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! 

Ever grateful...Happy Thanksgiving! 11-25-21

November 25, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

 

There was quite a surprise at the Bubbler early on Monday morning, 11-22-21.

 

Coyotes 11-22-21

 

These robust animals appear to be well-fed and may be the same pair caught on the trail cam last October.

 

11-16-21 Red-breasted Nuthatch11-16-21 Red-breasted Nuthatch

11-22-21 Red-breasted Nuthatch spooked by Carolina Wren11-22-21 Red-breasted Nuthatch spooked by Carolina Wren

11-21-21 Red-breasted Nuthatch11-21-21 Red-breasted Nuthatch
11-17-21 Red-breasted Nuthatch female11-17-21 Red-breasted Nuthatch female

11-22-21 Red-breasted Nuthatch female11-22-21 Red-breasted Nuthatch female

11-22-21 Red-breasted Nuthatch female11-22-21 Red-breasted Nuthatch female
 

 

Both Red-breasted Nuthatches come in daily, to drink, to find peanuts or seeds and even chase each other a bit. They're not present every year, so they always make me smile!

 

11-23-21 Brown Creeper11-23-21 Brown Creeper 11-19-21 Brown Creeper11-19-21 Brown Creeper

 

There have been one or two Brown Creepers seen every day as well. 
 

11-22-21 Yellow-rumped Warbler11-22-21 Yellow-rumped Warbler 11-22-21 Yellow-rumped Warbler11-22-21 Yellow-rumped Warbler

 

A Yellow-rumped Warbler has come in to the water a couple times since the last post. And, the Eastern Bluebirds returned!

 

11-21-21 Eastern Bluebird11-21-21 Eastern Bluebird 11-21-21 Eastern Bluebirds11-21-21 Eastern Bluebirds 11-21-21 Eastern Bluebird11-21-21 Eastern Bluebird

11-21-21 Eastern Bluebird checking Blackhaw fruit11-21-21 Eastern Bluebird checking Blackhaw fruit

 

First, four males appeared. They were taking turns in the water, and one went to the Blackhaw (Viburnum prunifolium). It perched there a while. Was it on sentry duty or checking the fruit? The Blackhaw were just saplings years ago, spared when we removed all the bush honeysuckle. They've grown, flowered and produced fall fruit for the birds for a few years now.

 

11-21-21 Eastern Bluebird pair11-21-21 Eastern Bluebird pair 11-21-21 Eastern Bluebird pair11-21-21 Eastern Bluebird pair 11-21-21 Eastern Bluebird females11-21-21 Eastern Bluebird females 11-21-21 Eastern Bluebird females and House Finch11-21-21 Eastern Bluebird females and House Finch 11-21-21 Eastern Bluebird females and House Finch11-21-21 Eastern Bluebird females and House Finch 11-21-21 Eastern Bluebird females and House Finch11-21-21 Eastern Bluebird females and House Finch

 

A female joined the male, and when the male left, two more females came in. The House Finch found a spot, too.

  11-21-21 Eastern Bluebird11-21-21 Eastern Bluebird 11-21-21 Eastern Bluebird11-21-21 Eastern Bluebird 11-21-21 Eastern Bluebird11-21-21 Eastern Bluebird

 

Yet another male took over the basin, and chased out a chickadee to have the whole place to itself.

 

11-21-21 Eastern Bluebird at sump puddle11-21-21 Eastern Bluebird at sump puddle

 

The bluebirds had also been down at the sump puddle. There may have been 10-12 birds in total, it wasn't easy to track them all! We're just glad to know they're more comfortable coming in to the water when they need it. It has been very dry. We had about 0.4" of rain overnight, which may change this level of activity. 

 


11-21-21 Dark-eyed Juncos at sump puddle11-21-21 Dark-eyed Juncos at sump puddle

 

The Dark-eyed Juncos had also taken time to bathe there since the basin was full of bluebirds!

 

11-22-21 Red-bellied Woodpecker11-22-21 Red-bellied Woodpecker

 

Even a Red-bellied Woodpecker has been seen at the Bubbler lately. This species doesn't come to the water as reliably as the other woodpeckers.

 

11-22-21 American Robin11-22-21 American Robin

 

On Monday, a large flock of American Robins descended upon the yard, first to drink, and then to devour the Blackhaw drupes. 

  11-22-21 Northern Flicker and American Robin on Blackhaw11-22-21 Northern Flicker and American Robin on Blackhaw

 

A Northern Flicker was already in the shrub as the robins came in. Maybe the hard freeze that morning made the fruit more palatable.

