Bluebird, Nuthatch, Titmouse, & Yellowlegs

Mourning Dove and Field Sparrow

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you all doing well. Last Wednesday afternoon I decided I would burn the brush pile while I had a chance. The birds were coming down to the feeder when I noticed a Titmouse… I decided I better get the camera because I didn’t have a photo of that bird yet. When I came back with the camera, I knelt down behind one of the plant benches behind the shed and rested it on a brick. I was only maybe 20 feet from the bird feeder.

If you want to read more about the birds below, you can click on the link attached to their names in bold. You will be redirected to their information on All About Birds.

The first birds to land after I returned was a Mourning Dove and Field Sparrow. Then, after awhile, the Tufted Titmouse returned.

 

Tufted Titmouse.

Tufted Titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor)

The Titmouse was very cautious, flying to the feeder and grabbing a bit then hurriedly flying back into the closest lilac bush. I tried several attempts to get a good photo then I decided I would just zoom in on the feeder hoping it would come back. Finally, I managed to get a good shot. 

Information on All About Birds says the Tufted Titmouse will make frequent visits to bird feeders so they can store their food. They take one seed at a time and usually shell it before hiding it. 

Tufted Titmouse.

Sometimes one of the young will remain with its parents during the breeding season and help care for the young. They make their nests in natural cracks in trees or in holes made by woodpeckers. There are certain types of nest boxes you can build for them. They often line their nests with hair plucked directly from living animals. I would like to get a photo of them plucking shedding hair from the cows. According to All About Birds, hair from raccoons, opossums, mice, woodchucks, squirrels, pets and even humans have also been found in their nests. 

Although the Tufted Titmouse is a year-round resident here, I hardly ever see them except in the spring and fall. One of their songs is similar to a Cardinal. Maybe sometimes what I am hearing is actually a Titmouse instead.

As I was focused on the feeder, this other bird came and went so fast I couldn’t tell what it was at first. Then it came again, landed on top then crawled down to the tray. It was a Nuthatch! I was so excited I missed it!

 

White-Breasted Nuthatch.

White-Breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis)

I waited patiently, froze to the feeder. Then it came back and I snapped several photos but only one was not blurry.

This is the small bird we see moving up and down on the trees hunting for insects and making that weird noise. Backward, forwards, and upside-down, always very busy. They also visit bird feeders where they prefer sunflower seeds, peanuts, and suet.

White-Breasted Nuthatch are territorial and the pairs stay together. If the male is alone, he spends a lot of time watching out for predators. When the pair is together, that chore is shared by two. The problem for the female is, her mate is somewhat pushy when it comes to foraging, so she spends a lot of her time watching out for him. 

During the winter, the Nuthatch may join foraging Chickadees and Titmouse at feeders. The Nuthatch is always paranoid about predators, so they think the more birds there are, the more they can all keep an eye out.

 

Brown Thrasher.

Brown Thrasher (Toxostoma rufum)

Then while I was watching, the Brown Thrasher that had been on the other side of the house flew under the bird feeder. I wondered where she had been because I hadn’t seen her for quite some time.

She stayed a while then flew off to “the other” brush pile in the area where grandpas old peach orchard used to be. Here I was thinking I needed to burn it this year since I have been putting it off since 2013… Now, I can’t because the Brown Thrasher probably is nesting there. I needed a good reason instead of an excuse. 🙂

Well, after a while, all the birds became paranoid and flew off and it was time for me to get the cows from the back pasture. As I was walking close to the pond, I noticed some odd critters walking in the water. I had to go back to the house to get the camera.

I posted more about the Brown Thrasher in a previous post, “Our Winter Bird Friends”.

 

Greater Yellowlegs.

Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca)

Now, if you have things to do, don’t get stuck watching these birds. They have some strange habits for sure. Of course, I had no idea what these birds were at the time, but later I identified them as either Greater or Lesser Yellowlegs.

They are a type of sandpiper, I think, identifiable first by their bright yellow legs. The two species are hard to distinguish unless you see them both together. The Greater Yellowlegs are slightly larger and have bills a little longer than the Lesser Yellowlegs. Their color of breeding adults and juveniles is also different.

There isn’t a whole lot of information about these birds online because of the environments they live in. Possibly the pair stays together, and maybe not alone. There were two pairs on the pond when I took these photos and one day the cows scared off six. 

Another day, as I was walking by the pond, one of the Yellowlegs was a few inches from the edge, rocking up and down in perfect rhythm staring into the water. Once again I had left the camera in the house. That would have made a good video!

I finally had to pull myself away from watching the yellow legs and head to the back of the farm to get the cows. I went through the first gate and had walked maybe a quarter of the way up the lane when I heard the sound of a Nuthatch. So, I stopped and looked for it in the tree I thought it was in…

White-Breasted Nuthatch.

There is was. Just sitting perfectly still looking down at me. Very seldom have I ever saw one not moving. 

There was another Nuthatch in the tree next to this one but it was to busy to pose for a photo. After a few minutes, they both flew off together.

I made my way to the back pasture and the cows were grazing past the pond. Some evenings they are waiting by the gate but this wasn’t one of those days. I called them but the wind was blowing and maybe they didn’t hear me. Maybe they were pretending not to hear me.

