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! 

Late spring update 6-9-24

June 09, 2024  •  Leave a Comment

Let's begin with a video of clips from our Stealth Cam since February.

 

Look for deer, rabbit, coyote, Rusty Blackbirds in snow. Listen for toads singing in April and cicadas in May. 

Watch the fawns, one is  concealed as the doe feeds it. Yearling bucks race to the woods away 

from the noise of a dump truck, unloading gravel for street repairs. The video will open in a new page for you.

 

February ~ June 2024

 

 

On Friday, 6-7-24, American Crows were upset and calling loudly in the woods. I looked from upstairs and saw a raccoon climbing a small oak. Dan was watching downstairs and caught sight of a red fox, leaving the woods. He was unable to get a photo. The last time we recorded a fox was in the fall of 2017, the same time that we first recorded coyotes. Foxes typically move out when coyotes move in. They cannot compete with the larger animal.

 

Red Fox 10-20-17Red Fox 10-20-17
Red Fox 10-20-17
 

Red Fox at the Bubbler 10-22-17

 

5-16-24 E. Cottontail Rabbit5-16-24 E. Cottontail Rabbit 6-8-24 E. Cottontail Rabbit eating Purple Coneflower6-8-24 E. Cottontail Rabbit eating Purple Coneflower 6-8-24 E. Cottontail Rabbit eating weeds6-8-24 E. Cottontail Rabbit eating weeds

We have a bounty of bunnies this year. I've watched them eat numerous native plants such as woolly blue violets, Virginia creeper, Purple Coneflower and even poison ivy. The third photo shows it weeding for me! Eastern Cottontail Rabbits are the first choice on a Red Fox menu. Perhaps that is the lure?

 

4-27-24 Woodland Vole4-27-24 Woodland Vole 5-17-24 E. Chipmunks5-17-24 E. Chipmunks

Both Woodland Voles and Eastern Chipmunks are often taken by Red-shouldered Hawks and voles by Barred Owls. They are also on the list for the foxes. Small mammals make up an important part of the food web by eating plants and insects, then transferring that energy by becoming food sources for larger predators such as these. It's the circle of life!

 

5-13-24 Cicada emerging5-13-24 Cicada emerging
Cicadas have been a food for many mammal and bird species this spring. The last of them are still heard on warm days as they complete their life cycles. We're now into the sixth week since we saw the first one.

 

6-4-24 Water Canna (Thalia dealbata)6-4-24 Water Canna (Thalia dealbata) 6-8-24 Water Canna (Thalia dealbata)6-8-24 Water Canna (Thalia dealbata)

6-8-24 Bumble bee on Pickerel (Pontederia cordata)6-8-24 Bumble bee on Pickerel (Pontederia cordata)

The tallest plant in our water garden has gone from bud to bloom, Water Canna (Thalia dealbata). Bumble bees are finding nectar at the flowering Pickerel Rush (Pontederia cordata). These are both hardy native plants, and hummingbirds visit them.

 

6-9-24 Lizard's Tail, Sensitive Fern and River Oats6-9-24 Lizard's Tail, Sensitive Fern and River Oats

On the west side of the water garden, Sensitive Fern (Onoclea sensibilis), River Oats (Chasmanthium latifolium) and the white blooms of Lizard's Tail (Saururus cernuus) make a lush grouping with some variegated Solomon's Seal.

 

6-8-24 Great Spangled Fritillary on Purple Coneflower6-8-24 Great Spangled Fritillary on Purple Coneflower

Great Spangled Fritillary butterflies are seen often in the garden now. This one is enjoying nectar of Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea).

 

5-28-24 E. Phoebe immature5-28-24 E. Phoebe immature 5-28-24 E. Phoebe immature5-28-24 E. Phoebe immature

Young Eastern Phoebes chase each other as they explore the woodland learning to forage on their own. They seem to enjoy playing in water!


