Tag Archives: backyard birds

Mr. Finch Goes A’Courting in Siouxland, Sioux City

25 Jun

A male House Finch joins a female House Finch in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Tuesday May 10, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Nature seems to always be surprising me, even when I don’t know that it is. But I keep learning even if by mistake. Spring time is filled with love in the air, even in Siouxland. Finding these two finches becoming animated a birder friend explained to me the male house finch is courting the female house finch and in the process showing its ability to be a good provider. Seems love the kind of thing that crosses the line of all species. And as the saying goes, “Watch and Learn.”

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A male House Finch courts a female House finch in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Tuesday May 10, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A male House Finch courts a female House Finch in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Tuesday May 10, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Public Grooming in Siouxland, Sioux City

11 Jun

A Cooper’s Hawk checks its surrounding while perched in a tree in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday May 8, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

In my neck of the woods in Siouxland there seems to be a single or pair of Cooper’s Hawks that live about the area. I see one, rarely both, flying above or landing nearby, sometimes closer than I personally would like.

The weather this particular day had been off and on with a rain shower, although mostly off in the immediate area. So I was surprised when the hawk showed up looking a little ruffled and damp. Possibly getting caught in a down pout nearby and then finding a place to do a little drying off. The towel guy wasn’t available this particular day.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A Cooper’s Hawk checks its surrounding while perched in a tree in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday May 8, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Cooper’s Hawk does a little grooming perched in a tree in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday May 8, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Getting to all those difficult spots a Cooper’s Hawk does a little grooming perched in a tree in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday May 8, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Cooper’s Hawk checks its surroundings while it does a little grooming perched in a tree in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday May 8, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Springtime Visitors in Siouxland, Migration Guests Passing Through, Sioux City

3 Jun

A black warbler sits in a tree in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, May 8, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

This spring seemed a little unusual for Siouxland, at least my part of it, in that I found a number of birds passing through of which I had not seen before. A birding friend informed me that some of these birds are found in other areas, within a few miles actually of me, but I had never noticed them in my neighborhood previously. Then again, I might not paid attention.

A black warbler looks for food in a tree in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, May 8, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A black and white warbler looks for food on a tree in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, May 8, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But with the unusual stuff going on the last couple of years and as I have hung out in my backyard more maybe my attention to guests stopping by is more acute. It certainly makes it more interesting and fun photographically. Practice makes for better bird photos and lord knows I need that. Some of these little critters are very challenging to stop action and get clear shots as they flit about trees and bushes just beginning to leaf.

A rose-breasted grosbeak checks out the scene around some feeders in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, May 8, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A rose-breasted grosbeak checks out the scene around some feeders in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, May 8, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A female Rose-breasted Grosbeak sits on a suet feeder in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, May 8, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And for the most part, I saw the birds traveling in pairs or more groupings. There were 2-3 couples of the Rose-breasted Grosbeak birds that hung out for 2-3 days, then I didn’t see them again. The bird song as well was noticeable with different sounds that I have previously encountered while sitting and watching and listening.

A yellow warbler looks for food among the newly formed leaves on a tree branch in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Tuesday May 10, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A yellow warbler looks for food among the newly formed leaves on a tree in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Tuesday May 10, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A yellow warbler cleans itself on a tree branch in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Tuesday May 10, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And although I think the birds who might be passing through have done just that, I am looking forward to my local residents hanging out this summer and the chance to photograph them again. Of course I don’t have a pool for them to stop by and enjoy, but I promise treats.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A male Brown-headed Cowbird eats at a feeder in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Tuesday May 10, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A female Brown-headed Cowbird sits on a branch before checking for food in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, May 8, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Grey Catbird sits on a suet feeder in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Tuesday May 10, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

More Bird Antics in Siouxland, Adams Homestead Nature Preserve, North Sioux City, SD

