Birds and Buckeyes (seven photos)

I present the American Buckeye. This tree has odorous flowers, poisonous fruit and wood too weak for carpentry. It’s also absolutely one of my favorite trees. Allow me to explain.

IMG_4225American Buckeye trees use every excuse possible to bud, with several false starts late each winter. It’s as if our backyard Buckeye drew this American Robin from its winter shelter by budding this February.

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American Robin on budding branches

As mentioned earlier, the flowers and even broken branches have a faint odorous scent. This led some pioneers (and I imagine University of Michigan fans) to call it the “fetid buckeye.”

Despite the scent, I think the flowers attract Baltimore Orioles. And I love seeing Baltimore Orioles in the yard, enough to declare the Buckeye one of my favorite trees. A few other birds seem to enjoy the Buckeye in spring as well.

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Baltimore Oriole among the Buckeye flowers
Buckeye Cardinal
Northern Cardinal
Buckeye Mockingbird
Northern Mockingbird

The heat of summer wilts the flowers, which produce fruit better know as “buckeye nuts.” The deep brown color of the nuts is thought to have inspired the name “buckeye.” The nuts really are poisonous for humans. However, the nuts are used to create ornaments and necklaces.

False Spring (Three Photos)

The unseasonably warm February from the Midwest through the Great Plains created some  movement among birds. One Saturday afternoon we had these backyard visitors…eastern-bluebirdSome Eastern Bluebirds winter in Ohio, but not near our place. This day the bluebirds appeared, searching high and low for insects.

american-robinA pair of American Robins left the shelter of the woods to check for worms and larvae.

red-winged-blakbirdIn the past decade, this is the earliest we have seen a Red-winged Blackbird in our yard.

A Winter’s Day ‘Round the Feeders

Slate gray skies melded into a misty horizon. Gusts of wind toyed with intermittent moisture. The birds did not care. They were gathered around our feeders; pecking or picking, squating or searching. While the weather was powerless to against the birds, the feeders cleared each time a Northern Harrier extended its search beyond the hay field to the west.

The below photographs are American Goldfinches, Downy Woodpecker, House Finch and a White-crowned Sparrow.

The feeders also welcomed the following species: American Tree Sparrow, Brown-headed Cowbird, Brewer’s Blackbird, Carolina Chickadee, Dark-eyed Junco, European Starling, House Sparrow, Mourning Dove, Northern Cardinal, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Red-breasted Woodpecker, Red-winged Blackbird, Song Sparrow, Tufted Titmouse.

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Hanging Out

Red-headed Woodpeckers seem to beg for attention.

Who doesn’t stop and stare for a moment at the boldly contrasting red and black and white colors?

How many of us have looked twice at the red-black-white-black color pattern seen as a Red-headed Woodpecker sails from tree to tree?

I marvel as Red-heads dropping from gnarled tree branches as if they were some exotic specie of flycatchers to snare insects in flight.

Here’s to the Red-headed Woodpecker.

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