January 11, 2022

Birding Highlights of the Past Year

regulars

This past year was full of birding surprises and pleasant visits from regulars, such as the cold-weather dark-eyed juncos, and the always-present cardinals and black-capped chickadees. The regulars are no less appreciated than the rare sightings and the warm-weather winged friends, and we encourage their presence and survival.

But it was fun to experience some unusual birding encounters in 2021.

owlet

In mid-spring, we witnessed the first venturings of some great-horned owlets at the nearby state park. I zoomed in on this one from a distance, to show how well they were camouflaged with their surroundings.

tree swallow

This tree swallow and its mate were preparing a nest in one the state park's nesting boxes. Tree swallows aren't uncommon to this part of the country, but we don't see them on our shaded home property.

bluebird

Also at the state park, I was happy to see this handsome bluebird, another species we don't see at home because of too much shade.

carolina wren

However, back at home we were thrilled to have a Carolina wren (or a family?) living with us for a large portion of the summer. We're beyond the normal range for their limited migration, but perhaps with climate change they're more likely to visit in future summers? I heard the songs of this shy bird frequently, but only saw it a few times.

oriole & woodpecker

While red-bellied woodpeckers are common visitors in our garden, Baltimore orioles only stop by for a short stretch in late spring. We see them nearly every year in May, and the oranges help attract them for a closer view.

hummer 1

I admit the birds I miss the most during the colder seasons are the ruby-throated hummingbirds. They are very common residents, with numerous daily sightings from May through mid-October. Their arrival in spring is joyful, and I'm sad when I don't see them for a couple of days in the fall because I know their season here is ending.

hummer 3

hummer 2

I'm looking forward to your return in a few months, little buddies.

26 comments:

  1. What a wonderful group of birds you've seen. I don't know my birds well at all. So I may be seeing ones that are unusual without ever knowing it. The owlet camo is amazing.

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    1. I'm not the greatest either, Linda, and I always have to look them up--beyond the year-round regulars. ;-) It was awesome to see the owlets...when they were precariously perched on the edge of the nest, and then out of the nest for their first forays a few days later.

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  2. Wonderful visitors to your garden Beth and you took such fabulous photos. We've enjoyed seeing dark-eyed juncos the past few weeks and today, lots of bluebirds. Love the owlet.

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    1. Thank you, Susie. Some of the birds were at the state park. It was fun to see them all...plus others that I didn't/couldn't capture with the camera. Dark-eyed juncos are our portenders of winter in the fall (when they arrive) and portenders are warm, late spring (when they leave). They are tough, cute little buddies, aren't they?

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  3. Great photos, Beth! You see a wider range of birds than we generally do, although I admit my ability to identify avian visitors is limited. My mother-in-law, an avid birder for decades who traveled the country and other parts of the world adding to her record of "life birds", was my go-to expert, able to identify many from their songs alone.

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    1. Thanks, Kris. My parents, and in particular my dad, were lifetime birders. Dad's still around, but he no longer can see well. He taught me a lot about birds, though, and they both gave me an appreciation for them. I am so very far from an expert, and I'm terrible at IDing them from songs. But I love to hear them, watch them, and learn about them. :)

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  4. Wonderful birds--the Cardinals are stunning! We do not have them here.

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    1. Yes, we appreciate the bright red of the cardinals throughout the year. And their personalities are fun, too.

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  5. So wonderful to find beautiful birds at Plant Postings this morning :) The swallow looks so elegant!

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    1. Thank you, Hollis. :) The tree swallow was working with its mate to create a nest, so that was fun to watch. As I was hiking the prairie trail, I tried to stay far away and zoom in with the camera because I didn't want to disturb them.

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  6. Fantastic photos.. you did great capturing the hummingbirds. I love how you captured the colors on the feathers in the sunlight.

    I love Nuthatch. We have a couple that are nesting close by, they stay the winter, so we are enjoying them each day.

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    1. Thanks, Carla. The hummingbirds make my heart sing. I'm so glad we see them every year. And a couple of years we've seen their nests, so we know they like the property for their summer home. :)

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  7. Such good photos of your bird sightings. Orioles used to nest in our neighborhood. I don't see them as often now that the neighbors keep cutting down trees. The orioles that are in the neighborhood never go to oranges. I have tried to lure them in with oranges but they ignore them. They must not winter in an area where oranges are grown. They aren't used to them as a food source. They do love the native honeysuckle. I see them there early in the spring.

    It is amazing what joy a tiny green sprite can bring to a garden. We always mark their arrival and departures.

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    1. Thanks, Lisa. Some years we see more orioles than other years. Last year, I only saw them for a couple of days. They do summer in the area, but when the trees leaf out I think they prefer sunnier properties for nesting. It makes sense that they would like your sweet honeysuckle for nectar, too. And, oh yes, the hummingbirds do bring great joy!

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  8. A very nice retrospective of bird in your garden and on your visits to other place. What a treat to have seen the fledgling Great Horned ows! And the hummingbird photos are especially nice!

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    1. Thank you, Tina. Yes, the owlets were definitely a highlight! And the hummingbirds always are. :)

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  9. I love seeing your birds and witnessing so many familiar ones here too. I too miss the hummers in winter, but I also miss all the beautiful songbirds. I still can't believe the orioles don't stay there. This year we witnessed some young adolescents trying to figure out how to use the feeder. Such a delightful bird to watch.

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    1. Hey Donna! Yes, we have similar avian visitors. The orioles stay in the area, but I think they pick sunnier properties for nesting after the trees leaf out. That's probably why I didn't see as many last year because spring came early, and the trees were more leafed out in May than they usually are. They are stunning birds and so fun to observe. :)

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  10. It is so exciting to discover new birds! I would be over the moon to see an oriole in my garden. Great captures Beth!

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    1. Thanks, Karin. Yes, agreed: The little Carolina wren (or family of wrens?) was a fun addition during the summer. We see at least a few orioles every May. They're so stunning!

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  11. Isn't it wonderful that we have so many Winter visitors. I sit here at the window watching many different visitors. With the cold days we are having, I think if I had wings like they do, I would fly South jaja. thanks for all the photos.

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    1. Yes, it is! The cat enjoys watching them, too. ;-) She's strictly an indoor cat, but she has a padded perch for watching the show. We're planning to leave Wisconsin in February when we retire. Winter is OK, but it's just too long here......

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  12. Stunning photographs, Beth!! I am happy to say that I have seen all of those birds,except the owl, in my backyard. It is too cold for me to venture outside so I am glad I have the birds to watch. P.x

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    1. Thank you, Pam. :) Yes, it's too cold here, too, for much other than dog walks. Like you, I enjoy watching the birds out the window this time of year.

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  13. Fabulous birds, fabulous photos.

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    1. Thank you, Chloris. They are fascinating creatures, aren't they?

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