Showing posts with label backyard birds. Show all posts
Showing posts with label backyard birds. Show all posts

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Book Review of What It's Like to Be a Bird

Robin in my Backyard

 Are you ever curious about the habits of birds?  Did you realize that a bird's senses of vision, hearing, touch and smell many times surpass the same senses in humans?  Did you know that if you "ate like a bird" you might eat more than twenty-five pizzas each day?  These are just a few of the many things you'll learn about birds in the book What It's Like to Be a Bird.  


I received a copy of this book as a Christmas gift and have found it fascinating.  It is a rather large, coffee table type book that is full of information on the birds of North America.

The book is divided into three sections.  In this review, I will give you some insight into each of the sections.  The photographs I am including in this review are birds that I photographed in my backyard.


First Section: Introduction

Female Downy Woodpecker

  • The introduction section of the book is 32 pages full of information on birds in general.  This section talks about the feathers on birds, the senses of birds and how they relate to human senses.  There are sections on 
  • Food
  • Survival
  • Social Behavior
  • Movement
  • Physiology
  • Migration
an much more.  This area is full of interesting information.  Some examples include:
  • There are 11 thousand species of birds today and 800 are regularly found in North America.
  • Birds visual ability varies greatly between species.  Owls have great night vision  and Eagles see five times more details than humans and 16 times the colors.
  • Some birds spend their entire winter in the air, even sleeping while they fly.

Second Section: Main Body of Book

In this section of the book the author tells us about over 200 different species of birds.  The author has two pages for most species and they include beautiful colored illustrations of the birds and are full of interesting facts about each type of bird.

One good example is the section on Finches.  The first page shows a beautiful illustration of a male and female House Finch building a nest.  The information says that these finches are aptly named because they have adapted to living around houses and often make their nests on items around the houses such as hanging plants and window ledges.  On the page with Goldfinches we are told that they travel in flocks almost all year and it is believed that some birds stay together in small groups for months or even years.

Third Section: Listing of Birds in this Book

In this last section of the book you find a list of all the birds that have been covered in the book.  It includes the page number for more information along with a paragraph summarizing that particular bird.

Here is some of the information included on the Northern Cardinal.  It tells that the bird is named for its bright red color which is like the cardinals in the Roman Catholic church.  The paragraph goes on to say that the Northern Cardinal is one of the most widely recognized birds in North America.  It adds a couple of interesting facts such as that it is common for male cardinals to feed the adult females.  In this way they are signaling their ability to find food.

This is a book I would highly recommend for anyone interested in finding out more about birds.
Here is a calendar I made of my backyard bird photos.  It is offered on Zazzle.
  



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Thursday, May 28, 2020

Review of Spring Bird Photography

Young Sparrow
Spring is one of my favorite times to photograph birds.  It is so wonderful to wake up in the morning and hear all the birds singing in the trees.  Each day I look through my camera zoom lens and try to locate new birds to my area.  Some are just passing through during their migratory routes and others will stay here for the summer.  Still others are year round residents that are growing their families in the spring.  The photo above shows a young sparrow that I captured on our back fence.


Mockingbirds



I was walking in our neighborhood park when I spotted a group of Mockingbirds.  I have rarely seen them in our yard so I was excited to see several in the park.  As I watched the birds, I soon saw a young Mockingbird in the same area.  They look quite in a disarray with their feathers all fluffed out.  I wasn't sure what I was seeing at first but I took some photos and looked them up in my bird book when I got home. 



Changing to Spring Clothes


Some birds change their colors in the springtime.  One that does this in our area is the American Goldfinch.  In the winter the bird has a brownish coat but as warmer weather approaches the feathers molt into a brilliant yellow color.  They are a delightfully colorful little bird that I always enjoy seeing at our finch feeder.


The below photo shows the American Goldfinch in their winter coat. You will note they just have a touch of color under their beak.


The Birdbath a Popular Spring/Summer Hangout


The birds seem to love the birdbath in the warmer weather.  Most birds just stop by for a drink, but the Robins love to hop right in for a splashy bath.


It seems like we are having a lot of Robins this spring.  They don't really go to the feeders but they do love the birdbath.

New Bird for Our Yard


I am always on the lookout for new birds in our yard.  This spring I spotted a white crowned sparrow.  They are quite a stately looking bird.


Whenever I see a new bird, I try to photograph them from several different angles.  I then pull out my bird identification book and look for them.  I also post photos online and ask for help or confirmation for my identifications.

The book below has been a big help in my bird identification.




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Thursday, May 14, 2020

Review of Spring Photography

Lilacs in the Springtime

Spring is such a wonderful time for photography.  Flowers are blooming everywhere including my own backyard.  I love to go for walks in the neighborhood each day and see what new flowers and flowering trees and bushes are blooming on that day.  In the area of the country I live ,  midwest USA, the beauty begins to unfold in mid March.  From that time and for the next 2-3 months there are new delights to find each day!  On this page I will share with you, through my photography,  some of my favorite springtime flowers.


