They’re Back…

Springtime has brought strange buzzing sound on the patios of the Stone House. It’s not safe to stand too close to anything red. Sometimes the buzzing comes from multiple directions and a black flash loops overhead. This can only mean one thing…the Hummers are back!

The first scout arrives.

The first scout arrives.

The local legend is that scouts arrive first and take word back to the glimmer that feeders are plentiful here or there. I don’t know if that’s true or not but I put out feeders two weeks ago. Last Saturday this female arrived and spend an hour looking around. By Wednesday I was inundated.

Perched...

Perched…

...and parched.

…parched…

...and perturbed

…and perturbed.

Males and females alike are staking their claim on the feeders. One will start feeding and suddenly they are taking cover…

Sitting tall..

Sitting tall..

...ducking for cover.

…ducking for cover.

It’s been cloudy all week so I’ve yet to get the kind of shots I love to take of these guys – ones where their feathers reflect in the sunlight. For now I will have to settle for low light shots.

Heavy Drinker

Heavy Drinker

Mowhawk

Mohawk

Of course the fun of shooting hummers is trying to catch them in flight. Sometimes I just point in the direction of the sound until I spot one in the viewfinder…

A 10 for style

A 10 for style

Hovercraft

Hovercraft

Soaring upward

Soaring upward

Coming in for a landing

Coming in for a landing

I’m fascinated by the iridescence of the throat feathers on the males…

Ruby throat

Ruby throat feather glow when they catch the light

The same male, turned away from the porch light

The same male, turned away from the porch light

He turns slightly and catches the light again

He turns slightly and catches the light again

And finally he turns back to feed - his back feathers are pretty impressive too

And finally he turns back to feed – his back feathers are pretty impressive too

So far I have counted 6 different hummers – and they’ve only been here a week.

This small female is very assertive about her feeder territory

This small female is very assertive about her feeder territory

This shy male waits for the others to leave before feeding

This shy female waits for the others to leave before feeding

They all are already putting on quite a show…

Squeegee's nap is interrupted by the arial display above

Squeegee’s nap is interrupted by the aerial display above

…and this is just the prelude. Spring is officially here!

A Cowbird Love Story

I don’t have any cows, but I do have a pair of brown-headed cowbirds – here’s the story of how they met…

I've been looking to settle down, I just need to find that special guy...

I’ve been looking to settle down, I just need to find that special guy…

There's a perch up there that looks promising - lots of action at that bar...

There’s a perch up there that looks promising – lots of action at that bar…

I'll just take a seat here at the bar - do these feathers make my butt look fat?

I’ll just take a seat here at the bar – do these feathers make my butt look big?

What's that racket up there?

What’s that racket up there?

Panic

Ooooo – he’s cute!

Hey there, handsome....

Hey there, handsome….

And we lived happily ever after...

And we lived happily ever after…

I have been told that cowbirds sneak their eggs into the nests of unsuspecting birds and move on, leaving the rearing of their young to strangers. So the story goes something like this…

Two young cowbirds fall in love, abandon their children to the foster care system, and fly off into the sunset partying and following cows until it’s time to do the whole thing again next year.

The Cardinal Rules of Camoflage

I have often wondered about the color differences of a female and a male cardinal. He’s so very flashy and red, he has that black mask and intense expression, he’s showy and casts an air of bravado – she does not. She practically blends into the background. Maybe it’s the lack of eyeliner, but she has a sweet face that seems mostly serene and happy. She almost disappears at times…

If I hold very still, no one will spot me.

If I hold very still, no one will spot me…

Except for this ridiculous orange beak, I'm nearly invisible.

Except for this ridiculous orange beak, I’m nearly invisible…

I see that the human has placed some fruit and sunflower seeds on that ladder - so tempting...

I see that the human has placed some fruit and sunflower seeds on that platter – so so tempting…

But if I move a muscle then she might spot me...

But if I move a muscle then she might spot me…

Even so, what harm could it do? I'm pretty hungry...

Even so, what harm could it do? I’m pretty hungry…

I'm staying put, I wonder if she delivers.

Dang – she’s already got eyes on me, still I’m staying put. I wonder if she delivers.

Visiting Acrobatic Troupe from Canada

The Stone House Bird Buffet is proud to host a troupe of world class acrobats on their southern tour of North America. Direct from Canada….the Red-Breasted Nuthatches!!

First event, the rings…

20130303-083455.jpgMounting the apparatus…

20130303-083541.jpgLook at that extension!

Next up, rhythmic gymnastics…

20130303-083041.jpgMove to the left…

20130303-083351.jpgStretch to the right!

Final event, the parallel bars…

20130303-083628.jpgThis is one gifted aerialist…

20130303-083723.jpgAnd now for the finale!

20130303-083904.jpgBravo!!

And now the dismount…

20130303-085843.jpgTime to take a bow…

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The Suet Thief

This is Squeegee…

I don't see a camera, therefore no camera exists

I don’t see a camera, therefore no camera exists…

She hates to be photographed. She lives in a constant state of denial. If she does not like something she simply turns her back and the issue no longer exists. She has ignored the very existence of Velcro for about seven years. She’s a snob.

