Battening Down the Hatches

DEJU 10-29-17-6908

Dark-Eyed Junco

The cold is upon us. The possibility of winter seems suddenly everywhere. I wrote those two sentences two days ago, hoping I would want to change them, but we are heading into freezing temperatures overnight, so I may as well say “stet.”

Very busy at work, no weekday birding, and the weekends have been either rained out or too preoccupied as well. So here are a few pictures from a little time spent in the backyard the last couple weekends. Likely I will continue to see most of these birds, but the backdrop has already started changing.

I decided to not ignore the House Sparrows just because there are so many of them. Whether hanging out with a Mourning Dove above, or preening, hanging out at the bird bath, or eating peanuts below, House Sparrows, however ubiquitous, can be charming in their own right.

Preening HOSP 10-29-17-6819HOSP 10-29-17-6944HOSP 10-29-17-6979House Sparrows are also capable of aerial feats.

My last sighting of a White-Crowned Sparrow below was on my neighbor’s fence two weekends ago. Also had a visiting American Goldfinch.

The last bit of color in the yard before the leaves began turning was from the sedum in the pictures below.

And I had a short visit from what looks like a brand new male Downy Woodpecker.

DOWP 10-29-17-6863The Common Milkweed proved to be very good for Milkweed Beetles.

My last butterfly was a Painted Lady. I won’t see them again until next summer. But the squirrels and the Northern Cardinals aren’t going anywhere.

Painted Lady Butterfly 10-21-17-6782Squirrel 10-29-17-6984

NOCA 10-29-17-7050NOCA 10-21-17-6800This Dark-Eyed Junco was very comfortable and happy in the yard that last sunny weekend day. I’ve never seen a Junco try to eat peanuts before. Impressive.

I will be busy these next few days getting ready to go on what will likely be my last international trip for a while. I’m going back to Ecuador over the Thanksgiving holiday week. So I may not be able to manage another post before I leave.

Painted Lady Butterfly 10-21-17-6765If you are in  celebrating Thanksgiving, or wherever you are, my best wishes for days filled with peace and love.

Sunflower Cycle

Sunflowers are blooming early this year. Planted by the birds and squirrels from the seeds spilled from the feeder, they grow tall and, depending on how much rain we’ve had, they can produce huge flowers that weigh them down. But since it’s been very hot and dry, the sunflowers are of a smaller variety. No matter, for they still attract the goldfinches.

Male American Goldfinch

I took the day off to take care of an accumulation of errands around the house that would have decimated a normal weekend’s worth of time. Before I left for my first stop,  I was delighted to be out in the yard when goldfinches were flitting around in the sunflowers. I ran back in the house to get the camera and was rewarded by their stay.

Juvenile American Goldfinch

Even the goldfinches are nesting early this year. I did not expect to see a juvenile so soon.

Sunflower seeds feed the squirrels too. I don’t mind when they eat the spilled seeds on the ground, but keeping them off the feeders is an increasing challenge as the trees start forming a low canopy in my yard. Here’s one of my nemesis Gray Squirrels who likes to raid the feeders.

And here’s the Fox Squirrel who has much better manners and does not seem to be spending all his energy trying to outsmart me.

Fox Squirrel

While I was trying to get pictures of the goldfinches, I caught a Mourning Dove leaving.

Mourning Dove

A female House Sparrow on a bare branch of the ailing Horse Chestnut Tree.

The ubiquitous House Finches are all paired up and they’ve fledged clutches by now. They may be working on a second batch.

The goldfinches still visit the thistle socks too. I will have to fill them up again tomorrow morning.