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Wednesday, 10 February 2021

A Post on the Post and Other Tidbits

 Nature's repetitions are never boring.
Tim Dee  

     Of late we have been mainly confined to home by COVID lockdown, with only short excursions permitted, with a little birding here and there, so this blog entry is a combination of about a week and a half of odds and ends.

On the Post
     Three Bridges Road in St. Jacobs has been a favourite birding spot for many years, and the number of species seen there is quite remarkable for a very ordinary country road.
     One of the attractions is a post where people place bird seed and it has been a bit of a magnet for various species. 
     On 1 February we placed a little seed on the post ourselves and waited in the car for birds to take advantage of the handout. In mere minutes we were joined by a Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus), always the most numerous species.


     White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis) appears to travel with the chickadees, for as soon as one appears the other is not far behind.


     Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) is fairly predictable too, although not as reliable as the previous two species.


     A gambling man would have a safe bet predicting that Downy Woodpecker (Dryobates pubescens) would show up nine times out of ten.


     This female was collecting seeds from the top of the post and stashing them immediately below.


     This seemed a little counter-productive to us for the chickadees and the nuthatches were there to witness it, and sometimes as many as three downies were present in the immediate vicinity, and I doubt it escaped their attention either.


     But what do we know of the ways of a woodpecker?
     Several other species have used the post over the years and by digging into the archives I can show you some of them.


Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata)

Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura) with House Sparrows (Passer domesticus)

Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)

Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes caorlinus)

     The post is located about a hundred metres from the Conestogo River where a group of Mallards (Anas platyrynchos) was busily feeding.


     It was starting to get dark when we left and we experienced a beautiful sunset as the day came to a close.



The Mill Race Trail

     We have had our first cold snap of the winter recently, and even though it has not been unduly cold by normal late-January, early-February standards the temperature stayed low enough for a few days to freeze local ponds and streams.
     Some enterprising skater had turned the Mill Race into a kilometre-long rink. Perhaps he (she?) had friends to help clear the snow to expose the ice.


     A Dark-eyed Junco paid little heed to it all.


A Drive through the country

     White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) have no doubt benefitted from a mild winter with less than usual snowfall, and this individual looked sleek and healthy in a field of corn stubble. 


     It was far enough away that it did not take flight when we stopped the car and Miriam stepped outside to take a picture.
     Winter snows lend a special charm to the landscape, and strangely, even though the farmhouse and outbuildings are there, a hint of desolation.


     For the second time in the past couple of weeks we saw two Red-tailed Hawks (Buteo jamaicensis) side-by-side in a tree, uncharacteristically close at this time of the year it seems to me.


     Snow Buntings (Plectrophenax nivalis) can appear like a swirling cloud in the snowy fields, and are constantly in motion, stopping to feed, but bursting into the air again at the slightest provocation, real or imagined. Despite our best entreaties this small flock was not inclined to approach us any closer.


     Perhaps we will see more on our next search for them and be able to share better images.
     An American Kestrel (Falco sparverius), relatively rare in recent years, had succeeded in capturing dinner.



Our backyard

     One might be forgiven for concluding that birds in the backyard have put on a special effort to keep us entertained during lockdown, for they have been numerous and, of course, are close at hand.
     One of the most pleasing of recent events is the presence of a male Red-bellied Woodpecker as a regular visitor.


     It is not the first time a red-belly has graced us with its presence, but this one seems to have found everything entirely to his liking and we see him quite often.
     A couple of Hairy Woodpeckers (Dryobates villosus) have similarly found that the Gascoigne/Bauman Café is a fine place to dine.


     As many of you will know, Hairy Woodpecker bears a strong resemblance to Downy Woodpecker, but is larger, with a longer, more robust bill. Some find it hard to differentiate the two species without seeing them together, but in the case of the male, the back of the head is diagnostic.


     The red cap is broken on a Hairy Woodpecker, on a Downy Woodpecker it is continuous.
     It is rare that we fail to see a Mourning Dove, almost from first light until the end of the day. Our highest count of late was twenty-one.


     White-breasted Nuthatch is equally common although not in the same abundance as Mourning Doves. We routinely see two and from time to time have noted a third.


     What would backyard bird feeding be without pesky squirrels to both distract and entertain, to give you fits, and moments of unalloyed delight?


     Let me leave you with a few more images of Red-bellied Woodpecker, a species named no doubt by a drunken taxonomist with a perverse sense of humour.
A red belly is hardly its most prominent feature!


     That little smudge you see is apparently what passes for a red belly.
     Ah well, the suet tastes good.


     And it helps a fellow get by on a cold winter's day.

     We will have to see what other pictures and bon mots we can bring you next time. I am beginning to think another drive through the hinterland is called for.
     So long for now.....

