’tis the season for birds

12.13.21 ~ Connecticut College Arboretum

Not the greatest pictures I’ve ever taken, but I was thrilled to see more birds than usual on this winter walk. Interesting that we didn’t encounter another human being on this day. Maybe everyone is shopping for the holidays. Not us! It was a sunny day with light westerly winds, a relatively comfortable 44°F/7°C with a feels-like temperature of 39°F/4°C. Connecticut’s positivity rate yesterday was 8.16%.

back of an American robin
back of a blue jay
blue jay, way high up in the tree
female northern cardinal on the ground
female northern cardinal, collecting wood chips?
white-throated sparrow bathing behind the reeds
white-throated sparrow, it was a quick bath
American robin, sitting very still but obscured by many twigs
tulip tree bark
the arboretum pond
hooded mergansers, second sighting!
hooded merganser
the only mallards shot I could get
my beloved eastern hemlock seed cones
view from the gazebo where we rested

The Brain — is wider than the Sky —
For — put them side by side —
The one the other will contain
With ease — and You — beside —

~ Emily Dickinson
(The Poems of Emily Dickinson, #598)

40 thoughts on “’tis the season for birds”

  1. What a wonderful series of bird shots, Barbara! I had to laugh at the mallards. They’re almost always bottoms up when I try to photograph them, too. The tulip tree bark is so interesting. It looks like dragon scales (or how I imagine dragon scales would look if dragons have scales).

    1. Thank you, Robin! The deeply furrowed tulip tree bark captivated me, too, and now I will think of dragon scales whenever I see it again. These trees grow up to 120 feet tall and the leaves are so far off the ground it’s the bark that catches my eye first. Those silly mallards are so busy feeding it seems they never come up for air!

    1. It was a treat seeing more birds than usual, even though most of them kept turning their backs to me. 😉

    1. Thank you, Leelah. Well, since I don’t have greenfinches or magpies where I live I would be very excited to see your local birds!

  2. You deliver that great feeling of laughter to me today with “the only mallards shot I could get” and what a shot! And your reader commenter gave another me shot of laughter with “Bottoms Up”.

    I would love to have a print of this with your signature to add to my collection of bird art in my home. Is that possible for a small fee?

    I love the texture and warm colors of the “female northern cardinal, collecting wood chips?” Beautiful thoughts!

    1. Thank you, TD! Those mallards are definitely comical. 🙃 Sorry, I don’t have a way to print out my photos, but I’d be happy to send you a digital copy, via email attachment, of the shot, which you could print out for yourself. Let me know.

      1. Well… you gave me an idea to try for fun, Barbara! I just have a mini iphone 12 (no longer own all that fancy tech stuff). So, I gave the idea a whirl by saving your pic into a new folder to credit you. Then I played a little bit with the graphic editing tools. Overlay “Bottoms Up” in orange to match their mallard feet and noted credit to you in a smaller golden type in the bottom. Silly fun today, on my phone, which actually took my mind off of some disappointing sadness that I was stuck in. My mood is better now. Don’t know if I will ever get out of my ‘safe nest’ to make myself a print. But s had a tiny bit of fun.

        But I might be able to remember to play a little… with connecting my creativity and your delightful photo-walks. I can save them on my mini phone folder. Perhaps a bit of fun therapy when I’m feeling a bit low is exactly all I really needed. 😊

        1. I’m so pleased to know you had some fun with the mallards picture, TD! 😊 Playing with our creativity can be such a healer and mood booster. I’m reluctant to leave my safe nest, too. But we’re all learning what we can do to take care of ourselves while keeping as safe as possible, adapting to life how it happens to be for us now. It sounds like you’ve found a wonderful creative outlet. I hope you keep remembering to play! I know taking my walks and writing blog posts about them keeps me sane.

  3. Aren’t hooded mergansers beautiful and elegant? The weather has been lovely for walking and getting out in nature. A nice chill, but not too frigid. I could get used to it. 😉

    1. Oh yes, the hooded mergansers are lovely and charming. This was the second time I’ve seen them at the arboretum. Hope they’ll be here for a while. 🙂 We have to be ready for anything weather-wise. Today’s temperatures are supposed to be 20° above average. Sigh. Up and down…

  4. These are great shots of birds! Too often, I’m not fast enough to get my camera out of my pocket and snap a photo before they fly away. And I have to giggle over the ducks!

    1. Thank you, Debbie! Believe me, I carry my camera ready to shoot and I still miss most of the shots I want. Thank goodness I can delete the duds. My arms got so tired holding the camera up, hoping those mallards would come up for air for more than half a second. 🙂

    1. You’re welcome, Frank. I’m determined to be ready for any kind of weather this winter. Might as well make the best of the warmer days.

