Backyard Birding: Prairie Warbler

Showing off his black streaking.

I had a sweet Prairie Warbler in the yard yesterday who interacted with me quite playfully. He even hovered in front of me for a second, checking out my camera. He was too close for my long lens at that moment, but I still appreciated the gesture.ūüėČ You can click on the images to be taken to larger versions on Flickr.

Here he is in the queen palm tree, blending in among the berries:

Blending In

Blending In

Side view:

Showing off his black streaking.

Showing off his black streaking.

Poser!

Strike a pose!

Strike a pose!

My favorite shot is this one. He was very curious about me and I love the pose:

What a cutie!

What a cutie!

I think it is an adult male since his markings were so bright and bold. The facial pattern is distinctive to this species. He really is quite colorful:

Prairie Warbler

Prairie Warbler

He even serenaded me with his beautiful little warbling song:

Sing me a song little birdy!

Sing me a song little birdy!

Fall migration has just begun and already I have had two warblers and a rare bird from Africa! What will I see next? Stay tuned!

A Morning Surprise: Village Weaver!

I had plans to go birding this morning but I woke up too late. As I was puttering around the kitchen, making coffee, I was complaining to myself about sleeping in.
I decided to put a positive spin on my attitude and said to myself “you know what, you were meant to stay here because you are going to see something special today”.
That very second, I looked out the window at one of the platform feeders. And there it was. That “something special”. I wasn’t sure what I was looking at but this dark
burgundy color on the nape caught my eye right away and I knew I had never seen any bird with that! I headed outside with the Samsung Galaxy(kicking myself I didn’t have my DSLR ready)and took a video of him. Immediately I saw that his eye was really red. Like blood red. Kind of freaky actually. Later, I searched for him in books. Nothing. Thank goodness for google!
Turns out it is a Village Weaver from the Northern part of Africa. Chances are he came up from the Caribbean though where he has been introduced on the island of Hispaniola and Puerto Rico.
I searched for Florida sightings but all I found was one sighting in Pinelles county in 1998. Now, we have one in Broward! I hope he sticks around so I can get some pictures of him.
What an exciting find! #375 on my Life List!

Village Weaver

Backyard Birding: September

This past weekend I headed out to Tall Cypress to see what fall migrants I could find. Saw a couple of Baltimore Orioles and a Worm-eating Warbler, but that was about it.
My own backyard was buzzing when I got home though. I had a Cliff Swallow in a flock of Barn Swallows that flew over the lake feeding for about five minutes. Earlier in the week, I had Bank Swallows. I’m still seeing some coming through each evening.
All these pictures were taken this weekend in my yard. As I type this right now, I am watching a Brown Thrasher, some Common Grackles and White-winged Doves all take a morning bath in a puddle from last nights rain. Happy girl.ūüėČ

This female American Redstart hung out in the yard for two days with the Blue-gray Gnatcatchers and an Ovenbird:

American Redstart, female

American Redstart, female

I need to pull out this dead tree but my resident Brown Thrasher likes to sit in it at the end of the day:

Brown Thrasher

Brown Thrasher

This is the favorite spot of the Green Heron. When the water level is high and the pipe is under the water, he will sit on top of the faux goose:

Green Heron

Green Heron

This is Marco the Muscovy. He is a junior and was born in May. He had 12 siblings but one drowned of a broken leg and all but he and four others were eaten by the Great Blue Heron:

Marco, the Muscovy

Marco, the Muscovy

The Monk Parakeets love the platform feeders which I fill with a mixture of black-oil sunflower seed, nut and berry seed and Conure seed:

A Monk Parakeet heads for the platform feeder.

A Monk Parakeet heads for the platform feeder.

Here a pair of Mottled Ducks take flight. The top one is actually a Mottled x Mallard Hybrid. Thanks to my friend Paul for pointing that out:

Mottled Duck with Mottled x Mallard Hybrid.

Mottled Duck with Mottled x Mallard Hybrid.

I saw an immature Spot-breasted Oriole this past April in my garden. He was mostly yellow then. I think this may be the same one as he is still immature but is now getting spots and orange color. But, if it is the same one, where the hell was he all summer long?:

Spot-breasted Oriole

Spot-breasted Oriole

The Northern Cardinal visits all the feeders. He is usually the first one there, before the sun actually rises and the last one there, right before sunset:

Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal

Right before this shot of my local fisherman, I was looking at him through the bins when a second Osprey flew in and flushed him off his perch. They flew together right in front of me and I didn’t have my camera. I went back in to get it, but alas, the second one was gone and my local Osprey was back on his perch above the lake:

Osprey on his favorite perch.

