Tag Archives: songbirds

Hey! The Feeder is Empty… and Broken.

Before daylight this morning I was awake. Not that I am an early riser. I hadn’t been asleep. It was just one of those nights. I’m not sure what drew my attention to the window, but out by the pond was a large black shape that I was sure hadn’t been there the night before. Family members often go up to the pond just to sit and look out at the water. It was probably just a lawn chair, I decided. Then the lawn chair began to move. I watched for a few moments, then raced upstairs to shake my sleeping husband.

“Wake up!” I commanded, “There’s a bear cub in the back yard!”

Of course, by the time I drug the poor groggy man downstairs and to the window there was nothing to see in the darkness but darkness, but dawn brought another sight.

This little lady was perched on the lilac bush with her beak almost against the window. As she peered into the human world inside, her loud “Cheep! Cheep! Cheep!” announced that all was not well, and she wanted her people to know about it! The feeding shelf had been licked completely clean and was hanging precariously by a mere corner. It looks like it’s time to change the location of the feeding station for the summer.

(I’m not sure if I have the birds and squirrels trained, or if they have trained me. If that feeder is empty they always find a way to tell me about it. )





Filed under Wildlife

The Fledglings have Landed

Well, the kids are back early, and they are regretting it. Usually the Red-winged Blackbirds return to our area in great flocks sometime in April, but yesterday as I was attempting to capture bird photos through the snowflakes, I caught sight of two pairs. (You never realize how irritating snowflakes are until you try taking photos in a snowstorm.) These gung-ho youngsters obviously decided their fuddy-duddy elders were being too cautious and struck out on their own. One  bird still had his baby tufts.

Sorry, kids. We’re having a second winter up here.




Filed under Photography, Wildlife

Return of the Ice Age

When I went to bed last night it was spring. Where did this come from???


Filed under Photography, Wildlife

The Blue Jays are Getting Braver!

The blue jays have been coming to my window feeder for years, but in spite of the fact that these birds are often contentious and some times even downright hostile, they have also proven to be quite shy. The slightest move from someone on the inside will send them soaring out of range. For some reason this winter’s birds don’t seem to object to having their picture taken.

bluejay2 bluejay3 bluejay4 bluejay1


Filed under Photography, Sue's Corner, Wildlife


I was birdwatching with my  mom today, and birdwatching with my elderly mother is always educational, and never boring. I have never come across a bird that she doesn’t know the name of.  She recognizes their songs, and is familiar with their feeding habits and behavior, so when mom says that she’s seen an unusual sight, I know that it must be something incredible: like the patient, red-bellied woodpecker that finally lost his cool and cracked the irritating, red squirrel on the head with his beak, or the white falcon that landed on the garage roof one snowy, winter’s evening. Those stories always leave me sighing, “I wish I had been there to see that!”

This afternoon, I was actually with her at the right time. While we were watching the goldfinches quarreling over the hanging bags of  thistle seed and the stately blue jays strutting about the grass in search of scattered bird feed, Mom found the opportunity to introduce me to a pair of house finches that had been making a habit of drinking from her hummingbird feeder. I rushed for my camera so that I could share this moment with you. Unfortunately the male had flown away before I managed to focus, and an oncoming storm played havoc with the lighting, but you can see from the photo that this is definitely not  your common hummingbird.

How this pair manages to get nectar out of those tiny holes is a mystery, but their frequent visits to the feeder suggests that they are getting something!house finch eating from hummingbird feeder photo photography house finch eating from hummingbird feeder photo photography house finch eating from hummingbird feeder photo photography

Note: A little research identified the bug from last week’s blog article as an “eyed elater” otherwise known as an “eyed click-bug.” They are a harmless and very helpful insect. The adults live on nectar, but the larvae eat wood-boring insects. If this critter’s kids eat termites, I’m rolling out the red carpet. The eyed click-bug is welcome to stay!


Filed under Photography, Sue's Corner, Wildlife

Deceiving the Auto Focus on the Kodak CD1013

I was searching the Internet this week for tips on using my Kodak CD1013, when I came across a review condemning this inexpensive, little camera because the auto focus prevented it from taking close ups of nature. I couldn’t help but empathize, because I often find myself growling things like: “Focus on the bird, doggone it, not on the stupid grass out in the yard!” Though I am still experimenting with the auto focus feature, I thought perhaps it might help out a few owners of the CD1013 if I passed on some of the ways I have learned to deceive this feature into doing what I want.

Important note: When taking close ups of small things, that little red, yellow, or green hand in the upper right hand corner of your view screen is not your friend. It works great for other shots, but for close ups of this type, it inevitably tells you that lousy out of focus photos are great and perfect ones are out of focus. Ignore the thing.

When photographing a small animal such as a bird, mouse or chipmunk, aim the camera at the animal’s feet, push the button in partially to activate the auto focus. When the picture on the screen is clear, hold the button there, line up your shot, then click without lifting your finger.

