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Nature in it's glory

Nature in it's glory

Jan 26, 2013

Squirrel vs Magpies

Between work, family moving in and the cold weather, there hasn't been much opportunity to visit natural places this week, not until this morning that is.  When I left early this morning, I packed a bag of sunflowers seeds into my pocket for those birds that do not consume fruit, because our winters tend to be harsh and I like to leave some for the birds just in case they need the extra. 

So when I arrived in the forest, I scattered some of the seed on the ground, and as I continued on, scattered some more on tree stumps, under the bushes and on top of fallen logs.  I took some photos of woodpeckers, nuthatches and chickadees along the way.  I watched the waxwings as they flew in small flocks or took off with a small thunder of wings.  The morning was bright and beautiful, and thankfully not as cold as it has been.


Female Downy woodpecker

I have a habit of following a trail more than once, and I always return the way I came. So I was taking photos of some sunlit leaves back at the beginning of a trail, when I heard a ruckus behind me. Naturally I went closer to investigate, and was startled to see a squirrel engaged in battle with two magpies. 

Sunlit leaf
The last kind of behavior I expected to see was fighting between species, especially over food, yet they were clearly fighting over the sunflower seeds I had left on a brightly painted tree stump that some kind soul had left for decoration.

Two magpies and squirrel
Squirrel on the offensive

The action was fast and furious, and although I didn't get all of it on camera, it went on for quite some time.  There were several attempts by the magpies to get the seed.  They tried to approach the stump from every direction.  The squirrel however is apparently a fast and furious little warrior.

The beginning of attack
Here is the squirrel chasing off the magpies when they attempt to grab some of the seed.

The chase
 However the magpies really want that seed, so...

Race for the prize
They attempted to approach the stump from above, but the squirrel is smart, quick, and determined.  He chases them off but then, one of the birds makes a final sneaky attempt.  He almost makes it to the seed.

Sneaking up on the seed
However, he's too slow..... here comes the squirrel.

Full attack mode
 He chases the magpie off.

watch and guard
 He watches for any renewed effort by the magpies to steal the seed he has so obviously claimed for himself.

Enjoying the spoils of war
Apparently they have given up, so he settles down to enjoy the bounty.

I love learning about the behavior of wildlife, so this was an amazing experience for me.  Has anyone else ever witnessed this kind of behavior between two species?  If so please let me know in the comments:)



Jan 18, 2013

Fully occupied trees and rooftops

Bohemian Waxwing in the distant tree tops

The population of Bohemian waxwings has exploded in the neighborhood since I first noticed their presence just before the New Year. 

There are literally thousands of these beauties.  They occupied every branch and treetop, and even the rooftops in the neighborhood.  I love watching as they flock from tree to tree by some unseen command, and fly through the sky like a school of fish in the ocean.

bits of fruit

Evidence of their presence in the neighborhood was everywhere, as shown in the photo above; the little bits of fruit all over the snow covered ground.  

A whirlwind arrival

However, you need not look for clues, as the waxwings are anything but quiet, unless there is a predator around.  The more waxwings in the area, the further their high pitched voices travel.  There were so many Bohemian Waxwings, I didn't know where to point the camera first.

Fully occupied
Eating snow

Here they are eating the snow on the rooftops to satisfy their thirst.

Take off

 They seemed to take turns landing on the rooftops to do so.

The next wave
Satisfying their thirst

But the slightest sound would have them take off again.

On every branch

Every once in a while they would fly off in smaller flocks in search of a nearby fruit tree to gorge themselves.  Then they would return to a sort of communal watering hole again, the rooftops.  They seem to choose a rooftop that is relatively safe, one surrounded by trees for an easy and quick retreat or escape.  In the photo above a large flock of Bohemians had landed in a tree close to a roof.  Every branch of the tree was occupied, with the exception of the lowest branches, it was a grand sight to behold. 

Blue Jay below the waxings
The presence of the waxwings seemed to encourage other bird species to come out into the open.  Nuthatches, chickadees and woodpeckers were everywhere.  Even the Blue Jays ventured out into the open.  What a delight.



Jan 11, 2013

Winter Birds

light snow fall
January is typically the coldest month of the year, with steady temperatures normally in the lower negative double digits throughout the month.  However, this year temperatures have been bouncing up and down like a yoyo. 

The result is that no one has a chance to adjust to the weather and flu season has become particularly nasty this year, however, the warmer days allowed me to take myself and my camera out a couple of times last week.

Who wouldn't head out after all, and I had been missing my visits with nature terribly.  The birds that bring me such delight, the new discoveries and the peace it brings is just plain irresistible to me.

The first time I ventured out, it began to snow shortly after I left the house and although I saw a few Chickadees, as the snowfall became heavier even they went into hiding.

Heavy snow fall
Since I wasn't feeling all that well, I headed home.  Still, I did so reluctantly and somewhat disappointed. 

The next time I headed out again there was nothing disappointing about the outing.  The winter birds were everywhere.  These included the Bohemian Waxwing, Chickadee, Brown Creeper, White and Red breasted Nuthatch, and both species of Woodpecker.
Brown Creeper
Bohemian Waxwing on sentry duty
Male Downy
White breasted Nuthatch
House Finch
The day was sunny and golden, and so peaceful, that I just drank it all in. 

The only thing missing that I could tell, besides a notably absent  Blue Jay, was more time to enjoy it all.