Osprey on his favorite perch.

The Monk Parakeet says “Peace out!” until next time! Happy Birding!!

Peace Out!

Peace Out!

From the Journals: Watercolor Art

Birds are the perfect subject to practice my drawing and watercolor skills. Here are a couple from the journals that I did recently. The lapwing was a 10 minute exercise, sketching and adding color in just ten minutes, the rooster I worked on a wee bit longer. The last image is of a watercolor I did at the Mabel Dodge Luhan House where I participated in Jill Badonsky’s Camp Creative Thunder. The birdhouses there were amazing. I will post some photos of the birdhouses¬†in the next post! Have a great week everyone!

Colorful Rooster

Colorful Rooster

Northern Lapwing

Northern Lapwing

Taos

Taos

Fall Migration is here!

Sweet blue-gray gnatcatcher

Sweet blue-gray gnatcatcher

In South Florida, our Blue-gray gnatcatchers disappear for summer. The adorable little things are usually the first indication I have in my own backyard that Fall Migration is upon us. Of course, I usually hear them before I see them which was the case this past Friday. The first one of the season and a month earlier than last year! I’m sure the Painted Buntings, the star of my winter garden, will not be too far behind!

Rufous-tailed Hummingbird

Snapped this beauty while in Costa Rica. The rufous-tailed hummingbird was about the size of my thumb and was fairly abundant.  It was the hummingbird I saw the most often while in Costa Rica.

Texture by Distressed Textures

Rufous-tailed Hummingbird

Flight of the Starlings

This batch of Starlings took off in flight from a little patch of green near the wall while I was strolling around Berwick-upon-Tweed in Northumberland. I got one shot off and used a texture by Distressed Textures to add some drama to it. Hope you all like it!

Flight of the Starlings

Flight of the Starlings

Mama Barred Owl Preening Chick

Spotted these two at the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary last month. Aren’t they a sweet pair?

Gull Feather

Gull Feather

Found object: Gull Feather!

Found on a beach in Central Florida. First one for my collection of birdy feathers!

Birdy Buys: Snail Mail

I ¬†love getting real mail. Emails, text messages are fine and dandy, but to open up your mailbox and find a letter, card or gift from a beloved family member or a dear friend, well, that is priceless. It doesn’t happen enough. A whole generation is growing up without knowing the pleasure of snail mail correspondence. With the help of sites like Postcrossing.com (it’s fab…sign up today and start getting beautiful postcards from countries around the¬†world!), people all over the globe¬†are still sharing tidbits of their lives through the good old post. Here are some wonderful birdy buys I have found that are perfect for snail mail.

These are from Tree-Free greetings and are made from earth-friendly materials. They have many to chose from on Amazon and they come in a cute tin too. They feature artwork by James Hautman, Mike Klafke and Persis Clayton Weirs. Even the envelopes are gorgeous!

Tree-free Greetings

Tree-free Greetings

 

These magnetic book markers by Paula Minges of Palmetto Cat Designs are a perfect size for slipping into a card and sending via the post. What a cute and thoughtful gift for the reader in your life! She has several birdy designs to choose from and even has notecards available to purchase. I have several sets of these and I love them!

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How about dressing up snail mail envelopes with some birdy stickers? Common Birds from Dover are perfect for just that! Grab several at Amazon!

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Artist Michelle Rothacker creates beautiful cards combining traditional art with paper. She has several bird designs to choose from such as this stunning Osprey:

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My favorite are these Quilled cards from Yoderdo. It’s an art form from the Renaissance where strips of paper were rolled around the quill of a feather and then shaped into designs. I must try these on some of my own birdy art! So cute! The Gambel’s Quail shown below is my favorite.

 

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And finally, you can’t send snail mail without stamps! The US Postal Service has released new stamps this year featuring all our favorite, colorful songbirds! They have redone their online postage store and it’s easier now to purchase all manner of beautiful stamps online. These are almost too pretty to use!

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I challenge all of you to send a “hello” to someone using snail mail. It will brighten their day!