  11-22-21 American Robin eating  Blackhaw fruit11-22-21 American Robin eating Blackhaw fruit 11-22-21 American Robin eating  Blackhaw fruit11-22-21 American Robin eating Blackhaw fruit 11-22-21 American Robin eating  Blackhaw fruit11-22-21 American Robin eating Blackhaw fruit 11-22-21 Eastern Gray Squirrel  eating  Blackhaw fruit11-22-21 Eastern Gray Squirrel eating Blackhaw fruit

 

The branches were swaying and bouncing with birds landing and grabbing the fruit. Each bird would eat two or three before taking off again. Even the squirrels couldn't resist trying them. It was a feast.



11-23-21 Eastern Bluebird11-23-21 Eastern Bluebird 11-23-21 Eastern Bluebird female eating Blackhaw fruit11-23-21 Eastern Bluebird female eating Blackhaw fruit

 

The next morning, a pair of bluebirds came in early to beat the robins to what was left. The male went to the Bubbler and the female had some breakfast. It's easy to see why our native plants are perfectly suited to our beautiful native birds! 

 

If you'd like to view all the photos since the last blog post, grab a cuppa and begin here:  Photos since 11-14-21

 

 

 


Mid-November already! 11-14-21

November 14, 2021  •  2 Comments

 

It has been a beautiful fall and now, the winds of change are blowing!

 

10-25-21 Golden-crowned Kinglets10-25-21 Golden-crowned Kinglets 10-25-21 Golden-crowned Kinglet10-25-21 Golden-crowned Kinglet

 

Before Halloween, Golden-crowned Kinglets were enjoying the Bubbler. I saw another one yesterday. That golden crown becomes a fiery orange when males get excited. 
 

 

11-13-21 Late Ruby-crowned Kinglet11-13-21 Late Ruby-crowned Kinglet
11-13-21 Late Ruby-crowned Kinglet11-13-21 Late Ruby-crowned Kinglet

 

Yesterday, 11-13-21, it was a surprise to see a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, usually further south by the first week of November. This is a good opportunity to look at both the kinglets and notice their subtle differences.

 

11-10-21  Brown Creeper with insect11-10-21 Brown Creeper with insect 11-13-21 Brown Creeper11-13-21 Brown Creeper
 

A pair of Brown Creepers has been chasing each other around the trunks of trees as they scoop insects out of the bark.

 

11-12-21 Dark-eyed Junco11-12-21 Dark-eyed Junco 11-13-21 Dark-eyed Junco11-13-21 Dark-eyed Junco

 

There were so many birds here yesterday, at least two dozen Dark-eyed Juncos were feeding and drinking.

 

11-13-21 White-throated Sparrow11-13-21 White-throated Sparrow
 

I've been hearing White-throated Sparrows and finally, several came into view.

 

11-13-21 White-breasted Nuthatch11-13-21 White-breasted Nuthatch 11-13-21 White-breasted Nuthatch with crossed bill11-13-21 White-breasted Nuthatch with crossed bill

 

White-breasted Nuthatches were active yesterday. The second bird looks like it has a crossed bill upon closer inspection. That's unusual.

 

11-13-21 Red-breasted Nuthatch11-13-21 Red-breasted Nuthatch 11-13-21 Carolina Chickadee and Red-breasted Nuthatch11-13-21 Carolina Chickadee and Red-breasted Nuthatch 11-13-21 Carolina Chickadee chased off by Red-breasted Nuthatch11-13-21 Carolina Chickadee chased off by Red-breasted Nuthatch 11-13-21 Red-breasted Nuthatch11-13-21 Red-breasted Nuthatch 11-13-21 Red-breasted Nuthatch11-13-21 Red-breasted Nuthatch

11-13-21 Red-breasted Nuthatch11-13-21 Red-breasted Nuthatch

 

It looks like we may have a pair of Red-breasted Nuthatches here for the season. The male has a black head and the female's is more of a steely blue. The female chased the male several times and was not having the chickadee on it's personal peanut feeder! Gotta love that tail! Both birds were totally focused on grabbing a peanut or seed and caching it in the bark of a nearby tree. Sounds like homesteading to me.

 

11-13-21 Yellow-rumped Warbler11-13-21 Yellow-rumped Warbler 11-13-21 Yellow-rumped Warbler female11-13-21 Yellow-rumped Warbler female

 

There also was a pair of Yellow-rumped Warblers at the Bubbler yesterday. The male is in the first photo, female in the second.


 

11-13-21 Eastern Bluebird11-13-21 Eastern Bluebird 11-13-21 Eastern Bluebird11-13-21 Eastern Bluebird 11-13-21 Eastern Bluebird11-13-21 Eastern Bluebird 11-13-21 Eastern Bluebird11-13-21 Eastern Bluebird 11-13-21 Eastern Bluebird11-13-21 Eastern Bluebird 11-13-21 House Finch, American Goldfinches and Eastern Bluebird11-13-21 House Finch, American Goldfinches and Eastern Bluebird 11-13-21 Eastern Bluebird pair11-13-21 Eastern Bluebird pair 11-13-21 Eastern Bluebird11-13-21 Eastern Bluebird 11-13-21 Eastern Bluebird11-13-21 Eastern Bluebird

 

We had another little thrill when the family of Eastern Bluebirds came in! The breeding pair survived the winter and had a brood, we've seen them occasionally. Yesterday was their first time at the Bubbler this fall. There were at least four males and two females. They sure brighten up the woodland on a gray day. It was non-stop activity with these and more birds for about 3 hours. Today, it's windy and they've been hunkered down.

