Back Yard Characters

A Lesser Finch finds birch seeds outside my window.
A Lesser Goldfinch finds birch seeds outside my window.
Squirrel with attitude
Cheeky squirrel ensures my bird feeder never retains much seed.

Aside from the distinct disadvantage of shooting through glass, I have had a blast watching the critters from my office window this winter, and photographing them. I’ve learned so much! I now keep a (totally non-work-related) Word document on my desktop that includes a list of birds I’ve identified, and the dates I saw them. I’m not sure I’m right on my bird identification, but at least I take the time to make a good guess. I’ll bet by this time next year, I’ll feel a lot more sure of what I’m seeing.

A treeful of lesser goldfinches. Can you see them all? And they make the sweetest cacophony of fluttering and twittering when they are in the weeping birch tree. And below the fluff of the seed pods floats down like snow below them.
A treeful of lesser goldfinches. I count eleven. And they make the sweetest cacophony of fluttering and twittering when they are in the weeping birch tree. And below the fluff of the seed pods floats down like snow below them.

The window has received more attentive cleaning, inside and out, than it has had since we moved into this place in November 2011.

I’ve seen things I never expected to see. Last week, four juncos perched at the hummingbird feeder at once, testing the sugar water. They decided simultaneously that they didn’t like it, and flew off in unison. I’ve seen squirrels chase and chase each other, in circles, up and down trees, round and round the yard. Hilarious.

I watched a chickadee chase off a lesser goldfinch from seeds on the ground. And that cracked me up too, because the chickadee was all fluffed up and large compared to the goldfinch, and was being threatening and aggressive. It’s hard for me to think of chickadees as big mean birds, since they’re about 2 1/2 inches tall. I’ll bet they don’t get the chance to chase off others very often.

Speaking of small birds, I am surprised to discover that the birds that often make the most noise back there are the hummingbirds. I didn’t even know how to identify a hummingbird’s sound before, now they are raucous.

The Northern Flickers take my breath away with their size and beauty.
The Northern Flickers take my breath away with their size and beauty.
Can't you just feel that nasty cold wind and snow blasting? The juncos kept hiding on the windward side of the feeder, little darlings.
Can’t you just feel that nasty cold wind and snow blasting? The juncos kept hiding on the leeward side of the feeder, little darlings.
Oh, she was too fast and I missed the shot. Hello, dear. Can I help you? I've never seen a chicken in my yard before, but she is as welcome as all the other birds.
Oh, she was too fast and I missed the shot. Hello, dear. Can I help you? I’ve never seen a chicken in my yard before, but she is as welcome as all the other birds.
Well. You knew this was going to happen eventually.
Well. You knew this was going to happen eventually.
Hummingbird sipping juice from plastic flowers. I haven't decided what kind he is.
Hummingbird sipping juice from plastic flowers. I haven’t decided what kind he is.
I call them the silver squirrel and the red squirrel. There is no better way to explain it!
The silver squirrel and the red squirrel. There is no better way to describe them!

12 thoughts on “Back Yard Characters

  1. Thank you! This is a great way to start my morning. I love the sound of birds. Not many live and sing here in Midvale. Sigh

  2. All totally gorgeous and entertaining. Don’t you almost feel part cat standing at the window with glee…ha, I always do because mine are usually perched on their climber right beside me. We’re like a gang. What a treat to have so many varieties, the Northern Flicker is beautiful. I’m so surprised the hummers haven’t gone south, Alys (in San Jose) still has them too. WOW

    1. Ha ha, the cat gang! That’s a fun image.

      So, yeah, I commented to my Pa about the the hummingbirds since he is a big time bird-watcher. He suggested that the birds at our place may have migrated here from a colder place, while our summer birds may have migrated south of here. That’s a good theory, since Portland is relatively warm, being in a river gorge close to the sea. Our winter weather is usually pretty mild.

      I love the varieties. I’m sure they were all here before, I just wasn’t paying attention. Yesterday I got a photo of a Song Sparrow. Don’t you just love the name?

      1. Oh ya, don’t you just love listening to them. We just popped over to Youtube and I played some birdie video’s for Petals. She’s all wound up now 😀 and looking for the birds. I like your dads theory, that makes sense to me. Portland would seem warm to a northerner 😀 Happy Valentine’s Day Crystal !

  3. Crystal, this is such a fun post and I love that you are getting an extra benefit of working from home! I like all of the photos, but the one of the squirrel on the feeder, the one of the Northern Flicker, and of course, the one of the cat looking up are awesome!!

    1. I love hearing your favourites! I’m glad of my choices, then, because all three of those are a little blurry and that always makes me hesitate to choose them. Shooting through a window increases blurriness, I find.

      Of the squirrel and the cat, other photos were in sharper focus and better framing. But…the character of that squirrel! You can almost know his personality from the photo. All the other photos of the cat were of her looking in other directions. The one of her gazing up at the birds was so funny.

  4. I’d never get anything done! Though it is similar for me, but the window is not directly in front of me, so I mostly just hear the birds. As we have some of the same birds visiting our feeder and as a long-time bird watcher, I’d agree with your identifications. You did a great job photographing them through the glass.

    1. Thanks so much for the reassurance on my bird ID, and the compliment on my photos. I just started working at home in December, so I have only learned the winter birds so far. I can’t wait to see who shows up when the seasons change. And, this is so exciting for me: I have actually seen the feathers on the males begin changing the last week or so. I didn’t realize they dulled in the winter, but I am certainly witnessing bold colours coming out now that it’s almost attract-a-mate season.

      1. A lot of birds have a change in appearance during mating season; brighter and sometimes with extra feathers. I especially like watching them during mating. We always get birds nesting in our eaves. I will miss that when we move so I will enjoy it this year even more.

  5. I have several feeders and many trees in my back yard . Living on the outer edge of the city , the back yard being close to both a lake , a medium size river tributary and a state park being adjacent . Birds and a wide array of animals and wildlife are very abundant . Tis often when I sit in the sunroom or the screened in back parch and enjoy natures show . A wonderful way to open the morning as I have a fresh cup of coffee or in the evening as the sun makes its daily retreat . A front seat to watch natures show on a daily basis . ~ Mike

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