5-30-24 Tufted Titmouse immature5-30-24 Tufted Titmouse immature 5-30-24 Tufted Titmouse immature5-30-24 Tufted Titmouse immature

With some species, it's easy to tell young birds from the adults by the gape, the fleshy hinge at the base of the bill. (Look at the Phoebe again.) This Tufted Titmouse is one of at least four from a clutch.

 

5-29-24 Downy Woodpecker immature5-29-24 Downy Woodpecker immature 6-4-24 Harry Woodpecker immature6-4-24 Harry Woodpecker immature

Immature Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers both have red feathers on top of their heads, which are not always easy to see. Both species will come to suet, and both quickly learn how to find insects in decaying logs or under the bark of stumps.

 

Eastern Bluebirds will have their second brood fledge any minute now, I can hear the male calling! The female Eastern Phoebe is sitting on a second clutch of eggs. There is always something to listen for, something to observe and learn from here in our Shady Oaks Sanctuary. 

 

5-6-24 Copper Iris and Sensitive Fern5-6-24 Copper Iris and Sensitive Fern

A month ago, the Copper Iris (Iris fulva) were in peak bloom. 

Sweet moments like this in our gardens and in our lives are treasures!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


News Flash and Latest Migrants 5-28-24

May 28, 2024  •  Leave a Comment

May 28, 2024 ~ News Flash!

 

We were just featured in our hometown newspaper and the response has been amazing!

We've been getting comments on our website, through emails and texts from friends, old and new.

Welcome to new readers of the blog! 
 

A big shout out to Miki McKee Koelsch for really getting what we are all about and conveying it so well in the article,

and to Ursula Ruhl for taking photos of us (who'd rather be behind the camera).  Thank you!

And, a big hug and thank you to our dear friend, Armetta Smitley, who called the Times initially!
 

Here's the link to the Webster-Kirkwood Times, look for this title to read all about it:

Our Garden is for the Birds!

 


Now...on to the latest spring migrants!

 

5-16-24 Northern Waterthrush5-16-24 Northern Waterthrush 5-16-24 Northern Waterthrush5-16-24 Northern Waterthrush 5-16-24 Northern Waterthrush5-16-24 Northern Waterthrush

A Northern Waterthrush found some small larvae in the algae to eat in the bubbler on 5-16-24.

  5-18-24 Veery5-18-24 Veery

Overnight, on 5-18-24, over two million birds had flown over according to BirdCast. One that stopped in to refresh itself was this Veery.

 

5-18-24 Magnolia Warbler5-18-24 Magnolia Warbler

Another migrant was a Magnolia Warbler that just took its sweet ol' time while it bathed.

 

5-19-24 Tufted Titmouse5-19-24 Tufted Titmouse 5-19-24 Tufted Titmouse5-19-24 Tufted Titmouse 5-19-24 Tufted Titmouse5-19-24 Tufted Titmouse

This little Tufted Titmouse seemed very excited and pleased with itself for finding a caterpillar snack! It celebrated with a big splash.

 

5-19-24 Brown Thrasher5-19-24 Brown Thrasher 5-19-24 Brown Thrasher5-19-24 Brown Thrasher 5-19-24 Brown Thrasher5-19-24 Brown Thrasher

Sunday, 5-19-24 also brought a Brown Thrasher out of the thicket.

  5-21-24 Bay-breasted Warbler5-21-24 Bay-breasted Warbler

It was really dark at 7:30 am when this Bay-breasted Warbler needed a bath. Over a million and a half birds again had passed overhead the night before, but we did have a few warblers here the next morning. In fact, two females can be quite challenging to ID.

  5-21-24 Tufted Titmouse and Blackpoll Warbler female5-21-24 Tufted Titmouse and Blackpoll Warbler female

QUIZ bird! That's a Tufted Titmouse in the foreground, but what is the bird in back? Let's see if we can figure it out.

 

5-22-24 Bay-breasted and Blackpoll Warblers5-22-24 Bay-breasted and Blackpoll Warblers

These two species are favorites of many birders. The males are distinctly different, though nearly the same size. Study the leg color, that is considered a diagnostic detail to help differentiate between the females.

