Posted on Leave a comment

Central Oregon Coast – Video

An alluring savage, the Central Oregon Coast has a rugged beauty like no other and gets prettier with every visit.

US Highway 101 stretches along the Oregon Coast, serving up endless opportunities for hikes, camping, sunset-viewing, and photography.

This isn’t Southern California. But instead, this is where the forest nearly meets the ocean. The Central Coast is alive and wild.

If you have the opportunity, I highly recommend the Central Oregon Coast for amazing sights that you’ll love!

Posted on Leave a comment

More Baby Wrens!

baby wren Debra Gail photography

The Carolina Wren is a year-round resident bird for us in southeast Kansas. Although our yard isn’t “open woods,” they find several trees and a couple of brush piles to explore.

The wrens in our backyard have two broods each year, of tiny, adorable nestlings.

more baby wrens

If you follow my blog or Facebook/Instagram feeds, you may already know that the Carolina Wren is my favorite bird to watch.

baby wren Debra Gail photography

Look at that itty-bitty tail!!

adult and fledgling wren
Carolina wren fledgling

The wren is a voracious eater, feeding primarily on insects. During breeding season, we typically have dried mealworms in feeders for the wren and several others.

One of my favorite aspects of the wren is that the adult wren pairs perform a duet, with the female chattering while the male sings. It’s a unique and beautiful performance! And if you didn’t know better, you would think it’s a much larger bird than these tiny ones!

I hope that you have the opportunity to see the Carolina wren and even hear their beautiful duet! For more on the Carolina wren, check this out from All About Birds.

Thank you for stopping by!

~Debra Gail

Posted on Leave a comment

June Baby Birds

Carolina wren fledgling

The baby birds and their parents are visiting our backyard. This means my birdseed supplies are in danger of a stock out.

june baby birds a juvenile robin
A juvenile American Robin
juvenile robin being fed
A juvenile American Robin and Dad

Between the near-daily replenishment of safflower seed, suet cakes, berries, and sunflower seed, and keeping the ponds maintained, along with the birdbaths clean, it’s another full-time job!

juvenile brown thrasher
A juvenile Brown Thrasher

But this is okay. We wouldn’t have it any other way.

A juvenile Common Grackle

It could be the Stay at Home orders, which first spurred this supposed increase in backyard birds. Could it be that the birds are also staying at home?

Or could it be possible they have always been in the yard, and we’ve been too busy to notice?

A Common Grackle fledgling

Either way, they are especially joyful to watch this year. From the Common Grackle to the inconspicuous Northern Cardinal, the variety of birds this year is huge!

A wet European Starling
A juvenile European Starling

The European Starling looks black from a distance, but in the summer, they are purplish-green, with yellow beaks. The Starling is typically a loud bird, traveling in large groups. But there is just one lone pair and their little family that hangs around our yard.

A young Shorty, “scaling” the garden skyscraper

And then there is this bird. Wait, that’s Shorty! Shorty blesses us with her presence almost daily. Shorty is a young, small squirrel with only a half-tail. She is unique in many ways, including her downright friendliness, from the beginning. Maybe it’s somehow related to the short tail.

Come to think of it … maybe this is how all of this extra birding began: setting up new “squirrel-proof” bird feeders—more feeders with more variety of bird food. And then suddenly, there are more birds.

A juvenile American Robin

The Robins love grape jelly and grapes. Even the juvenile Robins are eating grapes out there with Mom and Dad.

An almost-mature female Northern Cardinal

The pair of Northern Cardinals are less conspicuous than Shorty. Well, most every bird is less conspicuous than Shorty.

A Common Grackle juvenile with a male Northern Cardinal
A Ruby Throated Hummingbird fledgling

The hummingbirds are a joy to watch, however, they’re not always easy to spot! I found that it is more effective to listen for their buzzing than to try and watch for them. The hummingbirds are so fast!

A Carolina Wren fledgling

And the Carolina Wren. If forced to rank and choose, the Wren is my favorite bird. This tiny bird belts out a song that is the loudest of songbirds in our backyard. When listening, you would think it’s a big bird. And while the Wren is shy, if you set out suet feeders in your yard and look for the Wren in garden brush piles, you may see this little guy with a big voice.

I hope that you’ve enjoyed this post on June Baby Birds! If you want more information on feeder types and feeding birds, check out Feeder Watch.

Posted on Leave a comment

Midwest Skies Like These Should Be Illegal

Sunrise midwest skies should be illegal

Midwest Skies Like These

I usually wouldn’t have thought to grab my camera for my five-mile trip to the post office this week. I’d just finished hauling no less than ten bags of wet cedar mulch from my truck and to the backyard garden areas! But for whatever reason, just before I left, I grabbed my camera gear. And this was what was waiting for me. 

