Friday, May 20, 2011

Cedar Waxwings

I continue to get response from readers - in Texas, Florida, Virginia, and other states - about their Cedar Waxwings sightings.
Since my February 2008 sighting in the Habitat, I have seen none of their beautiful birds.
In early April 2011 - springtime in the mid-Atlantic states - a colleague of mine captured these photos while walking.  Actually, she was walking, saw the waxwings, went home and got her camera, and returned to this tree where the birds were patiently waiting.  What luck!

These are three great photos.  Thanks for sharing!
I will post other bird photos from her.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Pileated Woodpecker Digging for Ants

Since mid-December, the pileated woodpeckers have been observed at least once a week at the large suet feeder in the Colvin Run Habitat.  This morning, one of the pileated woodpeckers was seen on the trunk of one of the maple trees.
This female (no red mustache) was digging in the remaining mark of a previously removed branch.  No she was not seeking maple sap (as other woodpeckers do), but rather digging ants that have infested this tree. 
From the third photo (click on the photo for a zoomed view), you can get an appreciation of the size of the hole that this woodpecker had dug.  She has her complete bill and perhaps half of her head buried in the hole.
This last photo was taken this afternoon and shows the size of the holes dug.  The site is located about 5 feet off the ground in a line of trees on the Habitat boundary furthest from the woods.  Perhaps this is an indication that these very shy woodpeckers are becoming more comfortable around the Habitat.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Tongue of Red-Bellied Woodpecker

Previously, I posted a limited number of photos showing woodpeckers and hummingbird tongues. Today, I took video of the tongue of a male red-bellied woodpecker in action. When the snow was too deep to get needed suet to the feeders, I hung this feeder just outside of the porch windows.  Over the last few weeks, the birds - primarily the woodpeckers - continued to come and eat the suet. The cone shape is a result of the suet sticking to the top of the cage feeder and the reach of the woodpeckers' longer beaks.


When the suet cannot be reached with the beak, the woodpecker tongue - which as you will see is longer than the beak - does a great job at reaching the suet. Above is one frame from the below video in which you can clearly see the curved tongue coming out of the beak and touching the suet. Now take a look at the video below. Enjoy the video.

video
Where does this woodpecker store his tongue?  The tongue slides to the back of the head, loops upward around the back of the inside of the skull, and then forward around and under the eye.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Blizzards of 2010: American Robins - Annual Migration

One last photo from the Colvin Run Habitat blizzards of 2010.  Even with 30 inches of snow on the ground and snow clearly still on the roof, this flock of American Robins arrived in two waves.  With snow on the ground, the worms were safe this day.  The annual robin migration attracts the robins to the water in the heated bird bath.  They drink, they splash, they continue north.  


With snow on the ground, the robins were a reminder of a coming spring.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Blizzards of 2010: Carolina Wren Seeks Cover

The large amount of snow weighed down all of the shrubs and created shelters - even in broad leafed shrubs like this rhododendron. The Carolina wrens made good use of this rhododendron located right under the temporary feeder outside of the porch window.  The wrens would come up, feed, and return to their shelter.
Take a close look at the upper left corner to see the tail feathers of one of the wrens.  Click the photo to zoom in.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Blizzards of 2010: Red-Tailed Hawk and Red-Shouldered Hawk

We saw in a previous post the red-shouldered hawk during the peak of the snow.  Here is a photo of the red-shouldered hawk perching the morning after the storm.
The next morning, this red-tailed hawk arrived and perched in the same spot.
This hawk would perch, then fly out, make a circle, and then perch again.
In the two above photos, you can see the red-tailed hawk's wing feathers as viewed from above and below.  The dark upper feathers and the white lower feathers provide protection from predators - though which predators is never clear to me.
And here is the reason for the name - the clearly red tail,  

Friday, March 19, 2010

Blizzards of 2010: Signs of the Fox

During the last week of December with the first blizzard's snow still on the ground, two red-tailed foxes where observed one afternoon going across the lower meadow.
These first two photos were taken the second morning after the second February storm.  How do I know that these are fox tracks?  First, the night before, in the near-full moonlight, I observed a male fox come up the hill into the back yard, mark the snow, proceed to the front yard, and then run down the newly plowed driveways.  Second, the tracks map nearly identically to the path of the foxes in December - even the curve over the to small bush under the snow - the bush the male had marked in December.  Why the deep tracks?  The snow had yet to crust over.
Third, the tracks came up the hill, to the general location that I observed in the moonlight the male fox marking by raising his leg.  The next morning the fox urine was clearly visible on the snow covered bush that served as a house for the birds and squirrels.  
24 hours later - the next morning - just before sunrise, this female red-tailed fox arrived and sniffed around under the feeder.  How did I know it was a female?
Simple, the male raises his leg to make and the female - per the above photo - squats to let their marks. 
You can see that even on this third morning after the storm, the fox is leaving deep tracks as the snow still had not crusted over.  Sorry for the poor quality of the photos, but they were taken in near darkness.