 

5-22-24 Two Bay=breasted females5-22-24 Two Bay=breasted females

These are both female Bay-breasted Warblers. There is variation among them but females have a split buffy eye-ring and usually dark legs and feet.


5-22-24 Two Blackpoll females5-22-24 Two Blackpoll females

Here are two female Blackpoll Warblers, again with some variation, yellowish to whitish breast with dark streaking on the sides. Some have darker streaking on top of head. Note the yellow-orangish legs and feet. 

 

5-21-24 Tufted Titmouse and Blackpoll Warbler female5-21-24 Tufted Titmouse and Blackpoll Warbler female
5-21-24 Blackpoll Warbler female5-21-24 Blackpoll Warbler female

So, what do you think the QUIZ bird is? These two are the same species. You've got this! 

 

5-21-24 Chestnut-sided Warbler5-21-24 Chestnut-sided Warbler 5-21-24 Chestnut-sided Warbler5-21-24 Chestnut-sided Warbler

Two Chestnut-sided Warblers also came in on 5-21-24. The second one is a female, not as strongly marked as the male.

  5-23-24 Canada Warbler female5-23-24 Canada Warbler female 5-23-24 Canada Warbler female5-23-24 Canada Warbler female 5-23-24 Canada Warbler female5-23-24 Canada Warbler female

On Thursday, 5-23-24, it made my day to see this female! It had been a year and a half since I'd photographed the 'necklaced' or Canada Warbler. 

 

5-25-24 Indian Pink (Spigelia marilandica)5-25-24 Indian Pink (Spigelia marilandica)
Indian Pinks (Spigelia marilandica) have been attracting the female Ruby-throated Hummingbird. Oops, just missed her!

 

5-26-24 Water lilies (Nymphaea odorata)5-26-24 Water lilies (Nymphaea odorata)

We've been enjoying our lush water garden, especially the water lily leaves which had expanded to huge proportions this week!

 

5-27-24 Water lilies (Nymphaea odorata) after hail storm5-27-24 Water lilies (Nymphaea odorata) after hail storm

And then, tornado warnings and a hail storm came in on Sunday evening, 5-26-24. Shredded lettuce! We were fortunate that the only damage was torn leaves, and they were everywhere.

 

As you can see by the charts, migration is winding down. There is still a slight chance for a surprise, so stay tuned!

Cicadas? Oh yes, we still hear and see the cicadas and they will soon complete their life cycle.

They have fed many birds and critters, and the leftovers will be broken down by many insects to return nutrients to the soil.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Peak of Migration 5-14-24

May 14, 2024  •  Leave a Comment

 

Migration is at Peak!

Some birds are stopping in to give us a closer look and a listen.

5-2-24 Swainson's Thrush singing5-2-24 Swainson's Thrush singing 5-12-24 Veery5-12-24 Veery

Swainson's Thrush are here, and singing through the day. Another thrush is this Veery, and it has been around for several days.


5-6-24 Nashville Warblers5-6-24 Nashville Warblers

Nashville Warblers were bathing together.

  5-9-24 Magnolia Warbler5-9-24 Magnolia Warbler

A Magnolia Warbler foraged in the Blackhaw (Viburnum prunifolium). It was looking for small caterpillars under the leaves. 

 

5-10-24 Tennessee Warblers5-10-24 Tennessee Warblers

A nice little flock of Tennessee Warblers braved the bubbler together. The females are more yellow overall.

  5-10-24 Ruby-crowned Kinglet5-10-24 Ruby-crowned Kinglet

A Ruby-crowned Kinglet stopped by and it's a bit on the late side, possibly a female.

  5-10-24 Bay-breasted Warbler5-10-24 Bay-breasted Warbler x5-10-24 Bay-breasted Warblersx5-10-24 Bay-breasted Warblers 5-10-24 Bay-breasted Warbler5-10-24 Bay-breasted Warbler

On 5-10-24, there were at least two, maybe more Bay-breasted Warblers. Oh, yes! I watched one devour a cicada on the pin oak in front.