Early Bloomers

Tulips are one of my favorite early spring flowers.  There are different types of tulips that will start blooming in our area throughout April and May.  The photographs taken below were captured during the first week of April.

This next photo was taken in late April.  This tulip is fully opened and still beautiful.

Zazzle Cards from my Tulip Photos

I love creating cards to send to friends and family from my photographs.  Here are a couple I made on Zazzle.

Yellow Tulip
Yellow Tulip
by mbgphoto

Flowering Trees and Bushes

In the springtime flowering bushes and trees are a wonderful sight to behold.  I particularly like the Lilac bush as seen in the photo at the beginning of this article.  In addition to being beautiful they have a very fragrant smell and I love cutting some off my lilac bush and bringing them in to my house. They make the whole house smell good.

The red bud tree is another beauty of springtime.  In the spring you can see them all over the hillsides in our part of the country.  Here is a photo of one that I took at a park near our home.

One of my favorite trees is the dogwood tree.  They can be found in both pink and white flowers.  Here is a photo of each.

Later Spring Flowers

Once spring is well under way, in late April or May, the Iris's start to bloom.  They are such beautiful and stately flowers.  I love to photograph them.  This first  photo is an Iris from my friend's garden.
I really like the two toned colors.  Here is another two toned Iris, this one was taken on a walk I took at the Missouri Extension garden.
A solid white Iris can be quite striking.  Here is one taken at Missouri Extension garden.

Wildflowers in the Spring

Spring is a wonderful time for wild flowers.  You can see many of these native plants along the sides of roads, in parks and in some peoples gardens.  Here are a few that I found beautiful.






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Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Bird Feeder Station Reviewed

Feeding Birds Efficiently

Let's review an option for a bird feeder station that would be nice for anyone who loves backyard birding. I simply love all of the options to attract different species of our feathered friends!

bird feeder station
Looking at bird feeder stations
image courtesy of pixabay.com

If you are like me, you love to encourage the different varieties of birds to land in your yard. I could sit and watch them for hours. Well, truth be told, I often do! So, I've been looking at some options to replace some of the older feeders that need to be replaced. While looking for new things to place the bird seed in, I came across this bird feeder station and I think I must have one.

Six Ways To Feed On One Pole


What I love about the station that I accidentally found is that I can put 6 different feeders in one place in my yard. There are 4 hanger hooks in two different styles and can be used for feeders or other things. I particularly like the ones that fit on the top of the pole because if I choose to I can hang a couple of potted plants on those instead of a feeder for some colorful interest. The options are limitless, really. Two metal trays also come with the pole with hangers that will hold the round trays in place. One has drainage holes in it to keep the bird seed from getting too damp. The other is solid and can hold water for the birds to drink or bathe in. 

I like the idea of having one place to take the food and water instead of having to carry my bags out and then move them around to several places. The pole has a sturdy four pronged base that will allow for some good stability when I drive it into the ground. There are wing nuts that allow me to move the hooks and trays in any pattern that I want to. I just love the versatility of this pole.

This pole with its accessories should last for years to come since it is constructed from metal. It should be fairly resistant to rust. If I find after a few years pass that the paint is wearing off, I can always sweet talk my sweet hubby into painting it for me. 

Of course, that still doesn't take care of replacing those worn out feeders that I first went looking for. I will still need to find those but with the bird feeder station it allows me to look for ones that will work best with this station for my lovely little winged visitors. My daughter has recently realized how much she loves watching the birds in her backyard, this might be something for me to get her for her birthday this year. 



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Thursday, March 26, 2020

Review of Facts and Photos of the American Robin

Robin after a Bath

To celebrate the start of spring, I thought I'd share a bit of information and some photos on one of my favorite birds, the Robin.  Here is a poem that I found that celebrates the Robin and the start of spring.


Robin Poem by William Warner Caldwell


From the elm-tree's topmost bough, Hark! the Robin's early song! Telling one and all that now Merry spring-time hastes along; Welcome tidings dost thou bring, Little harbinger of spring: Robin's come!

 Of the winter we are weary, Weary of the frost and snow; Longing for the sunshine cheery, And the brooklet's gurgling flow; Gladly then we hear thee sing The reveille of spring: Robin's come!

 Ring it out o er hill and plain, Through the garden's lonely bowers, Till the green leaves dance again, Till the air is sweet with flowers! Wake the cowslips by the rill, Wake the yellow daffodil; Robin's come! 

Then, as thou wert wont of yore, Build thy nest and rear thy young, Close beside our cottage door, In the woodbine leaves among; Hurt or harm thou need'st not fear, Nothing rude shall venture near: Robin's come! 

Swinging still o'er yonder lane Robin answers merrily; Ravished by the sweet refrain, Alice claps her hands in glee, Calling from the open door, With her soft voice, o'er and o'er, Robin's come!