 

I picked up a stick and whacked it on a tree branch a few times and that perked them up. They immediately started walking toward the gate. Then when they arrived at the gate, they all stopped and looked at me. They have gotten into that habit lately for some reason. Maybe they are telling me about their day. And what is the deal with the stick? They can be ignoring me but when I pick up a stick they start paying attention. I do not beat the cows, but on occasion, like when they wouldn’t come out of the area I store hay, I had to let them know I meant business. They knew they weren’t supposed to be in that lot but they were having so much fun. Round and round until I finally had to get a stick… It didn’t take them long to go back where they belonged. Well, they wouldn’t have been in the hay lot, but apparently the deer and went through the electric fence. After a while, the cows couldn’t take it anymore, and probably one pushed another in the lot since none of them wanted to be first. Yeah, I am laughing now. 🙂

Then this morning, when I looked out of the bedroom window, was another bird I have needed a photo of…

Eastern Bluebird.

Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis)

The Eastern Bluebird is a year-round resident here and most of the eastern half of the United States and parts of Mexico. They also do a little migrating farther north during the breeding season and a little more west during the winter. 

Dad has two Bluebird houses up, one behind the house and one in the chicken yard (or what used to be grandpas chicken yard). Normally, they will have one brood in one and then use the other one later. In 2016 they choose to use a hole in a fence post made by a woodpecker and didn’t use either birdhouse. In 2017, I borrowed the post from the chicken yard house for a tomato stake. I looked into the other house and found out why they hadn’t been using it. There was a HUGE old paper wasp nest in it. 

Bluebirds are territorial and if nest boxes are placed to close together, they will be used by the same pair, like ours has been doing. I told dad I needed to move it farther away so another pair could use it. There are other Bluebirds along the hayfield and in the back of the farm that could use the box. Sparrows and swallows are also known to use Bluebird houses.

I always noticed there were several Bluebirds together during the winter months. I found out that the young from their last brood stay with their parents over the winter.

Typically Bluebirds do not feed at bird feeders unless there is a supply of mealworms.

We have about 40 acres here and there is plenty of natural habitat for birds and other wildlife along the fence rows and other neglected spots. If you have space, like we do, it is important to leave plenty of dead trees and limbs for birds to feed and nest in. 

I will be taking my camera with me more often as I move the cows to the back pasture in the morning and bring them back in the evening. I am always missing something if I don’t take the camera.

Oh yeah, before I finish, I also noticed the Killdeer have returned a few days ago. They can be annoying sometimes, but it wouldn’t be the same without them running around in the pasture. One summer, one even nested in the garden. Trying to work in the garden with her shrieking at me was nuts. She finally moved her one baby farther away unless the cats found it.

I took more photos in the afternoon, so another post is on the way. I hope you are all doing awesomely well and are looking forward to a wonderful summer. Ummm… We are having a cold snap and it even snowed at least 2” today. Nice, big, wet snowflakes 🙂 I can’t believe I said “nice”. Snow is the “S” word. 

One more thing… “GET DIRTY! 

14 comments on “Bluebird, Nuthatch, Titmouse, & Yellowlegs

  1. Pixydeb says:

    Hi Rooster thank you for capturing all your fab’ birds – I do love to see them!
    We have mourning doves (always in pairs) and nuthatches but they are all different shades of brown & no white breast. I always think of them as the triangle bird. As they are virtually an equilateral triangle creeping on the tree trunks.
    Lovely to see the eastern bluebird ( yes I like the bright colours!) the yellow legs and tufty titmouse – all new to me. Keep that camera handy as I think the white breasted nuthatch pictures on the tree with kind of blossom in the background are really beautiful 👍🏻
    Thanks for the window on your bird world 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are welcome Pixiedeb! Weird thing, Pixie. I was thinking the Nuthatches here were different, too. There are other smaller birds here that are peculiar I haven’t seen yet either. The Eastern Bluebird female is much paler than the male and maybe I can shoot her someday (I mean, photograph). I will try and remember to take the camera with me. It seems most of the time I don’t have it I miss something. Thanks for the comment! 🙂

      Like

  2. janesmudgeegarden says:

    Wow, great bird photos! It’s really hard to photograph little birds because the move so fast- I don’t have to tell you that! I like that little bluebird, it’s such a pretty colour.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Jim R says:

    You got some good bird pictures. I see several of those around our feeders. We saw a bluebird a week ago on a walk but never near our house. Too enclosed with trees and thickets. They seem to like open spaces with meadows.

    I can’t remember seeing a yellow leg. Need to get to a water area, I guess.

    A week ago the vultures returned to our area. They were on schedule. I have notes on the calendar from several past years for when they came back.

    This morning we have 3” of snow. By Thursday and Friday it will be in the 70s. I’m not going to shovel any of it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello, Jim! You are right, Bluebirds seem to prefer more of an open area. In the back of the farm, I always see them along the edges of the pasture and in fence rows but not in the wooded area along the creek. We have a few vultures here all year but there are more during the summer. The Truman Lake has a lot and are fun to watch from their lookout. Once the Yellowlegs settle in after their migration, they will be in swampy areas that are undesirable for birdwatching unless you take plenty of mosquito repellant. Unlike most sandpipers who are mainly shorebirds. We had a couple of inches of snow late yesterday afternoon but it was all melted when I got up this morning. That’s good! Thanks for the comment, Jim! 🙂

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  4. Hi Rooster—just wanted to compliment you on your wonderful bird stories. Your relationships to them make the website come alive, and give soul to the photos. Love this! Do keep it up. Best, Arthur

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great post with alot of information. Which bird is your fav.?

    Liked by 1 person

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