20 Apr
A downy woodpecker checks out the scene at a suet feeder at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Welcome Center Friday, January 28, 2022 in the backyard of a residence in North Sioux City, SD. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I never tire of watching birds at bird feeders. Each species seems to have its own ritual when having a bite to eat. And sometimes I even feel intrusive watching them eat as they stop, stare, long and hard, before continuing their meal. But for a quiet moment, it can be bliss.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A downy woodpecker snacks at a suet feeder at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Welcome Center Friday, January 28, 2022 in the backyard of a residence in North Sioux City, SD. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A downy woodpecker snacks at a suet feeder at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Welcome Center Friday, January 28, 2022 in the backyard of a residence in North Sioux City, SD. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A downy woodpecker snacks at a suet feeder at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Welcome Center Friday, January 28, 2022 in the backyard of a residence in North Sioux City, SD. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A downy woodpecker snacks at a suet feeder at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Welcome Center Friday, January 28, 2022 in the backyard of a residence in North Sioux City, SD. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Peanut Butter Suet, a Delight in Siouxland, Sioux City

16 Apr
A downy woodpecker eyes a feeder in the backyard of a residence Friday, Sept. 17, 2021 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

This past year I have been pleased with seeing more fine feathered visitors in the Siouxland area. At least for me. I began putting out some “peanut butter” suet for those visitors and much like one of those noted peanut butter brands shown in TV ads, this particular suet must have been made with similar stuff. One particular downy woodpecker ate its fill and then proceeded to find a place to clean its bill. Maybe it will stick to insects a bit more next time.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A downy woodpecker tries removing some suet from its beak after eating at a suet feeder in the backyard of a residence Friday, Sept. 17, 2021 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A downy woodpecker tries removing some suet from its beak after eating at a suet feeder in the backyard of a residence Friday, Sept. 17, 2021 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A downy woodpecker tries removing some suet from its beak after eating at a suet feeder in the backyard of a residence Friday, Sept. 17, 2021 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A downy woodpecker looks for grubs in a dead branch in the backyard of a residence Friday, Sept. 17, 2021 in Sioux City, Iowa.

Dining and Dashing in Siouxland, Sioux City

4 Apr
A Cooper’s Hawk eats a dark eyed junco song bird on the railing of a deck it killed in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa March 31, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I enjoy watching nature in Siouxland and have begun spending more time doing that, as well as spending time at local parks and preserves. That said, I was never really interested as a youth in watching those Wild Kingdom television show that showed nature in all its glory, including the lesser creatures being eaten by the bigger creatures.

As A friend recently said, that’s life in the animal kingdom. And I get that. I just don’t have to watch it. And so when it’s up close and personal outside a window, nature becomes all too real.

A Cooper’s Hawk eats a dark eyed junco song bird on the railing of a deck it killed in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa March 31, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Cooper’s Hawk eats a dark eyed junco song bird on the railing of a deck it killed in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa March 31, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I didn’t see the take down, but watched through a window at the back of a house and of course, shot a few photographs. I quietly tried to slip out a side door to continue shooting, but not through a window, but the hawk was having none of that as it probably wanted to defend its mid morning snack and continued its meal elsewhere.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A Cooper’s Hawk eats a dark eyed junco song bird on the railing of a deck it killed in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa March 31, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Even though it blends into its surroundings, a Cooper’s Hawk looks about as it eats a dark eyed junco it took from a backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa March 31, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Bird Antics in Siouxland, Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve, North Sioux City, SD

2 Apr
A red bellied woodpecker checks out the area before approaching a suet feeder at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Welcome Center Friday, January 28, 2022 in the backyard of a residence in North Sioux City, SD. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When out and about in Siouxland and enjoying nature, I can only smile sometimes when I see various antics the feathered friends sometimes provide. A real life “floor show” with meaning. This winter on a warmish day I watched a red bellied woodpecker enjoying himself at a suet feeder, all the while keeping an eye on an interloper who sat nearby, watching. A Cyclops that unblinkingly never wavered from watching the bird enjoy an afternoon snack. These are those days from which I can amass a few hundred photographs trying to find one or two interesting moments or movements. But then, sometimes those moments don’t really materialize but are just images frozen in time of a warm winter’s afternoon.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A red bellied woodpecker eyes a visitor as it readies to snack at a suet feeder at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Welcome Center Friday, January 28, 2022 in the backyard of a residence in North Sioux City, SD. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A red bellied woodpecker feeds at a suet feeder at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Welcome Center Friday, January 28, 2022 in the backyard of a residence in North Sioux City, SD. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A red bellied woodpecker feeds at a suet feeder at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Welcome Center Friday, January 28, 2022 in the backyard of a residence in North Sioux City, SD. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A red bellied woodpecker feeds at a suet feeder at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Welcome Center Friday, January 28, 2022 in the backyard of a residence in North Sioux City, SD. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Yikes! Nature Upclose in Siouxland, Sioux City

