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! 

Mid-April updates 4-17-22

April 17, 2022  •  Leave a Comment

 

The moody month of April is now under the full Pink Moon.

 

4-7-22 Purple Finch female4-7-22 Purple Finch female 4-7-22 Purple Finch female4-7-22 Purple Finch female

 

A female Purple Finch was seen on a couple days and visited the bubbler on 4-7-22.

  4-7-22 Hermit Thrush with pupa4-7-22 Hermit Thrush with pupa

 

Two Hermit Thrushes were also here chasing each other and finding tiny larvae to eat.

 

4-8-22 American Goldfinch on Blackhaw (Viburnum prunifolium)4-8-22 American Goldfinch on Blackhaw (Viburnum prunifolium) 4-8-22 American Goldfinch on Spicebush4-8-22 American Goldfinch on Spicebush 4-8-22 American Goldfinches4-8-22 American Goldfinches

4-8-22 Virginia Bluebells in light snow4-8-22 Virginia Bluebells in light snow

 

We had a setback with sleet and light snow when a cold front came in on 4-8-22. The next morning, we had a hard freeze. Birds need to find food no matter what the weather! Somehow, dark days make the goldfinches all the brighter.

 


4-9-22 Yellow-bellied Sapsucker on Green Ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica)4-9-22 Yellow-bellied Sapsucker on Green Ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica) 4-9-22 Hairy Woodpecker4-9-22 Hairy Woodpecker

 

A Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and a Hairy Woodpecker found insects by pecking away at a Green Ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica) and small stump.

 

4-9-22 Red-breasted Nuthatch with insect4-9-22 Red-breasted Nuthatch with insect
4-9-22 Yellow-rumped Warbler with insects4-9-22 Yellow-rumped Warbler with insects 4-12-22 Eastern Phoebe4-12-22 Eastern Phoebe 4-12-22 Eastern Phoebe caught insect in 30 mph gust4-12-22 Eastern Phoebe caught insect in 30 mph gust

 

Red-breasted Nuthatches glean insects from vines and bark. The Yellow-rumped Warbler also does but along with the Eastern Phoebe, a flycatcher, it will sally out and catch insects on the wing.

 

4-10-22 Ruby-crowned Kinglet4-10-22 Ruby-crowned Kinglet 4-12-22 Ruby-crowned Kinglet4-12-22 Ruby-crowned Kinglet 4-12-22 Carolina Chickadee4-12-22 Carolina Chickadee 4-12-22 Yellow-rumped Warbler4-12-22 Yellow-rumped Warbler 4-12-22 White-breasted Nuthatch4-12-22 White-breasted Nuthatch

 

Bathing is a favorite activity even on the coldest days. A Ruby-crowned Kinglet checked the bubbler when it was full of wind-blown leaves and returned the following morning. The Carolina Chickadee, Yellow-rumped Warbler and White-breasted Nuthatch always find a time to  freshen up.


4-13-22 Red-headed Woodpecker juvenile, near adult plumage4-13-22 Red-headed Woodpecker juvenile, near adult plumage 4-13-22 Red-headed Woodpecker juvenile, near adult plumage4-13-22 Red-headed Woodpecker juvenile, near adult plumage 4-13-22 Red-headed Woodpecker juvenile, near adult plumage4-13-22 Red-headed Woodpecker juvenile, near adult plumage

4-13-22 Red-headed Woodpecker juvenile, near adult plumage4-13-22 Red-headed Woodpecker juvenile, near adult plumage

1-27-22 Red-headed Woodpecker Juvenile1-27-22 Red-headed Woodpecker Juvenile

 

I was filling the feeders one morning when I heard a scuffle and looked up to see a Red-headed Woodpecker and Yellow-bellied Sapsucker having a bit of a confrontation. Four days later on 4-13-22, I was able to find the Red-headed Woodpecker again in the woodland. What a striking bird! Because it has dark barring in the secondary feathers and they're not pure white, it is a young bird in near adult plumage. I wonder, is it the same juvenile bird that was here in January? (last photo)

 

