Feathers

A few bird pictures from yesterday and today.

The red-winged blackbird has again refused to fly straight toward me when I have a camera to hand.  One of these days, I will get the shot I’ve been aiming for while in flight towards the light.  Meanwhile, here he is telling his rivals to stay away, by flaring the red patches on his wings and screeching.  Not very effective as there are at least three with nests in the reeds down the hill and they share my garden with mild mutual hostility.

Blackbird flares wings
Blackbird flares wings

I already posted the next one on Facebook/Twitter, but here it is for those who just follow this blog (including the print edition), along with two more bonus pictures.  This was a day and night with a bitter cold north wind, that was ruffling its feathers, with different effect depending which way it was facing. I find the variety of types of feather fascinating, especially if you think of how the development systems produce all that variation.

Blue jay with crown
Blue jay with crown
Bluejay slicked back
Blue jay slicked back
Windswept bluejay
Windswept blue jay

We also have orioles around, both Baltimore and Garden.  Here is the female Baltimore, preening and just sitting in the dogwood.

Female baltimore oriole, preening
Female baltimore oriole, preening
Female baltimore oriole
Female baltimore oriole

Angry Birds

By way of contrast with my “Love Bird” picture of the pair of cardinals, this red-winged blackbird is pretty feisty defending it’s territory, mostly from other blackbirds, but I just saw it seeing off a Cooper’s Hawk, somehow outmanoeuvering it so that the blackbird was always above the hawk in spite of twists and turns.  No other birds to be seen, so that blackbird was very brave.

Red-winged blackbird 1
Red-winged blackbird 1
Red-winged blackbird 2
Red-winged blackbird 2

 

Red-winged blackbird 3
Red-winged blackbird 3

Garden flowers and Pearl Crescent butterfly

A few of the flowers hidden among the weeds in my garden, a Pearl Crescent butterfly and a bird-table spat.

After my recent post on my totally overgrown weed patch, I thought I should say that, hidden among the 75cm (30″) weed jungle, I do have a few flowers.
This one was a miniature rose which was a gift as a potted plant a few years ago and has done much better than the bigger roses which are easily found by pests. Hiding in the weeds has advantages as this one now has ten flowers.

Miniature rose
Miniature rose

This Gaillardia is almost as bright and easily raised from seed and it self-seeds so one package lasts for years, even though the individual plants only last a few years.

Gaillardia
Gaillardia

Someone gave me a small piece of stonecrop, a succulent, many years ago. It has now spread all over, wherever it is too dry and sandy for much else as it is easily overshadowed in which case it dies.  But it is very prolific in flowers in late June/early July:

Stonecrop
Stonecrop

This verbascum is a relative of the wild mullein and flowers a little earlier.  I think the individual flowers could be inspiration for a crazy-looking hat.

Verbascum
Verbascum

The milkweed is wild but I let it grow in most of the places it comes up, so the Monarch butterflies have somewhere to lay their eggs.  I think I saw some this week but they didn’t land for long enough for me to tell them from the Viceroys.  But the flowers are an interesting shape and texture if you look closely.  I’ll look out for some domesticated milkweeds that come in more vibrant colours.

Milkweed flower
Milkweed flower

Speaking of butterflies, here is a smaller one with the same colour scheme, different pattern, the Pearl Crescent.  Its caterpillars like daisies but I’m sure they’ll stick to the wild ones and not munch on my Gaillardia and Painted Daisies.

Pearl Crescent Butterfly
Pearl Crescent Butterfly

Finally, here are some birds displaying poor table manners.

Table manners
Table manners

The red-winged blackbird always gets its way, even though other birds are bigger.  The middle bird is the female – they are nesting in the bulrushes next door.  The mourning dove usually raises one wing to tell other birds to leave while it is feeding – it is second in the pecking order at our feeder, but the tactic doesn’t impress the blackbirds so it had to leave until they were done.

 

 

 

 

First Red-winged blackbird of the year

This red-winged blackbird arrived in our garden today: a welcome sign of spring for us, but I don’t think he’s too happy with the weather.  At least there is food for him on the feeder, but he doesn’t look too happy.

Red-winged blackbird
Red-winged blackbird

This is the weather he has to contend with:

Spring snow (last, I hope)
Spring snow (last, I hope)

We still have about 30 cm (1 foot) of snow on the ground; today brought another centimetre.