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January 16, 2014 - 5:15pm

This cardinal is no doubt making up for lost time by gorging on what's left of last autumn's wild grapes. Having hunkered down for a few days during last week's blizzard, the usual cast of characters is back in action in and around our neighboring woodlots.

With a poplar directly behind it, a pileated woodpecker knows decaying wood is a better place to find insects, so it pounds away on a dead sumac. There were two pileateds in close proximity on this day, but getting them into the same frame proved futile.

This pileated seems to have found the upper reaches of a dead poplar to its liking.

As the storm descended on us late last Monday afternoon, the last flurry of movement I saw was that of a red squirrel scurrying into our barn. This guy is tightly clutching a dead nub as if expecting the high winds to return at any moment.....

In the next instant it turns and sticks tail high in the air...a bit sassy maybe or perhaps it's suddenly sensing an intruder. If on alert mode, it's with good reason....

Like everything else, this redtail didn't eat for a few days during the storm...    

Hawks have been showing up with greater regularity, what with cottontails, squirrels and, in the warmer months, chipmunks, to prey on.   

Here's the cardinal again...in this photo note the bit of grape stain on his beak.

A gray squirrel gives the once over to a tiny abode that has housed baby wrens for the past few summers.

Sometime before last week's blizzard and after December's flood, we had some freezing rain.....this house finch doesn't seem deterred by the results.

March 28, 2013 - 8:23am

While the month of March has hardly been spring-like, Tuesday's weather brought forth an abundance of woodpeckers, songbirds and bushytails in the small woodlot that borders our property. And with the emergence of foliage yet a long way off, conditions were ideal for taking their picture.

First on the scene was this female cardinal. In the soft light of early morning and still plenty of chill in the air, she forages along the ground and spots remnants of last year's seed. 

As the sun climbed higher more birds arrived, like the downy woodpecker pictured above and in the top photo. The "downies" were difficult to capture with the camera, as they kept rapidly flitting about, from tree to tree and branch to branch.

It was only a matter of time before the red squirrel population was heard from. On this day there were several working the same area. This one stopped briefly on the trunk of an aged cottonwood.

From an adjacent walnut tree, this red-bellied woodpecker seems to be sizing up the main trunk of the cottonwood and, with the red squirrel present, weighing its options.......

and then deciding to go for it.

A lone gray squirrel showed up -- even with the red squirrels in close proximity.

Despite the chill in the air and patches of snow on the ground, between the blue sky and the arrival of some furred and feathered friends, it was a good day.

September 11, 2011 - 9:56pm
posted by JIM NIGRO in outdoors, nature, cardinal, great egret, blue jay, house finch.

One look at this cardinal and it's easy to see his normally prominent crest is laid flat against the back of his head. Rather than belting out his normal cheerful tune, this guy seems to be somewhat agitated..... 

Turns out he's on the attack, a bit feisty, aggressive and...

maybe even a bit territorial. Certainly hungry! Although he has a mouthful, he's eyeing a butterfly flitting past, the small white blur in the foreground.

I recall seeing a house finch for the first time and thinking that a sparrow and cardinal had crossbred.

We see the house finches quite regularly in our yard, never very far from the safety of dense cover.

This great egret is stalking the shallows of upper Stafford Marsh off Albion Road in Oakfield.

Except for the color of the stilt-like part of their legs, the great egret is nearly identical to the great white heron. The legs of the egret  are black, the white heron's are gray-green.

Like the cardinal in the first three photos, this blue jay's behavior is something I've not seen before. He's perched on the edge of an old canoe we've filled and turned into a flower garden. Normally quite noisy, this guy never made a sound although his beak was wide open the entire time. The feathers of his head, back and neck are clearly tufted, while his wing and tail feathers are fanned for promiment display. The guess here is he was either trying to attract a female or scare off an intruder.

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