Watch the Birdie

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One of our tree sparrows.

When I was little I remember  a photographer saying, “Watch the birdie!” as we sat for a family portrait.  I don’t remember what we were looking at.  But lately I’ve been watching the real birdies fly down to our suet cakes with the intention of using my new camera to freeze them in time.

Before last week we had a wire cage that hung from a swing arm on the deck (see top photo).  When the squirrels unlatched it and dumped the food, I said, “This’ll fix them!” as I tied it with string.  Apparently that night they said to each other, “This’ll fix her!” as they carried it between them like a washtub full of summer watermelons across the yard and out to the woods.  I haven’t found it yet.

So I put the pieces of lard/peanut butter cake on a stand right outside the door to the deck.  I can, surprisingly, do quite a bit of work sitting at the kitchen table and scoop up the camera when I see fluttering.  So far I’ve caught the common folk: sparrows, juncos, wrens, tufted titmice, chickadees, and downy woodpeckers.

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I like the warm colors of the Carolina wren.

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“Hewit,” says the tufted titmouse, with his crest barely visible.  Click on the picture to see some incredible detail around his eye.

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The downy has a smaller bill and body than the hairy woodpecker.

Our North American flicker has been to visit, but I caught a glimpse of him only as I was walking through the dining room, and by the time I reached for my camera he was gone.  I’m still waiting for another chance to see the pileated woodpecker that I’ve seen only one time.  I thought he was a hawk at first, but his red “pineapple” crest was unmistakable.  Probably only a visitor from a bigger forested area,  but I can hope.

One day my husband said, “Look!” as I was at the table, and what I hadn’t noticed, again, was a family of four white-tailed deer walking back of the fence.  Their movement gave them away as their color tried to protect them.

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Sitting on the step outside in the uncommonly good weekend weather to monitor the filled feeder by the fence, I wondered if the birds might be trying to copycat the Loch Ness Monster, they were so unavailable.  Even the squirrels were nowhere to be found.  I thought it would be a perfect chance for the birds to get the seed that was meant for them, but they didn’t take it (Meanwhile I experimented with different aperture numbers for shots of the trees and sky).  Then Downy crept up a bare oak.  I wonder if he always does that in spirals?  I got a few shots off while he was on my side, but they weren’t very good.

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Of course, after I came in the house and started working on the computer I saw a flash of red.  Mr. and Mrs. Cardinal were out there.  As I sidled up to the door frame, I’m sure he saw me, because he quickly disappeared.  I got her picture, though.

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So here’s a little proof that I’m putting a belated Christmas gift to use, grateful that in today’s world I don’t have to pay for and develop film for the number of shots I take while watching the birdies.

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