 

Do check out the Halloween post in case you missed it.

Enjoy the last bit of fall color, and Happy Thanksgiving!

 

 

 

 

 

 


Happy Halloween! 10-31-21

October 31, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

Happy Halloween, Trick-or-treaters! 

 

Here are just a few of the many who have been to Shady Oaks lately.

Some are more interested in tricks, but we hope you'll enjoy this special treat. 

 

Halloween Parade 2021Some of our festive trick-or-treaters are here!

 


Celebrating 21 years with the Bubbler!

October 21, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

10-22-2000 Bubbler running!10-22-2000 Bubbler running! 10-22-2000

9-28-21 Bubbler area9-28-21 Bubbler area

The Bubbler is 21 years old!

 

10-1-21 Ruby-throat's BathBefore heading south, this young Ruby-throated Hummingbird took a "bubble-bath".

 

For the very first time, a Ruby-throated Hummingbird came to bathe before heading south for the winter. Our last sighting of one was on 10-3-21. Through the years, the Bubbler has attracted all sorts and sizes of birds. As of today, the Bubbler count is at 123 species plus 2 hybrids. 

 

 

Recently, I was informed by a member of the Missouri Bird Records Committee that the Sapsucker that came to the Bubbler in February had characteristics that were within accepted parameters for a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. So, even with red feathers on the nape and white feathers on the chin, it was not accepted as a Red-naped Sapsucker. I'm not really disappointed, I'm just grateful that I was able to get clear photos of these details for evaluation by the experts. Birds sure keep you on your toes! 

 

10-10-21 Blue-headed Vireo10-10-21 Blue-headed Vireo 10-10-21 Blue-headed Vireo10-10-21 Blue-headed Vireo 10-10-21 Blue-headed Vireo10-10-21 Blue-headed Vireo

 

Another Blue-headed Vireo came in on Sunday, 10-10-21. They sure do love to splash-bathe!

 

10-12-21 Black-throated Green Warbler10-12-21 Black-throated Green Warbler 10-12-21 Nashville Warbler10-12-21 Nashville Warbler 10-13-21 Bay-breasted Warbler10-13-21 Bay-breasted Warbler 10-20-21 Tennessee Warbler10-20-21 Tennessee Warbler

 

Warblers have been coming through, in smaller flocks. Black-throated Green and Nashville, Bay-breasted and Tennessee Warblers have been pretty consistently seen through this last period. (Still waiting for a late surprise...)

 

10-18-21 Brown Creeper FOS10-18-21 Brown Creeper FOS 10-18-21 Brown Creeper10-18-21 Brown Creeper

 

Three Brown Creepers came in on Friday, 10-15-21. It took a few days before I could catch one with the camera. They blend in so well!

 

10-15-21 FOS Hermit Thrush10-15-21 FOS Hermit Thrush
 

Our first Hermit Thrush of fall showed up at the Bubbler the same day as the creepers. It was seen again the next morning, before sunrise,  and not for very long. 


10-18-21 FOS Winter Wren10-18-21 FOS Winter Wren 10-18-21 Winter Wren10-18-21 Winter Wren 10-18-21 Winter Wren10-18-21 Winter Wren

 

This diminutive skulker was seen hopping about the brush pile in the sump puddle area, playing hide-and-seek with a chipmunk. The Winter Wren has been in the Bubbler area a few times, foraging in the leaves nearby. It's always pretty dark when this bird decides to get in!

 

10-21-21 Four Ruby-crowned Kinglets10-21-21 Four Ruby-crowned Kinglets

 

Today, I had just written a friend who had commented on how much she enjoys the blog. "It transports me for a while from my everyday worries," she said. I admitted that it's been a struggle for me, too, if I'm honest. Writing the blog helps me to stay positive about creating habitat and excited about connecting to nature as the reward. Nature is inspiring! And each of us can do more to help nature and in turn, help upcoming generations of critters and kids. We are part of the solution.

 

Just as I finished writing to her, the sun broke through and I saw these tiny birds at the Bubbler. A regal court of FIVE Ruby-crowned Kinglets were flitting about, jumping in and out! I managed to get four in a few photos, at least three of them were males.  

