Saturday, January 30, 2016

Feeding Winter Birds - Saturday's Critters

Like many of my fellow bird lovers, 
feeding winter birds is 
part of being good neighbors
to our sweet feathered friends.

Today it's time for
Viewing Nature with Eileen - Saturday's Critters.

Here a Varied Thrush is checking out
the offerings on my deck rail. 

Although this bird is not a seed eater, 
it does eat fruit and insects,
so I put out grapes and other fruits. 

This beautiful orange and black bird nests in 
high elevations in conifer forests, but 
migrates to lower elevations
in small flocks during the winter months. 

I enjoy hearing their reedy one-note calls
and seeing them foraging on the ground
for insects. 

They are sociable birds and congregate
with other species, especially the Spotted Towhees
who scratch and dig in the underbrush, 
uncovering tasty morsels. 

Here a male Towhee scratches for breakfast. 

These birds are known for running away
from danger through thick underbrush, rather than flying. 

The female builds a nest on the ground, well away from 
where the male perches and sings.

A beautiful male Varied Thrush forages nearby. 

A Spotted Towhee and Steller's Jay. 

Towhee's will eat seeds, insects and fruit. 

A Spotted Towhee and two Dark-Eyed Juncos. 

Juncos are usually seen on the ground 
in small flocks and adhere to a rigid social
hierarchy, with dominant birds chasing 
less-dominant birds. 

These are seed and insect eaters and will come
to bird feeders. They have a curious 
way of double scratching for insects with both 
feet at the same time! 

Another view of the Dark-Eyed Junco with a
companion - a common Song Sparrow, 
who spies me taking her/his mug-shot:) 

A Chestnut-Backed Chickadee is a regular
at the feeder, enjoying both seeds and suet. 

This little fellow will cling to branches upside
down looking for insects, and nests in tree cavities
2 to 20 feet up. 

During nesting season it is quiet and secretive, 
but in winter it will join other small birds
in talkative little flocks. 

These little birds are very fearless and friendly! 

As are these little charmers, 
the Red-Breasted Nuthatch.

This one seems to have mussed up his hair! 

They are very impatient as I fill the suet
feeder and practically land on my head! 

These tiny birds are known for 
traveling down tree trunks
in search of insects head first. 

The name 'Nuthatch' comes from 
the Middle English moniker nuthak, 
referring to the bird's habit of wedging
a seed into a crevice and hacking it open. 

It doesn't excavate a nesting cavity, 
as a chickadee might; rather,
it takes over a former woodpecker
or chickadee cavity. 

Our beautiful Washington State Steller's Jays
are one of my favorite birds. 

These are large Jays, highly alert and intelligent,
which mate for life. 

Jays are much maligned, mistakenly, as 
studies have shown they rarely rob
other bird's nests and actually 
serve the purpose of being the watchdogs
of the bird world. 

Steller's Jays will mimic the cries of hawks and eagles
as a warning to residents of the forest 
that danger is nearby, and will mob together 
noisily to drive away these predators. 

Mourning Doves feeding with a Dark-Eyed Junco. 

These gentle birds mate for life, building 
platform nests of twigs, and get 
their name from their mournful cooing. 

Hunted relentlessly by hawks and other 
predators, they have the unfortunate 
affliction of wings that whistle in flight, 
giving away their location. 

These birds appreciate the protection of 
the Jays and will patiently wait 
for them to feed first so the Jays
will stand watch for them. 

Wait a minute! You're not a bird! 

Are you the one who has been digging up my potted bulbs? 

Who me?

Yes, you! It's a good thing that you are so darn cute! 

Last, but not least, we had a rare
visitor, which I was only able to get a 
very quick, blurry shot of....

a Ruffed Grouse. 

The black 'ruffs' around the neck 
give this bird its name. 

He was walking through the front yard
early one morning and I was able to 
grab my camera and get a quick shot 
before he scurried away. 

Actually this bird is a very common 
bird of the deep woods. 
 He was the size of a chicken. 

I hope he likes it here :)


Thank you for coming along
as I feed the winter birds, 
here in the foothills of Western 
Washington State. 

What are your favorite winter birds? 