Robins and Bird Bath


I have found that Robins love to take baths in our bird bath.  Other birds will stop for a drink, but a Robin will plunge right in for a bath.

In the photo below the Robin has just finished his bath and I caught him sitting on the edge of the birdbath, shaking his tail feathers.  They are so much fun to watch.


Robins Features




  • Pot Bellied look
  • Brick Red Underparts
  • Yellow Bill
  • White Chin
  • White Eye Arcs
  • Male has darker head and deeper red underparts than female
The Robin's song is very cheerful.  I often see a lone Robin sitting on the peak of our neighbors roof just singing away for hours on end.  It is always a joy to hear.


I have found the National Geographic book Backyard Guide to the Birds of North America to be a wonderful guide for information on the birds I find in my backyard. I know I can find all kinds of information about birds online, but sometimes it is just good to hold a book in my hands and look up information on the birds I find in my backyard.



Robins in our area Year-round



Robins are migratory birds, but although we seem to have more in the spring and summer, we do have Robins in our area in the Midwest all year round.  The photo above shows a Robin in the snow.

My Photos on Zazzle Products









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Thursday, February 13, 2020

Review of Bird Photography in the Snow


I love photographing birds and in the winter a snowy day can give a wonderful backdrop for my bird photographs.


Female Cardinal


As I reviewed articles online in preparation for writing this article, I found many tips on photographing in the snow.  Most of these talked about protecting your camera, wearing gloves with the fingers cut out and that type of tips.  I have a different setup for photographing birds right from the comfort of my own home and that is what I will be sharing in this article.

Photographing through Glass



The photograph above, as well as all of the photos on this page were taken through glass.  I have tripods set up in my home that I use to photograph the birds in our yard.  The photograph above was taken through our sliding glass doors in the kitchen.  I often get a surprised reaction when people hear that I photograph through glass, but it has worked well for me.

               When photographing through glass
                be sure to keep the glass clean.

I keep a cloth handy to quickly wipe away any smudges on the glass.  On a snowy day I will frequently open the door to wipe away sleet or drops that have formed on the glass outside.

                Set up the camera as close to the
                glass as possible.

I have my cameras set up on a tripod just inches away from the glass.

My Setup


I have two cameras that I use to take my bird photography.  Both are set up on tripods.  
  • Sony A57 DSLR set up with a Tamron 200-600 zoom lens.  This camera is perfect for getting the birds that are at a bit of a distance.  I use these when the birds are at my far feeders, up in the branches of the trees along the back of our property or in the bushes.
  • Sony a6300 mirrorless camera.  This camera set up with a 70-210 zoom lens is perfect for the birds on the deck and in the closer feeders.  I use it in connection with a wireless remote so that I can sit at the kitchen table and trigger the shutter release when I see a bird.  I used this setup in photographing the BlueJays pictured below.













Bright Colored Birds on a Snowy Day


I love to photograph all birds but catching some of these brightly colored birds against the snowy backdrop are my favorites.




















Dark-eyed Junco or Snowbird


Another favorite of mine is the Junco which is commonly called the snowbird.  It has a dark top and white underside which looks great on a snowy day.


Zazzle Products from my Photographs





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Thursday, January 9, 2020

Review of Mockingbird Information


Mockingbirds have long been the subjects of songs, literature and even movies.  When an early December snowstorm brought the first Mockingbird I had seen to my backyard feeders, I was curious to find more information about these popular birds.

Some Facts about the Mockingbird

From Miriam Webster dictionary I learned that Mockbirds are" a common grayish North American bird (Mimus polyglottos) related to the thrashers that is remarkable for its exact imitations of the notes of other birds."

I did some more research using Wikipedia and All About Birds online and the National Geographic book "Backyard Guide to the Birds".  Here are some additional facts I discovered.

  • Mockingbirds are a New World group of passerine birds. (Passerines are distinguished from other birds by the arrangement of their toes-three forward and one back-which helps them in perching)
  • They are best known for their habit of mimicking other birds, insects and amphibians.
  • There are actually 17 different species of Mockingbirds.
  • Only the Northern Mockingbird is normally found in North America.
  • Mockingbirds are well known for their fun personalities of mimicking other birds songs.

 Mockingbird in Music


As I was researching Mockingbirds, I kept coming up with song lyrics and music with references to the bird.  Here is one of the most popular ones, a lullaby sung by many top musical artists.  Here is the first line.

Hush, little baby, don't say a word. Papa's gonna buy you a mockingbird And if that mockingbird won't sing, Papa's gonna buy you a diamond ring.

Does that sound familiar to you?  I found this cute child's book that features that song.




Mockingbird in Literature

I found several references to the Mockingbird in books.  The most famous is a Pulitzer-prize winner by Harper Lee.



Another book I found with a reference to Mockingbird in the title, is this fun sounding book on cocktails.  The books teams up various classic books with a cocktail.


I took the three photos of the Mockingbird about a month ago and I have not seen the birds since.  I'm hoping they come to visit my backyard again soon.


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