A red-letter bird day

Wednesday morning I was stumbling around the kitchen before I managed to ingest my daily dose of caffeine in the form of hot tea which isn’t nearly as potent as the caffeine I used to get in a day’s worth of coffee. Alas, another compromise as I have grown older.

I looked outside and saw a big bird in the trees. Over time I’ve gotten used to finding them amidst the camoflage of the tree branches. They look like a big blob interrupting the natural flow of the branches.

Red-tailed hawk, 2013-o4-10
Red-tailed hawk, 2013-o4-10

It was a red-tailed hawk.

Sharp-shinned hawk- 2013-02 – 17

Our bird feeders have been frequented this winter by a rather bold sharp-shinned hawk who likes to hunt there, but the larger red-tailed hawks don’t come around as much, and when they do, like some of the other more skittish birds, they tend to stay back and within the protection of the woods .

I recently read about the benefits of green smoothies from my blogging friend Marion at Figments of a Dutchess and have been trying them out all week. I poured my green smoothie made with an apple, pear, banana, and spinach, into a large glass and sat down at the table beside Mark. It was an April morning and for some reason the wood ducks we saw last year came to mind. “Do you think the wood ducks will be back this year?” I asked Mark. “I haven’t seen them yet.”

“I saw them yesterday,” Mark replied. Unlike me, Mark doesn’t rush to announce his nature observations to me or the world at large.

“I hope they come back again.”


From my lips to the universe. I looked outside and spotted the female wood duck perched on a sycamore branch.


She and I were both looking all around. I was looking for her mate. I didn’t know at first what she was looking for, but I found out later.


There he was. Just a few trees away, perched on the limb of another sycamore.

You’ll have to take my word for the next part because I wasn’t quick enough to catch a photo. This is not as easy as it looks.


The female duck went into the hole in the sycamore tree. I circled it for you. I was stunned to say the least and not certain. But then I saw a cascade of dried brown leaves shoot out of the hole and flutter down. Then again. I became hopeful. Like the chickadee I told you about earlier, the wood duck was apartment-hunting.


She poked her head out to check out the view from her front porch.


Meanwhile, her mate was waiting patiently.


And then not so patiently as he quacked at her, “Well, make up your mind, Mabel. Do you like it or not. I’m not going to stand here all day.”


She took one more good look around and then darted out of the hole and flew right past her mate who immediately took off and followed behind. Again, you’ll just have to take my word for it.

But that wasn’t the best part. Later in the day a movement through the woods caught my eye. It was a large black bird with striking white stripes on its wings sweeping through the trees. It landed on the trunk of a tall tree near the top and I saw the tell-tale red plummage on the top of its head. I enjoy all the birds I see from the smallest wren to the largest owl or blue-heron, but some birds really thrill me because of the rarity of their visits. And the pileated woodpecker is one. It moves quickly through the trees with a flash of white, landing here and then there. A true wonder to see.

Yet again, you’ll just have to take my word for it.

23 thoughts on “A red-letter bird day”

  1. i am so very jealous of your back yard and all of your wonderful bird sightings!!! But I am ever so glad that you photograph them and share them here!! Thank you! The pictures are lovely! I am on Day 2 of using my brand spanking new Nutri Bullet and I must say that I love it! Today’s featured spinach, pineapple,mango, strawberry, blueberry and chia seeds. It was yummy. Even if my sister says they look disgusting ! (She hurt my feelings on that one—way to be supportive, sis!). I did check out Marion’s site–thanks for the suggestion! I think it is going to be easy to make this my new daily habit!!! And in the summer time especially they will be a great pick me up!!!

    1. I’m glad you visited Marion’s site and found it helpful. She’s got some great ideas over there in the Netherlands. I think the smoothies look good. I can just see my cells responding favorably. 🙂

  2. Christine, I just love your bird photos. The hawk, and also the wood duck. I didn’t even know there are wood ducks! Dutch ducks just float in the water and that’s it.
    Keep shooting your feathered friends, but only with a camera 😉

    *cheers* my smoothie this morning contained kiwi, banana, pear, apple and spinach. How do you like smoothies so far?

    1. I love the smoothies. I was going to tell you about it after I lasted a whole week with it. I feel so healthy now. 🙂 Today I had cantelope, honeydew, pear, and spinach. Do you use the whole fruit? It seems to make quite a lot. Can you save the smoothie in the refrigerator?

      1. So very glad to hear that 😀 Melon is another great smoothie ingredient, yum.
        What do you mean with ‘whole fruit’, Christine? I don’t peel apple and pear, but take out the core, if that’s what you meant?
        Mostly I eat/drink the smoothies the same day, but saving one for the day after is also possible. I wouldn’t recommend saving them longer than that though.
        And I eat a handful of nuts during the morning, they are said to be healthy too 🙂

  3. I had an owl (barred maybe) in my backyard today and many many little finches with pink breasts but I don’t have a lens that can capture their images. What kind of lens are you shooting with on your camera? Telephoto I guess.

    1. It’s odd to see them in the daytime. I have a couple of photos of our juvenile great horned owl from a year or two ago posted somewhere. I do use a telephoto lens on my Nikon DSLR, but my little Nikon Coolpix does a pretty good job at long distances too. If you take the photo at a high enough resolution, you can usually crop it in pretty far on your computer thereby enlarging the actual bird. It might not print well, but it should do okay on the web. Give it a try if you haven’t already.

  4. I makes me rejoice to see and hear about all the life around you right now. Pileated woodpeckers are a favourite of mine. One of the magical moments of my life was finding a nest of them on a hike about 7 years ago. We did get a few nice shots of the wee ones. Must see if I can find those pics.

  5. How exciting to see and hear about your visitors. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to the idea of ducks standing on tree limbs! I hope someone takes your apartment so we can watch the activity with you.

    1. They’re very cool. I found it shocking at first too. I would be thrilled if the wood ducks settled here, but somehow I don’t think they will.


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