Squirrel Appreciation Day

It’s Squirrel Appreciation Day, and this fine creature in Yosemite posed for one of my all-time favorite squirrel photos.  It made a quick appearance near our tent in Curry Village on our epic trip in May 2011, and despite how much it seemed to “beg” for something tasty, it had to leave empty-handed.  We play by the rules, but it was still a good sport and posed for several nice photos!

squirrel1900aw

National Bird Day

In honor of National Bird Day, here are some photographs I took during our recent blizzard.  We gave birdseed to many, many birds after the storm, and they posed nicely for some cute photos!

Happy Birding, even in the snow!

IMG_2376IMG_2378IMG_2396IMG_2398IMG_2492

Noisy Neighbor

Earlier this week, I heard this noisy songbird just outside my kitchen window.  I knew it was a Blue Jay even before I saw it, as their sound is pretty distinctive, and they are fairly common birds in my area.  When I looked out the window, I actually saw two of them.  I had never been so close to a Blue Jay before, even though a window separated us, so I grabbed the camera and took some decent photos of them, despite the fact that they were in the shade of the bush most of the time.

Blue Jays are intelligent, keep tight family bonds and have a little bit of attitude.  I enjoyed having a “stare-down” with the one pictured below, and we sized each other up through the window for several minutes.  Notice the interesting “crown” on the forehead of this one.  Such markings are common for Blue Jays, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen markings so striking as this one.

Blue Jay

Blue Jay, a noisy neighbor!

My area is actually on the very edge of their frequented habitat, and we do not see them quite as often as we did years ago.  As there are a fairly large number of oak and pecan trees here, though, the blue jays seem to continue to hang around.

Seeing Blue Jays always brings back my memories of seeing them in fairly large numbers at my parents’ house growing up.  We had a two large pecan trees in our back yard, and the jays frequented them to eat the pecans.  My father would get a little frustrated at times with the large number of pecans we lost to them, but we also enjoyed seeing them, too.  At times, it was so noisy in the yard that we had trouble hearing each other in the kitchen inside the house.  It is a fun memory, and I always enjoy seeing these pretty birds with big attitudes!

Full House at the Feeder

With the recent addition of a third feeder in our backyard, we are seeing an ever-increasing number of birds stopping by for a little snack.  The smaller birds are certainly enjoying this new feeder, including a good number of House Sparrows, which are always a delight to see.

After all the fabulous rains of the past few weeks, everything seems to just be flourishing once again, including the wildlife, and what a great sight this is to see after years of drought.  A true blessing indeed!

House Sparrows at the Feeder

It’s a full house of House Sparrows in line at the new feeder, along with a curious dove.

House Sparrows at the Feeder

House Sparrows

Merlin App

Grackle Splashing

This is a little “bonus” post this week here at Animal Wonder, as I wanted to share this great new app that I just discovered for both iPhone and Android phones.  It is from the good folks at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, which is a site that I already frequent for bird identification, and I’m so happy to have this free app on my Android phone now.  It is a pretty large app, so I installed it on my phone’s SD card instead of directly on the phone.  I am already so impressed that it is totally free, too.

The app is simply called “Merlin,” and you can find it at the link below.  Give it a try soon, especially with your children and grandchildren!

Merlin App – Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Wordless Wednesday – His and Hers

Male and Female House Sparrows

Male and Female House Sparrows

Noisy Neighbors – Mynahs

In mid-May, we were fortunate to be able to spend a week in Maui.  We stayed in a great condo and enjoyed breakfast on our lanai each morning.  As usual when dining outdoors in the islands, we were joined by various birds who were obviously hoping for a handout.  The most vocal of our breakfast visitors were the Common Mynah Birds, and my goodness, these birds can certainly make some noise!  Their antics are something to behold, and they were quite glad to put on a free breakfast show for us every single day.

Mynahs are natives of South Asia, and they were introduced to the islands in 1865 by William Hillebrand to help control worm infestations.  And while we thoroughly enjoyed their vocal antics each morning, apparently they are not as appreciated by permanent residents in Hawaii most of the time due to their behavior and some other factors, even though they also provide several benefits as well.  They are truly a mixed bag, it seems.  But, for us, we enjoyed their company each morning, for sure.

In North America, the Mynahs can be found in Hawaii and some areas of Florida, and they are members of the Starling (Sturnidae) family, known for their “diverse and complex vocalizations.”  That maybe an understatement where these Mynahs are concerned!

Common Mynah Bird - Hawaii

Common Mynah Bird – Hawaii