A trick of the light

Baldwin’s Birds


My! How suddenly quiet it has become for bird activity around the house and garden. The back garden nesters have disappeared and only a few birds seem to be flitting about now and again, but we still have activity around our front feeders. We actually had a very shy and reticent feeder, a female Cardinal, feeding on one of our cylindrical hanging Birdie Block feeders, which is a first for us, right in front of one of our big windows! Both Cardinals are very hard to observe for long at any time, as they are extremely elusive and don’t dwell to feed for very long. Maybe the fact that I hadn’t stocked my other feeders for a couple of days gave her the incentive to try the hanging ones that tend to last a little longer than the conventional feeders do, being fairly inaccessible to the Squirrels although they do try!!

We have had more activity from the Hummingbirds recently and one of them has taken to perching in one of our trees at the front before venturing in to feed on our sugar water feeder. The white breasted female Ruby Throated Hummingbird is our most common feeder visitor, which now and again gets chased off by a male which is the tree dweller. I don’t know if he is actually protecting the food supply or is just her partner. Anyway they go zooming off to somewhere else when he does make a showing. Occasionally, an interloper will appear from somewhere else in the neighbourhood, and then the perching male springs into action straightaway to see them off! He must be watching all the time from his perch in the tree and will stay there for quite long periods of time. If I happen to see him fly to his spot, I can then get my camera facing there without too much ado, but if I haven’t seen him fly there and just look to find him, it takes a while to spot him or her!

This year, having had the male perch where he does has made getting pictures of him a little easier and has also revealed the other striking thing about him that I hadn’t really noticed before. The different throat colours that he seems to have are not at all what you would expect from the colour in his name! At times, he has a very dark brown throat and then a very bright red one, but never a ruby one! There are even transition times when he has both colours showing. This quirk of nature is not just evident to our eyes but also is detected by the camera which makes it all the more amazing. According to the experts, it is the result of different shades of light shining on their feathers! I shall say no more, not being qualified in this scientific subject, as to how this happens or how we perceive it to happen!

Stay safe and well,

John Baldwin



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