Thursday, February 27, 2014

Backyard Critter Update

It's been about a month since I've written about the critters we've seen in our backyard, so here's an update:

At the beginning of February, there wasn't much snow on the ground, and the temperatures were fairly mild (for winter).  This encouraged a couple of muskrats to come above the ice along the banks of our creek.  Muskrats don't hibernate, but when it's really cold and snowy, they stay in their muddy lodges under the ice.  We were all trying to guess where this muskrat found something green to eat - must have been from the muskrat food storage lodge.

We have been pleasantly surprised with a group of five bluebirds for the past couple of weeks.  They usually show up twice a day, once in the mid-afternoon and again in the late-afternoon.  The bluebirds take turns eating suet; they perch on the other feeders while waiting.  In the picture below, it's easy to tell which one is the male and which one is the female.

Julia's favorite bird (right now) is the Carolina wren.  She thinks their song sounds like her name, so she thinks they are singing specifically to her.  I took the picture below during one of our 6-inch snows; it looks like the wren is wondering if it will ever stop snowing.....

After a fresh powdery snow, this grey squirrel had to root around for bird feeder leftovers.  The girls loved how, after digging and digging, it was covered with snow.

 We haven't gotten many goldfinches on our nyjer feeder this winter, so we were surprised to see two males on the feeder about a week ago.  Female goldfinches look the same all year - a drab brown with the tiniest hint of yellow.  But the males completely change color.  We could tell the two birds in the picture below were males because their wings are a definitive black (in females, the wings aren't as striking).

A very shy woodpecker is the Northern Flicker.  If it senses any kind of human motion (even from inside the house), it takes off.  The only time I can take a picture of a Flicker is when I am already sitting at the window, camera in hand, and it lands in the yard or on a feeder.  Since I had the opportunity to do so, I took several pictures of this Flicker on the suet feeder, zooming in and out with the lens.  I loved how a bluebird flew into the picture in this one!

And finally, today I got this picture of a red squirrel.  This little guy is nothing like the fox squirrels in Nebraska - he's about half the size and extremely aggressive.  While watching this particular red squirrel, he chased off several ground-feeding birds.  If any gray squirrels had been around, we know he would have gone after them, too!


Disobedient Tiger said...

1) muskrat? i would have guessed beaver.

2) awesome photo of the two birds together

the capchta security to leave a message is getting rediculous
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