Hummer Haven UnLtd.: Blog en-us (C) Hummer Haven UnLtd. (Hummer Haven UnLtd.) Tue, 20 Mar 2018 20:19:00 GMT Tue, 20 Mar 2018 20:19:00 GMT Hummer Haven UnLtd.: Blog 120 80 3-20-18 Happy Spring! Let's Review - Simple Ways to Add Moving Water for Birds On this first day of spring, let us recognize and celebrate birds!  


To begin, are you still thinking about where you might install a bubbler yet want to get some water ready sooner for the birds?  Here is an older post that I did on more ideas for moving water.  These features are easy to incorporate into your garden areas - and you don't have to limit yourself to just one!  We have two drippers on birdbaths and two fountains in addition to the Bubbler and Pond.  They are all visited every day during the warmer seasons!


Take a look here:  Simple Ways to Add Moving Water for Birds


Woodard Dripper Bath 7-15-17Woodard Dripper Bath 7-15-17


In a short time, plants will be emerging and it will soon be warm enough to fill those bird baths.  This one is an antique that we level up in place on an oak stump, fill with pea gravel so the birds can see how shallow it is and start the dripper.  The birds do love having easy access to fresh water! 


This is the "Year of the Bird" according to the Audubon Society and National Geographic Society.

Did you know?

“If you take care of the birds, you take care of most of the big environmental problems in the world.”

—Thomas E. Lovejoy, Tropical Conservation Biologist and National Geographic Fellow


 Here's a link to explain and help us understand :  

 2018 Year of the Bird





(Hummer Haven UnLtd.) Tue, 20 Mar 2018 19:11:57 GMT
Bubbler Water Features for Birds - Part Three - Perches! To begin, in case you missed these, here are the links to Parts One and Two. (They will open in new pages.)


Bubbler Water Features - Part One


Bubbler Water Features - Part Two




More than half of all the bird species in the world belong to the order Passeriformes, also called passerines or perching birds. They are the largest order of birds, numbering some 5,700 species and the dominant avian group on Earth today. They have four toes, three directed forward and one backward. They vary in size from small to medium or 3-46 inches in overall length and include all the songbirds.  Passerines have evolved a great diversity of feeding adaptations and for these different food habits, various structural specializations have developed, especially in the bill and feet.


You can read more about passerines here:  Passeriform


And here:  What birds are passerines and why


Passerines need perches to forage from, to rest on, to build their nests on and to feed their young. They also are birds that are likely to come to water features. So, it helps to think like a bird in order to attract the most perching birds. We must look at the world from their point of view and give them what they need most -




At first glance, one might think that our Bubbler area is a bit messy with all those branches. If that's what you were thinking, well, you win the prize. It is intentional. It looks that way because birds LIKE it a bit messy!  I have highlighted some of the most favored 'magic' branches on which small birds like to land. Most of these are sturdy enough for even larger birds like Blue Jays and American Crows. A sturdy branch, not a soft, mushy one is the best choice for a perch. Decaying branches are great for scattering into leaf litter so birds can eat any insects within them. These branches will eventually break down and enrich the soil. For a perch to support birds, it's just best to choose stronger branches that are stable.



Notice the branches laying on the large Bubbler rock. They are there for birds like this Black-throated Green Warbler. See how his front 3 toes and 1 back toe easily straddle the branch?  This bird is comfortable clinging to it. After the warbler checked me out to be sure it was safe, it went to the Bubble of water.


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


Pretty soon, friends came in to join the bird for the party - two more Black-throated Green and five Tennessee Warblers! They lined up, watched and could hardly wait to have a turn.


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


Just to the right and above the two birds in that photo is the grapevine branch.  A lot of birds land on it to look at the water from there and this is what they see.



They might pop in on the grapevine branch after feeding in the hydrangeas, like this female Black-throated Blue Warbler did last fall.


Black-throated Blue female 9-13-17Black-throated Blue female 9-13-17


Now, behind that grapevine there used to be a more open area and the birds would stage from a viburnum a few feet away. Last fall, my friend, Wally George, brought me a gift of a small cedar tree that he had cut to be used for additional perches. Wally has had great luck with a cedar perching tree attracting birds to his own bubbler!  Well, this one for me has become a perfect 'set of stair-steps' from the viburnum! I put it in a pot with gravel to support it and tried it in a few places to see how it would best work into the area. 


Wally's cedar 9-2-17Wally's cedar 9-2-17


Cedar is fairly rot-resistant. The next step was to mix up a small batch of cement with sand and gravel to secure the cedar. I emptied the pot and we lined it with a plastic bag, using the pot as a form. We positioned the cedar tree in the bag and then used a trowel to put the cement mixture around it and let it set up. After a couple days, I pulled out the cemented tree, dug a hole where the pot had stood and set the cedar tree into the ground. It still can be lifted and moved, but at least it now has a cement base to stabilize it and should last quite a while in the ground.


Many birds have used "Wally's Cedar" or the "WC".  To name a few, here are images of a Carolina Chickadee and a Blue Jay which are local suspects and a Chestnut-sided Warbler that came through last fall. Gee, thanks, Wally!



Just behind the large Bubbler rock and next to the Basin is the small White Oak with Virginia Creeper climbing up its trunk. Birds like this White-breasted Nuthatch and Brown Creeper use it to approach the Bubbler after finding a meal of insect larvae in the vine.



From the tree, they move to another perch or the Bubbler rock to get a drink and help that tasty morsel go down the hatch!


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


There are many vertical living tree trunks for birds like these passerines and woodpeckers to use in the woodland area around the Bubbler. Together with the horizontal branches of living shrubs and selected additional perches, there are many places for birds to cling, forage for food and find their way to the water.



There are lots of ways for birds to access the Basin area as well. The small Blackhaw Viburnum to the left of the Basin is probably where I have photographed most of the warbler species that work their way down through the canopy. They can stay partially hidden in the shrub until they feel safe that there are no predators around. Then, they can move closer to the water to check the depth and drink or bathe.


These next three warblers are all in the small viburnum. The more common Yellow-rumped Warbler is often seen here in winter and in migration before it heads to Canada to breed. What a looker!


Yellow-rumped Warbler 4-24-17Yellow-rumped Warbler 4-24-17

Yellow-rumped Warbler 4-17-17Yellow-rumped Warbler 4-17-17


Only once have I seen a beautiful Cerulean Warbler here.  This bird is on the Watch List - its population is in decline due to severe habitat loss. 


Cerulean Warbler 5-5-07Cerulean Warbler 5-5-07


The Golden-winged Warbler is also in this high-risk of extinction category and there are efforts underway to increase its habitat areas for survival. I have been very fortunate to see these birds a bit more regularly. 