Today I am joining with :

Saturday's Critters


  1. Hello, wow I am amazed at your lovely yard birds. They are all beautiful. The Varied Thrush is one of my favorites. I miss seeing the Red-breasted Nuthatch, it has been missing here the last few years. Congrats on the cool Ruffed Grouse, that is an awesome yard bird. Wonderful photos. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Have a happy weekend!

  2. Wow...some very IMPRESSIVE birds!! I've only seen the stellar jay and the doves in real time...all the others, I'm totally jealous!!

  3. What amazing pictures of these sweet little creatures! They were not one bit afraid of you. Amazing photography! Thanks for sharing.

  4. Karen- Those are great photos and information. You know at least 20 times as much (okay make that 80 times as much) about birds as I do. I love the sweet mourning doves which we have around here and I also love the chickadees. The first picture I ever saw of a chickadee was in a Frosty the Snowman book and I fell in love with their sweet little faces right there. Great post- xo Diana

  5. Wonderful photos of your visitors . . .
    Aren't they just the best company . . .
    We love our many visitors to our feeders here in Michigan . . .
    My favorites would be the cardinals, mourning doves, and red poles . . .
    Thank you for visiting me at the Irish Garden House . . .

  6. I really enjoyed seeing these beautiful birds in your yard that are different from what we have here. My favourite visitors are the black-capped chickadees, which is our provincial bird. We have had them along with lots of goldfinches, dark eyed slate juncos, mourning doves, American tree sparrows and bluejays this past week at the feeders. I enjoy watching them as seeing who visits. Enjoy!

  7. Some very colourful, pretty birds there, even the furry one.

  8. Hi dear friend !, qué bonito el pajarito ,m tiene un precioso colorido

  9. I love seeing your wild birds. We have different varieties of some of those. My favorite here is the tufted titmouse. Well, actually it's the bluebird. I guess I have many favorites!

  10. Loved your photos, Karen. A Chestnut-backed Chickadee. I wish they would be here as I would love to see one. I feed hundreds of black-capped Chickadees all year here. Love those wee birds. Also at the feeders are Mourning Doves, Blue-jays,Juncos, Starlings, Sparrows, Gold Finch, Downy Wood-peckers, Pileated Wood-peckers & the ever comical Black Crow.

  11. How lovely, Karen! It's fun to see such different varieties than we see here! We had an eagle in one of our tall trees last week...

  12. What sweet and glorious birds, my friend. And the little squirrel is quite the cutie :)

    Have a blessed Sunday, sweet Karen. Hugs!

  13. I agree, those pesky squirrels! Why are they so cute, and so funny :) You have such a variety of birds where you are. We have the typical doves and sparrows so a little boring, however we do have an albino sparrow which seems to rule the whole garden! Have a wonderful Sunday xx

  14. What a sweet series of birds, most of which I don't get to see in my knock of the woods so especially enjoyed those. Happy Sunday to you :)

  15. Also meant to say I loved your furry gray little rascal. I see lots of his cousins in my back yard :)

  16. Your talk about the Stellar's Jay being the look-out bird for a flock of different birds reminds me of something I heard recently on Nature. I don't remember the kinds of birds involved or where in the world they are located, but...Sometimes this bird will give a warning call, then swoop in to get the food another bird has already dug up. These birds didn't do it often enough to get caught, but frequently enough to fill their own bellies. Isn't that funny?!!

    I enjoy seeing the kinds of birds other people see in their region. We live in southeastern NC.

    We have started seeing Bluebirds, and their nesting boxes are ready. We just moved here and brought ours with us, plus two came with the house. We can't wait to see the activity. A pair (or more) of Blue Jays live across the street hidden in a bush or tree. I can see them from my big kitchen window. They fly in and out of that area frequently. Those are my favorite birds. I have a small feather from a Blue Jay that I found probably around 50 years ago. It is quite special to me.

    Since we have only lived in this house for about 4 months, we don't know about all the birds that will come to see us. We put out sunflower seed, thistle and suet at our last house, so we did the same here. So far we have seen Mourning Doves, Chickadees, Wrens, Blue Jays, Juncos, House Finch, Tufted Titmouses, Bluebirds, Cardinals, a couple of different kinds of Sparrows and a few "unidentifiables". We're hoping Gold Finches find us, too. We have birds of prey, like Turkey Vultures and Redtail Hawks. Being near the coast, we also see Great Blue Herons flying above and Egrets wading in the ditches from time to time. We have HEARD a woodpecker in the woods out back.

