Hooded Merganser Up Close and Personal!

Hooded Merganser Sudbury River 1 2010
OK, I finally feel as if my life has some small amount of meaning once again. I went out, I went to my river, I took photos (damn good ones, too!), and even took a dozen shots of a bird so awesome that just seeing him gives me shivers!

Hooded Merganser Sudbury River three 1 2010
Isn't he a glorious, magnificent, outrageous looking creature? In this shot, you can just about see the small black pupil in his crazy yellow eye. Who knew that such an exotic creature lived right here in Framingham?

hooded merganser face front
Like most people, at first I assumed his head was a puffy round ball. But instead it is shaped like a dinner plate! Tom saw this picture and said, 'I knew he reminded me of someone. It's Don King, the fight promoter!'

Hooded Merganser Sudbury River two 1 2010
Too many pictures of one bird? I know it, but this is a thrill for me. Not only did I see him, I also managed to get decent pictures! (BTW, I only posted a quarter of the images captured!)

hooded merganser pupil
Another shot that almost shows the pupil. He was pretending he didn't see me, or pretending that I didn't bother him.


Blue Jays, Juncos, Sparrows, and Starlings - Again!

feeder bluejay
It is too cold to go outside, I'm drowning in paperwork, and I've come down with the flu - but I can still take photos of the backyard through the windows. I am as sick of seeing the same few species in all my posts as you are, but what choice do I have? I think of it as photography practice. In any case, this is a handsome fellow, right? Blue jays are gorgeous and very intelligent birds. I particularly like the bright cobalt blue color on their backs and tails.

feeder bluejay 4
Blue jays are extremely alert and have excellent hearing. This one heard the camera shutter from inside the house, and kept taking off before I could frame a shot. Here I think he was evaluating the potential for danger from the sound. You can see the intelligence in his eyes.

Blue Jay Eyeliner
Check out the dramatic eyeliner effect! He (or she) evidently likes the Egyptian look!

Black and Blue Jay
Magnificent color scheme, in my opinion. Very alert even when eating.

female house sparrow
I can always find a sparrow to pose for me! This is a female house sparrow.

house sparrow female
Another female house sparrow.

junco arborvitae
Dark-eyed Junco with feathers fluffed up against the cold.

junco feeder
Dark-eyed Junco in the feeder instead of below it.

junco feeder 2
A closeup of the Junco chowing down. It requires a lot of food just to stay alive in this frigid weather.

starling suet again
The smart suet-eating European Starling was back again today.

starling suet again 4
It looks like the same one that was there yesterday.

starling suet again 3
The starlings (there are four or five of them in the yard lately) also puff up to stay warm. They are a bit less cute than the juncos, however.

starling suet again 2
How gorgeous are those patterned wings, though?


European Starling Eating Suet!

starling eating suet
European Starlings have short wings for such large birds. When flying, they are said to resemble four pointed stars; hence the name.

Starling suet
This is the first time I've seen a Starling at the suet feeder.

Starling suet 4
European Starlings are imported and therefore invasive, but I like them anyway. They have lovely iridescent coloring, for one thing.

starling eating suet 2
European Starlings are brash and bold, but what is wrong with being brash and bold?

Starling suet 2
Evidently, starlings are athletic, too.

eur sparrow
The House Sparrow is another European import.

dark eyed junco close
Dark eyed Junco; an obligatory winter shot.

Cardinal Male Feeder
And of course, a magnificent male cardinal at the feeder.


Cardinals in the Snow

female cardinal snow 3
A few photos taken through the window after it snowed all day. It is all I have time for at the moment. Sigh.

female cardinal snow 4
I swear she heard the click of the shutter even though I was in the house!

female cardinal snow2
Love the colors! Not as flashy as a male, but I like the delicate tints.

cardinal snowstorm
I love a male cardinal in the arborvitae tree! There were at least four in the yard this afternoon, but the tree was too wet to be inviting, I guess.

cardinal closeup snowstorm3
Last year I saw seven males in this tree at one time. It was a gorgeous sight, but they scattered long before I found my camera.

cardinals juncos snow
The little junco is almost invisible when there are male cardinals around.

cardinal snowstorm 2
He is looking right back at me.

junco snowstorm
A Junco with fluffed up feathers looks like a little round ball.

female cardinal snow
The cardinals look rather odd when they fluff up, too.

cardinal feeder snow
There is food under that heavy wet snow, but it takes a lot of effort and energy to get at it.


What Wren?

Marsh Wren?
Today I was hoping to spend some time catching up on all my favorite blogs, but it was yet another crazy day with no time for reading. Now all I have time for is a very short post! I have been trying to ID this wren for weeks. I really didn't think it was a Carolina Wren because it didn't look, sound, or act like any other Carolina Wren I've ever seen. But I was wrong (and Pete was right.)  It is a Carolina Wren!
squirrel snow
Squirrels are common around here, though. In my yard, the Blue Jays always make sure that the squirrels on the ground get a good meal!

cold junco
The Juncos normally benefit from all the spilled seed on the snow, too, but sometimes it is just too frigid to eat. The only option is to puff up into a ball to stay insulated, and try your best to keep out of the snow!


Worth the wait!

new years hooded merganser
It has been THREE WEEKS since I posted to my blog - or even took a picture of anything! But Carmel Terrace (the perfect Assisted Living facility for my Mom) is right on the banks of my beloved Sudbury River. I had to check out the wildlife, and guess what I saw? A HOODED MERGANSER!!

new years merganser 2
A Hooded Merganser of MY VERY OWN! Well, not that I own the bird; but it is right in my backyard, almost. Less than a mile away, as the crow flies, anyway! I was so excited that I would've started whooping and doing a victory dance if I weren't trying to act all sedate and blase at the time!

new years merganser 3
It was FRIGID outside, too. I wasn't out of my car for five minutes before my hands were frozen solid. It hurt a lot, but I scanned the river for a few more minutes so I wouldn't appear suspicious or wacky, and there he was!! What a thrilling morning it was, really. It has to be a good omen, right?

backyard bluejay
I also got a couple of decent shots of my feeder birds today. This is a particularly handsome Blue Jay, if I do say so myself. Blue jays are among my very favorite birds, however, so I have yet to see one I thought was unattractive.

newyears mourning dove
Mourning Doves are not a favorite species of mine, but I liked the annoyed look this one gave me when I snapped a shot. He's clearly not a fan of the paparazzi!

new years cardinal
Male Cardinals are simply breathtaking when perched in an Arborvitae tree during a snowstorm. ( I had seven in one tree last year!)

newyears cardinal II
And Cardinals are gorgeous from any angle. No way anyone could tire of seeing a flash of crimson lighting up a dull winter's day - snow or no snow!