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


Indigo Buntings and others use the perch in the Basin itself to get closer to the water.


Indigo Bunting 4-16-17Indigo Bunting 4-16-17


A Rose-breasted Grosbeak thought about bathing for a long time, resting near the water while it sat on the branch, nearly hypnotized by the sound of the water. I have seen this behavior often in birds that arrive in the morning after having flown all night to find our peaceful setting.


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


Now is the time to get ready for our Missouri spring migrants. I hope this post has given you some ideas on how to add more native plants and magic branches near your water features so that you may welcome more birds! It may seem obvious to most of you, but I think this bears repeating:


 "If you build it, they will come!"




(Hummer Haven UnLtd.) Tue, 13 Mar 2018 20:30:38 GMT
It's March! 3-5-18 The birds have been a bit confused, first we were gone for 12 days and now this!  We have had Men At Work giving the exterior of the house a facelift.  The birds finally figured out that it's safe to come in again once the trucks leave in the afternoon.  Weekends have been a bit better with more activity.  On Sunday, I finally had a list of 20 species for the sunny, warm day. 


Carolina Chickadees, White-throated and Song Sparrows came in to drink, rest and bathe in a somewhat relaxed mood.


Carolina Chickadee 3-4-18Carolina Chickadee 3-4-18 White-throated Sparrow 3-4-18White-throated Sparrow 3-4-18 Song Sparrow 3-4-18Song Sparrow 3-4-18 Song Sparrow 3-4-18Song Sparrow 3-4-18


A Mourning Dove preened on a branch behind the basin, a favorite place in the afternoon.


Mourning Dove 3-4-18Mourning Dove 3-4-18


About 6:00 pm, I spotted a large bird that flew in low.  It was one of the Barred Owls.  We have been hearing them fairly consistently around dusk and through the night.  It went to the sump puddle to take a few drinks.


Barred Owl 3-4-18Barred Owl 3-4-18


The owl flew up to a small tree near the property line and I stepped out to get a couple more photos.


Barred Owl 3-4-18Barred Owl 3-4-18 Barred Owl 3-4-18Barred Owl 3-4-18


The light was going at 6:05 p.m. and I wanted the bird to feel welcome, so I stepped back inside.  Then, the owl started calling and its mate flew in beside it!  We both got to see them for the first time together this year.  That was a great moment!  We wonder if they have a nest and where it might be.  Later in the evening, I checked the cameras and found that one of the owls had gone fishing. 


Barred Owl at Pond 3-4-18


I just couldn't tell for sure, but I think the owl came up empty.  Perhaps they both were luckier with voles or rabbits!


Stay tuned for a follow-up post:   Bubbler Water Features - Part Three 


Here are links to the first two posts from late 2016 for reference and review:


Bubbler Water Features - Part One


Bubbler Water Features - Part Two



(Hummer Haven UnLtd.) Mon, 05 Mar 2018 14:10:30 GMT
Ruby-throated Hummingbird at Marsh Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) 8-21-17 Ruby-throated Hummingbird at Marsh Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) 8-21-17Ruby-throated Hummingbird at Marsh Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) 8-21-17

Wow, we have now had over 30,000 visitors to our website!  Thank you all for sharing our experiences with your family and friends, it's amazing!!

Margy and Dan

(Hummer Haven UnLtd.) Tue, 20 Feb 2018 13:33:58 GMT
"There's no place like home" 2-17-18 It's fun to go places but it's always good to get back home.  The birds have returned, although I thought for sure I heard the Carolina Wren giving me a scolding for being gone! 


Pine SIskins have come in to use the feeders on colder days. They were hopping around looking for food or grit to help digest their food last Friday, 2/9/18.


Pine Siskins 2-9-18Pine Siskins 2-9-18


A species that has been challenging for me to photograph is the American Crow. They are very wary birds. I heard them come in one morning and stood very still behind the camera, just waiting and watching for them. However, a surprise came instead and perched nearby. It was a Sharp-shinned Hawk looking for a meal. This was my first sighting of the hawk this year and it didn't stay more than 15 seconds before zooming off to the west.


Sharp-shinned Hawk 2-10-18Sharp-shinned Hawk 2-10-18


My patience paid off and one of the crows came down a bit later.  I had put just a small amount of bark butter out for the Brown Creeper, and of course, the crow spied it a mile away. The bird was thirsty and drank at the basin, at 'the bubble' and even from the pond before leaving.


American Crow 2-10-18American Crow 2-10-18 American Crow 2-10-18American Crow 2-10-18 American Crow 2-10-18American Crow 2-10-18


Even though we've gotten small amounts of rain, it has been the driest winter in 40 years according to my friend, Wally George. The birds aren't the only ones who are thirsty.  On Saturday night, 2/10/18 there was a real party going on.



Even a Barred Owl came in on Valentine's Day. We heard a pair later that night, crooning together.



The Brown Creeper finally found some bark butter and the first Song Sparrow of the year came in to bathe and look for food under the feeders. One of the Yellow-rumped Warblers slipped in on a cold day, too.


Brown Creeper 2-10-18Brown Creeper 2-10-18 Song Sparrow 2-10-18Song Sparrow 2-10-18

Yellow-rumped Warbler 2-10-18Yellow-rumped Warbler 2-10-18


It seems that the Bubbler is busiest on the day preceding a storm and on the icy day itself.  A female Hairy Woodpecker, Red-bellied Woodpecker and a Northern Flicker made appearances on Sunday, 2/11/18. Temperatures dropped into the teens the next morning.


Hairy Woodpecker female 2-10-18Hairy Woodpecker female 2-10-18 Red-bellied Woodpecker 2-11-18Red-bellied Woodpecker 2-11-18 Northern Flicker 2-11-18Northern Flicker 2-11-18


That day, this American Robin seemed to have the most sleet pellets of all the birds on its back .


American Robin with icy tail 2-11-18American Robin with icy tail 2-11-18


By Thursday, 2/15/18 the high temperature here was 82.5 degrees, a new record. And less than 36 hours later, we had snow all morning. Gotta love St. Louis' roller-coaster weather. 


Northern Cardinal female 2-17-18Northern Cardinal female 2-17-18


More wet weather is promised this week to help break the winter drought. Birdsong is increasing, I'm seeing just a bit more color in the goldfinches and cardinals. Can spring be that far away? If one still needs a winter break, check out the birds that visit the Panama Fruit Feeders. The Live Cam is sponsored by Cornell Lab and the Canopy Lodge. Many colorful tropical species can be seen!

