Tag: backyardbirdphotography

Running behind on the photography challenge: Day 7-the downy woodpecker

Well, I’m a day late with the photography challenge. So the winner for yesterday’s installment of the photography challenge is the Downy woodpecker. I think this one comes in at number three in terms of which bird has the most pictures taken of it this summer (number one is the ruby-throated hummingbird, and number two is the red-bellied woodpecker).

This is the smallest woodpecker in North America, and can be found throughout the continent, where it’s range stretches from Alaska down through Canada and into the lower 48 states. There are only portions of California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas where they may be considered uncommon birds.

Male downy woodpecker at the small suet feeder

The diet of downy woodpeckers consists of mostly insects that it forages for along the branches and trunk of trees (including beetle larvae, ants, and caterpillars), along with berries, acorns, grains, and being seen at suet feeders in people’s backyards.

Since they’re small in size (basically the size of a nuthatch), it isn’t uncommon to

see them also feeding in a mix group of birds. Unlike the red-bellied woodpecker that really doesn’t like other birds being on the suet feeder at the same time—the downy woodpecker doesn’t really care.

Female downy woodpecker at the small suet feeder

In terms of their coloring and markings, they are rocking the black-and-white checkered feather/back look. The males also have a small red patch on the back of their heads. When looking at them at either feeders or in the wild, they can be confused with the hairy woodpecker (who is larger then the downy)—but they aren’t that closely related (the two woodpeckers split off from a common ancestor about six million years ago). These two species look similar, but that is just a matter of convergent evolution (which is the independent evolution of similar features in species of different periods or epochs in time).

Photography goal: Get a picture of a hairy woodpecker, and if possible a picture of both at a feeder (that way I can work on trying to distinguish between them).

Do you have a favorite woodpecker species??

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Photography Challenge Day 196: National Hummingbird Day

Since today is National hummingbird day—the winner of the photography challenge is the hummingbird.

Hummingbird on the wire

There are currently over 300 species of hummingbirds in the western hemisphere with at 150 of them living within the equatorial belt (which is ranges from ten degrees north of the equator to ten degrees south of the equator).

hummingbird at the feeder

Of the approximate 150 species living outside the equatorial belt, there are only twenty-three that venture north into North America: Mexico, the United States and Canada. This is also usually only during the spring and summer, then they make the return flight south to warmer climates for the winter.

Then of the twenty-three species that make it north, they spread out to where you may only see one species in one part of the country, but if you head towards another area, you may see three or four.

For Oklahoma, there are three species that can be found in some part of the state: the ruby-throated hummingbird, the black-chinned hummingbird, and the rufous hummingbird (though this one mostly just flies through).

Hummingbird sitting in the crepe myrtle bush

Though since Stillwater is in the north central part of the state (and probably could be considered north-east central), we really don’t see the black-chinned hummingbird as it is more common western part of the state (particularly in the southwest corner and the panhandle). So until it moves further east due to climate changes, we might get the sporadic one coming through—but for the most part we will mainly have the ruby-throated hummingbirds.

One goal may be to see how many of the other hummingbirds I can spot when I travel—though if I do any traveling into forests (specifically rain forests)—they will be extremely hard to spot, as animals have a tendency to avoid humans at all costs.

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Double Photography: Days 178 and 179: Mourning doves and sparrows.

Well today is a double photography day—yesterday was just one of those days were I couldn’t decide on a picture to share. This was due in part to a bad night sleep, which led to only partially bruising my thumb (by catching it in the door). Luckily the bruise isn’t that bad (so I don’t think I’ll be losing the fingernail), though the tip of my thumb is still tender.

So the first photograph is of a couple mourning doves sitting on the wires in the backyard. These are a common bird species throughout North America, and are also one of the most frequently hunted bird species in North America as well.

Mourning doves on the wire

Some cool facts about mourning doves:

They can eat roughly a fifth of their body weight per day (which someone has calculated to be roughly an average of 71 calories).

They busily feed when they land—swallowing as many seeds as possible and storing them in their crop (the enlargement of the esophagus). Once they have a full crop, they’ll find a safe perch to where they can sit and digest their meal. So depending on how often they can fill their crop is how often they feed.

They can drink the brackish spring water found in the desert without becoming dehydrated.

The oldest known mourning dove was at least a little over 30 years old when it was shot in Florida in 1998—it had been banded in Georgia in 1968.

Reference: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Mourning_Dove/overview

Feeding central–also known as the small suet

The second picture is of several sparrows feeding on the small suet feeder. There are also three other sparrows waiting their turn to feed from the suet feeder as well. Even though it is only August, it seems that we’re entering fall/winter migration already. Birds (even those that aren’t migrating) are feeding off of the suet feeders (when usually they hit the seed feeders). Though some of them might be taking food back to the nest, as some might be trying to raise their second or possible third brood this year as well.

Someone decided to go for the seed instead of waiting their turn.

We usually go through a small suet cake every two to three days. During the height of migration (both spring and fall) we can go through them also daily. This is in addition to a large suet feeder that we have, and the three seed feeders as well. There is also two nectar feeders for the hummingbirds.

I’m going to have to try to move our thistle feeder from where it’s been the past couple of years—it’s in the trees but none of the birds seem to care about it. So that is one thing I’m going to try to read up on—the proper place for a thistle feeder in the yard. If they state around trees, well I’ll figure out a different placement than the current one.

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