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! 


March 13, 2022  •  2 Comments



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.










February has flown by! 2-28-22

February 28, 2022  •  1 Comment


February is the shortest month and we've now gained 1 hour and 45 minutes of daylight.


2-24-22 Yellow-rumped Warbler2-24-22 Yellow-rumped Warbler 2-12-22 Brown Creeper2-12-22 Brown Creeper


The Yellow-rumped Warbler and sometimes two Brown Creepers are still being seen every day.


2-19-22 Carolina Chickadee with deformed leg2-19-22 Carolina Chickadee with deformed leg 2-20-22 White-breasted Nuthatch with broken tip of upper mandible2-20-22 White-breasted Nuthatch with broken tip of upper mandible


There have been some tough, cold and icy days for birds like the Carolina Chickadee with its deformed leg and the White-breasted Nuthatch with the crossed bill. The nuthatch has broken the upper mandible and still hammers away at the peanut feeder to get food. I wonder how this one will feed young successfully.

  2-18-22 American Robin2-18-22 American Robin


Two American Robins have been coming onto the deck for bits of mealworms and bark butter. They both want to be first on their breeding territories. This one was soaking up a bit of warmth from the fountain on a very cold morning. 

  2-25-22 Rusty Blackbirds, Brown-headed Cowbirds and Red-winged Blackbird2-25-22 Rusty Blackbirds, Brown-headed Cowbirds and Red-winged Blackbird


A very large mixed flock of blackbirds came in on Friday, 2-25. It was a dark day, but I was enjoying the rich variation in the plumage of all these birds. (When you see browns and blacks, make the most of it!) I estimated 50 Rusty Blackbirds and if you study this first photo, you'll see four Brown-headed Cowbirds in the right foreground. There were ten cowbirds that I counted under the south feeders at one point, the most I've seen at once. 


2-25-22 Rusty Blackbirds, Brown-headed Cowbirds and Red-winged Blackbird2-25-22 Rusty Blackbirds, Brown-headed Cowbirds and Red-winged Blackbird


Notice the Red-winged Blackbird just in front of the branch? It was the only one in this large flock that I could find.


2-25-22 Rusty Blackbird, Brown-headed Cowbirds2-25-22 Rusty Blackbird, Brown-headed Cowbirds


Two Brown-headed Cowbirds joined a Rusty Blackbird to drink at the bubbler.

  2-25-22 Red-winged Blackbird2-25-22 Red-winged Blackbird


The Red-winged Blackbird also came in for half a dozen sips of water. This brought the Bubbler count up to 34 species for the year. I also saw a House Sparrow at the feeder, briefly, before the birds all lifted away. We're now at 44 species for the year, highest count at this point that I've documented since 2011 when I started making annual lists for myself and my two friends, Connie and Wally. They both usually get more species than I do, but the variety between the three of us is quite amazing. 


2-24-22 Dark-eyed Junco Slate-colored form2-24-22 Dark-eyed Junco Slate-colored form 2-25-22 Dark-eyed Junco Oregon form2-25-22 Dark-eyed Junco Oregon form


In this last icy storm, we also have seen some slate-colored Dark-eyed Juncos which are typical, as well as the Oregon form of Dark-eyed Juncos. Note the dark hood, chestnut brown back and buff-brown flanks.


2-21-22 American Crow2-21-22 American Crow


American Crows have been coming to drink after grabbing a bit of bark butter off the trees. They will forage in the leaves in the woods, too. I think these birds have a harder time now that we're all using bins for our trash instead of bags.

  2-25-22 American Goldfinch2-25-22 American Goldfinch 2-25-22 Eastern Bluebird2-25-22 Eastern Bluebird


American Goldfinches are beginning to get brighter yellow plumage, and the dominant Eastern Bluebird is stunning. Birds are definitely thinking 'spring' as they chase off other males.

  2-25-22 Yellow-bellied Sapsucker2-25-22 Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 2-25-22 Yellow-bellied Sapsucker2-25-22 Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 2-25-22 Yellow-bellied Sapsucker2-25-22 Yellow-bellied Sapsucker


The juvenile Yellow-bellied Sapsucker has been seen on several days. On Friday, it chased off another male, which was new for the year.


