Readers’ wildlife photos

July 15, 2021 • 8:00 am

Keep those photos coming in, folks, and thanks to those several people who have answered my plea. But there’s always an aching need for more good photos!

Today we have another installment of the famous “Breakfast Crew” series from Doug Hayes of Richmond, Virginia. Doug’s captions are indented, and you can enlarge his photos by clicking on them.

Part 15 of the Breakfast Crew.  Folks who enjoy feeding birds have had a bit of a scare the past few weeks. Birds have been dying in great numbers West Virginia, Northern Virginia and several states along the east coast. No one is sure if it is a disease or the result of people spraying to control cicadas. Folks were asked to remove bird feeders and clean them and bird baths with a bleach solution until authorities get a handle on what is going on. We got the OK to resume feeding birds last week as no signs of the mystery illness has been seen in our area. All of the Breakfast Crew are healthy, in fact, we have a bumper crop of cardinals, grackles and starlings this year. There are at least six cardinal fledglings new to the yard (I don’t think they are all from the same brood) and more grackles than I can count.

A flock of house finches (Haemorhous mexicanus) mobbing the feeder.

A female house finch not about to back down from this young cardinal.

Peanut Girl, the red-bellied woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus) doing her thing.

A common grackle (Quiscalus quiscula) giving me the evil eye. Most people consider them pests, but I enjoy watching them squabble among themselves over a place at the feeders, and their eyes are hypnotic!

A male eastern towhee (Pipilo erythrophthalmus) scavenging for seeds with a cardinal fledgling.

A female eastern towhee. She and the male are becoming regulars in the yard. Towhees usually prefer more heavily wooded areas.

A mourning dove (Zenaida macroura) in the garden across from the feeders. The neighborhood is full of these birds, and you can hear them cooing all through the day.

A Carolina chickadee (Poecile carolinensis) and a female house finch (Haemorhous mexicanus) share breakfast.

This female Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) is keeping an eye out for hawks.

This northern mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) really enjoyed the new bird bath. It was splashing around in the water and running along the rim of the bath for several minutes.

A house finch coming in for a landing

This barred owl (Strix varia) was hanging out in the trees at the end of the yard. There are several mated pairs in the neighborhood and at Pony Pasture Rapids, so they are a fairly common sight. If you are up and around near sunrise, you can see them returning to their roosts after a night’s hunting. Eventually a group of birds swarmed the owl and drove it off.

Chip Monk, the eastern chipmunk (Tamias striatus) hanging out under the fire pit.

Camera info:  Sony A1 in crop sensor mode (A recent software update has made the bird eye autofocus even faster to acquire the subject and stay locked on!), Sony FE 200-600 zoom lens plus 1.4X teleconverter, ISO 3200 – 5000 depending on lighting conditions, 1/320 – 1/5000th second, f/11.

11 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. Always enjoy seeing the Breakfast Club. Great pictures.

    We had a bird epidemic in Arkansas as well. I was told it was salmonella and mainly affected finches and pine siskins. I cleaned my feeders and took them out of the yard until the birds passed through our area. Very distressing to see so many dead birds.

  2. Thanks for a nice revisit to the breakfast club, doug. I did not know of the die-off in virginia. I live down the road from you in newport news. Do you know of any issues for us in hampton roads? I have not seen any sick or dead birds in our yard, but i have noticed that the hummingbirds seem to prefer our garden flowers over their purpose built feeder this year.

    1. I have not seen any dead or sick birds in our area – we got the OK to resume feeding last week. The good news is that house finches, grackles and cardinals are more numerous than last year. I clean my feeders once a week with a bleach solution and wipe them down with peroxide whenever I fill them. We did have an outbreak of Avian conjunctivitis, an eye disease, among purple and house finches last year that was quite widespread. I haven’t seen any birds with signs of it this year.

      1. Thanks. Btw we had a bluebird family (not jay) nesting here for the first time ever. Usually have just jays, but have not seen any of them this year…a little strange.

  3. What a wonderful array of birds! I especially love the owl. I’m surprised he didn’t drive the group of birds away, although maybe there were too many.
    Thanks for these breakfast crew posts.

    1. I have seen small birds drive hawks out of their territory. I once saw a pair of starlings chasing a hawk, and as they passed trees, more starlings joined the chase. If the hawk landed, they would land nearby and harass the hawk until it took flight again. Redwing blackbirds are notoriously fiesty and will take on any intruders that enter their territory.

  4. Thanks for another “Breakfast Club” installment, always enjoy your friends at the feeder. Chip monk! Glad to hear your area wasn’t hit by the epidemic. The birds sort of disappeared around here during the heat dome and they haven’t come back. Hummingbirds are still plentiful though.

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