the more common migrants, but even they have been few and far between.


Nashville Warbler 9-14-17Nashville Warbler 9-14-17 Tennessee Warbler 9-14-17Tennessee Warbler 9-14-17


A young Rose-breasted Grosbeak came down on 9/20/17.


Rose-breasted Grosbeak 9-20-17Rose-breasted Grosbeak 9-20-17


Another young bird, this Blackburnian Warbler hugged the corner of the basin.  


Blackburnian Warbler 1y Male 9-20-17Blackburnian Warbler 1y Male 9-20-17


American Redstarts in varying plumages have been regular on different days.


American Redstart 9-20-17American Redstart 9-20-17


This is one of the last of the male Ruby-throated Hummingbirds seen here this year. The young ones still have their first long journey to complete.


Ruby-throated Hummingbird 9-20-17Ruby-throated Hummingbird 9-20-17


A first year male Northern Parula was a really nice find at the Bubbler on Thursday, 9/21/17.  This bird has more 'greenish wash' than an adult male would have, and what a beautifully colored bird!


Northern Parula 1yMale 9-21-17Northern Parula 1yMale 9-21-17 Northern Parula 1yMale 9-21-17Northern Parula 1yMale 9-21-17


A female Black and White Warbler was in the mix that day, too.


Black and White Warbler female 9-21-17Black and White Warbler female 9-21-17


Another bird that I've been waiting to see this fall is the Bay-breasted Warbler.  This one looks to be a female, probably a first year bird.


Bay-breasted Warbler female 9-22-17Bay-breasted Warbler female 9-22-17


It did get in to bathe with a Chestnut-sided Warbler.


Chestnut-sided and Bay-breasted Warbler females 9-22-17Chestnut-sided and Bay-breasted Warbler females 9-22-17


On Saturday, 9/23/17 it was really quiet until about 1:30 in the afternoon when a flock of American Robins came in along with some warblers.  The robins were really sparring over space in the basin.


American Robins 9-23-17American Robins 9-23-17


And all the activity drew in some other hopeful birds, like this Magnolia Warbler. It looked, popped away and perched again. It had to wait its turn.


Magnolia Warbler 9-23-17Magnolia Warbler 9-23-17 Magnolia Warbler 9-23-17Magnolia Warbler 9-23-17


A male Chestnut-sided came in to watch the fray. Once the robins cleared out, the warblers had their chance to get in.


Chestnut-sided Warbler 9-23-17Chestnut-sided Warbler 9-23-17 Magnolia Warbler  and Chestnut-sided Warbler 9-23-17Magnolia Warbler and Chestnut-sided Warbler 9-23-17


A female Chestnut-sided was also around that afternoon. It seemed to have some words for the Eurasian Tree Sparrow.


Chestnut-sided Warbler female 9-23-17Chestnut-sided Warbler female 9-23-17 Chestnut-sided Warbler female and Eurasian Tree Sparrow 9-23-17Chestnut-sided Warbler female and Eurasian Tree Sparrow 9-23-17


Two flycatchers came into the woodland. The first was a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher and it took a couple quick splashes in the Bubbler pond.  The second was an Eastern Phoebe.  The birds quickly took cover after these photos - a Cooper's Hawk came in and caused quite a ruckus.


Yellow-bellied Flycatcher 9-23-17Yellow-bellied Flycatcher 9-23-17 Eastern Phoebe 9-23-17Eastern Phoebe 9-23-17


Yesterday was just slightly cooler with a bit of a breeze from the northwest and, with it came a few more warblers.  A Black-throated Green enjoyed bathing. 


Black-throated Green Warbler 9-24-17Black-throated Green Warbler 9-24-17 Black-throated Green Warbler 9-24-17Black-throated Green Warbler 9-24-17


Another Chestnut-sided Warbler was here and later, another Blackburnian Warbler. Could it have been the same bird seen on 9/20/17?  Its markings are nearly identical, but we'll never be certain.


Chestnut-sided Warbler 9-24-17Chestnut-sided Warbler 9-24-17 Blackburnian Warbler 1yM 9-24-17Blackburnian Warbler 1yM 9-24-17


Last but not least, one of the youngest Northern Cardinals discovered the joy of the "Bubble"! Cooler temperatures are in the forecast. With any luck, that will bring in a lot more of the migrants. 

Happy Fall!

Northern Cardinal juvenile 9-24-17Northern Cardinal juvenile 9-24-17