Panama Fruit Feeders



(Hummer Haven UnLtd.) Sun, 18 Feb 2018 03:27:43 GMT
To foreign shores - Trinidad and Tobago! We've just returned from a 12-day birding trip to Trinidad and Tobago.  My initial birthday wish was to visit the Asa Wright Nature Center (AWNC) on Trinidad which I've heard about for many years.  My wish was granted in a soul-satisfying way with wonderful views of many tropical species.  Emphasis for me is always on 'soul-satisfying' versus quantity!  


We are still adding to the gallery, but here are a few highlights.  We saw 13 species of Hummingbirds.  This was a birding trip more than a photography trip for me, but I did take my camera and 18-200 mm lens, and I was glad I did.  The birds were close, especially at AWNC.


Tufted Coquette  - at 2 3/4" this bird is not much bigger than a bee, but check out its head feathers!  Well, you do have to find the bird first...


Tufted Coquette 1-26-18Tufted Coquette 1-26-18

Tufted Coquette 1-26-18Tufted Coquette 1-26-18 Tufted Coquette 1-26-18Tufted Coquette 1-26-18 Tufted Coquette 1-26-18Tufted Coquette 1-26-18


It reminded me of an ancient warrior king with that crown.  The bird patrolled a patch of purple Vervine right outside our room near the veranda.  Here is one of the females.


Tufted Coquette female 1-27-18Tufted Coquette female 1-27-18


Two other hummers are the same size at 3 3/4" long, just a bit larger than the Ruby-throated.  The first is the White-chested Emerald, often seen at the feeders.  Next is the Copper-rumped Hummingbird which blends in so perfectly with its favorite flower.


White-chested Emerald 1-26-18White-chested Emerald 1-26-18

Copper-rumped Hummingbird 1-26-18Copper-rumped Hummingbird 1-26-18


Another small beauty was the Long-billed Starthroat.  I was lucky to catch this one resting on a perch.  It is a bit larger at 4 1/2".


Long-billed Starthroat 1-26-18Long-billed Starthroat 1-26-18


White-necked Jacobins dominated the feeders often chasing other hummingbirds away, thus the Humming-blurs! 


White-necked Jacobin 1-26-18White-necked Jacobin 1-26-18

Three species were at the feeder before the chase begins. A White-necked Jacobin chases a Black-throated Mango who is after the Long-billed Starthroat, all 4 1/2" long.


White-necked Jacobin, Black-throated Mango and Long-billed Starthroat 1-26-18White-necked Jacobin, Black-throated Mango and Long-billed Starthroat 1-26-18


Hummingblurs 1-26-18Hummingblurs 1-26-18


What a joy to watch one of the Jacobins bathing in a rain shower, perfectly content as it shimmied.


White-necked Jacobin 1-31-18White-necked Jacobin 1-31-18


On the other end of the spectrum is the Green Hermit at 6 1/2" long.  This female has built her nest inside the Nature Center on a lamp cord.  She has produced 5 broods already in the last 12 months!  Well, what could be better - it's all open air but protected and the bird can freely come and go.


Green Hermit female 1-30-18Green Hermit female 1-30-18


Green Hermit female on nest 1-26-18Green Hermit female on nest 1-26-18 AWNC Green Hermit nest on lamp cord 1-26-18AWNC Green Hermit nest on lamp cord 1-26-18


Another similar species is the Rufous-breasted Hermit with the same decurved bill.  Notice that it does not have the long whitish central tail feathers, but a rounded tail and it is 5" long.


Rufous-breasted Hermit 1-26-18Rufous-breasted Hermit 1-26-18


Two Black-throated Mangoes chased each other at the feeder.  Wow, are they eye-candy when their colors flash.  This hummingbird species is 4 1/2" long.


Black-throated Mangoes 1-26-18Black-throated Mangoes 1-26-18 Black-throated Mango 1-31-18Black-throated Mango 1-31-18 Black-throated Mango 1-31-18Black-throated Mango 1-31-18 Black-throated Mango 1-31-18Black-throated Mango 1-31-18


There were a couple more hummingbirds I wasn't sure I would see.  The first is the Brown Violetear.  It is uncommon and we were there at the right time to possibly see it.  (I said pretty please, but it wouldn't turn around.  You can catch a bit of the violet ear.)  It is 4 3/4" long.


Brown Violetear 1-30-18Brown Violetear 1-30-18


The other hummingbird that I was thrilled to see was the Ruby-topaz.  It is common on Tobago, and largely absent from September to December during times of nectar shortages. But it was being seen at AWNC so I spent a few hours watching it one morning.  It is just a bit larger than the Tufted Coquette, but darn near as fast.  It comes in at 3 1/2" long, the same size as our Ruby-throated Hummingbird.


This bird looks dark, especially in the rain.  Finally, the rain let up and a bit of light came through the clouds to catch some of the colors of this beauty!


Ruby-topaz Hummingbird 1-31-18Ruby-topaz Hummingbird 1-31-18 Ruby-topaz Hummingbird 1-31-18Ruby-topaz Hummingbird 1-31-18 Ruby-topaz Hummingbird 1-31-18Ruby-topaz Hummingbird 1-31-18 Ruby-topaz Hummingbird 1-31-18Ruby-topaz Hummingbird 1-31-18 Ruby-topaz Hummingbird 1-31-18Ruby-topaz Hummingbird 1-31-18

Ruby-topaz Hummingbird 1-31-18Ruby-topaz Hummingbird 1-31-18 Ruby-topaz Hummingbird 1-31-18Ruby-topaz Hummingbird 1-31-18


The last bird I'd like to mention is the Trinidad Motmot or "King of the Woods".  We saw it first on Trinidad where it has more forest to hide in and was more difficult to see.  I was able to photograph a pair on Tobago, right outside our bungalow on the beach.  One seemed to be collecting grass as nesting material.  They nest in holes in the slopes or banks, like bee eaters.


Trinidad Motmot pair 2-2-18Trinidad Motmot pair 2-2-18

Trinidad Motmot 2-3-18Trinidad Motmot 2-3-18 Trinidad Motmot nesting holes 2-2-18Trinidad Motmot nesting holes 2-2-18

Trinidad Motmot 2-3-18Trinidad Motmot 2-3-18


And to my joy, the bird bowed and showed me its crown.  Yes, indeed it was another soul-satisfying view!