Oh my, it took my breath away, even more than the heavy bags of mulch just moments before. 

It was an absolute feast for the senses: The endless shades of blue in the sky, the fluffy and multi-dimensional white clouds, the brightness of the new spring green, and the whispering, warm winds. 

And then this, with the fence and windmill:

midwest skies like these

Midwest Skies Like These

And if that wasn’t enough to send me swooning, here is more:

beautiful midwest skies like these

This scene reminds me of the days when we would just plop down in the grass and do nothing.

“When you’re a kid, you lay in the grass and watch the clouds going over, and you literally don’t have a thought in your mind. It’s purely meditation, and we lose that.”

~Dick Van Dyke

Posted on Leave a comment

5 Midwest Birds to Get to Know

5 midwest birds debra gail photography

Here are 5 Midwest birds to get to know!

Spring is an exciting time for those of us who enjoy bird watching. Additionally, some of the world’s prettiest birds are right here among us in the Midwest and Great Plains areas!

There is a simple strategy for attracting these five beautiful birds to your backyard! Read on for more about the identification and eating habits of these five beautiful birds.

#1 – Woodpeckers

The Downey Woodpecker is stunning with its red head and black and white feathers

Woodpeckers are just a strikingly beautiful bird. Pure and simple. And a top favorite in the list of 5 Midwest birds to get to know.

The Woodpecker is a typical bird to find in the Midwest backyard as they flourish well in urban environments. 

I like to put out suet and watch them line up! Additionally, they eat safflower seeds!

Furthermore, we have several types of Woodpeckers that frequent our backyard, including the Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, and Pileated Woodpecker.

5 Midwest Birds to Get to Know

#2 – Carolina Wren – My Favorite

5 midwest birds - carolina wren
Note the white band above the eye and the decurved bill

This sweet little bird, the Carolina Wren, often nests very close to homes.

They may nest in a planter in a garden shed or a hanging basket of petunias. If you place a nest box in a quiet area of your backyard, you may find a nesting pair there next spring. 

The Carolina Wren is one of my favorite birds. These tiny creatures can sing loud! And when we’re on the patio, they will do a low and loud fly-by, as if to say “hello.” I just love being around these little birds!

Carolina Wrens love to feast on dried mealworms. We have a bright yellow trough feeder that they love to visit. They will also eat from suet-filled feeders. Furthermore, they love safflower seed chips!

5 Midwest Birds to Get to Know

#3 – Northern Cardinal

debra gail photography cardinal
He’s showing off

The Northern Cardinal is a bird that we have year-round and another favorite of these five birds in the Midwest.

The brilliant red feathers of the Northern Cardinal makes them the most-watched bird and often the reason people become interested in bird watching. They move quickly, and in the spring, we often notice the male cardinals calling attention to themselves when there are other males in the area.

Their favorite food seems to be safflower seeds. They will check out other feeders, but always return to the ones with safflower seed.

A splendid thing about safflower seed is that Blue Jays and squirrels don’t bother with it! 

5 Midwest Birds to Get to Know

#4 – Tufted Titmouse

5 midwest birds - tufted titmouse
With a black patch above the bill and gray feathers, the peach-colored wash down the flank makes this a beautiful bird

This small cutie is a fast bird and not easy to photograph at the feeder.

But if you want to photograph a Tufted Titmouse, you’ll need to set your shutter speed for around 1600. That’s just one photography tip! I have lots more!

The Tufted Titmouse likes to eat insects, berries, and nuts. We have a sunflower seed mix in this feeder that they seem to love! They also frequently feed at the safflower feeders.

The Tufted Titmice are commonly found across most of the central and eastern half of the United States. And for my friends in Canada, Tufted Titmice are rare species in Canada and found primarily in the southern Ontario Carolinian forests.

#5 – House Finch

5 midwest birds - house finches
My primary safflower feeder with sweet little House Finch families

House Finches are common in our area, but this doesn’t make them a common sight to watch! The social factor of these House Finches makes them one of the favorites of the 5 Midwest birds to get to know!

Other house finches always surround this highly social bird. And it seems that they’re at the feeders almost always! Specifically, the house finch spends a lot of time at the safflower seed feeder.

5 Midwest Birds to Get to Know

One seed type will bring many beautiful songbirds to your backyard.

Safflower Seed Wins!

It’s not just these five birds that love safflower seeds, but also Chickadees, Nuthatches, Grosbeaks, Doves, Purple Finches, House Sparrows, and more.

Well, there you have it!

5 Midwest birds to get to know!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post!

While the grape jelly is a big hit with several birds in the Midwest, safflower seeds are also popular! Buying and supplying just one type of birdseed is a simple strategy for attracting these five beautiful birds to your backyard! Put safflower seeds in your feeders, and you’ll attract these songbirds and more.