4-13-22 FOY #56 White-eyed Vireo4-13-22 FOY #56 White-eyed Vireo 4-15-22 FOY #57 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher4-15-22 FOY #57 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 4-16-22 FOY#58 B#40 Swainson's Thrush4-16-22 FOY#58 B#40 Swainson's Thrush

 

We've seen three new arrivals for the year. In between storms on 4-13-22, I spotted this bedraggled little White-eyed Vireo for FOY #56. Two days later, the Blue-gray Gnatcatcher was confirmed. (Thought I'd had a glimpse when I saw the vireo.) And, yesterday, this Swainson's Thrush popped out of the bluebells at the bubbler for FOY #58 and Bubbler Bird #40.

 

4-15-22 Brown Thrasher4-15-22 Brown Thrasher
4-15-22 Brown Thrasher4-15-22 Brown Thrasher 4-15-22 Brown Thrasher4-15-22 Brown Thrasher

 

Remember in the last post, I mentioned my little nemesis, the Brown Thrasher. Well, I have to take that back. It came out on Friday to give me a real education on how it thrashes about in the leaves to find food and lives up to its name. Of course, haven't seen it since! Some days it's all about luck and being in the right place at the right time.

 

4-12-22 Five Eastern Bluebird eggs! Found at 3:52 pm4-12-22 Five Eastern Bluebird eggs! Found at 3:52 pm

 

We checked the Eastern Bluebird nest on 4-12-22 and found five beautiful eggs. The female is diligent about being on the nest and the male takes his guard duty very seriously. Fingers crossed they'll be successful. 

 

Recently, I was asked why we have so many beautiful birds here in our yard. We became aware years ago that birds were in trouble. My birding mentors told me stories of birds literally, "dripping off the trees." Well, birds are in trouble and their numbers have dropped dramatically since 1970. Birds are the "canaries in the coal mine", that means they are indicators of environmental health. If you are interested in helping birds and more, here are some things that you can do, right in your own yard.

 

 

Together, we can make a huge difference for our native birds, butterflies and bees! 

 

To view all the photos taken since 4-7-22, begin here:  Mid-April

 

 

 


Into April now 4-7-22

April 07, 2022  •  1 Comment

 

New arrivals and nesting birds are being seen.

 

3-28-22 FOY #50 Purple Finch3-28-22 FOY #50 Purple Finch 3-28-22 FOY #50 Purple Finch with House Finch in front3-28-22 FOY #50 Purple Finch with House Finch in front

 

Our FOY #50 Purple Finch was seen on 3-28-22. This male was here just one day. In the tray feeder, it's easy to see the differences between the House Finch in front and the Purple Finch behind. The House Finch is orangier and smaller with striations on its flanks.

 

3-31-22 FOY #52 Swamp Sparrow3-31-22 FOY #52 Swamp Sparrow 3-31-22 FOY #52 Swamp Sparrow3-31-22 FOY #52 Swamp Sparrow

 

A bird that we missed last year showed up on 3-31-22, a Swamp Sparrow, FOY #52. Another bird had shown up earlier that day, a Brown Thrasher for #51. Though seen several times, it has eluded my efforts to photograph it. 

 

3-28-22 American Goldfinches face off3-28-22 American Goldfinches face off

3-28-22 American Goldfinches determine who's boss3-28-22 American Goldfinches determine who's boss

4-3-22 American Goldfinch4-3-22 American Goldfinch

 

Many male birds are getting pretty testy with each other. Robins, sparrows and these American Goldfinches dramatically display the pecking order! Breeding is serious business and finding the best places to attract a mate and procreate is what Spring is all about for birds.

 

3-28-22 Yellow-rumped Warbler female3-28-22 Yellow-rumped Warbler female 3-29-22 Yellow-rumped Warbler in molt3-29-22 Yellow-rumped Warbler in molt

3-28-22 Yellow-rumped Warbler in Spicebush3-28-22 Yellow-rumped Warbler in Spicebush 4-2-22 Yellow-rumped Warbler with insect4-2-22 Yellow-rumped Warbler with insect

4-4-22 Yellow-rumped Warbler in Spicebush (Lindera benzoin)4-4-22 Yellow-rumped Warbler in Spicebush (Lindera benzoin)

 

Yellow-rumped Warblers have been surviving on bark butter, peanut crumbs, suet and flying insects on warm days. The male in full breeding plumage caught a tiny mason bee while it was pollinating spicebush (Lindera benzoin). This is the first time I've documented that behavior.

