Armchair Birding

“Binoculars, and a hawk-like vigilance, reduce the disadvantage of myopic human vision.” ~ J.A. Baker

Summer is very ‘ho-hum’ for birding. Don’t get me wrong. The usual oooh’s and aaaah’s of the migratory spring or fall varieties set the bar for regular family birding outings. But when the heat arrives like the devil with his blow torch, the feathered locals settle into raising and feeding their families instead. It’s all work and no play for these species, much the opposite as it is for us when it’s hot, and there are few surprise ‘sightings.’

Since our last birding excursion, it’s the backyard birds that have kept us entertained. The baby wrens are always a few feet away from the upstairs window, waiting for Mama to fly in with a spider. But the window screen and absence of adequate lighting makes for crappy photos to share.

Baby bluebirds and baby cardinals are decidedly less trusting of the crepe myrtle canopy around the back of our house. It’s a good thing they’re cautious — baby hawks are also on the look-out for food there. We only hear the family of blue jays and chickadees and even the occasional hunger call of baby barred owl chick. These guys are terribly difficult to spot; they loiter high and in the thick foliage of oak canopies across the creek, just out of our field of vision, even with x10 binoculars.

Visual or no, they are no less enjoyable.

My husband, Scott (from Michigan) thinks Texas summers are just like northern winters — everyone just wants to stay in. But outside is where the birds are, and I don’t particularly care if the mercury reads three digits. Armed with binoculars (perhaps a cold beer and some DEET), our living room is out by the creek, sitting on the swing with one or two of my kids.

Sometimes, running in and getting the big lens is warranted, and — if I’m lucky — the subject might still be there to shoot when I return, sweaty and breathless. (Mostly, not.) It’s easier to just soak in the view through binoculars, saving the frustration and conserving precious calories instead. I’ll work more for cataloging these beauties come fall.

Until then, we relish our tiny, busy neighbors. Being soaked with sweat and eaten alive by mosquitoes is well worth the joy and hope time spent in their presence.

As with all other images at DirtNKids, no post-processing has been done on these either. I continue to hope for time to remedy that (I shoot RAW+JPG); any time at the computer comes at the expense of enjoying what little time we have enjoying these backyard gems as a family. I choose any place other than in front of a computer screen and keyboard in the summer.

Cooper's Hawk (Juvenile)

Coopers Hawk, Juvie
(Shot with the wide angle — yes, that close!)

Broad-tailed Hummingbird

A Surprise Feeder Visitor
Rufous Hummingbird

Downy Woodpecker

Making a Living
Downy Woodpecker

Black-bellied Whistling Ducks

Big Family
Black-bellied Whistling Duck

Pileated Woodpecker

The Woodland Hoss
Pileated Woodpecker

Mississippi Kite

Mississippi Kite

Look-out Perch
Mississippi Kite

Mississippi Kite

Winged Surviellance
Mississippi Kite

Northern Cardinal

Always Foraging for his Babes
Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal

Getting a Much Needed Break From Kids
Northern Cardinal

Browse the 2015 Birding Photo Album at SmugMug
anytime you like.

We are currently at 220 our 2015 Bird List.

How are you enjoying the birdies
in your neck of the woods?

10 thoughts on “Armchair Birding

    1. Not as many as I would have liked; the Great 2019 Snowicane really wrecked our Colorado birding plans, as you well know.

      But no worries. I got to call up a curious canyon wren in New Braunfels this morning. Pure joy, that one is … and one more tick for my list compulsion. 😀

      PS – I forgot about this post! Thanks for leaving a crumb here for me to go back and read. Nature is so cyclical that this 2015 post could easily have been one in 2019.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Yaaay the cardinal but sheesh the birds of prey in this one are staggeringly magnificent. My eyes lit up at the Mississippi Kite. The Cooper’s Hawk seems like a more suavely dressed version of the Little Banded Goshwak we have here in India.

    And the cardinal sigh it’s too much prettiness for me to stay away from, Shannon. Thanks for bringing all of them to us 🙂


    1. How did I know you’d like that kite? I only wish he was a bit closer for the portrait. I’m not doing chasing him. They are regulars around our ‘hood, and it seems whenever I have a good beat on him, I don’t have my camera. Timing is everything.

      Funny — both the hawk and the kite are the only raptor species we have with RED EYES. Got both of them on one post.

      I love your Little-banded Goshawk! We have very similar birds for being separated by several oceans. Evolution is an amazing thing.

      Thanks for coming by and commenting, Christy. They always brighten my day.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Love it! What kind do you get up there?

      We keep two feeders up throughout the year, one in front, one in back. In a few more weeks, we’ll add several more for the Ruby-throat migration. We’ll watch them in droves as they tank up before crossing the Gulf. Can’t wait! Have a sneak peak. (


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