Trinidad Motmot 2-3-18Trinidad Motmot 2-3-18


To see the full travelogue of photos with short video clips, start here:  Trinidad and Tobago Birding Trip






(Hummer Haven UnLtd.) Fri, 09 Feb 2018 03:49:48 GMT
An uncommon visitor 1-19-18 We did have our break in the cold and it lasted a few days.  The ice eventually melted in both ponds just long enough for an uncommon bird to come in.  We were sitting in the breakfast room on Thursday, 1-11-18 with a second cup of coffee when I saw a large wing out of the corner of my eye.  Thud.  Something landed on the roof.  Maybe it was the Barred Owl I heard at 5:00 am.  I got up to investigate.  


"You won't believe this," I said to Dan.  


Great Blue Heron on our roof 1-11-18Great Blue Heron on our roof 1-11-18


The bird was a Great Blue Heron.  It was looking down at the Bubbler pond to see if there were any fish in it.  Well, we haven't had fish in there for several years because the mink and raccoons get them too easily.  The heron didn't stay very long and flew west to the neighbors who also have a pond.  



The bird was there about 30 minutes.  Later, when I checked and didn't see it next door, I carefully went into the front room and peeked around the corner.  There it was, fishing in our pond, and being successful at finding a meal!


Great Blue Heron catching goldfish  1-11-18Great Blue Heron catching goldfish 1-11-18


A one-gulp goldfish meal it was anyway.


Great Blue Heron catching goldfish  1-11-18Great Blue Heron catching goldfish 1-11-18


I watched the heron for a while and it did make a few more attempts at lunging for fish, but it seemed to have lost the element of surprise.  The fish have plenty of places to hide in the caves of the big pond.


Great Blue Heron   1-11-18Great Blue Heron 1-11-18


In less than 24 hours, the pond was completely iced over again.  No fishing allowed for a while!


Icy pond 1-12-18Icy pond 1-12-18


Another interesting factoid is that we have seen five different individual Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers since late December.  The first young female is scruffy-looking and this one I have seen the most often.  


Yellow-bellied Sapsucker  12-31-17Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 12-31-17


Two more young females could be twins they look so alike, but I have seen them at the Bubbler at the same time, chasing each other between getting drinks or a bit of bark butter.  Their heads look quite black, the latter one has more black on its chest.


Yellow-bellied Sapsucker  12-30-17Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 12-30-17 Yellow-bellied Sapsucker  12-30-17Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 12-30-17


The fourth sapsucker is an adult female with red on its head and a white throat.  Here are two views of the female.


Yellow-bellied Sapsucker female  1-6-18Yellow-bellied Sapsucker female 1-6-18

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker female  1-6-18Yellow-bellied Sapsucker female 1-6-18


And last but not least, there is this young male who is getting its red crown feathers in and has the red throat and yellow-belly.


Yellow-bellied Sapsucker juvenile male 1-14-18Yellow-bellied Sapsucker juvenile male 1-14-18


Last week on Friday, 1-12-18 it had dropped down to 13.5 degrees and birds were moving around.  There was an influx of American Robins and they all came to the Bubbler at the same time.  I believe there are 15 of the 17 birds that I saw in this photo.


American Robins 1-12-18American Robins 1-12-18


There have been Rusty Blackbirds coming in most days in small numbers.  They will forage, drink and then find a branch on which to puff up and rest.


Rusty Blackbird 1-12-18Rusty Blackbird 1-12-18 Rusty Blackbird at rest 1-12-18Rusty Blackbird at rest 1-12-18


A few times I have seen two Yellow-rumped Warblers at the Bubbler together.  Perhaps they are already thinking about spring!  I know I have been!


Pair of Yellow-rumped Warblers 1-13-18Pair of Yellow-rumped Warblers 1-13-18


We have been working on a new exhibit called, "Warblers!" that will be up for viewing in May at Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center.  It has been fun looking at spring photos of these beauties and finalizing the choices for the exhibit.  More on that soon.  For now, we're back to enjoying our winter birds!  





(Hummer Haven UnLtd.) Fri, 19 Jan 2018 14:20:27 GMT
1-7-18 Frosty Start to 2018 Happy 2018!  


It has certainly been a frigid start to this new year.  It was -5.9 degrees on the first day!  For us it has been all about keeping the water features from totally freezing up, feeders filled and being grateful to be able to come back inside where it's warm.


Early on New Year's Day, the "Bubble" had quite an ice dome over it before we helped matters with buckets of warm water.


Icy Bubble  1-1-18Icy Bubble 1-1-18


And, the basin was pretty frozen, so more warm water was brought to the rescue.  Watchful maintenance is required with water features in winter.


Rusty Blackbird  1-1-18Rusty Blackbird 1-1-18


There was so much ice on the big pond that we had to put in a heater/de-icer for the first time.  Usually, the water keeps moving and at least a trough stays open. But these temperatures have been the ultimate test, the water was barely flowing under the ice which was thickening rapidly.


Here's the steam bed on 12/31/7 when we decided to add the heater.


12-31-17  Icy stream bed12-31-17 Icy stream bed


After adding many gallons of water to bring the level back up, we placed the heater where the ice had melted and it started working.


1-1-18  Heater in pond1-1-18 Heater in pond


The flowing water opened up the ice in the bubbling spring area on top. Rusty Blackbirds and Common Grackles of different ages soon came in to drink. The sun helped, too!


Rusty Blackbird 1-1-18Rusty Blackbird 1-1-18

Common Grackle adult and first year  1-2-18Common Grackle adult and first year 1-2-18


The feeders have been very busy.  We have the mix of black oil sunflower and safflower in several tube feeders.  The safflower is not a favorite of Common Grackles and mixing it in helps deter them from dominating the feeders.  This bright, beautiful Northern Cardinal welcomed the sunrise on New Year's morning.


Northern Cardinal  1-1-18Northern Cardinal 1-1-18


There are two wire mesh feeders for the goldfinches and siskins filled with half sunflower chips and half Niger seed.  The first Pine Siskins of the year enjoyed a brunch of the mix on Tuesday, 1/2/18.


Pine Siskins 1-2-18Pine Siskins 1-2-18


We spread some mealworms in different places for the ground feeders, like the Rusty Blackbirds and this Groucho-mimic Dark-eyed Junco.


Rusty Blackbird  12-28-17Rusty Blackbird 12-28-17 Dark-eyed Junco with mealworm  12-26-17Dark-eyed Junco with mealworm 12-26-17


We also put some in this small globe feeder for Tufted Titmice, White-breasted Nuthatches and Chickadees to get some extra protein, too.


Carolina Chickadee 11-25-17Carolina Chickadee 11-25-17


Thanks to my friend, Sue Poley, we have a wonderful source for freeze-dried mealworms in the United States as opposed to buying them from China.  It's a small family owned company that supports bat rehabilitation efforts in Central Florida. 