 

4-2-22 Chipping Sparrow4-2-22 Chipping Sparrow
 

Another new arrival was a little Chipping Sparrow FOY#53 on 4-1-22.  It was here for two days before moving on.

 

4-4-22 Swamp Sparrow4-4-22 Swamp Sparrow
 

I found the Swamp Sparrow again, in the swamp of course, on 4-4-22.
 

4-3-22 Rusty Blackbird4-3-22 Rusty Blackbird

4-5-22 450+ Rusty Blackbirds4-5-22 450+ Rusty Blackbirds
 

We have seen large flocks of Rusty Blackbirds come in to forage in the leaves throughout the yard and especially in the swampy woods. It can be really challenging to begin to show how many there are, they're so camouflaged. On Tuesday, there was a very large flock here and when I left to go vote, they flushed and started to move east and then north out of our yard and into our neighbors' yards. I drove very slowly to photograph the birds with my phone. I enlarged the photos and counted the birds, there were over 450! Add in another 150 or so that had moved up into the canopy, and well, at least 600 birds were here in the neighborhood. This species is listed as Vulnerable. We are lucky to see them and try not to disturb them so they can feed on insects in the leaves. I suspect they moved back into our yard after I left.

 

 

4-3-22 Eastern Bluebirds4-3-22 Eastern Bluebirds 4-3-22 Eastern Bluebirds4-3-22 Eastern Bluebirds 4-3-22 Eastern Bluebirds -Day nine4-3-22 Eastern Bluebirds -Day nine
 

The pair of Eastern Bluebirds has been very busy building their nest. They both seem to be micromanaging this joint operation! They were still working on finishing touches this morning.

 

4-4-22 Eastern Phoebe4-4-22 Eastern Phoebe

 

The pair of Eastern Phoebes have been at work as well. We've seen the female gathering nesting material while the male calls away.

 

4-6-22 FOY#55 Hermit Thrush first seen on 4-4-224-6-22 FOY#55 Hermit Thrush first seen on 4-4-22 4-6-22 FOY#55 Hermit Thrush first seen on 4-4-224-6-22 FOY#55 Hermit Thrush first seen on 4-4-22 4-6-22 FOY#55 Hermit Thrush first seen on 4-4-224-6-22 FOY#55 Hermit Thrush first seen on 4-4-22

 

On 4-4-22, a Great Blue Heron flew over for FOY #54 and a bit later I spotted our FOY #55 Hermit Thrush. It has a distinctive way of moving along quickly, then stops and flicks its tail up, then lowers it slowly. 

 

4-1-22 Red-breasted Nuthatch4-1-22 Red-breasted Nuthatch 4-5-22 Red-breasted Nuthatch4-5-22 Red-breasted Nuthatch

 

Red-breasted Nuthatches are still around, sometimes I see two males and a female. The two males are pictured here, the second one lighter than the first.

 

4-1-22 Brown Creeper4-1-22 Brown Creeper

 

Brown Creepers are still foraging on the trees, sometimes on oaks, cherries or maples.  

 

4-4-22 First bloom of Virginia Bluebells4-4-22 First bloom of Virginia Bluebells

 

Well, it's time to get those hummingbird feeders cleaned up and ready to go. Ruby-throated Hummingbirds will be coming in soon, along with warblers ready to refuel from their long hauls, too. It has been cool and somewhat slow, but Spring is springing!

 

 


Signs of Spring 3-27-22

March 27, 2022  •  Leave a Comment

 

Signs of Spring mean more than Daffodils!

