It’s once again the first Wednesday of the month, which means it’s time for Wildlife Wednesday, a meme hosted by Tina and her blog My Gardener Says… as a way to celebrate the wildlife residing in our gardens! Again this month most of my wildlife turned out to be birds, but I did include several other critters that I happened to run across.
I was surprised and happy to find my garden being visited by American Goldfinches towards the latter part of January. About a month ago I bought two finch feeders containing nyjer seed. I figured they’d provide food for the House Finches but I’ve never seen them use the feeders. Then suddenly one day the Goldfinches appeared. I don’t know if these birds are just wintering in this area or whether they might be permanent residents. According to the Texas Breeding Bird Atlas:
“The few observations during the TBBA field work in 1987-1992 of summering American Goldfinches were confined to the northern and northwestern sectors of the state.”
Several of the range maps I’ve looked at indicate that we are very close to the cutoff point for the area in which the American Goldfinch takes up year-round residence while others put them farther north. I’ll continue to provide nyjer feeders for the birds throughout the spring and summer to find out whether they’re just visiting or if they live here year-round.
The birds in these photos seem to spend a lot of time in the tall Photinia hedge along our back fence as well as in several oak trees. Birds have been at both feeders simultaneously so there are at least two visiting our back yard. Based on their color scheme they appear to be nonbreeding adult males or females. One has a black patch on one side of the head — perhaps this is a male bird? I’d love for them to be permanent residents if only to see them in their bright summer plumage.
This Red-winged Blackbird was among a flock of other black birds perching in a tree one afternoon. At this time of the year, when the trees are bare of leaves, birds are easy to photograph as they take a rest from foraging. At the time I took this photo I thought I was just aiming at a bunch of crows or grackles, but when I zoomed in on this particular bird I discovered he was just a little bit different!
We had a wide variety of birds in the garden this month! Here we see a Blue Jay, Northern Cardinal, Dark-eyed Junco, American Robin, European Starling, White-winged Dove and several Inca Doves. The Juncos will probably start disappearing from this area around the middle of March. The others remain here year-round.
Here’s a hawk that paid a visit. This is possibly a Sharp-shinned Hawk, as its tail appears to be square-tipped, unlike the Cooper’s Hawk, which has a rounded tail. Someone please correct me if this isn’t the case!
We had some non-bird visitors, too! This Eastern Fox Squirrel (Sciurus niger) popped up onto the AC unit and participated in a staring contest with Angus the Cat, who was sitting on the window ledge inside the house. The Fox Squirrel is the most common squirrel found in Texas. Doesn’t he have a nice long bushy tail?
I was almost certain the wasps had all died off, then this one made an appearance. Apparently the weather hasn’t yet gotten quite cold enough to kill them all this winter. We had a real problem with paper wasps all of last year. They built nests everywhere they could get a toehold — in the eaves of the house, under a window awning, even on some of the outside light fixtures. These wasps seem to be more prolific during dry, hot weather, which we have an abundance of!
That’s it for me for this month’s Wildlife Wednesday. I’ll see you again on the first Wednesday of March! Want to join in on the fun? Click on the link to My Gardener Says… at the top of this post and add your Wildlife Wednesday link to Tina’s February 15 Wildlife Wednesday post. Thanks, Tina, for hosting!