Check them out:


We have two bark butter feeders that are up.  One is a box shape and the other is a black cherry log.  Both have holes in it that are filled with the bark butter.  One can use chunky peanut butter which works.  We offer the bark butter from Wild Birds Unlimited.  Prices vary at different locations from $10-$13 per pound.  I will buy 3-4 pounds at a time which gets us through the winter. 


Hanging this type of feeder upside-down helps to deter the European Starlings.  No solution is 100% with them however, there is always one who will try to cling.



The bark butter log is in a cage that Dan made to prevent access by the starlings.  So far, that seems to be working.  Carolina Wrens, Tufted Titmice, Chickadees and Downy Woodpeckers can fly up into it from the deck.



The bark butter can also be spread onto the bark of trees, thus the name.  I am careful with this - too much hammering by larger woodpeckers can eventually damage trees.  So, I spread it on snags or dying trees first, then on trees with thicker bark.  Many species of birds look for this food.  From tiny Brown Creepers to Northern Flickers and Red-bellied Woodpeckers, it's a favorite.  This year, there are two American Crows coming in for it!


Red-bellied Woodpecker at bark butter  1-6-18Red-bellied Woodpecker at bark butter 1-6-18 American Crow  1-6-18American Crow 1-6-18


The problem is that any kind of peanut butter is also very attractive to European Starlings.  When they come in, it's all over.  That's when I stop putting it out for a few days until the starlings aren't around and try again.  


European Starling at bark butter  1-6-18European Starling at bark butter 1-6-18


We used to offer plain suet, but have found that the woodpeckers prefer chopped peanuts.  So, of course, we accommodate.  This female Northern Flicker is a frequent diner.



Today is Sunday, 1/7/18.  We've gained five minutes of daylight, can you feel it?  Temperatures have risen above freezing for the first time in over two weeks.  There's a catch - freezing rain is on the way before we get a real break from the cold.


To view all the photos of the new year, visit the new gallery:  2018 Birds at Shady Oaks





(Hummer Haven UnLtd.) Sun, 07 Jan 2018 18:18:25 GMT
A White Christmas! 12-25-17 In St. Louis, there's a 20% chance - this year, we have a White Christmas with an inch of snow on the ground! 

It was a beautiful, fluffy light snow and we're grateful for the moisture.  

From our breakfast room on Christmas Eve morning,

we watched the busy birds at the feeders.


Feeders in snow  12-24-17Feeders in snow 12-24-17


As the snow fell, the woodland became an enchanted winter wonderland!


Woodland Gate  12-24-17Woodland Gate 12-24-17


From all of us at Shady Oaks to all of you, we wish for you days to play in the snow...


White-breasted Nuthatch  12-23-17White-breasted Nuthatch 12-23-17


...take long walks or take it easy...


Mourning Dove  12-24-17Mourning Dove 12-24-17, drink and be merry...


American Goldfinches 12-24-17American Goldfinches 12-24-17

American Goldfinch  12-23-17American Goldfinch 12-23-17


...savor those leftovers!


Brown Creeper  12-24-17Brown Creeper 12-24-17




(Hummer Haven UnLtd.) Mon, 25 Dec 2017 18:26:33 GMT
Off to see the Snowy Owl at Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary 12-18-17 A female Snowy Owl has been up at Riverlands for several weeks now and we finally had a day when we could 'go birding' and look for it.  We packed up the spotting scope and camera and drove up to the sanctuary yesterday.  Conditions always feel colder up there near the Mississippi River and marshlands, so if you decide to go, be sure to dress in extra layers.  The owl does move around to different areas and others have posted images that are much closer to the owl than I was able to get yesterday, but we were happy to go and see this owl together. The spotting scope helped greatly to view it.  Mission accomplished.


Snowy Owls are sporadically and rarely seen in Missouri in the winter.  Their occurrence depends on their food supply of lemmings and voles further north.  When the lemming population crashes, the owls must move south to find food.  In other words, many of these birds may be starving.  That is one of the reasons I have hesitated to run up to see one when there has been a sighting, not wanting to put any additional pressure on them.  We decided we would take one day and limit ourselves to a few hours and see if we could find the owl and just get a few photos.  The bird was a life bird for Dan.  I had seen one years ago as we were traveling through Illinois and it crossed the road in front of our car, then landed in a field.  


We arrived and checked a few areas then drove further down Riverlands Way.  There were several cars and we asked folks if they had seen the bird.  "Yes, that way," two women pointed behind them to the south.  This Snowy Owl was kind of hunkered down in the vegetation staying low and out of the wind to conserve energy.  It was out on a spit of land in Heron Pond Slough.  


Snowy Owl at Riverlands  12-18-17Snowy Owl at Riverlands 12-18-17


The wind was brisk and from the south, causing our scope and camera to shake, so I took some photos hoping to catch those moments with less vibration.  Enough, we decided to go have our traditional lunch at My Just Desserts in Alton and come back later. 


When we returned, the bird had moved a bit, but was still in the same area.  Snow Geese and a myriad of duck species were there, but I concentrated on a few more images of the Snowy Owl and we called it a day.


Snowy Owl at Riverlands  12-18-17Snowy Owl at Riverlands 12-18-17 Snowy Owl at Riverlands  12-18-17Snowy Owl at Riverlands 12-18-17


They are beautiful, amazing and alluring owls.  Check out this short video about them from the Cornell Lab website:


Snowy Owl Invasion


Here is the link to the Audubon Center at Riverlands which is a wonderful place to visit.  They have scopes set up inside to view Bald Eagles or ducks in the water.  One can also check the board inside for recent sightings:  


Audubon Center at Riverlands


Here is a printable map of the area which is up near the Clark Bridge to Alton, IL. off US Highway 67.




The red "X" marks the approximate area where we saw the Snowy Owl yesterday, but remember, birds fly!





(Hummer Haven UnLtd.) Tue, 19 Dec 2017 18:37:19 GMT
Rusty Blackbirds, Pine Siskins and another surprise 12-13-17 Rusty Blackbirds have been seen on a few days this past week or so.  Sometimes it's just a couple birds and on Friday, 12-8-17 there were approximately 50 within a much larger flock of 200 or more Common Grackles and European Starlings.  They were feeding in the leaves in every bed surrounding the house and would rotate in small groups to the Bubbler and the Pond.  


Rusty Blackbirds  12-8-17Rusty Blackbirds 12-8-17 Rusty Blackbird  12-8-17Rusty Blackbird 12-8-17


This one is standing on the ice in the Bubbler Pond - it was only 14 degrees that morning.


