Readers’ wildlife photos

Reader Doug Hayes from Richmond, Virginia, sends regular installments of birds he sees in his yard or nearby. This is “The Breakfast Crew” series, and we’re up to part seven. Doug’s captions and IDs are indented:

This Great blue heron (Ardea herodias) is an honorary member of the Breakfast Crew, as I have been photographing it for about three years now. It lives in Forest Hill Park and can be seen almost every day stalking fish and frogs. The presence of people does not bother it much. In fact, I once saw it land next to a fisherman when it spotted him reeling in a nice size bass (catch and release fishing is allowed at the lake). The heron was obviously waiting for the man to give it the fish. I have a feeling that in the past others have shared their catch with the heron.

This was the first time I had been down to the lake in a couple of months as the crowds of people and their dogs had driven off most of the birds. The heron seems to have recently molted, giving it a very dinosaur-like appearance.

A Carolina chickadee (Poecile carolinensis) at the feeder. They are “hit and run” feeders. They will land, grab a choice seed and fly off with it to eat in the trees.

A mob of European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris). These are mostly juveniles. There was a population explosion among the Starlings this year. They sometimes show up by the dozen.

Another juvenile European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris).

A Mourning dove (Zenaida macroura). There are quite a few of these birds living a few blocks away from our yard. Two or three have been showing up regularly, scavenging seeds and suet off the ground. They will sometimes perch on the the shepard’s crook holding the seed feeders.

“The Big Boss”. This Ruby throated hummingbird (Archilochus colubris) spends a lot of his time chasing other Hummingbirds out of his territory, then perching in the branches of the pomegranate tree, where the feeder is located, to guard against intruders. He also chases larger birds, especially cardinals, which is quite funny to see.

A Carolina wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus) grabbing some suet. These little guys are a common sight in the backyard and quite fearless. Sometimes, when they spot me at the window, they will come over for a closer look at what’s going on.

This is one of the four Northern Cardinals (Cardinalis cardinalis) that hatched earlier this year. The three females are regulars at the feeders, but I don’t see the young male member of the brood as often. The four of them are the only Cardinals who eat at the seed and suet feeders. All of the adult Cardinals scavenge seeds that other birds knock to the ground.

The House Finches (Haemorhous mexicanus) will hang around all day eating at the seed feeders. They are quite picky (and messy), discarding all the other seeds except their favorites—the sunflower seeds.

The rain brought out the Eastern chipmunks (Tamias striatus). This was only the second time I have seen two out scavenging at the same time. One of them is a relative newcomer to the yard. The new guy or gal is a bit lighter in color and has more pointed ears than the “old timer”. The cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) had been trying to drive off one of the chipmunks, finally giving up when the chipmunk refused to move away from the pile of seeds beneath the feeder.

A Common grackle (Quiscalus quiscula) showing some of its iridescent feathers.

The new chipmunk (Tamias striatus) striking a pose.

Eastern gray squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis) have become quite pesky lately, sometimes knocking the suet feeders to the ground in their efforts to get into them. Water guns and foam Nerf darts don’t bother them anymore. This little guy was hit with a Nerf dart and he just stood up and looked at me as if to say, “Really dude? Is that all you got?”

Camera info:  Sony A7RIV mirrorless camera body, Sony FE 200-600 zoom lens + Sony 1.4X teleconverter (The camera is set to crop sensor mode for an additional 1.5X magnification), no tripod was used – the camera’s in body image stabilization and the lens’ image stabilization eliminated any shake caused by hand-holding the heavy lens.

10 Comments

  1. CR
    Posted September 19, 2020 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    Great photos, as always. Thanks for sharing.

    • Glenda Palmer
      Posted September 19, 2020 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

      +1

  2. Posted September 19, 2020 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    Excellent photographs—very sharp without a tripod. Good image stabilization on your camera, obviously.

    The starlings are a familiar sight. What makes that species so successful?

  3. jezgrove
    Posted September 19, 2020 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    Great photos and captions – especially the final one!

  4. rickflick
    Posted September 19, 2020 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    What a cheerful menagerie!

  5. Debra Coplan
    Posted September 19, 2020 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    Wonderful and uplifting photos. Thank you!

  6. Posted September 19, 2020 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    Love that last squirrel close-up. What a handsome fellow (or lady)!

    • rickflick
      Posted September 19, 2020 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

      No nipples, so probably male.

  7. Mark R.
    Posted September 19, 2020 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

    The Breakfast Crew is always a fun photo perusal. Nice to have some new species in the crew. I’ve never noticed the pretty pink feet and “lips” of the mourning dove.

  8. Posted September 19, 2020 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

    Doug, you’re the Boss! These are excellent and so much fun! I love the squirrel with attitude. He does seem to be communicating with you. Can’t discern if that’s a smile or smirk adorning his face.

    Btw, our hundreds of sparrows have learned to feed from the finch feeder by hanging upside down like the finches do. Sadly, they seem to have crowded out the finches.


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