Five deer were resting on the snowy ground behind our house this morning. This is the view from our bedroom window. Can you spot all five?
Ruby Throated Hummingbirds are marvelous tiny creatures. They arrive in the eastern half of the U.S. in the spring from over-wintering in Central America. We keep track of their progress toward eastern Iowa with Hummingbird Central. Users input the date of first sightings in the spring. Some hummingbirds fly non-stop across the Gulf of Mexico for hundreds of miles. Wings flap an average of 53/sec. They flap up to 3 million times during the long flight.
They will be departing our area by late September. We will miss them. Here are an adult male and an adult female borrowed from the All About Birds Macaulay Library.
PhoebeCam – a long stick, small digital camera, macro mode, 10 sec timer, and flash.
It was a success. But, I was scolded harshly by the parents. They did not like my intrusion on the nest territory. Back inside the house, I watched through a nearby window. One of the parents scouted the space under the deck very carefully. It looked over the long stick. It was very vigilant. I will leave them alone now.
We are happy to say the eggs have hatched. Mom and Dad are busy gathering insects to feed the babies. They fly to a perch not far above ground. There they scan the grass and bushes nearby for movement of insects. They must have excellent vision.
Upon spotting something, they quickly fly to it, grab it with their beak, and fly back to the perch. After a few quick tail wags, they thrash the insect left and right on the perch a few times and fly to the nest to put it into a wide mouth.
Last year I posted about scaring a groundhog behind our house. It surprised me when it ran up a tree to escape my rantings. Story and pictures here. Today we looked out the back and saw an equally unusual sight. A groundhog had climbed about 20 ft up a sloping tree to get to some Mulberry leaves, one of their favorite foods.
The sun was low in the east as I returned from a morning walk. Dried weed stalks from last year stood 3-4 ft tall between me and the sun. Near the top of many of them were small spider webs about 3-5 inches across. Each was covered with dew drops reflecting the sunlight. They deserved a closer look.
As I peered down for a better look, I wondered if the spider architect was sitting anywhere nearby? I couldn’t see any spider on this one.
Moving to another plant, I got down on one knee and noticed the lower angle of the sunlight caused it to reflect better showing the structure more clearly. It was a tangle of strands. Still no spider was visible.
I bent farther down to look under the web and found the spider hanging upside-down. Very clever of you.
Update: Under the blue divider is the original post about our new Phoebe neighbors. They built a nest under our deck as pictured at the end of the original post. I noticed one of the birds sitting on the nest a few days ago and wondered if there was a way to see the eggs. Seen from above on the deck, the nest is under the X. I quietly bent down and was able to barely see through the 1/4″ crack to the nest.
I placed my phone over the crack and turned on the camera. The lens is tiny and was able to peer through to the nest. What a pleasant surprise.
Original: We enjoy the usual avian visitors to the woods behind our house. There are cardinals, chickadees, nuthatches, woodpeckers, flickers, etc. who are year-round residents. Others are passing through during migration in fall and spring. This year, we have the nest of an Eastern Phoebe Sayornis phoebe under our deck for the first time. We hope it proves to be a good location for them so we can monitor the progress of their young.
We enjoy the usual avian visitors to the woods behind our house. There are cardinals, chickadees, nuthatches, woodpeckers, flickers, etc. who are year-round residents. Others are passing through during migration in fall and spring. This year, we have the nest of an Eastern Phoebe Sayornis phoebe under our deck for the first time. We hope it proves to be a good location for them so we can monitor the progress of their young.