Rusty Blackbird  12-8-17Rusty Blackbird 12-8-17


The grackles and starlings tend to move together and tolerate each other's presence.


Common Grackles and European Starlings  12-8-17Common Grackles and European Starlings 12-8-17


The Rusty Blackbirds are the last ones to spook and lift off in a mass, like the other two species.  They're also the first to come back down to feed and drink.


Rusty Blackbird  12-8-17Rusty Blackbird 12-8-17 Rusty Blackbird  12-8-17Rusty Blackbird 12-8-17


There were also two Pine Siskins at the feeder that morning.  Like the goldfinches, they drink at the fountain, too.


Pine Siskins  12-8-17Pine Siskins 12-8-17 Pine Siskin  12-8-17Pine Siskin 12-8-17


More Pine Siskins showed up a couple days later.  There were 3 in the Bubbler Basin and I was trying to photograph them when another bird popped in to bathe.  What?  It was an Eastern Bluebird!  They are uncommon in the winter.  I've seen one in the garden in December before, this one surprised me more!


Eastern Bluebird  12-10-17Eastern Bluebird 12-10-17 Eastern Bluebird  12-10-17Eastern Bluebird 12-10-17 Eastern Bluebird  12-10-17Eastern Bluebird 12-10-17


Three Pine Siskins did come back to the basin to drink together, while three others were at the west feeder with many of the American Goldfinches, who were staging from the nearby trees.


Pine Siskins  12-10-17Pine Siskins 12-10-17 American Goldfinches and Pine Siskins  12-10-17American Goldfinches and Pine Siskins 12-10-17


That fountain on the deck provides very easy access to water for them.  We refresh it often, put a birdbath heater in it and keep it insulated with a rigid foam surround that Dan made.


Pine Siskin  12-10-17Pine Siskin 12-10-17


The Brown Creeper that's been in every day has its preferred spot now on the big Bubbler Rock to get its drink or bath.  When I see a bird repeat the same activity over and over, well, it's likely to be the same individual I think.


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

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


The usual suspects were in and out getting water all day long.  That included this female Northern Flicker. 


Northern Flicker female  12-10-17Northern Flicker female 12-10-17


It is very, very dry and red flag warnings are up with the elevated fire danger.  I do hope we get some substantial rain soon.  There were three Rusty Blackbirds back at the Bubbler very briefly on Tuesday, 12-12-17.  This was the only one I managed to photograph.


Rusty Blackbird  12-12-17Rusty Blackbird 12-12-17


Today, the juvenile Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was working on the bark of one of the white oaks, looking for insects.  This bird hadn't been seen since 12-1-17.  


Yellow-bellied Sapsucker  12-13-17Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 12-13-17


Temperatures are still fluctuating like a bit of a rollercoaster.  The colder days do bring more birds in to feed and drink.  I can't decide which is more of a distraction - the birds or my ever-growing to-do list!


To view all the photos for the month begin here:  December photos



(Hummer Haven UnLtd.) Thu, 14 Dec 2017 03:29:19 GMT
December is upon us! Where did November go, December is here with its ever shortening days!  The sun seems to hang so low in the sky.  We've lost over 5 hours of daylight since the Summer Solstice and it will be a few weeks yet before we start to gain.  


Since my last post, there have been some very slow days interspersed with bursts of activity.  Flocks of American Robins have been coming in to drink and bathe.  Some Cedar Waxwings got brave and joined them at the pond on Saturday, 11/25/17.  


Cedar Waxwings 11-25-17Cedar Waxwings 11-25-17 Cedar Waxwing 11-25-17Cedar Waxwing 11-25-17 Cedar Waxwing 11-25-17Cedar Waxwing 11-25-17 Cedar Waxwing 11-25-17Cedar Waxwing 11-25-17


The robins have been feasting on the American Beautyberries (Callicarpa americana) with the flock of birds numbering in the dozens.


American Robin 11-25-17American Robin 11-25-17


Northern Cardinals are foraging for the berries and eating seeds they find as well.  Here, a female eats a 'maple squirt' from the Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum).


Northern Cardinal eating Sugar Maple seed 11-25-17Northern Cardinal eating Sugar Maple seed 11-25-17


And, my little friend, the Tufted Titmouse still prefers the safflower seed.


Tufted Titmouse  12-1-17Tufted Titmouse 12-1-17


A young Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was seen on Friday, 12/1/17.  It went to the Bubbler several times.  A second sapsucker, an adult was chasing after it in the woodland.  


Yellow-bellied Sapsucker juvenile  12-1-17Yellow-bellied Sapsucker juvenile 12-1-17

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker adult  12-1-17Yellow-bellied Sapsucker adult 12-1-17


On Sunday, 12/3/17 a Brown Creeper scooted down the oak and decided to check out the Bubble of water on the large rock to take a quick bath there. Too many robins were in the basin!


Brown Creeper  12-3-17Brown Creeper 12-3-17 Brown Creeper  12-3-17Brown Creeper 12-3-17


It was another busy day with a large flock of American Robins.  A female Northern Flicker drank while they bathed.


American Robins and female Northern Flicker  12-3-17American Robins and female Northern Flicker 12-3-17


I was pleasantly surprised to see my first Rusty Blackbird of the fall/winter in this mixed flock.  I had last seen a single bird on 1/3/17.  They are an uncommon winter resident in the south and rare in the north and the flocks are very nomadic.  It spent a bit of time at the Bubbler, easily holding its own with the robins.


Rusty Blackbird  12-3-17Rusty Blackbird 12-3-17 Rusty Blackbird and American Robin  12-3-17Rusty Blackbird and American Robin 12-3-17


The Rusty then went down to the sump puddle, tossing leaves about and foraging for insects.  Swampy wet woods and damp meadows are this bird's preferred habitat and its coloring is absolutely perfect to help it blend in.


Rusty Blackbird  12-3-17Rusty Blackbird 12-3-17  


The Rusty Blackbird is listed as a Vulnerable species and partly due to loss of habitat its numbers are in decline.  I feel very fortunate to be able to see them and glad they can find some food to sustain them here.


The deer have been seen early in the mornings.  One of the larger bucks came within view on 11/19/17.  It was collecting a young doe.


8-point White-tailed Buck 11-19-178-point White-tailed Buck 11-19-17 8-point White-tailed Buck with Doe 11-19-178-point White-tailed Buck with Doe 11-19-17


There were 3 does together on Saturday, 12/2/17 and this one took to the beautyberries with gusto.



