Feathered friends

Ptarmagain2
We’ve had some pretty feathered guests in our yard recently, including this beautiful spruce grouse who I originally thought was a ptarmigan.  I’ve seen him several times, but wasn’t able to get close enough for a picture thanks to my rambunctious children.  So this time I left them in the house and slowly made my way down the driveway where he was foraging on the seeds and cast off by the trees during fall.  He didn’t seem concerned that I was getting closer and when I sat on the bench by the garden he actually moved even closer.

Ptarmagain
Eventually he moved into the woods and flew up into a tree where I couldn’t see him anymore. But while looking for him, I spotted this guy pecking away at our birch trees.
Pecker
I think this is a downy woodpecker, the same species of bird I saw in the back yard of our rental in Anchorage last year but can’t be certain.  Whatever he is, he was pretty darn cute and very industrious.  He worked his way up to the top of one tree and then flitted to the next to repeat his peckish ways.
 Pecker2
Eventually he did visit my nearby suet feeder, which I was glad to see getting some use.  I think offering a few feeding stations encourages the birds to visit and eat those pesky insects who are almost the same size as they are!  Which is why I’ll be keeping the feeders stocked all winter, because if they know there is a reliable food source they will hang around and nest here, creating another generation of eaters to battle the insect population that is bound to return after winter.
 Pecker3

The Little Birdies In Our Backyard

I rarely go in the backyard here at the rental.  There’s nothing out there but a hillside of mossy weeds for the dogs to run in and a small grouping of trees.  Granted that’s on purpose since we decided not to do anything in the yard because we knew this was a temporary residence and we’d rather spend money on something permanent at the new house.

That being the case, it was unusual for me to venture out into the trees to spread some flower clippings.  I like to throw things that will biodegrade out into ‘nature’ rather than in the trash can whenever possible.  It’s just one more way to recycle in my mind.  As I stepped into the trees I came face to face with a little bird peeking out at me from around the other side of a tree.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have my camera on me to get a shot of him checking me out from around the tree and every time I’ve gone back out in search of him he’s no where to be found.  I believe he was a downy woodpecker because he matched the pictures I’ve found online for that species.

There is a bird feeder out back and the trees provide a nice little oasis from the suburban area nearby, so I can understand why birds would want to hang around. I found it quite nice to be still and listen to the wind in the leaves while I waited for Mr. Woodpecker to appear.

Tree

It’s been almost two weeks with no sign of him.  Although Mr. Woodpecker is apparently camera shy, I did spot this little sparrow.  He flitted around from branch to branch and then flew off in search of a less populated hang out.

Sparrow

During another visit to the ‘woods’ I discovered this nest in one of the trees.  I was excited to see who might be inhabiting it, but I haven’t heard a peep or seen anyone visit it yet.  I guess whoever built it has moved on to a bigger tree.

Nest

And every time I venture out into the ‘woods’ my little assistant tags along with this “What the heck are we doing mom?” look.  I think she hopes we’re on a quest to find the perfect throwing stick and doesn’t understand why mom seems to keep looking up rather than down. 🙂

Assistant