Readers’ wildlife photos

February 7, 2023 • 8:15 am

Doug Hayes has brought us another installment of The Breakfast Crew, the birds who dine at his feeders in Richmond, VA. Doug’s notes and IDs are indented, and you can enlarge his photos by clicking on them.

The colder weather has brought the Breakfast Crew back in full force, along with a few new members. Most mornings now, dozens of sparrows and finches show up to eat along with a few rarely seen birds.

The first American robin (Turdus migratorius) of the spring. Well, a bit early, but this robin has been hanging out in the yard with the rest of the regulars:

A male house finch (Haemorhous mexicanus) waiting his turn at the feeders. House finches and sparrows are the most common birds visiting the yard:

This Carolina wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus) is the only one of his kind that regularly eats suet. The other wrens are strictly birdseed eaters:

Ruby-crowned kinglets (Regulus calendula) are usually seen around the neighborhood in the spring and summer. Several showed up one day a few weeks ago and have been stopping by ever since:

Northern Cardinals (Cardinalis cardinalis) are always at the feeders year-round. They are the first birds to arrive shortly after sunrise and are the last to leave near dark:

The red-bellied woodpeckers (Melanerpes carolinus) are crazy for peanuts. They will study the feeder intently, making sure there are peanuts in the seed mix and toss aside sunflower seeds, corn and other seeds until they find their favorite:

A white-breasted nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis) patiently waiting its turn at the feeders:

An American goldfinch (Spinus tristis) in its winter colors. In the spring, the males’ feathers will become a brilliant yellow:

A white throated sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis). These birds are now outnumbering the house sparrows as one of the most common birds in the neighborhood:

Pine warblers (Setophaga pinus) are usually spotted in the more wooded areas surrounding the city. Several have been visiting the yard for a month now:

A female downy woodpecker (Picoides pubescens). Quite a few of these little birds live around the neighborhood:

Minutes later, this male downy woodpecker showed up:

Eastern bluebirds (Sialia sialis) are more commonly seen in the wooded areas around the city where the park service has set up a number of nesting boxes for them. I see bluebirds in the neighborhood mostly during the fall and winter when natural food is scarce:

A female purple finch (Haemorhous purpureus). They used to be quite common, but an outbreak of avian conjunctivitis over the past two years took its toll on them. They seem to be making a comeback:

Word went out among the local birders that American kestrels (Falco sparverius) had been spotted along the Richmond floodwall. I joined a group of bird watchers and our trip paid off with this little guy who posed for us for well over two hours:

Dark-eyed juncos (Junco hyemalis) have taken up residence in the neighborhood for the past few months. The easy food supply has lured them from their regular territory in the parks and woods surrounding the city:

Camera info. This batch of photos was shot with my new Sony A7RV camera body. The new camera features an AI chip that controls the autofocus function. The camera is able to recognize humans, animals, birds, insects, aircraft, cars and motorcycles. Sony 200-600 lens + 1.4X teleconverter. Aperture priority mode, auto ISO. All shots handheld.

11 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. I went through those three times trying to find a favourite. It is a tough one. I think it is between the Eastern bluebird and the Pine warbler. Thank you for sharing.

    1. I had the previous model, the A7RIV, which was my first Sony camera. The upgraded model has pretty much the same specs, but features newer image processing chips, better in body image stabilization, a more advanced autofocus system than the flagship A1 and a better rear screen and electronic viewfinder than the previous model. I also have the A1, but the A7RV matches the A1 in every feature except maximum burst speed (30fps for the A1, 10fps for the A7R5) at nearly $2,000 cheaper!

  2. Doug, do the Eastern Bluebirds come to your suet? Wondering because they do at my place in southeastern Ohio. I make a mix of suet and peanut butter by melting suet on the stove, removing gristle, then stirring in peanut butter. If I get the proportions right, it readily can be mashed into the crevices of rough-barked trees. Great for attracting Brown Creepers! But I was surprised to see bluebirds clinging to the bark to feed on the mix. Yellow-rumped Warblers as well. Nice photos, thanks!

    1. Yes, they do. I am surprised at how many different birds like suet. Even the robins and sparrows go for it. I have made my own suet from time to time using lard, crunchy peanut butter, cornmeal and sometimes dried mealworms. I save the containers that commercial suet comes in and use them as molds for the homemade suet, letting it firm up in the refrigerator before putting it in the feeders.

  3. Very nice set. We saw the first robin of the season here (Chicago suburbs) yesterday. I was told that this means there will be three more snowfalls before spring. Responded, somewhat sourly, that everywhere else I’ve lived in the US the robins were seen year round and were indifferent to the rare, or absent, snowfall. I think I’m about done with winter!

  4. Lovely, thank you for these! If forced to choose a favorite, I guess mine would be the Red-Bellied Woodpecker.

  5. Thanks, Doug. I always enjoy a look at your Breakfast club. That kestrel shot is a beauty (though I know it wasn’t a part of the “club”). At our feeder, it is the Steller’s jays that search specifically for peanuts and throw unwanted seeds on the ground. Luckily there are a lot of birds that prefer foraging on the ground, so it’s not wasted. But the dogs like to eat the seed that falls to the ground as well; don’t know how to stop that.

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