  5-10-24 Black-throated Green Warbler5-10-24 Black-throated Green Warbler

Finally had a Black-throated Green Warbler check out the bubbler that day, too.

  5-10-24 Baltimore Oriole female5-10-24 Baltimore Oriole female

A female Baltimore Oriole was a nice find that day. Its plumage helped it blend so perfectly in the stream bed! 

 

5-12-24 Magnolia Warbler5-12-24 Magnolia Warbler 5-12-24 Magnolia Warbler5-12-24 Magnolia Warbler

Finally, a Magnolia Warbler came to bathe! As often happens, I was so focused on this bird that I nearly missed the approach of ...

  5-12-24 Blackburnian Warbler5-12-24 Blackburnian Warbler 5-12-24 Blackburnian and Magnolia Warblers5-12-24 Blackburnian and Magnolia Warblers 5-12-24 Blackburnian Warbler5-12-24 Blackburnian Warbler

THE FIRETHROAT! A Blackburnian Warbler, which always takes my breath away!

 

5-12-24 Chestnut-sided Warbler female5-12-24 Chestnut-sided Warbler female 5-12-24 Chestnut-sided Warbler first spring female5-12-24 Chestnut-sided Warbler first spring female

First year Chestnut-sided Warblers are coming through. These are both first spring females, but the second one looks like it has barely begun getting new, colorful feathers. This is what they look like in winter in Costa Rica. The change is really dramatic in the males, as you can see below.

 

5-8-24 Chestnut-sided Warbler5-8-24 Chestnut-sided Warbler  

 

And now...

5-12-24 Blackpoll Warbler5-12-24 Blackpoll Warbler 5-12-24 Blackpoll Warbler5-12-24 Blackpoll Warbler

My Haikubox had been picking up the song of the Blackpoll Warbler, and I finally saw this mostly black and white bird. This bird needs to be seen in spring, because their fall migration route typically takes them further east. 

 

Female Blackpoll Warbler on 10-4-13 documented as 3rd Missouri Fall recordFemale Blackpoll Warbler on 10-4-13 documented as 3rd Missouri Fall record

On 10-4-2013, this young female Blackpoll Warbler became the third record for Missouri by coming down to look at the bubbler! This little bird was featured in my very first blog post, and it was the only photo that I managed to get before other birds chased it off.

 

Now, an update on the nesters.

 

5-8-24 Eastern Bluebird5-8-24 Eastern Bluebird 5-8-24 Eastern Bluebird female after mating5-8-24 Eastern Bluebird female after mating 5-10-24 Eastern Bluebird eggs5-10-24 Eastern Bluebird eggs

Eastern Bluebirds wasted no time getting another brood started! We were going to clean out the old nest only to find the female had begun laying eggs. The bumper crop of insects available may have contributed to their eagerness.

 

5-11-24 Eastern Phoebes5-11-24 Eastern Phoebes

5-11-24 Eastern Phoebes5-11-24 Eastern Phoebes
5-11-24 Eastern Phoebes5-11-24 Eastern Phoebes 5-13-24 Eastern Phoebe nest, being rebuilt5-13-24 Eastern Phoebe nest, being rebuilt

Eastern Phoebes have been busy feeding their fledglings, too. This little one had eyes bigger than his tummy! I've seen the female collecting more moss and mud from the swampy thicket to reinforce the nest.

 

The cicadas are in full emergence here, just as they were 13 years ago. What a bounty! They start their scream-like song very early now and it goes on all day. While the chipmunk gorges on them at its table, I'm catching up on things inside and taking a little break.

 

Happy Migration!

 

 

 

 


My, oh my, it's MAY! 5-6-24

May 06, 2024  •  Leave a Comment

May is a time for feeding new chicks and migrating birds!

