Readers’ wildlife photos

August 31, 2020 • 7:45 am

Today we have “The Breakfast Crew, part 6” from Doug Hayes. His notes and IDs are indented.

More of the Richmond, Virginia breakfast crew. The regulars, plus a couple of new birds.  After seeing a few hummingbirds buzzing the yard and chasing larger birds, I decided to add a nectar station to the bird café. It took only a couple of hours for the hummingbirds to notice it and start feeding.
Ruby throated hummingbird (Archilochus colubris). The hummingbird feeder had been up no more than an hour when this one did a quick flyby.
Another Ruby-throated hummingbird. These little guys were quite aggressive about other birds being so close to their feeder, spending their days buzzing the other feeders in an attempt to drive the “intruders” away, as well as chasing each other. I moved the hummingbird feeder into the branches of the nearby pomegranate tree. Things seemed to have calmed down quite a bit with only a bit of squabbling among the hummingbirds.
This is the “big boss”, a male Ruby-throated hummingbird. He drives the other hummingbirds away then perches in the branches above the feeder, hogging it for himself. He stays on watch for a half hour or so, then flies away until late in the afternoon.  When relaxed, his throat feathers look black, but when he ruffles his feathers a bit, or the light catches them just right, they look iridescent red.
A juvenile Red-bellied woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus) eating suet while doing chinups. Gotta work of that lard and peanut butter!
A pair of Red-bellied woodpeckers. I believe the one on the left is a juvenile male as the dark feathers on its head run from crown to nape and in closeups can be seen to be peppered with more and more red. The female on the right appears to be molting and may be either the juvenile’s mother or a sibling.
Northern mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos). Probably the least seen visitor to the yard, but there are dozens of them just a few blocks away from us.
This pair of Northern Cardinals (Cardinalis cardinalis) have been flying around together and gathering nesting material. In this picture, the male has fed her a bunch of worms and then picked up a piece of grass. Looks like they might be going for a late season clutch. The female is also molting.
A Tufted titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor) Lots of these little birds visit the yard. They are quite skittish, and do not like to compete with sparrows for suet or seeds. Most of the time they grab a piece of suet or a sunflower seed and fly away as quickly as they can.
One of the Northern Cardinals that hatched earlier this summer. She has extracted the sunflower seed kernel from the husk, which can be seen near the bottom left.  Curiously, the young birds are the only Cardinals that eat from the suet and seed feeders. All the adult Cardinals scavenge seeds and bits of suet off the ground. The adults will perch on the trellises where the suet feeders are located or the shepherd’s crook holding the seed feeders, but do not touch the food.
Another young Northern Cardinal from the clutch that hatched earlier. He was pretty scruffy looking in earlier pictures, but now his adult plumage is coming along quite nicely. A house sparrow (Passer domesticus) is sharing the meal.
A pair of Brown thrashers (Toxostoma rufum) squabbling over whose turn it is at the suet feeder. They eventually took their dispute to the ground and after much pecking and posturing, the smaller bird flew away.
Standoff between a European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) and a Downy woodpecker (Picoides pubescens). When confronted by other birds or if the suet and seed feeders are a bit crowded, the Downy woodpecker will fly away and come back later.
White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis) I had only caught glimpses of these birds and mistook them for Downy woodpeckers. Now that they are sticking around longer, I was able to make a positive identification.
An Eastern chipmunk (Tamias striatus) with its cheek pouches full. This one is a regular visitor to the yard.  It vanished for nearly a week due to the heavy, almost daily, rains we have been having, but once the rains stopped, he (or she) returned and spent almost an hour in the yard gathering seeds scattered by the birds.
Camera info:  Sony A7R4, Sony FE 200-600 zoom lens + 1.4X teleconverter, iFootage monopod with gimbal head.

24 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. Nice shots! Good sharpness for a zoom with that range.

    I wish my hummers would land long enough for me to get them in focus. 😉

  2. WOW

    Those are some almost magical views of the hummingbird – like you’re scaled down to its size – that’s what good equipment can do for you, I guess.

    1. Thank you! It isn’t hard to imagine birds as dinosaurs. I have some recent photos of a Blue heron that has molted most of its head feathers. It looks almost exactly like paleoart of birdlike dinosaurs such as compsognathus or coelophysis. The only thing missing are the teeth!

  3. Great pix! Very sharp. I have all these birds in my yard and love to watch them. We have 4-5 hummingbird feeders out at all times and love to see the little birds zooming between them and chasing each other.

  4. Beautiful photos of especially the hummingbirds! We have a feeder too but I only have my iPhone to try to take photos …

  5. Definitely the white-breast nuthatch It’s a beautiful little creature. For what might be almost illegal cuteness, however, it’s hard to beat the smaller brown-headed nuthatch and it’s squeak toy vocalizing. Thanks for the wonderful photos.

  6. A nice variety of birds. Very enjoyable set I must say. I may need to break down and get a suet feeder…I have a couple hummingbird feeders which are fun to watch, but perhaps I need to broaden the food variety.

    I see your hummer food is red which means you probably bought the powder or a pre-mixed concoction. If you want to save money, mix 1 part sugar to 4 parts water heat and stir until dissolved and store in the fridge for refilling. I think there is a misconception that hummers are attracted to the red liquid, but it’s not true.

    1. As soon as I use up the remaining premixed nectar, I will be mixing my own (without the food coloring). I have also started making my own no-melt suet. Cheaper and the birds seem to like it better.

      1. My wife makes ours. She uses distilled water, brings the mixture to a boil, then cools it. Stores the excess in the fridge until needed.

        Our local hummers reject nectar that tastes off, apparently.

        And, old, gungy nectar can make the birds ill (apparently), so we change it frequently.

        We have found that the Audubon Society feeders are the best.

        1. Thanks for suggesting the Audubon Society feeder. The flat design will make photographing the hummingbirds easier. The problem with the feeder I use is that you only have two “flowers” from which to get shots of the birds feeding. With the Audubon, nothing is obstructing the view.

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