    Watching birds is wonderful. We do miss our squirrels that were so abundant in our home state of Ohio, though. They are around, but certainly aren't plentiful.

    Thank you for showing us your birds. They are all so lovely.

  17. Jays are such intelligent birds. We get Juncos in the spring and they play havoc with my garden if they arrive just after I've planted my seeds. I had a Song Sparrow come to visit me at the cabin but the colouring was much darker. I understand up here the subspecies is that way. - Margy

  18. Karen,
    It's interesting to see the difference between Washington's birds and California's birds. It's nice that you feed these fellows, and I'm one of the bird lovers that you mentioned. I've never seen that orange and black bird, he's unique. Your blue jays look a bit different than ours, and our mourning doves are lighter than this. This is a very special bird, indeed. And how cute is that squirrel.

    Thanks for the info. on all the birds around your neck of the woods. You have much knowledge of them all.

    Have a peaceful Sunday, Karen.


  19. You are so well informed on birds in your area and their habits. I am very impressed. I am afraid I am not as up to date on bird knowledge as I should but I do enjoy watching as they have their meals. The wildlife where you live is just incredible.....

  20. Loved the bird collection. We have most of those on our feeders here in the Midwest, but ours wear different colors. Those jays are tremendous! Ok, we don't have any grouse in the neighborhood, but many woodpeckers variations. I'll post some pics too.

  21. I have learned so much from your post here today friend! My beans are intrigued with birds and this has inspired me to get some more bird books to really start identifying some of the birds that we are unsure of. Wishing you a beautiful week Karen! Stunning photos! Nicole xoxo

  22. Those Stellar Jays are just gorgeous!

  23. Dearest Karen,
    You do have such colorful birds and also the rascal squirrels that steal away food from the birds.
    But we love them all and enjoy them. Feeding our pets and the birds is a daily task.

  24. Wonderful shots of the beauties around you! Maybe the grouse will come again and you will get a better shot!

  25. Oh so lovely shots and so many cute I really longing for springtime, I´m so tired of this winter.
    Have a happy week, take care!

  26. Loved readng this.
    Amazing birds and such detailed photos & information. Very different to what we have here in the UK.
    Have a great week :)

  27. Oh wow you have quite the variety of birds that visit your yard, very interesting read, I am not up on all the names of the birds that visit our feeder but I still enjoy them :) We have a few squirrels that visit our feeder too, I use to go out and try to get them to leave but my hubby says they have to eat too.

  28. So many wonderful species of birds! Those yellow-brow ones are very pretty - first time I see them! And the sweet squirrel as well - You have the nature and wild life coming to your door step!
    The feeder is a wonderful thing :)
    Sunshine and happy moments with admiring these pretty fellows outside,

  29. I enjoyed seeing so many birds that are not familiar to Texas, Karen. The Stellar Jays are so vibrant and so beautiful. In my area, i love seeng cardinals, bluejays and especially the hawk that visits my yard.

  30. What a great post to inform me about birds, something I know nothing about! I do have a feeder up that draws Blue Jays and Cardinals. I don't know the names of any others, except the squirrels that won't leave the feeder alone!

  31. Hello Karen, this is an interesting posting of your garden birds. You have a great varieties of bird visitors and that cute squirrel. Very entertaining post.

  32. Gorgeous photos, Karen! I wonder why your birds are so much more colourful than ours? :)

  33. Peace , I feel peace in your photos. A quiet , kiss

  34. Oh! I wish we had more "nature" around our home. We live in a recently built neighbourhood where the trees and small and there is very little greenspace. I hope as our neighbourhood matures we;ll get more squirrels, chipmunks and birds - just like you!

  35. Your area is home to a number of birds I haven't met in any of the places we've lived. When in Wyoming I missed the cardinals--what a joy to now see them in abundance in KY. I would love to feed the birds, but our outside cats are so predatory it wouldn't seem fair.

  36. Your bird photos are just lovely, but especially liked those of the varied thrush. I have never seen one like it. Such a charming little bird. We also enjoy many lovely types of birds in our mountain cabin and such fun to watch them!


Thank you for stopping by! Your comments are important to me and are very much appreciated. xx Karen

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