The Wintertime is *the* time that we feed the birds around here. Due to the critters we have around the yard (Raccoons, mice, voles, etc), I mostly lay off adding any feed to the feeders until the first frost arrives. Once we hit that mark, I then tend to provide fresh food each weekday - both for the critters AND the birds. Back a few years, we went through the process of becoming a "Certified Wildlife Habitat" via the National Wildlife Federation and part of the criteria is a yard that provides food for wildlife. They ask for confirmation of a couple of types of feeding including natural nuts (we have Oaks and Walnuts) and seeds (birds, critters) and suet (birds). We confirmed we go about it both ways - natural via the nuts the trees drop AND the addition of feeders with seed and suet. We put the critter feed - which is a mix of corn, cracked corn, sunflower seeds and some nuts - on the top of the fence. The KotBTs likes to put it out in three spots. And, for the b
Showing posts with the label birding
We had a raptor visitor to our bird feeder this past week and I was able to grab a photo of him/her with their back to us. You can see it in the photo below that she was perched on the top arm of our feeder set and there wasn't another bird anywhere around. We've had other birds of prey visitors to our yard over the years and I've posted some photos of them from time-to time. Last year, I saw a Cooper's Hawk in a similar spot . And a huge bird far off in the trees . I heard an owl on my walk to the train in January of 2020 . And, most recently, a large hawk in October of 2020 . I've identified the birds in various ways, but I've always been *kinda* sure about the identification. But, this bird gave me a lot to work with in terms of looks. Looking through our birding book, I seem to have narrowed it down to two hawks. A Cooper's Hawk. Or a Sharp-Shinned Hawk. According to the book, the Sharp-Shinned Hawk is a 'doppelganger of the Cooper'
Ten or so days ago, I posted a photo of the completed Disney Parks pin trading puzzle (750 pieces) and mentioned that the next one up was a Kodak puzzle featuring some wild birds like the ones we see in our backyard. Today, that bird puzzle is up. I was given this as a Christmas gift from the Babe and we just got started on it. This one has some birds we see all the time including the Northern Cardinal, the Blue Jay and the American Goldfinch and some less common ones like the Scarlet Tanager that I spotted up in Wisconsin and the Indigo Bunting that we saw at Waterfall Glen . This is the fourth Winter puzzle project we've taken on. And the second 1000 piece one - the first being a Harry Potter book cover 1000 piece puzzle that I worked on right around Christmas .
This isn't the first time I've posted about a large hawk hanging around our backyard. But, this time it certainly was the BIGGEST hawk. And the photos don't do this beast any justice. I opened up the door to let Lizzie out the back and *woosh* I see and hear this thing take off from a lower tree limb and fly away towards the taller trees in the far back of our property. I'm pretty sure it was hanging out, stalking either the squirrels or the small song birds that hang at our feeders. But, I interrupted it. The photo at the top of this post shows that bird hanging in a large tree. But, you can't tell from look at the photo, I'm guessing. Here's an annotated version. Doesn't do him justice. He was H-U-G-E. He *might* be the same one that I saw in October of this year . But, not sure (of course).
I was out for a walk over the weekend when I heard a bugle-like noise and looked up to see a row of Sandhill cranes flying south high above the Western Suburbs of Chicago. Here's a video that I took of them - that if you turn your volume WAAAAY up - you can hear what they sound like: The DuPage County Forest Preserve District has this post up from one year ago that talks about these birds and their migration patterns . They mention that there's a place in Indiana that sees thousands of these guys every year. On the Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area DNR site , they have a count. As of this past week, they had more than more than 16K Sandhill Cranes there on site. Woah.
\ It is hard to determine the size of this Cooper's Hawk in our backyard, but he was big. And, I'm pretty sure he is/was a Cooper's Hawk based on the details from Cornell . The last time that I captured one of these birds of prey was back in February of 2019 when I saw one sitting on our fence. This time, he was way up on a tree limb and he hung around for a while - like five minutes - before flying off. This piece shows all the hawks that call Illinois their home, but I can't tell from it if I should change by classification from Cooper's Hawk or not.
This isn't a net new entry to the [ bird visitor log ] here on the blog as I've already documented the Blue Jay in March of 2019 here . But, I spotted this beauty the other day hanging out by the feeders and he was showing off his blue feathers for a minute or two. I snapped the photo above (and below) with my phone real quick before he flew off. Above, he's showing off his full colors on his back. Below, he's facing the house. I dug around a little bit on the web and learned that Blue Jays are part of the Corvidae family - which is the same family as crows - that we commonly call "Corvids".