The fascinating aspect of safflower seed in the bird feeders is that “bully birds” like the Blue Jays do not eat it.

Bird Food Tips of the 5 Midwest Birds to Get to Know

Here is a complete list of what birds in our backyard love to eat: 

Safflower seed

Grapes

Grape Jelly

Blueberries

Orange slices

Suet

Peanuts

Millet

Sunflower Seeds

Sunflower Seed Chips

Dried Mealworms

For more on birds and an excellent bird ID app, check out Merlin.

Posted on Leave a comment

Bald Eagles and Turkey Vultures

turkey vulture sunset
  • vulture in flight
  • bald eagle perched
  • vulture sunset
  • bald eagle at sunrise
  • vulture at sunset
  • turkey vulture is pretty too

The Differences Between Bald Eagles and Turkey Vultures

Although it’s hard to imagine two more different birds than a turkey vulture and a bald eagle, these two birds of prey are sometimes confused.

The bald eagle has a majestic appearance and is the beloved National Emblem of the USA. On the other hand, the turkey vulture isn’t so romanticized. Instead, it’s often associated with death and referred to as a “buzzard.” Despite their differences, both are large, fascinating birds!

Turkey Vultures Teeter

Like bald eagles, turkey vultures are large, and dark soaring birds. But unlike bald eagles, they have a much smaller, and mysterious-looking head than bald eagles. And these redheads hold their wings in a pronounced V-shape when soaring, unlike the eagle. Also, they often teeter as they fly, whereas bald eagles hold their wings flat like a board and are steady.

Turkey vultures hold their wings in a V-shape when soaring

Turkey vultures ride thermals in the sky and use their keen sense of smell to find fresh carcasses. In addition, the turkey vulture is smaller than a bald eagle, weighing only about 5 or 6 pounds with an average 6-foot wingspan. 

Turkey vultures are scavengers. They clean up one sharp-billed bite at a time.

Turkey vultures hang out in small groups, unlike the bald eagle. And turkey vultures are nature’s sanitation workers. They eat the dead animals that otherwise would go to rot. This bird is indeed a carrion lover; however, he does venture beyond dead animals occasionally, eating berries, insects, grapes, and coyote feces.

Turkey vultures appear black from a distance, but up close you can see they are dark brown with a featherless red head and pale bill. While most of their body and forewing is dark, the undersides of the flight feathers are lighter in color, giving a two-toned appearance.

turkey vulture sunset
Turkey vultures are pretty too

Bald Eagles Soar

Bald eagles perch and roost in an upright square-shouldered stance grasping a branch with strong, yellow talons. They are 28 to 38 inches tall. And the females are larger than males. The bald eagle’s beak is large and heavily curved. The color of this hooked beak ranges from bright orange-yellow in adults to dark gray in first-year birds.

A beautiful bald eagle perched in the morning sunlight

The magnificent bald eagle has a 6 to 7-1/2 ft. wingspan. Bald eagles have a noticeable, unusual flight behavior of banking and flapping their wings vigorously while vertical. Bald eagles typically exhibit a steady, deliberate flight pattern with slow wingbeats. In both soaring and gliding flight, the bald eagle’s long, uniformly wide, plank-like wings are held straight out, at a right angle from the body.


The bald eagle receives its name from the distinctive pure white-feathered head, neck, and tail. Adults also have a brown-black body and a large yellow bill. Adult males and females look the same; however, the female is larger.

The bald eagle prefers fish but will prey on smaller animals such as mice. The bald eagle will even steal another animal’s kill. The bald eagle is not above eating a corpse, like a turkey vulture; however, I’ve never witnessed it!

More

Eagles, in general, have excellent eyesight, helpful for spotting and killing prey. The turkey vulture also has keen eyesight; however, he also has a sharp sense of smell, which comes in handy in his search for carrion. He has no feathers on his head, which helps when he eats. The turkey vulture often has to stick his head in the carcass to retrieve meat; feathers would complicate his feeding process.

An eagle has strong, sharp talons for grasping and tearing the prey, in contrast to the turkey vulture’s weak feet. The turkey vulture’s powerful beak makes up for his week feet, allowing him to tear through the toughest animal hide.

Occasionally the turkey vulture will regurgitate his meal, leaving behind a mess with a foul, funky odor. This odor can help disgust potential predators as well as lighten his load, making him better able to take off in flight.

Turkey vultures are part of nature’s clean-up crew. They rid the landscape of deteriorating carcasses and help curb the spread of dangerous diseases and bacteria. Their stomachs have strong enzymes that kill off dangerous toxins and microorganisms.

Although the bald eagle is the more glamorous of the two, I find the turkey vulture an impressive raptor. And besides, just look at those eyes!

The National Audubon Society website is one of my favorites!