Wildlife from the Kitchen Table

March, 2014

Our wildlife may not be particularly exotic, but we enjoy it during meals at our kitchen table. This squirrel is fond of climbing up and sitting on the corner post of our small deck, and this time he brought along a bloom from the camilia bush. March 25.

Brenda sometimes wages war against him when he digs in her planters, but this morning he was being good.

This morning, March 31, Brenda saw a bird fly to sit just behind our back fence and she thought it must be a hawk. But we noticed that the birds in the yard were undisturbed, and we regularly have "hawk alerts" when all the backyard birds will disappear. I got out the binoculars and was surprised to see this large owl just sitting on a branch behind the fence. I scrambled for the long lens and got this shot at 400mm, 1/1000 sec and about f8. He appeared to be about 16 - 18" tall.

For the shot at left, some clouds to the east had cleared a little, giving more light on his left side. I tried to get closer, but you are not going to sneak up on owl vision. From comparison with the bird books, this appears to be a barred owl. We hear owl calls frequenty, but this is the first time we have seen one.

I take this to be a hairy woodpecker on the left and a downy woodpecker on the right. The hairy is larger and has a longer bill. These are shot at essentially the same scale, shot from inside the house at 400mm, 1/1000 sec, and about f20.

This fine specimen of a hairy woodpecker must have liked the suet he got, because he was back the next day on April 1.

April 6 brought views of a couple of our favorite birds among the new leaves of spring. The titmouse and the downy woodpecker are regular and much loved visitors.

This squirrel had its tail curled over its back just like in the colder weather. We did note that it was a bit cool on this morning, April 9. It was 9am and the tail was backlit by the morning sun. It was sitting on a limb of a post oak tree, which leaf out later than many and which is just putting out its new leaves. Sometimes the last year's leaves hang on until the new leaves push them off.

This titmouse has carried sunflower seed up among the new leaves.

This cardinal seemed to enjoy exploring one of the hosta gardens. We were enjoying them too, since they were just filling out. April 14.

The beautiful redhead above came to our back yard on April 16. I suppose it is a yellow-bellied sapsucker, but we just call it a redhead. The one at left was hanging around, so I presumed them a pair, but can't tell which is the male.

It's time for the goldfinches to put on their most brilliant colors. April 19.

Marty came up on April 20 to see if I wanted to try a picture of an owl. He said it had just sat up on this limb while he was working in the yard. It appears to be the same barred owl that we say three weeks ago, and in fact is probably the same owl we have been hearing for a couple of years. I'm glad he seems to like living in our neighborhood.

I walked down and shot this from Marty's back yard. The owl would look at me and then at Marty across the yard, but did not seem in the least afraid.

The owl is sitting on the same limb, but I moved across the yard to get a different background. His eyes followed me, and then jumped back to Marty when he moved. So you don't sneak up on an owl - he was just not alarmed by us. I was concerned that the big 400mm lens would look like a threatening eye to him. Scaling from the oak leaf size, he appears to be about 16" tall.

At right, I had walked up to our backyard to see if I could get better lighting. The owl eyes had followed me.

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