Janine's Blog

Steve Vai, Garden Birds

Dec 05, 2016 by Janine |
Last week we saw Steve Vai with VIP access. It was a wonderful experience to meet Steve and the band & crew.

Q&A with Steve. "Some kind of sorcerer"

We also got to roam around on the stage before the show

The show was amazing. Especially the surprise bit of "audience participation" at the end! ;)

After that excitement, it was nice to relax with the birds in the garden. The painted buntings have been steadily increasing in number.

Bath time

"The Waiting Stick." Each bird patiently awaits their turn in the bath.

Except for the male cardinal, of course.

The goldfinches are back

Nov 26, 2016 by Janine |
We've had some interesting birds pass though this week. A flock of robins flew over on Thanksgiving, and we've got 4 American goldfinches visiting the feeder. Here are 3 of them.

Hummingbirds never seem to cooperate by feeding from these flowers in the bright sunlight! It is always in the evening.


Eastern phoebe. He likes sitting on this bat and looking for insects.

Speaking of bats, I've got a new bat detector that auto-detects bat species from their echo location calls. We have been astonished with the diversity of bats just in our garden- according to the detector we have Hoary Bats, Eastern Red Bat, Brazilian Free Tails, Evening Bats, and Big Brown Bat. The only one I have actually seen is the Hoary bat, because it is a large bat and it often flies around our yard at dusk. The smaller bats tend to wait until it is dark, so I've only "seen" them through the bat detector. There are certainly enough mosquitoes for them to eat!

A new visitor to the garden also arrived this week, a blue-headed vireo.

Supermoon from earlier this month

Turtle Friend and Walla Walla

Nov 12, 2016 by Janine |
A box turtle wandered through the garden this week. I love seeing them ambling along.

Black throated blue warbler from a couple of weeks ago.

Visited Walla Walla earlier this fall. Just now getting around to pics!

Great blue heron with frog legs for dinner

Another turtle friend, a western painted turtle

California quail

Western scrub jay flyover

A flock of young cedar waxwings decimated these elderberry bushes.

Early morning mule deer

Kingfisher flyover

Palouse Falls, the official state waterfall of Washington

A closer look at the sunflowers revealed this miniature drama unfolding.

I wondered if the spider was planning to try and grab the bee, or if it was waiting for smaller prey. Eventually the bee flew off and left the spider to it.

San Antonio, garden birds

Oct 24, 2016 by Janine |
It has been a busy few weeks. Luckily we were spared the worst of Hurricane Matthew and only had some minor tree damage. We had the birdfeeders back out at dawn immediately after the storm passed. Since then I've picked up a few more painted buntings, as well as had some other migrants pass through.

Rose-breasted grosbeak

Northern parula

Red eyed vireo

Black throated blue warbler male

And female. All of the warblers have been enjoying these rouge berries.

Eastern Phoebe

Female Scarlet Tanager

Ruby throated hummingbird

Our wildlife cams have been catching plenty of interesting visitors.

By day: Catbird, Ovenbird, Cardinal, and Carolina wren

By night: Raccoons, Opossum with baby in pouch, Armadillo, and a pre-dawn Ovenbird

It has been a lot of fun watching what goes on in the garden when we are not looking!

Last week I was in San Antonio for a conference. Flying out of Palm Beach, I got a nice view of all the runoff stormwater draining offshore.

The Alamo

Market Square, the largest Mexican market in the US.

The highlight of the trip was the Bracken bat cave, home to millions of bats! It was amazing to watch them emerge at dusk. I had visited last spring, but this was much more impressive since there were many more fall migrant bats present.

We've also had our first cool front pass through in Florida, which has been a delight.

Before the storm

Oct 06, 2016 by Janine |
Hurricane Matthew is heading for South Florida this evening. Thought I'd get one more blog in before going offline for a while!

Bird activity has picked up in the last few days. We had our first painted buntings arrive a couple of days ago.

Hummingbirds have been arriving steadily

New one for the yard, Swainson's Thrush

Ovenbird bathing

Wren showering

Sentinel mockingbird

The local pileated woodpeckers have been taking an interest in the owl box. This one decided to widen the entrance hole enough so that it could fit inside. I don't know why since I doubt that the box is large enough for them to nest in. Guess I will have to look into reinforcing the entrance before the owls come back!

To those in Matthew's path... stay safe!

The hummingbirds are back!

Sep 18, 2016 by Janine |
Yesterday the first female ruby-throated female visited the feeder. Today, a male was making himself at home, feeding and sunbathing.

Losts of warblers passing through. Of course, they tend to be most active in the evening, which makes photography difficult!

Black-throated blue warbler male and female

Kentucky warbler, a lifer! Plus, we got to celebrate double since it was also a first for the yard :)

Cardinals abound

Carolina wrens

Migration is on

Sep 10, 2016 by Janine |
Fall warblers have been moving through over the past couple of weeks.


Female American Redstart. The tail flashing display is thought to startle insects.

The resident Cardinals and Bluejays are looking disheveled due to molt

Leopard frogs

There has also been renewed interest in the owl box. We've seen the wren, bluejays and the red-bellied woodpecker investigating. As well as some unexpected guests.

Anything to eat around here?

Too small.

Summer Daze

Aug 20, 2016 by Janine |
Summer isn't great for birds in South Florida, but we do have some that stay almost year round.

Great crested flycatcher.

The wrens have stayed throughout the summer.

The first dribs and drabs of migration are appearing. Had an early hummingbird in the yard a few weeks ago.

Another less welcome visitor to the yard. The brown basilisk, an invasive species. I worry that he will gobble up my caterpillars as well as smaller, native lizards like skinks and anoles.

Leopard Frogs

Lots of fawns at Riverbend

Pileated woodpecker

Red-bellied woodpecker

Some kind of Boletus mushroom. Lots of different mushrooms popping up with all the rain we've had.

Baby Cardinals and Everglades

Jul 16, 2016 by Janine |
Rainy afternoon cardinals:

A great-crested flycatcher sunbathing

Giant swallowtail

White-tailed kites at Everglades National Park. No panthers this trip, but the kites made up for it!

White phase great blue heron

Twilight ospreys. Dramatic skies with a thunderstorm moving in.

Swimming crab

As above, so below

WA and CO

Jul 02, 2016 by Janine |
I stayed in La Conner for the 2nd half of the trip to Washington. Stayed in a quiet little B&B with lots of hummingbirds. My room was right near the hummingbird feeders so I could hear them buzzing and chattering out the window, which was nice.

Did some hiking at Deception Pass. It was a lovely cool and sunny day.

Pigeon Guillemot, a first for me!

Bald eagles were numerous

White-crowned sparrow

The rest of the trip was a bit rainy, but still cool and refreshing.

Banana slug

I was also in Colorado a few weeks ago. Visited Golden for dinner one night and was surprised to see the river was quite high.


Stopped by the Colorado Cider tasting room in Denver. So many ciders, so little time!

Back home now, enjoying our heat and humidity. It won't be long before the hummingbirds are back!