76 comments:

  1. The woodpeckers are very beautiful, David. This morning I saw the one who lives here, Dendrocopos major. It likes my homemade food, and so do the rest of the birds here. I feed them every day in this cold weather. -16 degrees this morning, so I guess they need a lot of food.
    A very beautiful photo of the Blue Jay! I love it's blue color.

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  2. What a fantastic birds you have seen. Also the photo's are great!!!
    Wish you a wonderful rest of the week.
    Marijke

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  3. Such great photos! We have only once had a cardinal visit our feeders, they are a rare sighting here, the juncos I used to love to watch, they are like little comedians. I wonder why the hawks paired up so early? I suppose they are individual in their choices, they don’t have a rule book to follow. Makes it all the more interesting, a break from the norm.

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    1. My daughter lives in Ottawa and Northern Cardinal used to rare there, but now it is a regular visitor in her backyard.

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  4. Nothing boring about seeing the common species, think of it like visits from old friends. Thanks for the pictures of the Red Bellied Woodpecker, I see what you mean about the inappropriateness of the name.

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  5. Such a beautiful animals omg

    www.pimentamaisdoce.blogspot.com

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  6. Unos fotos extraordinarias de tus paseos, es maravilloso tener tantas especies diferentes cerca de tu casa. Enhorabuena David, un fuerte abrazo desde el norte de España. Manteneros a salvo!!!

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  7. Hi David.

    I always enjoy all the beauty you show.
    What beautiful birds come along in your series.
    Beautiful pictures.

    Greetings from Patricia.

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  8. Hi David, you have seen lots of beautiful birds again. I think the birds are very happy that you look after them so well,perhaps they look out for you and Miriam! Have a great day, stay safe! Hugs, Valerie

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  9. Our feathered friends need all the human help that they can get at this time of year and yours have amply rewarded you both as a result. I must admit to having a soft spot for our smaller birds, and you have shown us plenty here.

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  10. That is a pretty fine post. And the rest of the post is a pretty good post too.

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  11. I think you hit the nail on the head about Red Bellied Woodpeckers' name. Poor little guys, and they haven't a clue that they are misnamed! What a fun bunch of birds you shared today. As I no longer have a feeder (rule at our apts. because of frequent bears) I was delighted with yours!

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  12. Beautiful birds. Never boring to visit your blog to enjoy these birds and the cute squirrel.

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  13. Une belle série de photos, le faucon est joli, les pics aussi.
    Il y'avait beaucoup d'oiseaux, cela demande de la patience mais ça vaut le coup!
    Bonne journée

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  14. You get some great visitors to your backyard David. Always love to see a squirrel, they are so cute.

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  15. Gorgeous photos I loved everything we saw all of these birds at our woods home. I haven't figured out a way to feed the birds here-too many stray dogs and other wildlife destroyed my feeders last winter. I may just throw out some seed on the grassy areas

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  16. Querido amigo a mi no me cansa ver una y otra vez estas hermosas aves. Es maravilloso poder disfrutar de ellas tan cerca de casa. Las fotos son espectaculares. Un fuerte abrazo para ti y para Miriam y cuidaros mucho.

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  17. Hari OM
    ..."so much depends
    upon a red farmhouse
    topped with snow
    within a white landscape..."

    David, these are some magical photos. Even the gulls have gone into hibernation around the Hutch, it seems... YAM xx

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    1. Gulls have been sparse here too, YAM. I did not see one at all in January.

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  18. Hola David!! Que placer pasar por tu blog y encontrarme con estas bellezas. No puedo creer como se acercan y lo hacen habitualmente que sueño. Me gusta que les ofrezcas alimentos y no los captures. Me da mucha pena los pajaros en una jaula.
    Gracias por mostrar estas maravillas y explicaciones.
    Besos y te sigo.

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  19. You seem to be coping with lockdown extremely well, David. What a difference the ability to commune with nature makes, even when confined to one's own back yard! Add to that the delight of that nearby 'bird post' and the sting of lockdown must be greatly alleviated.

    A most enjoyable post, thank you, and a fabulous post within a post. My day is now brightened!

    Best wishes to you both - - - Richard

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  20. David it's great that you can enjoy that great variety of birds so close to your home. Some species are really beautiful and the photos are very good. Greetings

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    1. And it won't be long before they are joined by spring migrants, so it can only get better, Julio.

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  21. Thank you so much for the feathered enchantment - at each and every site.

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    1. I am anxiously awaiting feathered enchantment to arrive in a package - any day now!

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    2. I hope so. I really hope so. They should have been there by now. As should a card I posted to another Canadian.

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  22. The woodpeckers are magnificent, as are your photos of them.

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  23. The black-headed chick, deer and Falco sparverius are epic.

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  24. Many familiar friends here. I never tire of seeing them. Great photos!