2-25-22 Red-breasted Nuthatch M12-25-22 Red-breasted Nuthatch M1 2-25-22 Red-breasted Nuthatch M22-25-22 Red-breasted Nuthatch M2 2-25-22 Red-breasted Nuthatch F12-25-22 Red-breasted Nuthatch F1 2-25-22 Red-breasted Nuthatch F22-25-22 Red-breasted Nuthatch F2


That Friday storm also brought in two more Red-breasted Nuthatches! I saw three birds at one time as they waited to get on the feeder, then the lighter pair waited together on the same branch a bit later. The pair that have been here all winter are richer in color, and I call them M1 and F1; the new pair are lighter in color, M2 and F2. So, the photos in order are M1, M2, F1 and F2.


Just like the birds, aren't we all ready for Spring???


ps. As I went to post this, I saw that we have crossed a milestone with over 100,000 visitors to our website! 

Thank you all for visiting!



Into February 2-10-22

February 10, 2022  •  Leave a Comment

January ended with two more days of documenting Common Redpolls!


1-29-22 Common Redpoll1-29-22 Common Redpoll 1-29-22 Common Redpolls1-29-22 Common Redpolls 1-30-22 Common Redpoll1-30-22 Common Redpoll 1-30-22 Common Redpoll1-30-22 Common Redpoll 1-30-22 Common Redpolls1-30-22 Common Redpolls 1-29-22 Common Redpolls1-29-22 Common Redpolls

It is difficult to know for certain how many birds were in this little flock! There was a slightly different mix of male and female/immature birds each time they were seen and then, it was only for 30 seconds or so. My highest count was 3 males and 4 females at any one time. We had put out fresh thistle or nyjer seed in a tube feeder in the garden for them, but the birds were never seen at a feeder. My guess is that they were eating seeds in trees like our Pond Cypress or Catalpa where siskins will feed, or in neighboring Sycamores or River Birch. They may have been in the garden, and I just missed them - they're the size of a goldfinch, around 5" and truly frenetic!


The Common Redpolls are the rarest of the three small finches that might be seen in Missouri. We're all familiar with the American Goldfinch, which is resident year-round. The Pine Siskin is also an irruptive species, coming south to look for food and we've had them in good numbers some years. There is one other form known as the Hoary Redpoll, which is extremely rare. It is much frostier looking and the bill is smaller. It is still described as a separate species, but may soon be "lumped" with the Common Redpoll, as they are very closely related. 


Keep a lookout for the Common Redpoll at your feeders, you might get lucky, too! 


There are some fascinating things known about these birds. They tunnel into the snow to keep warm! Check it out!  Common Redpoll


To see all the Common Redpoll photos and others, begin here:  Common Redpoll images



2-02-22 American Tree Sparrow and Song Sparrow in Clove Currant2-02-22 American Tree Sparrow and Song Sparrow in Clove Currant

2-02-22 American Tree Sparrow2-02-22 American Tree Sparrow

2-02-22 Fox Sparrow2-02-22 Fox Sparrow


Our first winter storm came in on Wednesday, February 2. With it came two new sparrows for the year, an American Tree Sparrow and a Fox Sparrow. The first image shows the American Tree sparrow on the left with a Song Sparrow on the right, in Clove Currant (Ribes odoratum). Secondly, the tree sparrow is on its own, on the snow covered wall. The Fox Sparrow was staying in the shelter of the Arrowwood Viburnum (Viburnum dentatum x Blue Muffin). Happy to see these birds, we don't have them come in every year.


2-02-22 Cooper's Hawk with prey2-02-22 Cooper's Hawk with prey 2-02-22 Cooper's Hawk digesting 3 hours later2-02-22 Cooper's Hawk digesting 3 hours later


An immature Cooper's Hawk has been terrorizing the smaller birds. We saw it with a black feathered prey, hoping it had caught a European Starling. It sat on that log for over 3 hours, digesting the meal as snow fell. Then, it was off again to find dinner!


