Today marks the third edition of Wildlife Wednesday for 2015. Tina and her blog My Gardener Says… hosts this meme as a way to celebrate the wildlife residing in our gardens.
I have to say that this was a strange month for my garden! The weather was very unpredictable, ranging from sunny and 80° to snowy and 20°. On several days I ran across some insect life I didn’t expect and actually saw some butterflies. Unfortunately they couldn’t find a place to settle so I didn’t get any shots of them. As usual, there were a lot of birds in the garden. Among my favorite avian visitors during the past month were the three featured in the photo above — American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis), Pine Siskin (Spinus pinus) and House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus). It was an amazing sight to see these little birds sharing a thistle feeder. The Pine Siskin was a little pushy and aggressive at times, trying to chase the others away, but they all seemed to get along eventually! I do wonder what the Goldfinch and House Finch were looking at. They seem rather perturbed!
Below are two American Goldfinches (Spinus tristis) in the branches of a Bradford Pear (Pyrus calleryana ‘Bradford’) that was just beginning to bud. Unfortunately this tree and others of its kind in the yard will have to start all over due to the frigid weather. They’ll probably still bloom this year though not as profusely as usual.
Here’s a photo of a pair of House Finches (Haemorhous mexicanus). The female is somewhat hidden among the twigs due to her dull color, but the male stands out quite nicely. They both look cold!
These two White-Crowned Sparrows (Zonotrichia leucophrys) put in an appearance this past weekend. I don’t know if they’ve been around and I just haven’t noticed them or whether this was their first visit. Either way, they’re an interesting sight to behold! Notice the stripes on their heads. The bird sporting the black and white stripes is an adult while the one with brown and gray stripes is an immature bird. These are winter visitors to this area and will probably be here until April.
We’ve had occasional visits by Cedar Waxwings (Bombycilla cedrorum) this winter. There seemed to be more of an abundance of them during the past month. I could never find any when I was actually looking for them. They appear to decide among themselves upon the time and place to make an appearance.
The two Eastern Fox Squirrels (Sciurus niger) below were romping around the back yard one day a week or so ago. Both came to a standstill and didn’t move a muscle for several minutes. It was then that I noticed the predator in the third photo. He’s resting on top of an old Purple Martin house that the squirrels have slowly converted to their own purposes. All that is really apparent is a mostly-white breast and white legs along with a spattering of brown. It appears to be a somewhat large bird based on the size of the bird house so may possibly be a Red-Tailed Hawk. I eventually went outside and shooed it away.
Here’s a photo of a Red-Winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) gobbling up seed from a hanging feeder. The picture is a little grainy due to the shade of the shrubs and overcast sky, but I was particularly taken by his red and yellow shoulder patches.
Along with the brightly colored male Red-Winged Blackbirds we’ve also entertained (or been entertained by!) female and juvenile birds, as seen below.
Blue Jays (Cyanocitta cristata) are a back yard staple. I wonder if the two in this photo are a pair? It’s almost impossible to tell the gender of these birds because males and females are essentially the same size and have the same coloring. According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, “the oldest known wild, banded Blue Jay lived to be at least 17 years 6 months old.”
Here are a few more birds that visited during the past month:
I found these insect eggs while cleaning a flower bed. I suppose they can be considered wildlife since they’ll hatch into some type of bug one of these days!
And how about this small green worm or caterpillar? I see these frequently but I’m not sure what they are.
And last but not least, here is the track of a visitor we had one night — an Opossum (Didelphis virginiana). I’ve seen their tracks on other occasions and even had a live encounter with one in our back yard — during the day! — while doing yard work last summer. Following that encounter I did some research on opossums. I learned that they may come out during the day if they’re taking care of young and need to forage for food. Did you know that the Opossum is North America’s only marsupial?
That’s my Wildlife Wednesday post for this month. By the time next month’s post rolls around it will be spring! Who knows what types of wild creatures might visit my garden before then?
Please visit My Gardener Says… to check out all the other Wildlife Wednesday posts. Or maybe you’d like to join in the fun and add a link to your own post! Have some fun — join Wildlife Wednesday!