On a recent morning, we were out at Waterfall Glen - on the Waterfall side - and as I was walking back to the van in the little parking lot, I heard this bird before I saw him. He (didn't know it was a *he* at the time) was making some noise and I looked up and with his blue coat, I couldn't miss him. I grabbed my phone and zoomed in as best as I could and took the photo you see above. I don't think that I've seen such a vibrant blue bird in our area, so I knew that I had to figure out who it was. It didn't take long - just simply putting [bright blue bird northern illinois] into the Google machine and you get this featured search snippet: I now knew what it was: an Indigo Bunting. So, when I got home, I turned to my bird book and quickly looked it up. Sure enough...take a look at that photo in the book: It is an adult male that I saw with what the book "cerulean blue" and I'm pretty confident that this is the first Indigo Bunti
Back in the Fall, the KotBT had a birthday and one of the gifts that we gave him was a window bird feeder. The kind that use suction cups to attach to the window. The one we have is this one from Amazon that they say is their #1 best seller in the category . We have a variety feeders already - including a fly-through , a couple of suet cages , one of the smaller Squirrel Busters and a squirrel 'big ole' cob' bungee feeder . But, those are all set out in the yard a bit. In a spot where we can see them and observe the critters/birds, but also far enough to have any critters not want to make a home close to our house/patio. These window feeders have been around forever and I've been skeptical of them. I mean...birds get spooked by people. And...from what I know, they don't love windows and the reflections off of them. So, mounting a feeder on the window seems like a long shot in terms of getting any action on it. We talked about putting it in various pl
We have an owl that lives on/around our block. He's been around for a while and we hear him hooting in the overnight hours during the Summer when we sleep with our windows open. In fact, I'm pretty sure that there are/were multiple owls in the neighborhood. I've heard them call and respond. Maybe Momma and babes? Or pairs/partners? I don't know. Our neighborhood is called Randall Park in Downers Grove and has a large pond at one end of it and a creek running through one side of it, so we have plenty of wildlife. And we're doing our part by participating in the 'Certified Wildlife Habitat' program from the National Wildlife Foundation where we've provided the necessary components of food, water , places to raise young , shelter and some sustainable practices like composting and what-have-you. So, it is a good spot for something like a family of owls to make a home around our block. They have plenty of water, large, mature trees for shelter
In November of 2017 - as we approached our first Winter in our new house - I posted a photo of our heated bird bath being placed in the yard near our feeders . At that time, I kept the feeders a little bit closer to the house. That bird bath was originally from our old house in Elmhurst and it was a 'deck-mounted' heated bird bath. So that meant that when I used it in Downers, I had to place it on a little table. It didn't have a pedestal. For Christmas that year, I was gifted a Water Wiggler to keep the water moving . The bird bath was one of the key pieces that we needed in order to meet the criteria of being a Certified Wildlife Habitat from the National Wildlife Federation (the other criteria include three kinds of food, two types of cover/shelter and places to raise young). The first year, I didn't see much action in the bath. But, during the Winter of 2018/2019, we placed the heated bird bath outside again, but this time it was used pret
About a month and a half ago, I was complaining about how my big Squirrel Buster bird feeder was leaking seed - you can see that post here . Spring is the time when I give our feeders a rest after feeding the birds and critters all Winter long, but for my birthday, I was given this new addition: a Squirrel Buster Standard Edition. This is much smaller than the big one we already have and has a little different set-up in terms of how you fill it. But, it is made by the folks at Brome Bird Care, so I know it is a thoughtful feeder. I'll get it out on our feeder pole (We have a new one of those, too...so I'll post about it because it is awesome looking) soon and fill it to see what kind of birds we get in late Spring.
It is hard to see, but inside of that little red circle is a Blue Jay. Adding him to our [Bird Visitor Log] here on the blog . And despite the zoom'd photo above being not so clear, it was *very* clearly a Blue Jay when I laid eyes on him. The funny part? That's exactly how the passage in our bird watching Field Guide book starts the Blue Jay entry: "Nothing else comes close to looking like the Blue Jay. It is instantly recognizable to almost everyone in Illinois -- bird-watcher or not."