2-02-22 Red-tailed Hawk2-02-22 Red-tailed Hawk


 While the Cooper's rested, a Red-tailed Hawk was seen scoping out squirrels.


2-3-22 American Tree Sparrow2-3-22 American Tree Sparrow

2-3-22 Fox Sparrow2-3-22 Fox Sparrow


The next day, both sparrows were seen again. The American Tree Sparrow was drinking at the pond and the Fox Sparrow was again staying close to the Viburnum when it was not under the feeders foraging for seed.


2-3-22 Eastern Bluebird2-3-22 Eastern Bluebird

This Eastern Bluebird summed up the general feeling out in the storm. Conditions were tough. All the birds had been singing, tuning up for spring. Males have been chasing other males. We have gained over an hour of daylight, so surely, spring can't be too far away!


2-3-22 Cooper's Hawk immature2-3-22 Cooper's Hawk immature 2-3-22 Carolina Wren at fountain2-3-22 Carolina Wren at fountain

2-3-22 Snowfall2-3-22 Snowfall

2-3-22 Garden in snow2-3-22 Garden in snow


The Cooper's Hawk came back, trying to chase birds out of cover. The Carolina Wrens have their secret hiding places and have been very cautious. We ended up with over 7" of drifting snow. 


2-4-22 Northern Cardinal2-4-22 Northern Cardinal

2-5-22 American Tree Sparrow2-5-22 American Tree Sparrow


The sun came out and birds continued to look for food. The American Tree Sparrow popped out of the basin and rested in the hydrangeas behind the bubbler. That was the last time we've seen it; the Fox Sparrow must have moved on, too.


2-5-22 Eastern Bluebirds2-5-22 Eastern Bluebirds

This peanut feeder has had more interest than we've ever seen. Even the bluebirds were scrapping over it when I was a bit slow to put out more mealworms.


2-5-22 Red-breasted Nuthatch2-5-22 Red-breasted Nuthatch 2-6-22 Red-breasted Nuthatch female and Northern Flicker2-6-22 Red-breasted Nuthatch female and Northern Flicker


The Red-breasted Nuthatches claimed the feeder as theirs, but they've had to share. The male won't go to it if other birds are there, but the female? Ha, she has spunk! 


  2-6-22 Ruby-crowned Kinglet2-6-22 Ruby-crowned Kinglet


The Ruby-crowned Kinglet came back again to bathe on that sunny day.


2-7-22 Red-shouldered Hawk2-7-22 Red-shouldered Hawk


The Red-shouldered Hawk has also been making appearances. Everybody's gotta eat!





1-30-22 January Serendipities

January 30, 2022  •  Leave a Comment

First month reveals new behaviors and new birds!


1-17-22 Hairy Woodpecker1-17-22 Hairy Woodpecker


A Hairy Woodpecker bathes, a behavior not seen before with this species.

  1-24-22 Downy Woodpecker female and Hairy Woodpecker1-24-22 Downy Woodpecker female and Hairy Woodpecker


A female Downy Woodpecker and the Hairy Woodpecker come in to drink at the same time for an often wished-for comparison photo.


1-28-22 Red-bellied Woodpecker, note red belly1-28-22 Red-bellied Woodpecker, note red belly


A Red-bellied Woodpecker actually showed us its named for red belly.


1-20-22 Yellow-bellied Sapsucker1-20-22 Yellow-bellied Sapsucker


A Yellow-bellied Sapsucker preened its yellow belly. So much for bellies, now we go back to heads!


1-20-22 FOY #36 Juvenile Red-headed Woodpecker1-20-22 FOY #36 Juvenile Red-headed Woodpecker 1-20-22 FOY #36 Juvenile Red-headed Woodpecker1-20-22 FOY #36 Juvenile Red-headed Woodpecker 1-20-22 FOY #36 Juvenile Red-headed Woodpecker1-20-22 FOY #36 Juvenile Red-headed Woodpecker


On 1-20-22, a juvenile Red-headed Woodpecker arrived. It has been seen often coming in for quick sips at the bubbler. We don't get to see this species every year. It is on the Watch List, in decline due to habitat loss, so it is quite heartening to see one!