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  25. We are seeing all the same species here as you have so beautifully photographed. I got a big thrill this weekend — two, TWO! Red-cockaded woodpeckers! Lifer for me and I have been looking since we moved here six years ago. They hung around for quite a while so we could get our fill. I love the photo of the red barn in all the snow. Peaceful and cozy, it says

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    1. Cynthia, I have seen but one Red-cockaded Woodpecker in my life, and that for all of thirty seconds, so my cup runneth over with envy!

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  26. Beautiful winter scenes and birds, a winter wonderland.

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  27. Great photos!!
    Nice shots! I could see how beautiful the nature and the creation of God is.
    Thank you for sharing this images with us.
    Adriana from Real Gramas

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  28. Such a very nice collection of photographs.
    I particularly like the one of the Mourning Dove with House Sparrows.

    Happy midweek wishes.

    All the best Jan

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  29. Beautiful set of photos of some great birds.

    In reply to the comment on my blog :-
    David I have several more blogs besides the ones mentioned, but they are family trees or particular events. They do not need updating often.
    As for cruises, I could not agree more, this is the only one we have ever been on and we have no desire to try another one. This trip was offered to us by a very dear friend who was second to the captain in command. We had every luxury, and under the Royal suite there are two special cabins, we were lucky enough to have one of them. We were taken out to dinner every night to a different restaurant and we could move anywhere we wanted on the ship. We hated though that if you wanted to visit anywhere it was all rushed and you had to make sure you were back on the ship on time. Besides that, I spent every day after the second day, for an hour in the ship’s hospital on drip. Twenty-four hours of air conditioners and I went down with pneumonia. It was not a holiday we would like to repeat.

    As for the ‘finery’ that we were wearing I have had that dress since I was a teenager and luckily for me it still fits. Nigel as partner in charge of his office when we lived in Mafikeng, and as a working member of Rotary, had a number of black-tie events he had to attend. If I did have to join him it was always the same dress and if anyone noticed tough luck.

    I have now had my first vaccine, 8 March for the next one and I had the Pfizer vaccine. Nigel is still too young to be on the list!

    Take care and keep safe, Diane

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  30. Great Post, David!
    Lovely to view this!
    Best regards, and stay save!
    Maria

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  31. The post has allowed you to capture some terrific pictures! I love the contrast of the person walking in the red jacket against the snowy scene ~ safe, effective and pretty. I had to zoom in on the red tailed hawks, maybe they're Siamese twins (LOL!) so sweet! Thank you for filling my screen with so many precious findings ~ Blessings on your week!

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  32. wow, that´s a lot of gorgous birds and shots. Loved it.
    Loveed to see the snow bunting. It is several years since I saw any. And, as a favorite photo, I choose the Red-bellied Woodpecker.
    Taek care!

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  33. Remarkable pictures! I especially like the Snow Buntings lined up on the fence.

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  34. Very good selection of old acquaintances thanks to your posts but it is always beautiful to see them again in such beautiful images, with the addition of a soft winter daylight completely snowy. Despite the restrictions due to COVID I see that at least you can see a good abundance of birds and enjoy the winter

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  35. I don't have feeders. I open the window and scatter the seeds. It immediately brings 10-15 visitors. They like to have me watch them while they eat. If I close the window, they'll usually fly away, leaving some seeds for next day.

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    1. It is probably the action of closing the window that scares them away.

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  36. I've never thought of chickadees and nuthatches as travelling companions, but in retrospect, so they are.

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  37. Good evening David,
    such a beautiful winter postcard, dear friend! i love woodpeckers,
    squirrels, snow and that lonely deer... all around it seems
    to be a colossal natural symphony.

    I'm happy that you liked the post about Mr MacKay.
    Thank you very much for your words!
    Greetings and a big hug from Buenos Aires, a bit autumnal these days.

    *∧ ∧:・。゚*。 :*★
    (*・ω・*)  ゚ *。*
    *〇 〇………………*

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  38. I'd like to put out a bird feeder in my backyard, but I'm afraid of attracting rats.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. Try a hummingbird feeder in the spring and some oranges cut in half for orioles,

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  39. Beautiful photos! We've just come out of our third lockdown and the birds have overtaken the garden, ready to welcome spring.
    Amalia
    xo

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  40. These a lovely photos of the birds you saw, I do really like the Cardinal - think I would go into raptures if I ever were to see one in person :)

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    1. If ever you make a trip over here, Margaret, I will show you one.

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  41. Hi David – Miriam’s stunning photos again … delightful to see – while the Blue Jay’s colour designated in its Latin name … Cyanocitta … cyan is such a gorgeous colouration. Oddly I came across Alexander Wilson (ornithologist from Paisley, Scotland) today who pre-dated Audubon with his work.
    Lovely skating path … looks a beautiful place … love the rest of the pictures, particularly the snow-buntings, and views … while your Red-Bellied Woodpecker – what a delight. I’m sure it’s a wonderful place to dine! It’s interesting … the way things are named … like the ‘red-belly’ … a smattering of a colour smudge …
    Delightful to see – looking forward to your post about your next visit … Hilary

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    1. I am happy that you discovered Alexander Wilson, Hilary. He is legendary and has many species named after him...Wilson's Plover, Wilson's Snipe, Wilson's Phalarope, Wilson's Warbler......he probably features in scientific names too - I just can't bring any to mind right now!