 

10-21-21 Four Ruby-crowned Kinglets10-21-21 Four Ruby-crowned Kinglets
 

10-21-21 Three Ruby-crowned Kinglets10-21-21 Three Ruby-crowned Kinglets 10-21-21 Two Ruby-crowned Kinglets10-21-21 Two Ruby-crowned Kinglets 10-21-21 Ruby-crowned Kinglet10-21-21 Ruby-crowned Kinglet 10-21-21 Ruby-crowned Kinglet10-21-21 Ruby-crowned Kinglet 10-21-21 Ruby-crowned Kinglet10-21-21 Ruby-crowned Kinglet

 

A few minutes of bright and cheerful avian activity can turn anyone's day around!

 

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Check back at noon on Halloween for a special parade of trick-or-treaters!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Fall Big Day Report 10-10-21

October 10, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

 

"Let me keep my mind on what matters most which

is my work which is mostly standing still

and learning to be astonished."

~ Mary Oliver

 

10-2-21 Red-breasted Nuthatch, 3 Nashville and Black-throated Green Warblers10-2-21 Red-breasted Nuthatch, 3 Nashville and Black-throated Green Warblers 10-2-21 Red-breasted Nuthatch10-2-21 Red-breasted Nuthatch 10-2-21 Red-breasted Nuthatch10-2-21 Red-breasted Nuthatch 10-2-21 Nashville Warblers10-2-21 Nashville Warblers 10-3-21 Black-throated Green Warbler10-3-21 Black-throated Green Warbler

10-3-21 Black-throated Green Warbler10-3-21 Black-throated Green Warbler

 

It has been kind of slow lately. It's been a mild fall and temperatures will hit the mid-80's again today. But a storm front is due in tonight and that may bring in some late birds. Let's talk about some of what has been seen and discovered in these first ten days of October.

 

A Red-breasted Nuthatch was skittish about getting in with three Nashville Warblers and a Black-throated Green. It's easier to make them all out in those next few images. 
 

10-3-21 Bay-breasted Warbler10-3-21 Bay-breasted Warbler 10-3-21 Bay-breasted Warbler10-3-21 Bay-breasted Warbler

 

Bay-breasted Warblers have also been in the mix.

 

10-3-21 Chestnut-sided Warbler10-3-21 Chestnut-sided Warbler

 

A female Chestnut-sided Warbler came in with a small flock.

  10-4-21 FOS Golden-crowned Kinglet10-4-21 FOS Golden-crowned Kinglet

 

On 10-4-21, our FOS Golden-crowned Kinglet popped into view. I heard their "tsee-tsee-tsee" call several times yesterday.

 

10-4-21 Barred Owl10-4-21 Barred Owl 10-4-21 Barred Owl10-4-21 Barred Owl

 

One evening, we had come in to make dinner and the birds started fussing. They usually do when a large predator comes in! It was one of the Barred Owls, ready to hunt for its own dinner, or is it breakfast for them?

 

10-7-21 Common Yellowthroat female10-7-21 Common Yellowthroat female 10-7-21 Common Yellowthroat female10-7-21 Common Yellowthroat female

 

Not much here on 10-7-21, but at lunchtime I spotted this small bird in a clove currant (Ribes odoratum) by the pond. When I returned with the camera, it had jumped into the pickerel weed (Pontederia cordata). The plants provided great cover for this little bird to bathe in.

 

10-7-21 Common YellowthroatIn the pickerel weed in the pond

 

Birding is nothing if not a humbling experience. Exciting, yes, challenging, yes, but it definitely can be humbling! As I watched the little bird and wanted to be sure of its I.D., I thought it was a female Common Yellowthroat. I have usually found males here in the fall, though. Then, I remembered a bird that I had called a Common Yellowthroat that was in the garden six years ago, on 8-24-15. As I studied and researched young female birds that can be confusing, I figured out that the bird in the garden was NOT a Common Yellowthroat at all, but a young female Mourning Warbler. 

 

 

Now it seems so obvious, but it all depends on experience. I'm so grateful for these experiences and the chance to correct my error. I don't see these species that often. We can learn so much from our mistakes. We just have to figure out that we made them, first! Birding in the fall is all about subtlety with these young birds.

 

Yesterday was Fall Big Day for birding, 10-9-21. Since we sit kind of low in the neighborhood, it can take a while for the insects to warm up and start moving around so the birds can find them. After all that foraging, the little flock was ready to bathe. A Northern Flicker had been in the basin, and when it left, the whole little flock came in together. 

 

Big Day 10-9-21

 

How many birds did you count in that video? There were Tennessee, Black-throated Green and Nashville Warblers, a Tufted Titmouse and a Carolina Wren. (The wren seemed a bit put out to have to share!) Some birds may have been repeats, but this kind of "flurry" is what keeps things interesting. Even after 21 years of watching birds at the bubbler, I never know when this will happen for sure, However, when it does, it's truly uplifting to stand there and simply "be astonished"!

 

To see all the birds since the last post, begin here: October birds

 

 

 

 

 

 

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