You can read more here:  Red-headed Woodpecker


1-27-22 Northern Flicker and Golden-crowned Kinglet1-27-22 Northern Flicker and Golden-crowned Kinglet 1-27-22 Golden-crowned Kinglet1-27-22 Golden-crowned Kinglet


While a female Northern Flicker was getting some sips of water, a Golden-crowned Kinglet joined in. It returned for a solo. 


1-27-22 Ruby-crowned Kinglet1-27-22 Ruby-crowned Kinglet 1-27-22 Ruby-crowned Kinglet1-27-22 Ruby-crowned Kinglet


On the following day, a Ruby-crowned Kinglet showed up.They are the more rare of the two Kinglets seen in the winter, usually staying further south in Missouri. However, I saw the bird and it flashed away before I took those photos. While I waited for it to come back, a much bigger surprise came in!


  1-27-22 FOY #39 Common Redpolls - RARE1-27-22 FOY #39 Common Redpolls - RARETwo of four Common Redpolls seen at our bubbler. 1-27-22 FOY #39 Common Redpolls - RARE1-27-22 FOY #39 Common Redpolls - RAREHoary Redpoll


WHAT? Redpolls! There were at least four of them, and thought I saw a fifth one. On Thursday, 1-27-22 at 11:09 am they came in, drank, stayed 32 seconds and whirled away up above me into the canopy. Well, I was not budging from my spot now.


1-27-22 FOY #39 Common Redpolls - RARE and Song Sparrow1-27-22 FOY #39 Common Redpolls - RARE and Song Sparrow 1-27-22 FOY #39 Common Redpolls - RARE and Song Sparrow1-27-22 FOY #39 Common Redpolls - RARE and Song Sparrow 1-27-22 FOY #39 Common Redpolls - RARE and Song Sparrow1-27-22 FOY #39 Common Redpolls - RARE and Song Sparrow 1-27-22 FOY #39 Common Redpoll - RARE1-27-22 FOY #39 Common Redpoll - RARE


At 12:03 pm they returned, and stayed 36 seconds. I confirmed the presence of five along with their timing when I reviewed the Bubbler Cam video. I watched for them to return, checking the feeders, too. They are a nomadic winter finch, and will show up in Missouri when there is an irruption year, and this is one. These Common Redpolls are officially Bubbler Bird Species #124. 


12-29-08 Common Redpoll12-29-08 Common RedpollMargy Terpstra


Many years ago on 12-29-2008, I had a single female at this sock feeder. It was a much darker looking bird, but there is variation in the plumage depending on age and time of year.


You can read more:  Common Redpoll


1-26-22 Red-shouldered Hawk1-26-22 Red-shouldered Hawk
1-21-22 Carolina Chickadee at 5 degrees1-21-22 Carolina Chickadee at 5 degrees


We enjoy seeing the resident Red-shouldered Hawk and Carolina Chickadee taking time to rest in the woodland on cold days.


1-23-22 Red-breasted Nuthatches1-23-22 Red-breasted Nuthatches


The pair of Red-breasted Nuthatches are seen every day grabbing bits of peanuts.


1-23-22 Eastern Bluebird1-23-22 Eastern Bluebird


Neither of us grew up seeing Eastern Bluebirds and we're so taken with their beauty.


1-28-22 Yellow-rumped Warbler with Northern Flicker in flight1-28-22 Yellow-rumped Warbler with Northern Flicker in flight
1-27-22 Brown Creeper1-27-22 Brown Creeper


The Yellow-rumped Warbler also takes time to rest and conserve energy. Can you name the bird in flight behind it? The Brown Creeper regularly gets little sips.


1-28-22 25 Rusty Blackbirds1-28-22 25 Rusty Blackbirds 1-28-22 Rusty Blackbirds1-28-22 Rusty Blackbirds


Rusty Blackbirds are being seen in numbers now, On Friday, there was a flock of perhaps 75, under the feeders and culling through the leaves. They have their own subtle, rich beauty.


To be continued...oh, and that is a Northern Flicker behind the Yellow-rumped Warbler! 




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