Birdcam Back in Business
My two Birdcam photo stations have been shut down since mid-February. Recall the problems I was having with Eastern Gray Squirrels and House Finches. Too much success can be the worst dilemma of all. I decided to give all bird feeding a cooling down period. This week, I began setting up my Birdcam stations again. Station No. 2 now has a brand new woodpecker feeder and I provisioned it with pepper suet. I have been experimenting with it for a couple of months, and the Gray Squirrels have shunned it totally.
I was pleased to catch this photo of a Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus) on the first day out. This is the bird that inspired me to purchase and install a Birdcam in the first place. This is also my first photo of a female Pileated. The black mustache and black forehead are the distinguishing marks. Until now, I had only seen males in the yard. Yes, friends, I am definitely back in business.
The Black-headed Grosbeak (Pheucticus melanocephalus) is one of our summer-only birds. It is also Fidalgo Island's only member of the Cardinal family. The tortoise shell markings and colors identify a male. In the Northwest, they will be attracted if there are a few broad-leaved trees among your confers and a water source.
The pepper suet received mixed reviews at Amazon. I decided to give it a try anyway. It is softer than the regular kind I bought locally and a bit messy to use. Contrary to some of the reviews, it does seem to repel my local Gray Squirrels and the cakes last a good two weeks. That offsets the higher cost a bit. I would enjoy hearing suet recommendations and experiences from others.
Northern Flickers (Colaptes auratus) are always photogenic and another of my favorites. Hanging out in small groups is an interesting behavior I have noticed during the winter. They will just sit quietly together in the yard, perhaps sharing flicker gossip. This is a red-shafted flicker and a female distinguished by the lack of a mustache mark. I also see a few yellow-shafted birds who venture down from Canada, but most of my Flickers are red/yellow hybrids. They have orange feather linings and will display a faded nape mark of the yellow-shafted race.
I was shut down for four months, so I missed the spring migrators. Last year, I caught locally rare Western Tanagers passing through. I will have to wait another year for that opportunity. I am also waiting for the little Nuthatches, Chickadees and Wrens to show up. They should discover the suet in a short time. There is never a dull moment in the wildlife garden.
This post is being published simultaneously at Fidalgo Island Crossings.