Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Wildlife Wednesday - February 2015

I'm excited to showcase the wildlife that has visited the garden over the past month because of my new toy - a Nikon D7000.  It was a late Christmas present from the hubby.  He originally wanted to buy me some jewelry, but after being indecisive about picking out the jewelry that I wanted, I decided I would get more use and enjoyment out of a quality camera. This is my first DSLR, so I'm still getting use to all the bells and whistles.

Feathered Friends

Being the middle of winter and natural food sources running low, the birds have really been flocking to the yard and feeders to supplement their diet.  And with more birds in the yard, there are also more predators hanging around.

I believe this is a Cooper's Hawk (please correct me if I'm wrong).  He has been seen in the yard frequently over the last month, usually making his daily visits at sunrise.  

I love watching this magnificent creature.  I'm still waiting for my "National Geographic moment" where I get to actually witness him make a kill.

The most distinctive bird sound that can be heard out in the garden right now is the pecking of the ladderback woodpecker.

This female ladderback is the more frequent woodpecker visitor right now.  Every once in awhile I'll catch a glimpse of her red-headed mate.

She especially loves grabbing a delicious snack of suet on the chillier winter days.

The visitors that warm my heart the most right now are the yellow-rumped warblers.

The warblers can be seen daily flitting through the trees and nibbling on the suet cakes that I've put out for them.  There have probably been at least 12 of these warblers hanging out in the yard.

And then there are the frequent patrons... the cardinals and sparrows...

...the wrens (not sure what kind - looks kind of like a Carolina wren, but different from what I at least thought was a Carolina wren)...

...the lesser goldfinches...

...the house finches...

...the pesky white-winged doves and brown-headed cowbirds...

...and then there is this mystery bird.  At first glace, it looks like it may be a finch or sparrow.  However, if you knew the relative size of the tree that it is sitting in, it is closer to the size of a crow.  Anyone have any idea what it may be?

Other Critters

While the winged creatures have been the highlight of the garden this month, I cannot skip out on showcasing some of the other critters that have visited the garden.

This Easter fox squirrel is munching on his winter stash of pecans.  The squirrels are generally pretty good about leaving the bird feeders alone, thanks to the several pecan trees in the area, plus the acorns that were finally present this year after the oaks received enough water this summer.

The scariest critter was this hairy guy.  I saw him creeping along the back deck at night (after almost stepping on him)!  After some help with identification, I believe he is a giant leopard moth caterpillar.  If so, I certainly hope I get to see him when he is transformed into his adult stage.  What interesting looking creatures!

While I'm disappointed some of my broccoli bolted before ever producing decent harvestable heads, I'm glad these bees are enjoying their blooms!  There are probably at least 20-25 bees constantly buzzing around the broccoli flowers at all times on warm, sunny days.

 Finally, there are the Eastern black swallowtail caterpillars that have been chilling on the parsley for the past several months.  I was shocked that they made it through some pretty chilly nights and days over the past couple of months.  However, I believe they finally met their fate about a week or two ago with some of the freezing rain conditions that they just couldn't make it through.

That's all the wildlife for this month.  Be sure to stop by My Gardener Says... where this meme is hosted by Tina every month and where many other gardeners showcase the wildlife in their gardens!


  1. I believe your mystery bird may be a starling, but my track record with bird ID is not stellar, so due diligence will be required to confirm that guess.

    What a great gift and you are obviously putting it to great use! Love the photos you are getting and cannot wait to see more.

    1. Thanks, Deb - I'm definitely having fun with my new toy. I still have a lot to learn on how to use it properly. And now I'm taking so many more pictures, so I have that many more to sort through and try to decide which ones I want to share on the blog. Oh well, I guess these are all good problems to have.

  2. Good choice on your Christmas present--wow and double wow on your photographs. I have a new camera too, but not the shots you're getting. ( In my case , I suspect user, not camera, is the problem :). )

    You outdid yourself for WW and you must have a very inviting garden to have attracted so much wildlife to your gardens. That Cooper's Hawk--just magnificent. As well, all the other bird photos are great too. As for your larger mystery bird, check out the information on the female red-winged black bird: Maybe?

    And your little wrens, the other possiblity besides a Carolina wren is a Bewick's wren:

    I have a Black Swallowtail chrysalis that I've been keeping track of all winter--it looks healthy and it'll be interesting to see if it's still alive. It morphed way back in November and I have to remember to be careful when I'm cleaning up the garden, not to disturb it.

    Thanks so much for your participation in Wildlife Wednesday--it was real treat to read your post!

    1. Yes - I believe you are right on the mystery bird - it definitely looks like a female red-winged black bird. Thank for the help! I'll have to keep an eye out for her male counter-part. Now I have no idea which wrens are which...the Carolina and Bewick's looks so similar. I'll try to take more pics of the wrens this upcoming month to try to solve that mystery! Good luck with your swallowtail chrysalis!

  3. Beautiful photos with your new camera! You have so many visitors there for January. I'd love to find warblers in my garden. There are some in the area so maybe I will see them.

    1. Thanks, Shirley! It is fun to play with the camera now...but still lots to learn! This is the first year I've seen the warblers in my garden. This is also the first year that I've placed a suet cake on a flat surface (vs. a cage), and they seem to really be drawn to that! I see several out there nibbling on the suet several times a day.

  4. Wonderful post, Rebecca! It seems the hawks have been making the rounds. I'm really jealous of your caterpillars. You're so lucky to have them at this time of year, and the photos are beautiful. Looks to me like you've really gotten the hang of that camera. I got a new one in November and am still learning about things it will do that I had no idea about! I hope you enjoy it. Great post and pictures.

    1. Thanks, Anna! I know - I love watching the hawks right now. On the weekends (at least the ones that haven't been rainy), I love drinking my morning coffee and just staring out the window watching the hawk(s) and abundance of other birds that are visiting the garden this time of year. Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Wow. What a great collection of birds!

    1. Thanks so much! I get more new varieties every year, which is encouraging since it is evidence that I'm building up my wildlife habitat on my little 3/4 acre plot.

  6. Congrats on the new camera. You're doing really well with it. Love those bird shots.

    I need to try the suet. Lots of birds like it. We've had trouble with Starlings coming and cleaning it out in just a few minutes, so haven't put any up in a while. Time to try again.

    1. The suet is definitely a big hit. I have some starlings, but either not enough, or not any that are too gluttonous, so each suet cake usually lasts a few weeks. The woodpeckers definitely love it, and the warblers are big fans of the suet that I leave on a flat surface. They definitely prefer munching on it that way then having to cling to a suet cage, so I will from now on always offer the cakes both ways to attract a wider variety of birds.