 

3-12-22 Yellow-bellied Sapsucker3-12-22 Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 3-12-22 Cedar Waxwing3-12-22 Cedar Waxwing

 

Visits by a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and flocks of Cedar Waxwings signal the change is coming. 

  3-19-22 Yellow-rumped Warbler pair3-19-22 Yellow-rumped Warbler pair

3-26-22 Yellow=rumped Warbler3-26-22 Yellow=rumped Warbler

3-6-22 Yellow-rumped Warbler3-6-22 Yellow-rumped Warbler
 

Yellow-rumped Warblers are seen, sometimes catching insects on warmer days.

 

3-15-22 Brown Creeper on Persimmon (Diospyros Virginian)3-15-22 Brown Creeper on Persimmon (Diospyros Virginian)

 

Brown Creepers are often foraging on the bark of trees, in this case, a persimmon (Diospyros virginiana).

 

3-25-22 Red-breasted Nuthatch3-25-22 Red-breasted Nuthatch

3-17-22 Red-breasted Nuthatch3-17-22 Red-breasted Nuthatch 3-17-22 Red-breasted Nuthatch in Elm3-17-22 Red-breasted Nuthatch in Elm

 

Red-breasted Nuthatches find plenty to eat, even checking the buds of American elm (Ulmus americana) for a treat.

 

3-25-22 Song Sparrow3-25-22 Song Sparrow


The Song Sparrow has been singing for weeks. It popped up onto the woodland gate, more easily seen one day.

 

3-25-22 Carolina Chickadee3-25-22 Carolina Chickadee

 

The Carolina Chickadee checked a leaf blown into the hydrangea for a tidbit.

 

3-15-22 Rusty Blackbird3-15-22 Rusty Blackbird 3-15-22 Rusty Blackbirds3-15-22 Rusty Blackbirds 3-20-22 Rusty Blackbirds3-20-22 Rusty Blackbirds 3-26-22 Northern Flicker and 5 Rusty Blackbirds3-26-22 Northern Flicker and 5 Rusty Blackbirds 3-26-22 15 Rusty Blackbirds3-26-22 15 Rusty Blackbirds 3-26-22 5 Rusty Blackbirds3-26-22 5 Rusty Blackbirds

 

Rusty Blackbirds come in some days in flocks of 80-100 or so birds. It's so hard to tell for sure! They are perfectly camouflaged in the shadows, overturning leaves for insect food or bathing in puddles or the basin. It's only when they fly up into the trees that their numbers seem to swell. Spring is a time of high contrast in light and in the weather!

 

3-26-22 Pileated Woodpecker3-26-22 Pileated Woodpecker

 

Yesterday, in the midst of all the blackbird activity, I turned to see the Pileated Woodpecker in its fine bright plumage. It worked on several trees and ate some suet before calling and flying off to the south.

 

3-21-22 Eastern Bluebird3-21-22 Eastern Bluebird 3-21-22 Eastern Bluebird female and American Robin3-21-22 Eastern Bluebird female and American Robin

 

This Eastern Bluebird pair have continued to spend time here every day, finding insects on warm days and taking mealworms to supplement their needs. They seemed determined to make our yard their home! So, we put up the nest box again on 3-18-22, even though it was a bit late. Yesterday, our effort was rewarded! 

 

3-26-22 Eastern Bluebird on sentry duty3-26-22 Eastern Bluebird on sentry duty 3-26-22 Eastern Bluebird female decides to nest!3-26-22 Eastern Bluebird female decides to nest! 3-26-22 Eastern Bluebird pair3-26-22 Eastern Bluebird pair 3-26-22 Eastern Bluebird pair3-26-22 Eastern Bluebird pair 3-26-22 Eastern Bluebird3-26-22 Eastern Bluebird 3-27-22 Eastern Bluebird female3-27-22 Eastern Bluebird female 3-27-22 Eastern Bluebird female3-27-22 Eastern Bluebird female

 

This is the first time we have ever had nesting Eastern Bluebirds. After such a tough year for this species, we have high hopes for their success! 

