Birds of Winter, Part V (Early Spring)

Mourning Dove

When I started birding about two years ago, I had assumed it would be a fairly “hands off” pastime. That is, I would hang a feeder (or two or three). The birds would eat, and I would observe from a distance. It didn’t occur to me that we would ever interact. That I wouldn’t merely be sitting back and observing them, but that they might be observing me, as well. That they might be able to recognize me, get used to me, and even approach me from time to time. (Fun fact: studies have shown that several species, like crows, magpies, and pigeons, are capable of recognizing human faces.)

I had grossly underestimated their intelligence. Indeed, it’s not uncommon for some brazen little songbirds to visit my feeders while I am actually standing there tidying or filling them. (This first happened to me about a year ago, and I was stunned that they weren’t afraid to get so close to me.) But it’s become fairly routine now for brown-headed nuthatches and some chickadees and titmice to approach the feeders while I’m there. Sometimes, they simply fly up, grab a seed, and leave. Other times, they fly near my face or perch nearby and sit for a few seconds before feeding.

But, just a two mornings ago, I had the best encounter of this kind. A female Downy Woodpecker flew up to a suet feeder and ate while I was standing about a foot away. To be clear, I don’t try to initiate contact with wild birds. I have never attempted to hand-feed them or interfere with them in any way–and I don’t intend to, either. That’s why it felt so special when little Ms. Downy paid a visit the other day. It reminds me how intelligent and curious and perceptive they are–and how much I still have to learn about them.

Downy Woodpecker (female)

Among my favorite photographs here are the juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk, the dove portrait, and the Red-bellied Woodpecker. A quick story about the Red-bellied Woodpecker: I scatter seeds on the ground beneath my feeders at least twice a day for sparrows, crows, doves, and squirrels. Several months ago, I noticed a Red-bellied Woodpecker was coming down to grab peanuts out of the seed mix. So I started tossing out some extra peanuts for him. He now visits frequently. And I recently discovered he’s been stashing peanuts in trees all around my backyard.

I hope you enjoy these photographs.

Red-bellied Woodpecker (male)
Red-shouldered Hawk (juvenile)
Eastern Bluebird (male)
Northern Cardinal (male)
American Robin
American Goldfinch
Carolina Chickadee
Northern Cardinal (female)
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk (juvenile)
Mourning Dove
Chipping Sparrow
Yellow-rumped Warbler (female)
Blue Jay
Downy Woodpecker (male)
White-throated Sparrow
American Crow
Mourning Dove
Red-bellied Woodpecker (male) with a peanut
Red-shouldered Hawk (juvenile)
Eastern Phoebe
American Crow
Hairy Woodpecker (female)

14 responses to “Birds of Winter, Part V (Early Spring)”

  1. Wow, I absolutely love your pictures! We’ve been having some Northern Cardinals visit our feeders lately, which is quite unexpected here in Phoenix. I’ve also been enjoying the Gila Woodpeckers, Rosy-faced Love Birds, Gambel’s Quail, and Cooper’s hawk. It’s warming up, so the birds are out in full force celebrating Spring, and it’s such fun to watch!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, wow. It is interesting that you’ve been seeing Northern Cardinals lately. What a lovely surprise! Unfortunately, we don’t have quail here, but I would love to photograph them if I have the opportunity. They are such beautiful birds. And you’re right: it definitely feels like spring. As I write this, I’m looking out at about a dozen robins foraging in my front yard. Thank you for commenting! I’m delighted you enjoyed the photos.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. These are really wonderful photos…I’m loving all of them for different reasons…the fluffed feathers of the red shoulder hawk, the vibrancy of the eastern bluebird and cardinal, the soft presence of the dove, and of course, the stark black of the crow in winter (almost spring 🙂 really lovely…thank you for sharing photos that capture such beauty.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, my friend. It was windy on the morning I photographed the hawk. It was neat seeing him/her all fluffed up like that. And I am a big fan of Mourning Doves. They have such an understated elegance. In the right light, you can really see how stunning they are. Thank you for commenting, and I wish you a beautiful Thursday!


  3. Fantastic. I don’t know how you accomplish the soft background that pops the subject, but I love the portrait effect. A lot of bird photos around, but yours… je ne sais quoi ~~~

    Liked by 1 person

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