I have identified some birds that I was not able to photograph before they flew.  Two Pine SIskins were at the Bubbler and were spooked by the larger birds on 11/25/17.  Hopefully, they'll be back.  There was also a juvenile Red-headed Woodpecker in the maple by the pond, looking down at the water on 12/2/17.  


The temperatures have been warm and it's still very, very dry.  We are in for a big change and snow is in the forecast for later in the week, so we'll be on the lookout.  Last but not least, Dan put together this video from the trail cam clips.  It does show a bit of the night life!






(Hummer Haven UnLtd.) Mon, 04 Dec 2017 12:39:41 GMT
Birds of November 11-15-17 Bird activity has slowed down a bit.  I'm still hoping to see some winter finches as it is an irruptive year for them, but none have come in as yet.  Winter finches would include birds like Pine Siskins, Purple Finches, Common Redpolls and Red Crossbills, all of which have been seen in the area parks.  Fingers crossed on those, they have all found their to our yard in the past if only for a day, as happened with the Common Redpoll.

We have been hosting a Brown Thrasher since 9/30/17.  Typically, this species moves on south and by early October few remain.  "Primarily only single birds are seen through the remainder of October, and thereafter it is rarely encountered." Description from Birds of Missouri, Their Distribution and Abundance, Mark B. Robbins and David Easterla.

This bird has been popping out every 3 or 4 days and I was able to get some photos in good light on 11/13/17.  We have lots of leaf matter for it to forage in and it has been coming regularly to drink at the Bubbler, sometimes staying 15 minutes or more.  The thrasher seems comfortable here, but for how long?


Brown Thrasher 11-13-17  3:14 pmBrown Thrasher 11-13-17 3:14 pm


The last Ruby-throated Hummingbird was seen on 10/15/17 and I have had them as late as 10/30.  I am still keeping one feeder going, just in case a vagrant species zooms by.  So far, the goldfinches and this female Downy Woodpecker have been the only visitors.


Downy Woodpecker on Hummingbird feeder 11-10-17Downy Woodpecker on Hummingbird feeder 11-10-17


Dark-eyed Juncos began arriving on 10/29/17.  These birds seem to signal the beginning of the winter season for us.


Dark-eyed Junco 11-4-17Dark-eyed Junco 11-4-17


Birds have been feeding on the American Beautyberries (Callicarpa americana) in the garden.  American Robins and Northern Cardinals are frequent visitors to these shrubs but this was my first time to see an American Goldfinch enjoying the fruit!


Northern Cardinal eating American Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) 11-2-17Northern Cardinal eating American Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) 11-2-17 American Goldfinch eating American Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) 11-2-17American Goldfinch eating American Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) 11-2-17


An Eastern Phoebe was around for a few days.  I always enjoy watching them splash bathe in the pond.  It spent some time sallying out from the arbor to catch flying insects, too.


Eastern Phoebe 11-1-17Eastern Phoebe 11-1-17

Eastern Phoebe 11-5-17Eastern Phoebe 11-5-17


A Brown Creeper actually got in the basin to bathe one day, without holding on to the perch.  That little bird is pretty darn cute! 


Brown Creeper bathing 11-4-17Brown Creeper bathing 11-4-17


When things are really quiet, I begin to check for hawks.  That was the case last Tuesday, 11/7/17 when a Cooper's Hawk was looking for a meal.  The hawk was unsuccessful in its quest.


Cooper's Hawk 11-7-17Cooper's Hawk 11-7-17


On the other hand, when things get really noisy, as with several American Crows fussing up a storm, it's time to look for a Great Horned Owl!  This predator was well concealed in the neighbor's Norway Spruce.  Have you spotted it yet?


American Crows harass Great Horned Owl 11-11-17American Crows harass Great Horned Owl 11-11-17


The owl was quite indignant about being disturbed.  It was giving the "look that could kill".  In fact, American Crows are a favorite meal for these owls.  No wonder the crows make such a stink!


Great Horned Owl 11-11-17Great Horned Owl 11-11-17


On Monday, a Golden-crowned Kinglet stole the show when I spotted it splashing and flashing its flaming crown.  What joie de vivre!  So, November does have its bright and joyful moments in these darker days, and for that I am grateful.  


May you have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving with family and friends!


Golden-crowned Kinglet 11-13-17Golden-crowned Kinglet 11-13-17

Golden-crowned Kinglet 11-13-17Golden-crowned Kinglet 11-13-17

Golden-crowned Kinglet 11-13-17Golden-crowned Kinglet 11-13-17




(Hummer Haven UnLtd.) Wed, 15 Nov 2017 19:59:30 GMT
The Titmouse and "The Tree" 11-6-17 “If you spend too much time in the woods you know, you can become a little squirrelly,” said dear friend #1, kindly, as we discussed the possible need for me to occasionally be in the society of humans.


“This is my dear friend, Margy, who photographs birds and butterflies, and always dresses in nature's colors so that she can blend in,” introduced by dear friend #2, effusively, on one of those rare occasions.


Yes, well, I’m probably more than a little squirrelly by now and yes, I always dress to become a part of the woods, to “make like a tree” so that the birds will ignore me and go on about their business. I have always figured that if the locals accept my presence, our sanctuary space will be that much more comfortable and inviting for the migrants who come through.

Now, with cold winter days upon us, birds like woodpeckers, nuthatches, chickadees and titmice will cache seeds away, just like squirrels do when they bury their treasured acorns. Here are a couple examples, a White-breasted Nuthatch is about to tuck a sunflower seed into the vine, and a Tufted Titmouse has a beak full to stash in a secret place.


White-breasted Nuthatch caches seed 10-16-17White-breasted Nuthatch caches seed 10-16-17



A picture is worth a thousand words, they say. But there are times when there can be no picture,

only the story because the bird got

“up too close and personal”.  


The Titmouse and "The Tree"


On Saturday, I was focusing on a bird at the Bubbler when I felt a fluttering wing brush my right hand.  I slowly pulled back from the camera to see a Tufted Titmouse with a safflower seed in its beak clinging to my camera strap.

(Use your vivid imagination here, photo taken post-experience.)


Camera strap 11-4-17Camera strap 11-4-17


Hmm, it was attempting to conceal the seed in a nook of my tripod.  The little gray bird then looked up at me and oh-oh, it flew off. I chuckled and went back to watching for birds. 

A few minutes later, the Titmouse was back. This time it perched on the cedar post that was maybe five feet in front of me.  


Cedar post 11-4-17Cedar post 11-4-17


The bird had another seed. It looked me right in the eye, flew straight to me and landed on my shoulder. I could feel its smooth little bill against my skin as it gently deposited the seed under my hat, at the back of my neck, into the collar of my sweater.  It then hopped onto the brim of my hat and flew off. 


