Thursday, December 21, 2017

Crops & Clips: Christmas birds

We had three cold fronts move through in succession this past week, driving the overnight temperatures into the mid 40's F (7 degees C) with a brisk northerly breeze. Daytime temperatures barely reached the chilly mid-50s F (15 degrees C).

We get out early. Here is the view from our back yard taken at 6:24 AM, 40 minutes before sunrise on December 17, 2017:

Before Sunrise 0620AM 20171217

A half hour before sunrise, the sky is just beginning to lighten up behind the entrance gate of our subdivision:

Monaco Cove H 20171217

With Christmas and the holiday season upon us, I look back on some of my photos which convey the theme. Nothing rare, but lots of color and seasonal joy. We are in south Florida, so these are not holly berries--

Yellow-rumped Warbler...

Yellow-rumped Warbler in Brazilian Peppers 20171217

...and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, on Brazilian Pepper:

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 20100108

European holiday greeting cards often feature Robins and Turtle Doves. Here in the US, the most popular birds shown on Christmas cards seem to be cardinals and chickadees.

Northern Cardinal:

Northern Cardinal 2-20151209

Black-capped Chickadee (taken in Illinois, as it does not range into south Florida):

Black-capped Chickadee 13-20141021

No snow here. This Mountain Chickadee appears in one of my New Mexico photos:

Mountain Chickadee 20111114

This loving pair of Common Ground-Doves must substitute for Turtle Doves (getting over a lovers' quarrel?):

Common Ground-Doves 3-20170314

This American Robin, namesake of the unrelated European species, is an uncommon but welcome winter visitor to our local wetlands:

American Robin HDR 4-20160211

It too was eating the Brazilian Pepper berries:

American Robin HDR 2-20160211

Like our robin, the Eastern Bluebird is a member of the thrush family. Their images often adorn holiday cards. I saw this one in Illinois:

Eastern Bluebird male 4-20170503

I wish I had photos of a Blue Jay on snow...

Blue Jay 20131117

...but I did catch this snow scene, of the closely related Steller's Jay,  almost two miles high on Sandia Crest in New Mexico:

Steller's Jay 2-20111114

Florida has many "snowbirds" of the people kind, but the Dark-eyed Junco deserves the name. This one was enjoying the snowflakes in our daughter's back yard in Illinois:

Dark-eyed Junco 2-20130227

I searched my archives for photos taken on Christmas day--

A back yard Wood Stork (2008):

Wood Stork 20081225

A wind-blown Tricolored Heron on our lawn (2010):

Tricolored Heron in following breeze 20101225

Pair of Egyptian Geese approaching the near shore of our lake (2013)

Egyptian Geese 20131225

From the back patio, an airplane crossing in front of the full Cold Moon (2015):

Moon plane sequence 2 20151225

Also on Christmas, 2016, a Great Egret in the local wetlands reflected nicely:

Great Egret 20161226

This photo of a Zebra Heliconian was taken on Christmas Day just last year. The butterfly is feasting on Lantana flower nectar. This year, Hurricane Irma struck on September 10, and so altered the habitat that nearly all flower buds and fruits were stripped off the trees and shrubs. This resulted in a serious lack of butterflies, even though the artificial "pruning" later caused a flush of blossoms which peaked in mid-November. 

The Lantanas have now gone to fruit and have no flowers at all. Their berries, which normally ripen and persist through much of the winter, are an important food source for wildlife. The same happened to the Trema trees, but the ones which were not blown down have not yet recovered and show no signs of new buds.

Zebra Heliconian 03-20161225

This photo shows a Northern Cardinal on a Trema rich with fruit. (I use it as wallpaper for this blog.) It was taken on September 5, 2016, almost exactly one year before the hurricane struck. Note that new fruit appears and ripens sequentially at the tips of the branches. The shoots continue to grow out and produce new berries all winter. Not this year!

Cardinal in fruiting Trema 20160904

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to all, and thank you for visiting and hosting my blog, which I started back in 2006.  A good friend, who has since passed, created this Christmas Card from one of my photos only three years ago:

Deer Christmas Card

On a happy note, I ran across many Christmas photos of our grandchildren. I thought these two, of our Illinois granddaughters were special (2007):

Christmas 2007


 Las Nietas

= = =  = = =  = = = =  = = = = =

Linking to Misty's  CAMERA CRITTERS,

Linking to Eileen's SATURDAY'S CRITTERS,


Linking to SKYWATCH FRIDAY by Yogi, Sylvia and Sandy


Linking to BirdD'Pot by Anni

Linking to Wild Bird Wednesday by Stewart

Linking to Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday) by NC Sue

Linking to ALL SEASONS by Jesh


Please visit the links to all these memes to see some excellent photos on display


  1. lovely collection of our feathered friends. I have to admit to a prejudice for chickadees myself

  2. Only the mid-50's eh? Merry Christmas anyway Kenneth!

  3. Wonderful photos, but the shots of those two beautiful granddaughters totally steal the show for me! Have a Merry Christmas!!

  4. Awww - lovely shots of the grandkids! Merry Christmas.

  5. Hello, beautiful photos and birds. I love the dove couple. Your granddaughters are adorable. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. I appreciate your visits and comments too. I wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
    Enjoy your day and weekend!


  7. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful! Happy Christmas!

  8. Darling grandchildren! Beautiful photos today as always. About the time I think one is my favorite, I see another gorgeous pic. I do love the
    Gnatcatcher pic, it's perfect. Great chickadees too, nice to compare them to the Carolina Chickadee that we have in our area. Merry Christmas!

  9. Lovely photos, I was awed by the Stellar Jay! Would love to see that bird, but alas, I'm no where near it's range I fear. I love Juncos, in Georgia we only get them in the winter. It's a daily ritual to watch for them to arrive. Haven't seen any yet, though.

  10. Marvelous photos!!!
    Thanks so much for sharing at I hope you had a wonderful Christmas celebration and hope for blessings to come your way throughout 2018!

  11. Pretty girls! A very colorful post, which I enjoyed immensely. Happy Wednesday!

  12. Excellent photos! Happy New Year!

  13. Wonderful photos! I loved seeing your steller's jay and your dark-eyed junco, as they are familiar visitors here as well. What a lovely grouping of photos! And neat moon shot! Sweet shots of the grandkids as well. Hope you had a wonderful Christmas!

  14. A terrific collection, from sunrise to sunset. I miss the cardinals now that we live in Montana!

  15. Gorgeous imgages and darling children! Happy New Year! Wishing you a fantastic 2018!


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