Saturday, February 25, 2017

Backyard Birds, First Blooms and Blog's Birthday

Last weekend's Great Backyard Bird Count was less successful than previous years because the pesky squirrels kept many birds away from my backyard. H.H. filled the bird feeders; he cleaned out and topped up the heated water dish. I charged the battery in my camera and washed the French windows so I'd have a clear view.  Our so-called squirrel-proof feeder proved worthless and I spent much of the weekend screaming at the bad actors. One squirrel even managed to remove the roof ...

Pesky squirrel scared away the birds

Here are pictures of some of the birds brave enough to come near in spite of the squirrels:

Male house finches

Sparrows are our most prolific visitors. We have several types including the white throated sparrow and song sparrow.  The house sparrow, pictured here, is not really a sparrow but a member of the weaver finch family. There are so many sparrows again this year. I know that when spring arrives, I must protect the seeds I sow in the kitchen garden.

House sparrow left; female house finch above

During the bird count I saw only two of my adorable bluebirds at the heated water dish. I think bluebirds are my best loved  ...


                                 ... or maybe my favorite is the cheeky, titmouse.  It's so difficult to choose.

Male cardinal
Female cardinal

H.H. hangs a block of suet in a cage that is really squirrel proof so we are blessed to see several downy woodpeckers and red-bellied woodpeckers. The nutchatch and wren like the suet also. Sorry, I didn't take pictures of all of them.

Downy woodpecker waiting for his turn at the suet block

The American goldfinch loves sunflower seeds. I believe the male goldfinches are getting their summer yellow feathers very early this year. Maybe it's the unusually warm and sunny weather. Looking back over my previous GBBC postings, this year's event is unusual because there is no snow. Yesterday, the temperature hit 72 degrees  -- unheard of for February! A plunge in temperature and a storm, however, are on their way.

American goldfinch

On the last day of the count, a flock of red-winged blackbirds flew down into the lower field. One obligingly came near enough for a photograph.

Red-winged blackbird

My most unusual sighting this year: A hawk perching in the pear tree watching the little birds at the feeder. Usually, hawks don't come so close to the house. We see many red-tailed hawks flying overhead, but this one was different. His cinnamon colored breast and the bold white spots on his wings when he flew away makes me think this may be a red-shouldered hawk.


How was the 2017 GBBD for you? Did you spot anything unusual?

The warm weather has me checking for early blooms. I see so many hellebores on other garden blogs and on Instagram, but no luck here. There are some nice fat buds waiting to burst open though.

Hellebore buds

Daffodil and crocus shoots abound in every flower bed -- early for February. I'm joining the National Garden Bureau's Daffodil Watch. They have declared 2017 'The Year of the Daffodil." Click on the link to join in the fun.

Bottom left crocus shoots, bottom right and top are daffodil shoots

Now for my first flowers of the year: Snowdrop Galanthus 'Atkinsii'. I purchased it from Carolyn's Shade Garden several years ago. It didn't bloom last year, so I'm very happy today!

Snowdrop Galanthus 'Atkinsii'.

This week marks my blog's 9th birthday. My first posting, February 21, 2008, was on the Mac platform. I switched to Blogger two years later because the links were more reliable. I have written more than 220 postings -- not as prolific as some, but a steady two or three each month. I find them invaluable to mark the progress of my gardens. Click on last year's birthday link here, or check out the featured post in the sidebar, to see the changes over the years. The best reason to keep blogging, however, is the wonderful like-minded friends I have made all over the world. Because you keep reading and commenting, I keep blogging.

Thank you dear friends!

Pamela x

I love reading your comments. I hope you leave one so I’ll know you visited! 
I look forward to visiting your blog in return.


  1. Lovely bird pictures. That's definitely a Red-shouldered Hawk. They nest in my neighborhood and we have them with us year-round. Very vociferous hawks. Congratulations on your blog's birthday. Many blogs have come and gone during that period, and still you persist!

    1. Thanks, Dorothy. I follow some blogs that have been around as long as mine, but you are right that many others have gone.

  2. Yep, that is the hawk. We have them up here too, but so few. Congrats on the blog birthday. I agree with Dorothy, many blogs have disappeared. I too debate dropping GWGT but it is still searched quite a bit so I keep posting. You have quite a variety of birds too and lovely images of them.

    1. Thanks to you and Dorothy for confirming the ID of the hawk. I hope you don't stop blogging, Donna. Your photography is stunning. I am truly flattered that you said my images are lovely. They can't begin to compare with yours.

  3. Hi Pam! Happy blogoversary! I'm starting to see a few hellebores, but only a few. I did cut back the foliage, and I'm waiting impatiently. I didn't do the bird count because I forgot to follow through, but here, it's mostly Cardinals, the same woodpecker you showed, some sparrows, Tufted titmice and a scary hawk! I always know when the hawk is around. The bird feeder gets very quiet. I'm so glad you still blog. Much love, Dee

  4. Congratulations on your blog birthday, it's been some years now since we've been commenting on each other's blogs and you're right, the best part of blogging is making such wonderful friends. Lovely photos, I haven't heard of a red-winged blackbird before, how unusual.

  5. Congratulations on nine years of wonderful! I enjoyed the assortment of lovely birds you have on your property, and the blooms too! I had the same issue with my feeders a couple of years back and discovered something at a friend's house called the "squirrel buster" feeder. I bought it on Amazon and it works! There is a mechanism that closes the food portals, activated by the weight of the squirrel, so he cannot get any seed and gives up! It is a little pricey, but ingenious and worth every penny, as I am no longer constantly filling the feeder. The squirrel can get the seed on the ground that get tossed and all are happy!

  6. Happy Birthday blog! Great pictures always. No GBBC for us as we are birding the Atlantic coast in our RV and have no back yard! I wanted to give your our tips about squirrels. We use only sunflower pieces -- no hulls on the ground, no sprouting weeds. With a metal baffle on a metal pole, enough height to the feeder on top of the pole so they don't jump from the ground to above the baffle and enough distance from any shrubs, trees, structures or overhanging branches so they can't jump onto the feeder, we have had success. They only eat the pieces that drop to the ground. If you want to feed the millet type bird seed mix or the unhulled sunflower seeds you can put a bowl of the seed in the microwave for long enough to cook the seed a little. It then won't germinate below the feeder. Other than that we haven't found any truly squirrel proof feeders no matter what the cost. Keep blogging and tell Katharine hello from me!!

    1. Such a wonderful life you lead, Kathy! Thanks for the squirrel advice. I'll give Katharine your message when we meet for our Wednesday lunch. Happy travels. P. x

  7. My hellebores bloomed quickly for me this year, long before I had cleaned up last year's foliage. Oops! Tomorrow I'll probably see my daffodils in bloom. It's amazing!

  8. Happy nine years of blogging!! I know how pesky those squirrels can be. I have a baffle on my bird feeder, but it keeps slipping down. We put duct tape around the pole under it to try to keep it up, but the squirrels chewed up all the duct tape. You have some lovely birds, though. Bluebirds are one of my favorites too!

  9. Congratulations on your ninth blogaversary!

    Been reading a Californian blog, also battling ingenious gymanastic squirrels. She has the version that closes the door under the weight of a squirrel - then they swooped down from the second feeder which was too conveniently close.