 

4-25-24 Eastern Bluebird carrying fecal sac out4-25-24 Eastern Bluebird carrying fecal sac out

4-28-24 Eastern Bluebird fledgling4-28-24 Eastern Bluebird fledgling

Eastern Bluebirds fledged on 4/28/24.  They've been seen and heard making the rounds of the neighborhood.

 

4-17-24 House Wren removing chickadee eggs4-17-24 House Wren removing chickadee eggs 5-4-24 Adult tempts chick with caterpillar food5-4-24 Adult tempts chick with caterpillar food

Despite the House Wren removing three of the chickadee eggs, at least one chick made it to fledging on 5/4/24. The adult coaxed it out with a treat!

 

4-28-24 Rose-breasted Grosbeak4-28-24 Rose-breasted Grosbeak 4-29-24 Summer Tanager red morph female4-29-24 Summer Tanager red morph female 5-4-24 Common Yellowthroat5-4-24 Common Yellowthroat

The leaves have grown quickly, concealing the birds. Try your hand at identifying these three! (Answers at the end of the post.)

 

4-23-24 Indigo Bunting4-23-24 Indigo Bunting

An Indigo Bunting enjoyed a bath in the bubbler.

  4-25-24 Nashville Warbler with yellow eye ring- hybrid with Orange-crowned?4-25-24 Nashville Warbler with yellow eye ring- hybrid with Orange-crowned? 4-25-24 Nashville Warbler4-25-24 Nashville Warbler

These are both Nashville Warblers, but the first has a very yellow eye-ring, not the typical bold white. It may just have more pigment, but it's the first one I've seen like it.

 

4-28-24 Wild Turkey4-28-24 Wild Turkey On 4-28-24, a Wild Turkey trotted through the woods.

 

4-28-24 Northern Waterthrush4-28-24 Northern Waterthrush

A Northern Waterthrush has been around for a week now, foraging in the swampy thicket or garden beds.

 

4-28-24 Baltimore Orioles4-28-24 Baltimore Orioles

Baltimore Orioles have been seen and heard often, and four got in the bubbler on 4-28-24.

 

5-1-24 Yellow Warbler5-1-24 Yellow Warbler


A striking Yellow Warbler first showed itself on 5-1-24.

 

4-29-24 Black-and-white Warbler4-29-24 Black-and-white Warbler

This Black-and-white Warbler rested for a bit in this rough-leaf dogwood.

 

5-4-24 Bay-breasted Warbler5-4-24 Bay-breasted Warbler

A very good day was 5-4-24 when this beauty came in, a Bay-breasted Warbler.

  5-4-24 Northern Parula5-4-24 Northern Parula

A Northern Parula felt right at home in the basin.

 

And now, for the quiz answers!

 

4-25-24 Rose-breasted Grosbeak4-25-24 Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

 

4-29-24 Summer Tanager red morph female4-29-24 Summer Tanager red morph female

Summer Tanager, red morph female

 

5-4-24 Common Yellowthroat5-4-24 Common Yellowthroat

Common Yellowthroat, a bird that is often hidden!

Now, to change it up...

 

5-4-24 First Brood IX Cicada5-4-24 First Brood IX Cicada

They're here!!

Brood XIX of the Periodical Cicadas are emerging now. This morning, I watched Swainson's and Gray-cheeked Thrush, a Downy Woodpecker, Eastern Phoebe and female Indigo Bunting catching and eating them. What a bounty of food for all the birds and small mammals!  

 

Copper Iris is now in bloom in the Water Garden.

 

4-28-24 Migration Map4-28-24 Migration Map

 

This map shows that we are into prime migration time! I'll be doing my best to document what is here.

To view all the birds since the last post, open this page:

Birds since 4-22-24


 


Earth Day 4-22-24

April 23, 2024  •  Leave a Comment

 

A Celebration of Diversity on Earth Day! 

Let's look at some new arrivals this month in our Shady Oaks Sanctuary.

