Waxwings Return

A group of Cedar Waxwings visited the backyard a few days ago. I was able to get nice shots that highlight the “red wax” tips on the wing feathers.

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I’m always happy when I can get a view of the bird’s claws clutching the branches in the trees as he observes his surroundings.

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The Cedar Waxwing is named for these red tip “wax-like” highlights seen in these photos.

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Credit:
Photos from the personal and copyrighted collection of Barbara Anne Helberg

Camouflaged

The male and female American Goldfinch usually wait until the trees have adequate foliage to camouflage in before they begin flirting about and nesting, respectively. The male, shown here front and back, is very bright yellow with black tail and wing features and a black crown.

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The female (not shown) has no black on its head and has a brownish yellow underbelly and brown wing and tail feathers, but is also very camouflaged in bare branches and Spring leaves of the trees.

 

Honey Versus Plastic

In http://www.horsesandanimalsaretalkin.wordpress.com “Kissing Cardinals”, Honey told Lionel she wanted plastic to line her nest.

Here are some more shots of her struggle to accomplish that, particularly in a stiff wind:

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Finished product !!

 

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“WHAT…? It’s my nest!”

Honey and Lionel are now awaiting a family:

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P.S. In last night’s storm, most of Honey’s hard-earned plastic blew out of the nest prior to her beginning her final egg-laying repose.

 

Our Cardinal Pair

Cardinals have been gloriously prevalent in our backyard this Spring!

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Here is the female partner of our fabulous pair gathering nesting twigs for her work along the Maumee River bank. She takes on most of the nest-building duties. She is more careful to stay hidden, using her camouflaging feathers.

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Although the beautifully red male does contribute a few items to the nest now and then and visit the female to check her progress and offer encouragement, his main objective is to guard the operations. And he makes no bones about his presence, standing tall and alert and visible. From his heights, he continuously watches over his female partner and whistles and signals to her whatever messages are necessary.

(See http://www.horsesandanimalsaretalkin.wordpress.com for more.)

 

Female Cardinals Hide

While bright red male Cardinals seem purposefully to expose themselves on open branches, possibly to make attracting females easier, the girls stay more hidden in brush and tree branches. In many incidences, that makes them harder to photograph.

In fact, since earlier in the Spring this season, I’ve gotten one good chance at capturing a female in the only place I’m able to photograph — the backyard of our apartment building.

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Female Cardinals are a good example of how bright coloration favors the male in the bird world, probably for the reason mentioned above: being the mating aggressor, the male needs to be seen more readily for purposes of necessary attraction.

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In the second photo, this same female has gone down closer to the riverbank (note the rocks) in search of nesting materials. She holds a tiny branch in her beak.

Cedar Waxwings Return

Last Summer we twice experienced a flock of Cedar Waxwings visiting our backyard, once in May, and again later in the season. But this year, they have been few and far between, although apparently not far away, as I caught this beauty with nesting and/or food material in her beak as she passed through.

The black mask for which the species is known is clearly visible in this close-up.

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Chasing Cardinals

Learning to whistle like a Cardinal actually gets results in luring those birds to perch closer to your camera range. They work their way closer to you as you continue to whistle in reply to them. Here are a few decent shots I got of our Cardinal friends visiting the riverbank trees behind our apartment building.

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The fellow in the large left photo below was caught preening, and I thought he looked more like a parrot when I captured him in this pose fairly close in front of me on a low bush on the riverbank.

A Wing Abnormality

This particular Robin is easily recognizable in our backyard in Napoleon, Ohio, as he/she has a abnormality, or some sort of break, in her wing. The white portion showing within her back feathers isn’t a blossom. It’s part of her wing, and if you look closely, you can see a portion of feather bone lying across that white patch. She, however, functions normally, and gave birth to a brood this Spring.

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Downy White

A Downy Woodpecker gave me a gorgeous under-belly view the other day, posing as I tried to focus in from the distance I stood away from him, about 10 feet. I couldn’t zoom these photos up too far without losing focus, but you certainly can catch the unusual view of white feathers!

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The remaining pictures, taken at different times, are more what one is used to seeing when spotting a Downy; his backside, with the red stripe at the back of his head (squint!).

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Favorite Black and Whites

In talking with Leanne Cole today, I mentioned that black and white photography has always fascinated me, but I haven’t done any black and white work since my Brownie-with-built-in-flash days. Back then, black and white film was the most popular option a photographer had available to him. Of course, that soon changed in my lifetime, but by then, I was more interested in writing than photography, so I didn’t do much picture-taking again until I moved to Vermont, where I married and produced two children.

Then, there was an abundance of photo opportunities once again, but color was all the rage.

So, for this photo-posting of black and whites today, I’ve reached into the past, the 1960s, to be more precise. It’s wonderful how good black and whites from the “olden days” print today within the modern technology we have available on the Internet.

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Even at full size, this old beauty looks great! It’s the farmhouse in which I grew up from the age of seven, or so…

The second picture is of the trees in the barnyard (the yard in front of the barn, which it was referred to then, for those youngsters of you not familiar with the farm), taken the same day. Next is the room in which I was a youngster; then the travel trailer we used when my farmer parents took Summer vacations. One of my two younger sisters is the following picture; then the family band. Lastly, are my pal, Mick, whom I adopted from a Columbus animal shelter, and a scene from The Ohio State University, where I worked in the sixties.

If I can learn how to e-mail Leanne some material, you may see one of these in the black and white picture challenge!