Eureka, metamorphosis!

The moment had finally come, I had become "The Tree", or at the very least, a completely accepted part of the landscape

by one trusting little bird!



"Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the Earth are never alone or weary of life."  

Rachel Carson



For all the images taken since the last post, begin here:  November Week 1


(Hummer Haven UnLtd.) Mon, 06 Nov 2017 22:34:15 GMT
Halloween Treats 10-31-17 More birds have arrived that will spend their winter days here. White-throated Sparrows have come in, like this 'white form' with white stripes on its crown. The composite photo shows the tan form as well.


White-throated Sparrow 10-16-17White-throated Sparrow 10-16-17

White-throated Sparrows 1-19-16White-throated Sparrows 1-19-16


The Golden-crowned Kinglets are still flitting about, visiting the Bubbler some days.


Golden-crowned Kinglet 10-19-17Golden-crowned Kinglet 10-19-17


The last Summer Tanager of migration was seen on 10/19/17. 


Summer Tanager 10-19-17Summer Tanager 10-19-17


This Brown Creeper is in an unusual position clinging to the moss-covered rock behind the Bubbler.  One can really see its russet tail, when usually its colors blend into the bark of a tree.


Brown Creeper 10-20-17Brown Creeper 10-20-17


The first Hermit Thrush of fall has been seen several days and was at the Bubbler on 10/20/17. This bird also has a rusty tail that it raises, then slowly lowers.


Hermit Thrush 10-20-17Hermit Thrush 10-20-17


An Eastern Towhee was seen near the pond, foraging under a 'Blue Muffin' Viburnum on 10/29/17.  Now that's a bird that blends in with the leaves.


Eastern Towhee 10-29-17Eastern Towhee 10-29-17


A juvenile Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was here with another male. This bird is the 'scruffiest' one I've seen here, without any signs yet of a yellow belly or red feathers on its head. It may stay in this plumage into March. I confirmed its identification with an expert because it did have me scratching my head and wondering if it was a vagrant sapsucker. The next photo is of a young male that I took exactly a year ago. There is always more to learn about birds!


Juvenile Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 10-29-17 confirmedJuvenile Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 10-29-17 confirmed

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 10-29-16Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 10-29-16


It was very breezy yesterday and the wind was keeping the birds down. I went into the front room to sit by the window for a bit, thinking that we really do have a lot of hiding places here for birds. Anything could be tucked into the garden! Just then, a Winter Wren popped out of the Coral Trumpet Honeysuckle on the arbor, did its bouncy little dance and then dashed back into cover. I smiled to myself, cheered by the antics of the tiny brown speckled bird. I got the camera and it took about 20 minutes to find it again working over, under, around and through the leaves like a little mouse. See what I mean? It is #105 for the year.


Winter Wren 10-30-17Winter Wren 10-30-17


The Yellow-rumped Warblers will be here into April before moving north to their breeding grounds. We may see an Orange-crowned Warbler again, but most of the warblers have gone south for their winter.


Yellow-rumped Warbler 10-30-17Yellow-rumped Warbler 10-30-17


Now for some Trick-or-Treaters!  I have suspected for some time that we had a coyote around because of some still images taken with the Trail Cam. Now, we both feel certain. This video was taken on 10/18/17 at 3:25 am.


Coyote 10-18-17 3:25:38 am


The beautifully marked fox came for a drink a couple times recently. This video was from 10/25/17 at 6:30 am.


Red Fox at the Bubbler 10-25-17 6:30:08 am


The White-tailed deer are becoming much more active with bucks strutting through in the night and even in broad daylight. We have at least 5 different bucks.


White-tailed Buck 10-28-17 1:53 am 2 White-tailed Bucks 10-28-17 1:54 am White-tailed Buck 10-29-17 at 1:12 pm


That's scary enough for me!  Happy Halloween!

PS.  To view all the short video clips, start here in the Wildlife Gallery:  Video clips


(Hummer Haven UnLtd.) Wed, 01 Nov 2017 02:13:03 GMT
Ways to prevent birds from hitting windows 10-24-17 It happens far too often, a bird is fooled into thinking it can fly through a window and instead, the bird collides with it. We saw a solution in Costa Rica that we have adapted to two of our windows. It has helped to reduce the incidence greatly. Dan drilled holes in PVC pipe and threaded simple twine threaded through it, then hung the barrier on the outside of the window. The holes must be spaced 4 to 4 !/2" apart at most for it be effective.


Window protectorWindow protector


Recently, we did have a bird hit a narrow window that was not protected. Fortunately, the bird did recover! Here's the story.


A Blue Jay had made an alarm call and a Black-throated Green Warbler took off, colliding with the window.  I turned to see it and took a quick photo.


Black-throated Green Warbler - window strike 10-9-17Black-throated Green Warbler - window strike 10-9-17


Dan heard the bird hit, too and brought out a container lined with a towel. (We have also used a shoebox as is sometimes recommended.) I held the bird in my cupped hands for a few minutes to keep it warm and then placed it in the container to rest. It was stunned and took about 20 minutes before it hopped up to the edge when it was ready and flew deep into a nearby dogwood, where I lost sight of it. What a relief it is to see a bird recover after this happens.


Black-throated Green Warbler - window strike -rest 20 minutes  10-9-17Black-throated Green Warbler - window strike -rest 20 minutes 10-9-17 Black-throated Green Warbler - window strike - recovered 10-9-17Black-throated Green Warbler - window strike - recovered 10-9-17


We are very fortunate in the St. Louis area to have the organization Wild Bird Rehabilitation to help our native birds. This is their website:


To read more, each page will open in a new tab:


Why Birds Hit Windows

Making Windows Safer for Birds

Better Glass Can Save Millions of Birds


To look at more options for windows:  Bird-smart Glass


Thank you for learning ways to help our native birds! 




(Hummer Haven UnLtd.) Tue, 24 Oct 2017 12:00:00 GMT
Warblers, Creepers, Kinglets, and more, oh my! 10-16-17 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

(Hummer Haven UnLtd.) Mon, 16 Oct 2017 17:14:09 GMT
Locals share with more October migrants 10-9-17 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





(Hummer Haven UnLtd.) Mon, 09 Oct 2017 11:19:56 GMT
Red-breasted Nuthatch - ps 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


(Hummer Haven UnLtd.) Wed, 04 Oct 2017 02:47:21 GMT
September has flown and October has brought in many migrants! 10-3-17 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



(Hummer Haven UnLtd.) Tue, 03 Oct 2017 11:42:50 GMT