  5. Birds to delight you on your walk and the robin wondering why he lingers on as it grows colder each day. Like before I really admire your Hooded Merganser photos Barbara – the bird is stunning and the reflection is just as stunning.

    1. Found this online: “Robins in Connecticut are increasingly all-season birds. In winter, they eat wild fruit. Dry old sumac berries, withered crab apples, frozen holly berries all have nutrients. The new food sources, oriental bittersweet berries and multiflora rose hips, make over-wintering possible for more.”
      I was thrilled to see the hooded mergansers again. I hope they will be around for a long long time.

      1. That’s interesting Barbara and for sure with our warmer Winters they are now predicting due to climate change, I wonder if migration will change for other species as well? Those Hooded Mergansers would just thrill me to pieces. I went looking for Wood Ducks in the Spring after the Detroit Audubon Society posted some pictures in a small wooded area – apparently a pair was nesting and their nests are built up high unlike most ducks. I looked everywhere and didn’t see them … I’d love to see one of them as well.

        1. It seems like every day someone or other in the Facebook birding groups I follow reports seeing an unusual bird for their area. Extreme weather grabs our attention about climate change but there are also all these little changes in nature that we’re starting to notice, too. I hope you get to see your wood ducks some day. I don’t think I’ve seen any around here. Maybe some day!

          1. Yes, we can hope and keep hiking on trails and along shorelines in our favorite nature spots and hope for new sightings . A fellow blogger from Michigan commented that her forsythia bushes were in full bloom and her bulbs in her garden had sprouted two weeks ago. This was after a brief mild spell we had. She made that comment as I said my neighbor’s magnolia bushes were in bud. Not good – any of it. We had a solid day of sleet and rain – Mother Nature was conflicted what today’s weather should be. Some northern counties just 25 miles away got three inches of snow and there were tons of accidents.

          2. Back in December 2015 we had forsythias blooming here, too. The things we will be observing as time goes on… It’s difficult to fathom. It’s going to be a wild ride in the coming years as Mother Nature responds to our madness…

  6. Loved seeing all the birds we see in Arkansas. A lot of our birds have disappeared since the big (unusual) snow we had last winter. Nice post Barbara and I love the Emily Dickinson quote.

    1. Thank you, Peggy. I suspect a lot of birds lost their lives during that snow and cold snap you had last year. I hope enough survived to make a comeback over the next few years. A world with fewer birds is a sad prospect. I love Emily Dickinson, too.

  7. I love your bird pictures. I’d much rather watch the birds than shop. Agreed. We’ve seen a lot of robins here also in MA. I was surprised. I don’t remember seeing them last winter. Don’t they usually go places that are warmer? Lots of cardinals here, and woodpeckers. And the noisy Jay. Bet you’re enjoying this warmer weather now. I’m crossing fingers the snow really doesn’t come on Saturday. ;-0

    1. Thank you, Pam! Our family decided not to exchange gifts this year and to concentrate on having a safe visit with some hikes in the woods. When we arrived at the arboretum this day there was a huge flock of noisy robins (maybe 20-30 of them?) on the ground and in the trees. I’ve never seen more than one robin at a time before. We’re supposed to get a wintry mix today (Saturday) but I bet you’re getting some of the white stuff that will stick. Too bad it couldn’t wait for a week. 😉

      About robins, I found this online: “Robins in Connecticut are increasingly all-season birds. In winter, they eat wild fruit. Dry old sumac berries, withered crab apples, frozen holly berries all have nutrients. The new food sources, oriental bittersweet berries and multiflora rose hips, make over-wintering possible for more.”

      1. Thanks for sending me the news about the robins. That’s why I’m seeing so many of them! And I think they like the birdseed that’s on the ground. We rarely see them on the feeder itself. I wonder if they like pumpkin? I was thinking we should throw our Halloween pumpkins into the woods next to our home. 🎃

        1. You’re welcome. As far as I know, robins don’t care for seeds but prefer bugs, berries and small fruits. I’ve heard of people putting pumpkins in the woods for wildlife and would love to hear how it works out for you if you do decide to try that! 🎃 Our nature center suggested it, too.

  8. So many pretty birds. Your photos are wonderful. I like seeing the back of a robin. I usually see their fronts. None want to turn their backs on me, I guess.

    1. Thank you, Ally! On this day for some reason almost all of the birds were turning their backs on me. I was only sure that was a robin when it turned around, but of course I missed the shot. 😉

    1. I’m taking a deep bow in response to your applause, Kathy! Birds are so much harder to capture on film than trees and flowers. 😉 Any measure of success is sweet.

    1. Thank you, Donna! It does seem like the fewer people encountered the more wildlife comes into view. Although most of the people we do meet are nature lovers, too. 🙂

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