Go to Top

Addicted to my Painted Buntings

Another weekend morning, another chance to hang out with my Painted Buntings.  It’s addictive.  This time I placed the feeder to try for flight shots.  I’m still perfecting the technique, but it was so much fun!

Painted Bunting Squabble

Painted Bunting Squabble

I’ll leave it to the reader to imagine the look on my face when I spotted this image on the back of my camera! :)

The birds used a perch near the feeder as a staging area.  Both the greenies and the males seemed to realize they were photogenic..

Painted Bunting Greenie

Painted Bunting Greenie

Painted Bunting (Male)

Painted Bunting (Male)

But the most fun shots were the flight shots.  You prefocus on the feeder and wait for the bird to start flying in.  Luckily the birds don’t mind when I clip their wings…

Incoming Greenie

Incoming Greenie

Painted Bunting in Flight

Painted Bunting in Flight

The greenies also liked a perch of wild grass.  It was covered in seeds, a yummy prospect for a Painted Bunting.

Painted Bunting on Grass

Painted Bunting on Grass

The Painted Buntings were not the only customers at my feeders that morning.  The little Palm Warblers flew in and out, happily calling chip-chip.  One stopped on my perch to show off.

Palm Warbler

Palm Warbler

I had to laugh when the Gray Catbird flew in.  You see, I have a camera pointed at the bird feeders, so that my mom can enjoy my birds as well as her own.  We’re used to peeking at the view from the camera.  Here’s the other view – when the feeder becomes a perch!

Gray Catbird on Camera

Gray Catbird on Camera

An Afternoon in the Bird Blind

My buntings were so cooperative on my last morning adventure that I returned to the backyard that afternoon.  In general, the birds tend to be more active in the mornings than in the afternoons, but it was still a fun couple of hours.

My first visitor was a Red-bellied Woodpecker.  He perched on my neighbor’s palm tree and extracted bugs from the bark.  We don’t often see woodpeckers in the neighborhood but they are slowly becoming more common as the trees age.

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpecker

It took a while for the Painted Buntings to make their first appearance.  I wonder where they go when they leave my backyard.  They have a distinctive flight pattern as they return, then you can hear their call notes as they communicate with each other.  Before they hop out to the feeder, they often survey the territory from a safe perch…

Painted Bunting Greenie

Painted Bunting Greenie

I’m getting better at learning how to place perches in their favorite spots in order to get better photos!

Painted Bunting Greenie

Painted Bunting Greenie

My dad’s favorite bird is the bright red cardinal. So this one’s for him!

Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal

The cats like it when I hang out in the backyard.  It means I can supervise them out on the screened porch.  It’s always fun to look over and see them enjoying the great outdoors. :)

Whiskey

Whiskey – Black and White and Cute All Over!

A Morning in Backyard Birding Paradise

Sometimes it’s fun to go to new places and chase new birds.  Sometimes it can be nice just to stay close to home and enjoy your local patch.  For me, that’s the backyard.  It’s so relaxing to get up just before sunrise, take a comfortable camp chair outside, let a cat or two out on the porch (I’m told I require constant supervision), and just photograph whatever comes in front of me.

Today’s treat was my Painted Buntings.  Their numbers have grown since the recent cold weather (one advantage of temperatures dipping under freezing!) Five greenies and three males all together, they were hungry and happy to eat the millet that I put out for them.  I do not believe in baiting birds, but I do occasionally put out an attractive branch near an established bird feeder to improve my chances of getting a good photo.  Today the buntings were very cooperative and I had a blast. :)

Painted Bunting (Male)

Painted Bunting (Male)

Painted Bunting Greenie

Painted Bunting Greenie

The Painted Buntings are used to perching in my hummingbird bush and in the wild salvias that grow in my backyard.  Most of the plants got knocked back pretty hard by the cold, so it’s hard to find a “pretty” perch right now.  But at least the birds were not perched on the feeder!

The buntings were not the only show-offs.  This Common Grackle flew into the yard at first light and tried to do the splits in a crape myrtle bush.

Common Grackle Doing the Splits

Common Grackle Doing the Splits

The sun doesn’t hit parts of the yard until 8:30 or so, so lighting can be tricky.  The buntings continued to show off for me.  Two of the males posed regularly in an open spot of my powderpuff bush.  I never get tired of their bright colors!

Painted Bunting (Male)

Painted Bunting (Male)

I enjoyed just being outside and listening.  A flock of 20 or so robins flew overhead.  A Blue-gray Gnatcatcher called hello from a neighbor’s yard.  Overhead I heard the calls of the neighborhood Sandhill Cranes as they took their morning flight.  My first-of-spring Purple Martins chattered high in the skies.  A lone Killdeer mourned the loss of Bambi.  Two eagles circled overhead and called to each other repeatedly.  Mentally I begged them to lock talons.  Instead they chased off the Osprey (and probably stole a fish from him.)

Palm Warblers were everywhere.  Two in particular caught my attention as they fought, tumbling high into the air in a commotion of feathers.  Then a warbler hopped right in front of me and grabbed a mosquito for breakfast.

Palm Warbler Catching Bug

Palm Warbler Catching Bug

It always amazes me how much variety there is in one small “postage-stamp” patch of backyard.  I marvel at all the detail that I never noticed before I started birding.  Now I can spend hours just sitting and observing.  It never gets old.

Painted Bunting Greenie

Painted Bunting Greenie

Yes, more buntings.  You don’t get tired of them, do you?  I don’t think I ever will!  This greenie hopped onto a top branch of my viburnum hedge.  I wonder if he noticed all the aphids on the bottom of the leaf.  Behind him is my neighbor’s house, with shingle boxes ready for a re-roof construction project.  Luckily the crew didn’t work on Sunday and destroy the peace and quiet of the morning.

My little warbler continued to show off.  He must have watched “White Christmas” one time too many over the holidays.  He hopped over to a pile of feathers, grabbed one, and started doing his own version of a feather dance.

Palm Warber Feather Dance

Palm Warber Feather Dance

Last April I spent a lot of time in the yard, trying to get a male Painted Bunting to show off for my camera.  The greenies were very willing.  The males were not as cooperative.  So it surprised me today how many males hopped out into the open.  It must be a sign – wonderful springtime photography is right around the corner!

Painted Bunting (Male)

Painted Bunting (Male)

eBirdFind my birding list from today on eBird.

SaveSave