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  42. Hello David,
    Wonderful variety of birds and photos. I love the sunset and view of the deer and the barn. The kestrel with it's dinner is awesome and I love the flock of Snow Buntings. Take care, enjoy your day!

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  43. Beautiful pictures.
    In the Netherlands it is now a harsh winter and our feathered friends need all human help!
    The woodpeckers are always beautiful!

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  44. A nice collection of birds you saw! Woodpeckers are so cool! We only have Dendrocopos major as a daily guest in the garden. And I hear their drumming everytime I get out. They seem to prepare for spring. They are said to be very clever at finding the hoarded food!

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    1. Their hippocampus actually expands at the time of year when they need to have excellent recall of stashed food.

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  45. Siempre nos traes hermosos pájaros. Abrazos.

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  46. Somehow nothing beats seeing birds in snow.

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  47. The photo of the Red-bellied Woodpecker peeking over the top of the post, with only its head visible, is simply wonderful. Birds' faces can be so expressive, and that one certainly is. The clean, diagonal line of the White-breasted Nuthatch in the second photo is lovely, too: a very nice composition.

    We have true winter weather coming -- the sort that includes below-freezing temperatures, sleet, and ice -- so I'm off to yon birdseed store. A little extra generosity in hard conditions is called for!

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  48. Excelentes pájaros y excelentes imágenes de tu adorable Miriam amigo David. El paisaje nevado independientemente del frío es precioso. Me encantó todo el reportaje. Tu casa de comidas "Restaurante Gascoigne" se te da muy bien como cocinero y ellos te lo demuestran con su presencia.
    Un fuerte abrazo de tu amigo y compadre Juan.

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  49. Wow! I am so impressed with your photos and knowledge of birds.

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  50. David - fabulous pictures, as always. I would love to see snow buntings in the wild!!! The red barn against the snow is magnificent!

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  51. I like your theory of how the red-bellied got its name! Clever and no doubt, true. Some wonderful sightings and I confess, I love the stark landscapes just as much as the gorgeous bird photos!

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  52. Lovely birds, as always! I've always like the name "junco" -- I don't know why -- just like the sound of it!

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  53. David your bird photos are so amazing, that Red-Bellied Woodpecker is so beautiful, I've never seen one. They are so pretty. Mourning Doves are my favourite. And I think that maybe I've encountered Snow Buntings...When I drive to Saint John for grocery shopping, I've recently come across swirls of little white birds, but they are so quick, and I'm in the car, so I was never able to identify them, very neat! I'll take a better look next time and slow down a bit when I'm driving. I love the Cardinal!!

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  54. A lovely selection of birds and such nice clear photographs, gorgeous. I would love to have a bird feeder within sight of my living room window but there are so many squirrels here that the poor birds would not get a chance and I would just be feeding the treerat population!

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    1. Maybe try a finch feeder which the squirrels cannot penetrate and a hummingbird feeder in the spring. And you can set out oranges cut in half which are magnets for Baltimore Orioles. There are also feeders called Squirrel Busters that are pretty effective.

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  55. I had seen photos of some of these birds before but not the chickadee and wondered what they looked like. Curiosity satisfied. I'm surprised at how many birds stay around in the snow.

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  56. That is an incredible count of birds in so few places locally. I'm lucky if I see a dozen types.

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  57. hello David
    all sorts of little things have turned into a very nice post, discoveries and observations are in the immediate vicinity possible nature creates this again and again, i liked it very much
    Greetings Frank

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  58. More great photos. I like the idea of that post, where people put bird seed, then get to see who shows up. The Cardinal is always a show stealer. I haven't seen those in awhile, but I'm not watching my bird feeder, either. I also haven't seen the Red-bellied Woodpecker at the suet feeder, so I'm hoping it's only because I haven't been looking when they are there. (The Downy Woodpecker seems to be a frequent visitor to my suet feeder.) Although the snow makes it look cold there, it also looks beautiful. I had 10 deer come through my yard a few days ago: thankfully they all made it across my busy street without getting hit. The cars saw them and slowed down / stopped to let them get across. :-)

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  59. Sorry about the other comment, please don't approve it!!

    I always enjoy your birds and critters, they are so colorful and bright. I really like the red barn, too!

    I'm so glad to see you at 'My Corner of the World' this week!

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  60. A week and a half of odds and ends that must surely have lifted your spirits each time you were out. Lovely, lovely images.

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