On a bigger animal such as a squirrel or dove, take aim at the largest part of the animal, push the button in partially to activate the auto focus. While holding the button line up your shot, then click.


Bad light, bad photos. I cannot express the importance of proper lighting. The DC1013 takes its best photos in bright light. Yes, it does have a flash, but that flash is a poor substitute for proper lighting.

Get close to your subject, but be safe. Wild animals carry disease, and they bite!




There are several methods to clear things up if your DC1013 is refusing to focus on small flowers.

1. Place your fingers close to the flower. Aim the camera at the end of your fingers, press the button down partially to activate the auto focus. Hold the button, move your hand, line up your shot. This also works for twigs and buds.

2.Use the same technique that you would for small animals. Aim the camera at the ground at the base of the flower, focus, then line up your shot.

3. Try a different angle. Try as I might, I couldn’t get a good photo of these little guys. The petals on these flowers were a little larger than the head of a pin, and the camera refused to focus properly from this angle.

By placing the camera on ground level and focusing on the base of the plant before lining up my shot, however, I finally managed to get a clear photo.

4. Take advantage of the blur to add depth to the photo.

5. Buy your camera a pair of dollar store reading glasses. Seriously, I’m not kidding.

Buying your camera a pair of glasses can make the difference between this photo of a tomato seedling…

And this one.

As you strive to get to know this good little camera, remember that the CD1013 is digital. Slip in a sixteen gig SD card, slide your camera into the pocket of  your jeans, pull on your hiking boots and go out and take a few hundred photos. All it costs is a little battery life, and you just might get a masterpiece.


More about using the Kodak CD1013 Taking Clear Photos of Fireworks with the Kodak CD1013


Filed under Photography, Sue's Corner, Wildlife

The Tufted Titmouse – Master of the Funny Face

This week, I would like to introduce one of my favorite entertainers. The tufted titmouse makes its home in the forests, parks, and backyards of the eastern United States and is a frequent visitor to my window ledge birdfeeder. Easily recognized by his gray-blue, suit coat, his pronounced top notch, and his white breast, accented with just a hint of orange, the comical, little titmouse can add hours of fun to any birdwatcher’s day. His darting black-brown eyes speak of curiosity, innocence, humor, and mischief; andhis crazy antics qualify this zany, little character for the title “Comedian of the Birdfeeder”.

Titmice come to my feeder singly or in pairs, and are sometimes quarrelsome. (Or are they just being playful?) Though they will share the feeder with doves, cardinals, and chickadees; very rarely will they permit more than one other of their own kind to join them at the dinner table.

Tufted titmice are swift, straight, accurate flyers. (Scarface the chipmunk requests that you read the addendum at the bottom of this article.) Eighty percent of the time they zip into the feeder, grab a sunflower seed, then dart away to the fork in a branch, or the tiny crevice in the bark of a tree, or even to a crack in the siding of a house. Jamming the seed into the crack enables them to use their smooth, sharp bills to pound the seed open.

Unlike the skittish woodpeckers and nervous cardinals, who force me to creep silently to the window in an attempt to capture their likeness, the tufted titmice have become very accustomed to my presence. Sometimes, I think, that they would land on top of my camera if they thought it would help them procure a plump, tasty sunflower seed.

The difficulty in photographing this songbird comes with the fact that they seem to dance, duck, and pose their way across the feeder in search of the perfect sunflower seed. A peck, a step, a cock of the head, an innocent or expressive glance, a hop, a jerk, and nine or ten blurry photos later, they fly off to pummel their choice seed into submission. Sometimes, if I am patient enough, however, and the titmouse is curious enough, I can actually get a half decent photo.


To hear the songs of the tufted titmouse, check out this site.


Scarface, the chipmunk disagrees with the “accurate flyers” comment and adamantly requests that I add this addendum. One day a clumsy, unobservant titmouse, whose pilot’s license should be revoked, collided with him at the feeder at high speed and sent them both tumbling to the ground! No action was taken by the feeder owner to discipline this careless Sunday flyer. Scarface has suffered much emotional trauma from this humiliating incident, and is demanding some sort of compensation. Red the Cardinal and Mama Gray Squirrel both witnessed the incident. Red is reported as saying, “I cannot be forced to testify against my own kind.” Mama Squirrel appears to be willing to take the witness stand on Scarface’s behalf as long as she gets her “share of the loot.”

The chipmunk’s lawyer, a three-legged opossum (who is currently suing the state of West Virginia for its hesitation in adopting the Opossum Highway Safety Act of 2010) insists that a fifty-pound sack of peanuts should enable the feeder owner to settle out of court.

The tufted titmouse could not be reached for comment.

Note: Comcast is sending a real, live,Internet repairman to fix my system next week!
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feeding birds,birds of Northeast,birds of winter


Filed under Photography, Sue's Corner, Wildlife