9 Mar
A Cooper’s hawk sits on a crossbar of a clothes line in a backyard on an exceptionally cold day with windchill creating a temperature of -8 degrees in Sioux City, Iowa, Tuesday, February 23, 2022. All the normal song birds had left and stayed away until the hawk departed. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I must admit I enjoy photographing nature when out and about in Siouxland. I have learned a lot of birds and trying to capture an image with some success and a lot of misses. But I continue to improve my ability to record what I see. I have visited a number of nature refuges around Siouxland looking for critters, winged and four-legged.

But sometimes one only needs to outside one’s front door, or in this case, back door. And nature appears a little too close. Recently I was trying to figure out why my cat was intently staring out into the backyard. I looked and a couple of squirrels seemingly agitated and then noticed there were no song birds about at any of the feeders I have.

Upon closer inspection I spied the raptor, a Cooper’s hawk perched on the cross are of a clothesline just taking in its surroundings. I have notice a hawk flying about this past year and can hear its call or cry at times. The noisy squirrels were in a bush with many branches so not ideal for the hawk to retrieve either of them and they wanted to get to the seed on the ground that smaller birds had spilled earlier. After stepping outside to photograph the large bird it flew off. Maybe 15 minutes later song birds were again eating on the ground and at the feeders. Sometimes certain guests are just not welcomed, especially the predatory kind that will pick off the smaller birds to feed on as well as other small animals.

Nature unclose and personal is sometimes too close.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

The Weather is not Delightful in Siouxland, Sioux City

27 Feb
A Starling bird flies off with some dried fruit from a feeder in a backyard on an exceptionally cold blustery day when windchill creates a temperature of -15 degrees in Sioux City, Iowa, Tuesday, February 22, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Winter has blasted Siouxland with some pretty harsh weather as of late, with air temperatures in the single digits and wind chill driving the temps down below freezing, in most cases -10 or more below zero with it getting even colder overnight.

I always try to keep a few bird feeders filled with eats for those creatures that visit during the colder months and when it’s extremely cold outside I see starlings showing up looking for some warmth and eats.

Starling birds huddle together to stay warm on an exceptionally cold blustery day when windchill creates a temperature of -15 degrees in Sioux City, Iowa, Tuesday, February 22, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Starling birds huddle together to stay warm on an exceptionally cold blustery day when windchill creates a temperature of -15 degrees in Sioux City, Iowa, Tuesday, February 22, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

These guys hang out in groups and except for the few single brave ones that dashed and dined at the feeders, most came in small groups, staying just long enough and then darting off to someplace they felt a bit more safe. Watching the these birds and other species is interesting and always makes me smile is how all creatures share some common traits even if we don’t really believe it. And hopefully overnight when the temps and wind an be more brutal, they find a safe haven to hunker down and wait for a better day that will come soon according to the weather prognosticators.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A Starling bird eats a kernel of corn near a feeder in a backyard on an exceptionally cold blustery day when windchill creates a temperature of -15 degrees in Sioux City, Iowa, Tuesday, February 22, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Starling bird lands near some others looking for food within a small woodpile in a backyard on an exceptionally cold blustery day when windchill creates a temperature of -15 degrees in Sioux City, Iowa, Tuesday, February 22, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Starling bird drops in to join others huddled together to stay warm on an exceptionally cold blustery day when windchill creates a temperature of -15 degrees in Sioux City, Iowa, Tuesday, February 22, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying a Moment in Siouxland, Sioux City

19 Dec
A female cardinal sits on a feeder in the sunshine in the backyard at a residence Sunday, Dec. 12, 2021 in Sioux City, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes when starting the day, it’s nice to take a moment and just enjoy it. This cardinal sat on the feeder in this position for a few minutes. Guessing it was just enjoying the warmth of the sunshine on a coolish winter’s day after enjoying a snack. It’s not always the big things that gives one joy.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A female cardinal sits on a feeder in the sunshine in the backyard at a residence Sunday, Dec. 12, 2021 in Sioux City, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
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