Readers’ wildlife photos

October 27, 2023 • 8:15 am

Doug Hayes of Richmond, Virginia is back with another installment of the birds feeding in his back yard, known as “The Breakfast Crew”. Doug’s notes and IDs are indented, and you can enlarge the photos by clicking on them:

Things have been a bit slow around the feeders for the past month or so as some birds head south for the winter and others have no trouble finding food in the woods surrounding the neighborhood and along the James River. Activity has been picking up as the weather cools and winter approaches.

A male house finch (Haemorhous mexicanus) at the feeders. The yard is almost always full of these birds:

An American robin (Turdus migratorius) checks out the suet supply:

A common grackle (Quiscalus quiscula) showing off his iridescent feathers:

A mourning dove (Zenaida macroura) waits its turn at the feeders. One of the most regular visitors. It is not unusual to see half a dozen or more hanging out around the yard all day:

Song sparrows (Melospiza melodia) love to gather in the branches of the boxwood in our front lawn. Then they head across the street to the feeders in my neighbor’s front yard. This is the view from my kitchen window:

Another song sparrow (Melospiza melodia) in the boxwood. In the evenings, dozens of them roost there:

A Carolina wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus) gets in on the action in the boxwood. These little guys then head for my backyard feeders:

A male Northern cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) stops by for breakfast. The cardinals are the first to arrive in the morning and the last to leave before dark:

A female Northern cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) perching on the chicken wire cage we built to protect our tomato plants from squirrels. Her head feathers are almost fully grown back after molting:

Why we can’t have nice things! The fig tree at the back of our yard was full of ripe figs – until a flock of European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) descended on the tree and ate nearly all of them (or just took a bite or two out of the fruit):

A blue jay (Cyanocitta cristata) hanging out in the fig tree:

This downy woodpecker (Picoides pubescens) stopped by recently. I haven’t seen them in the yard for a while. As food gets scarcer, I expect to see more of them:

A brown-headed nuthatch (Sitta pusilla). This was my first time seeing one of these. It showed up after a severe storm, but left after a few days:

A juvenile red tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) surveying the neighborhood. This bird also showed up after the storm and hung around for a few days before heading back to the wooded areas along the river:

Camera info:  Sony A7R5 mirrorless camera body, Sony FE 200-600 zoom lens, Sony 1.4X teleconverter, all shots hand held.

11 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. Taking a moment to comment on this splendid sub-series

    Simple, in plain view, yet

    To see a world in a grain of sand
    And a heaven in a wild flower
    Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
    And Eternity in an hour

    -Blake, 1803/1863

  2. Thank you for the wonderful reminder there is a beautiful world out there.
    Your photos are gorgeous.
    Thank you.

  3. Lovely photos of lovely birds. I wonder, sometimes, whether you (Doug) and/or your family ever give any of the birds whimsical names like Jack sparrow, Clarice starling, Ethan hawk, Peter finch, Christopher wren, cardinal Richelieu (or Jimenez) or even Sophialo (pushing it as the name for a wren). I’m probably weird for thinking about such things.

    1. Quite a few of “my” animals have names. Chip Monk is a chipmunk that lives in our generator housing. Pretty Girl is a female cardinal with brilliant red in her crest and wing feathers, more pronounced than the other females. Peanut Girl is a red-bellied woodpecker who only wants peanuts, tossing aside the other seeds until she can dig one out of the feeder. Old Lady is another red-bellied woodpecker with drab, faded looking feathers – but I have seen her with juveniles that are likely her offspring. After a while, it becomes easy to recognize individuals.

    1. You’re right, it is a house sparrow (Passer domesticus). This guy was hanging out with the song sparrows that morning and wound up in the same batch of photos.

  4. I always appreciate the Breakfast Crew. Nice to see the nuthatch…I love those birds (we have red-breasted) such funny behavior, they like to be upside-down for some reason.

  5. I know from the selection of birds if the pictures were taken nearby (neighboring state because those are the same birds found where I live) or further away (birds not found where Ilive, must require train or airplane travel needed to get there).

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