  3-27-22 Eastern Phoebe3-27-22 Eastern Phoebe

 

This morning, we had two Eastern Phoebes, fluttering around each other and the former nesting area. We think it may be the same pair that raised five chicks a few years ago. Maybe they'll stick around, fingers crossed!

 

Spring is springing!

 

 

 

 

 


SPRING FORWARD! 3-13-22

March 13, 2022  •  2 Comments

LET'S CELEBRATE SPRING'S IMMINENT ARRIVAL!

 

Check out the new Spring Warblers Gallery to review:

 

Spring Warbler Species at Shady Oaks

 

5-11-21 Blackburnian Warbler5-11-21 Blackburnian Warbler

 

 


Into March 3-9-22

March 09, 2022  •  Leave a Comment

Don't forget - Spring Forward Saturday! 

 

We've seen other signs of spring, despite the next batch of snow in the forecast.

 

3-1-22 Eastern Bluebird3-1-22 Eastern Bluebird 3-2-22 Eastern Bluebird female3-2-22 Eastern Bluebird female

 

Eastern Bluebirds are getting brighter, noisier and chasing each other about.

 

3-2-22 American Goldfinch in cover of white oak3-2-22 American Goldfinch in cover of white oak

 

American Goldfinches are turning more yellow. They often perch up in the oak leaves on breezy days, soaking up the sun.

 

2-28-22 Yellow-rumped Warbler2-28-22 Yellow-rumped Warbler

3-1-22 Yellow-rumped Warbler3-1-22 Yellow-rumped Warbler

3-6-22 Yellow-rumped Warbler3-6-22 Yellow-rumped Warbler

 

The Yellow-rumped Warbler was fly-catching the day it warmed up to 81 degrees! 


3-2-22 Rusty Blackbird3-2-22 Rusty Blackbird 3-2-22 Rusty Blackbirds3-2-22 Rusty Blackbirds

 

Rusty Blackbirds are coming in small flocks of a dozen or so at times.

 

3-4-22 Brown-headed Cowbird female3-4-22 Brown-headed Cowbird female 3-4-22 Brown-headed Cowbird female #23-4-22 Brown-headed Cowbird female #2

 

Two female Brown-headed Cowbirds came in a week after the males. 

 

3-4-22 FOY #46 Eastern Phoebe3-4-22 FOY #46 Eastern Phoebe 3-4-22 FOY #46 Eastern Phoebe3-4-22 FOY #46 Eastern Phoebe 3-4-22 FOY #46 Eastern Phoebe3-4-22 FOY #46 Eastern Phoebe

 

An Eastern Phoebe showed up about 10:00 am on 3-4-22 for #46 for the year. It was finding insects on its migratory stop here.

 

3-4-22 Dark-eyed Junco3-4-22 Dark-eyed Junco 3-4-22 Brown Creeper3-4-22 Brown Creeper

 

Dark-eyed Juncos and Brown Creepers will be around into April.

 

3-4-22 Red-breasted Nuthatch3-4-22 Red-breasted Nuthatch

3-5-22 Red-breasted Nuthatch pair3-5-22 Red-breasted Nuthatch pair

 

The lighter pair of Red-breasted Nuthatches are being seen every day, but I think the richer colored pair may have moved on with the strong southerly winds last week.

 

3-6-22 Song Sparrow3-6-22 Song Sparrow

 

The male Song Sparrow has been singing a bit west of us now, but one of the pair came in to bathe.

 

3-7-22 FOY #47 Eastern Towhee3-7-22 FOY #47 Eastern Towhee

For comparison, 10-26-12 Eastern TowheeFor comparison, 10-26-12 Eastern Towhee

Another new bird for the year, #47 popped out of the leaves on 3-7-22. The Eastern Towhee is not a bird I can count on seeing every year, and this was not a soul-satisfying view! The first photo is all I managed before it disappeared. The second photo was taken on 10-26-15 when I got a full view of a male.

 

This morning, I was filling feeders and heard the sweet trill of #48, a Pine Warbler up in the pond cypress. Perhaps it will show us how beautiful it is! In the meantime, watch for green peeking through the snow...I'll be watching for more birds as they move through our space.

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