Look who I spotted on our fence?!? A bird of prey. See him perched on the top edge? In the photo above, you can see how close he is to the fly-thru feeder that we see a lot of song birds eating at most mornings. I'm pretty sure he's a Cooper's Hawk. But, I'm not too adept at identification of hawks and my phone's zoom only does so much in terms of quality photos. I was too excited to spot him and wanted to be sure I got a couple of photos of him, so I never got around to grabbing the binoculars and peeping at him closely. For those keeping track at home, this is the second time I've posted about this kind of bird of prey visiting. The first time was back in 2012 when I posted about a hawk coming into Nat's parent's backyard in Naperville. Photo here . Turns out, identifying this particular hawk is not the easiest as according to the folks at FeederWatch , even more advanced bird identification experts get Cooper's Hawk confus
Back in November of 2017, we installed a heated birdbath out in the backyard near our feeders that are located right outside of our kitchen windows . This was the same feeder that we had in our house at Elmhurst but was in storage for a couple of years. It is a heated one that doesn't have a pedestal, so I've set it on a little table. Then about a year ago, I added a Water Wiggler to make the water move a bit . Turns out, the Wiggler, while great to keep potential mosquitos from using the bath, made it hard for birds to actually use the bath as anything other than a drinking fountain. Also, earlier this Winter, I came across this upgraded heated bird bath at Wannemakers and thought it would be a nice addition, but ultimately I didn't pull the trigger on it. For this Winter, I decided to just dump the Wiggler and plug in the existing free-standing bath in to keep the water from freezing. And for the past few months, I've watched a few curious birds check out
Back in January, I mentioned that we had a big, beautiful Northern Flicker visit our feeders but I was unable to get a useable photo of the bird for the blog. I posted about it anyway . Welp, fast-forward a month and guess who's back?! The Northern Flicker. And why do I know? The yellow flight feathers are a tell-tale sign. Also, the size. Check out this guy in the photo above and how his body is dominating the suet cage in terms of size. He's much larger than the other woodpeckers who visit our cages and feeders. Mark it down, dude. Northern Flicker. See the yellow in the photo of him taking off below to confirm:
I've already added both the female and male Cardinal to the bird visitor log , but on a recent morning, I spotted quite a few Cardinals milling around. Mix of males and females. The photo above is using zoom, so it isn't perfectly clear, so I went ahead and circled the birds. Eight of them. And a squirrel (in the red box) munching on some Winter treats. Way, way better than the normal lot of House Sparrows that we get at our feeders most of the Winter.
The last time I added an entry to the [backyard bird visitor log] was back in April when I documented the American Goldfinch. Today, I'm adding the Northern Flicker to the list. You'll have to trust me because I didn't have my phone on me when I was watching the feeders, but due to the yellow feathers and the huge size of this bird, I'm confirming a Northern Flicker. I recognize that this isn't quite how it supposed to work but ever since Nat gave me a pair of binoculars as a gift last year, my bird viewing has improved, but my camera skills have remained flat. So, I'm seeing *more*, but not necessarily photographing *more*. This is the second woodpecker that we've added to the visitor log - the first of which was the Red-Bellied Woodpecker . Full [ bird feeder visitor log ] set of seven entries here on the blog: This Northern Flicker. Not in our backyard, but up in Wisconsin - this pair of Scarlet Tanagers A series of American Goldfinches A
I spotted this 20" heated bird bath on a pedestal at Wannemaker's earlier this month and it intrigued me in terms of upgrading our current winter heated birdbath that we keep right outside of our kitchen window. This bowl is big (20") and comes with the integrated pedestal - you can see the product listing here on Amazon (ahem....that's not an affiliate link, folks!) with all the features/details. Here's a post from November of last year showing off the installation of our existing heated birdbath . You'll note that it sits on a little table and isn't super deep. The lack of a pedestal is (obviously) the reason for the table and I think that the table doesn't look awesome. And since it isn't too terribly deep along with the low humidity in the cold winter meant that I had to continue to fill this thing up every few days. The one on the pedestal looks deeper, so I'm wondering if that means less filling? That's good. But, the
I posted back in August how a bird's nest had fallen from one of our big Oak trees down to the yard and how the kids were fascinated by it. I read up a bit and figured out that we could build a nesting platform for both the replacing of *this* nest and hopefully the usage of other birds (Robins?) next season. I found these easy plans for a nesting platform/shelf here . I had 1/2" plywood on hand, so I decided to use that. I know that Cedar would be better, but I had the plywood on hand. I made the cuts, assembled the thing and even tweaked it a bit. I added a series of drainage holes to the bottom of the platform and to the bottom/sides of the walls. Figured for both drainage and airflow. After I built it, I had the Bird paint it. You can kind of see that she used some metallic paints on the back/sides of it. After I asked her if she wanted to finish it, she insisted that it was done. So, I put down a few coats of spray-on clear coat to both protect her p