Birdcam Back in Business

My two Birdcam photo stations have been shut down since mid-February.  Recall the problems I was having with Eastern Gray Squirrels and House Finches.  Too much success can be the worst dilemma of all.  I decided to give all bird feeding a cooling down period.  This week, I began setting up my Birdcam stations again.  Station No. 2 now has a brand new woodpecker feeder and I provisioned it with pepper suet.  I have been experimenting with it for a couple of months, and the Gray Squirrels have shunned it totally.

I was pleased to catch this photo of a Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus) on the first day out.  This is the bird that inspired me to purchase and install a Birdcam in the first place.  This is also my first photo of a female Pileated.  The black mustache and black forehead are the distinguishing marks.  Until now, I had only seen males in the yard.  Yes, friends, I am definitely back in business.

The Black-headed Grosbeak (Pheucticus melanocephalus) is one of our summer-only birds.  It is also Fidalgo Island's only member of the Cardinal family.  The tortoise shell markings and colors identify a male.  In the Northwest, they will be attracted if there are a few broad-leaved trees among your confers and a water source.

The pepper suet received mixed reviews at Amazon.  I decided to give it a try anyway.  It is softer than the regular kind I bought locally and a bit messy to use.  Contrary to some of the reviews, it does seem to repel my local Gray Squirrels and the cakes last a good two weeks.  That offsets the higher cost a bit.  I would enjoy hearing suet recommendations and experiences from others.

Northern Flickers (Colaptes auratus) are always photogenic and another of my favorites.  Hanging out in small groups is an interesting behavior I have noticed during the winter.  They will just sit quietly together in the yard, perhaps sharing flicker gossip.  This is a red-shafted flicker and a female distinguished by the lack of a mustache mark.  I also see a few yellow-shafted birds who venture down from Canada, but most of my Flickers are red/yellow hybrids.  They have orange feather linings and will display a faded nape mark of the yellow-shafted race.

I was shut down for four months, so I missed the spring migrators.  Last year, I caught locally rare Western Tanagers passing through.  I will have to wait another year for that opportunity.  I am also waiting for the little Nuthatches, Chickadees and Wrens to show up.  They should discover the suet in a short time.  There is never a dull moment in the wildlife garden.

This post is being published simultaneously at Wild Fidalgo.