 

4-12-24 Purple Finch4-12-24 Purple Finch 4-8-24 Purple Finch female4-8-24 Purple Finch female

Purple Finches, both male and female have been in the woodland.

 

4-14-24 Swamp Sparrow4-14-24 Swamp Sparrow

Swamp Sparrow was found in the swampy thicket, of course.

 

4-15-24 Hermit Thrush4-15-24 Hermit Thrush

The Hermit Thrush slowly raises and lowers its rusty tail.

  4-16-24 Northern Parula4-16-24 Northern Parula

Northern Parula is a lovely small warbler.

 

4-16-24 Ruby-crowned Kinglet4-16-24 Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Ruby-crowned Kinglets are frequently seen at the bubbler.

  4-16-24 Nashville Warbler4-16-24 Nashville Warbler

A shy Nashville Warbler was ahead of more to come.

 

4-16-24 Yellow-rumped Warbler4-16-24 Yellow-rumped Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warblers are almost in full breeding colors.

 

4-18-24 Tennessee Warbler4-18-24 Tennessee Warbler

A Tennessee Warbler is in  much paler hues.

 

4-18-24 Palm Warbler4-18-24 Palm Warbler

A Western Palm Warbler was buddies with the Tennessee Warbler.

 

4-18-24 Palm Warbler and Tennessee Warbler4-18-24 Palm Warbler and Tennessee Warbler

4-19-24 Ruby-throated Hummingbird female4-19-24 Ruby-throated Hummingbird female 4-19-24 Ruby-throated Hummingbird female4-19-24 Ruby-throated Hummingbird female 4-21-24 Ruby-throated Hummingbird4-21-24 Ruby-throated Hummingbird 4-21-24 Ruby-throated Hummingbird4-21-24 Ruby-throated Hummingbird 4-21-24 Ruby-throated Hummingbird4-21-24 Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds finally arrived! The female has been feeding at the Virginia Bluebells and Coral Trumpet Honeysuckle.

The male has bathed in the bubble twice now!

 

4-14-24 Pine Siskin takeoff4-14-24 Pine Siskin takeoff

Not new, this Pine Siskin has been here all winter, and will be leaving soon on its way Canada.

 

4-20-24 Blue-headed Vireo4-20-24 Blue-headed Vireo 4-20-24 Blue-headed Vireo4-20-24 Blue-headed Vireo

Blue-headed Vireo has been around for several days and enjoyed splash-bathing.

  4-21-24 Orange-crowned Warbler4-21-24 Orange-crowned Warbler

An Orange-crowned Warbler slipped in to the bubbler a few times.

 

4-22-24 Brown Thrasher4-22-24 Brown Thrasher 4-22-24 Brown Thrasher4-22-24 Brown Thrasher 4-22-24 Brown Thrasher4-22-24 Brown Thrasher

Brown Thrashers are finally getting comfortable here again. They're chasing robins out of the bubbler!

 

4-22-24 Yellow-bellied Sapsucker4-22-24 Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 4-22-24 Yellow-bellied Sapsucker4-22-24 Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Peek-a-boo! Today, a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker just had to take a dip.

 

4-16-24 E. Three-toed Box Turtle4-16-24 E. Three-toed Box Turtle

The Eastern Three-toed Box Turtle has come out of hibernation, another sign of spring!

 

4-8-24 Nessus Sphinx moth4-8-24 Nessus Sphinx moth

A bumble bee mimic, this Nessus Sphinx moth emerged in time to nectar at the Virginia Bluebells.

How was your Earth Day spent? Appreciating nature, I hope!

 

5-1-20 Blackburnian Warbler5-1-20 Blackburnian Warbler
 

Last week for the Warbler Exhibit:  Open for Viewing through Saturday, April 27, 2024!

Check the link for more information.

"Meet the Warblers!"

 

 

 

 

 

 

Archive
January February March April May June July August September October (1) November December
January (3) February (2) March (4) April (2) May (3) June (1) July August September October November December