You see, my pack is made up of rejects. Velcro was an older dog when I adopted her. Kirby had shyness issues so the breeder wanted to “place” him with someone who understood terriers. Sunshine is a goldendoodle who was abandoned by his owners along with his litter mates at about 6 weeks. It’s a pretty motley crew except for Squeegee.

Squeegee is a princess. My Pop came for a visit several years ago and fell in love with the young terrier pup I had at the time. He wanted one and they were very expensive where he lived in Vegas, but here in the Ozarks Jack Russell Terriers are hunting dogs, ratters, work dogs. A pedigreed dog can be had for less than a couple hundred dollars – a third of the price in Vegas at the time. So I looked up a couple of breeders and we took a road trip to Jay, Oklahoma to look at some pups. The breeder had 2 available and one was just odd-looking – short nose, barrel chest, wide face – the other was perfectly square, a really beautiful terrier. That dog was Squeegee. Pops asked me which one I thought was the best pick and I told him to get the little square girl – she was perfect. He told me to go get the back of the car ready, he was going to haggle with the breeder over a price. Soon he walked out with both pups in hand – I guess he worked a two-fer deal. Squeegee has been the princess at my place ever since.

A side note – spending your vacation housebreaking three puppies is not very relaxing.

Since the housebreaking phase Squeegee has not been much of a problem except for her disdain of Velcro. She’s a happy dog who barks at deer and chases squirrels. She isn’t much of a hunter, but she does make a lot of noise. She’s the most demanding of my pack and vocalizes a lot to get you to pay attention to her. She rarely gets into things like the trash or messes up anything in the house, so it surprised me to find out that she was a thief.

She hangs out on the patio when I fill the bird feeders and now I know why…

I think if I tiptoe no one will notice

Is that suet on the fence post?

If I just stretch a bit I think I can reach it.

It is suet! If I stretch I think I can get it all before anyone notices…

I don't think she's noticed me - there's a big black and silver thing in front of her face.

I don’t think she’s noticed me – there’s a big black and silver thing in front of her face…

If I can just get around this tree trunk and fake lizard on three legs, I think I can get it all.

If I can just get around this tree trunk and fake lizard on three legs, I think I can get it all before I’m caught…

Around the tree, on the ledge, under the limb - got it!

Around the tree, on the ledge, under the limb – got it!

What suet? I don't see any suet. I'm just hanging out here on this fence post minding my own business.

What suet? I don’t see any suet. I’m just hanging out here on this fence post minding my own business.

She may look innocent, but if you are missing suet you know who’s behind it.

Chilly Day at the Buffet

Yesterday I arrived home from a business trip. I was a cold and dreary day. When I got home I loved on my pups, refilled the bird feeders, and read the mail from the last few days. I built a fire and settled in for a cozy afternoon watching movies with a lap full of happy dogs.

I have a crepe myrtle right next to the house and I can see a glimpse of it through a window right next to the TV. I was distracted from my movie by moving branches and a flash of red…

20130113-191459.jpg I don’t typically shoot through a window, but he was so stinking close, I had to give it a shot. I was less than six feet away. I had to focus manually because of the branches in front of him. He looked over and spotted me in the living room and took off.

I decided to gear up and give the feeder a shot. Overcast skies make for nice detail with no glare. It was only 25 degrees so I put on some long johns and Carharts and took my place on the mud porch and waited to see who might show up.

I was delighted to capture a bird fight dominated by a tough little fellow, you can read about him by clicking goldfinch. Happily, there were many more visitors to the buffet, most of them with better manners than a goldfinch.

The female red-bellied woodpecker came by for lunch when the light was absolutely perfect.

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Despite the rowdy behavior of one male goldfinch, most of the boys were well behaved at their fillet feeder on the buffet line.

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The male downy woodpecker stopped by for a bite. These guys are always just a bit overdressed for brunch.

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The buffet has been honored to welcome some winter visitors!
Dark Headed Juncos – they mostly eat off the floor, but occasionally they show up on the mezzanine.

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20130113-200348.jpgAnd although I wish he would have sat for a better shot, this White Throated Sparrow has been foraging in the lower levels with the other newcomers. He seems to be alone so far, his peeps seem to be a bit late for their reservation at the buffet – rest assured we will hold their table.

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I was inspired to check in with my guests at the buffet because of the appearance of one of my snobbier and more elusive guests. It turns out he was not alone – he had friends looking over the joint. From top…

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20130113-201819.jpgTo bottom…

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Even with the welcoming atmosphere of the buffet, some of the cards preferred to keep watch from above. One stood lookout from the west…

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20130113-202214.jpgWhile the other kept watch from the east…

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20130113-202305.jpgAs snobby as these cards are, you’d think that they’d be better tippers.

All-in-all not bad for a chilly Saturday service.

The Double Date

The woodpecker feeder is the hot spot at the Sunday Buffet these days, a great place for friends to meet up for brunch and a good time.

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Sometimes old friends meet up and decide to catch up over a meal…

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Hey bud – long time no see? How’s the little lady?

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She’s great, she’s on her way here now. You should call your girl – let’s have a double date.

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Too late, I’m already here! The pine post is my favorite spot.

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Mine too – I love the appetizers!