I bought a trail camera to set out by my peanut bird feeder to see if I could get a photo of the racoon that I suspected was raiding it at night. I would also hear strange, high-pitched squeaking sounds from the yard in the middle of the night, and I suspect it was racoon noises. Being lazy, I left the camera trap up during the day as well.
I did get one picture of a racoon at night, but what I am going to be sharing for the next few posts are the daytime photos of birds that the camera captures. The camera traps (or trail cameras) are a great way to get truly candid photos of animals and often you can get some pretty amusing pictures and surprises.
The first set of photos are of a tufted titmouse on the peanut feeder.
Titmouse determined to get a peanut
The tufted titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor) is a year-round resident of Missouri and much of the eastern half of the United States. They are insectivores in the summer but can be found commonly at feeders in the winter enjoying sunflower seeds, suet and peanuts, as this one that I caught with the camera trap is doing. They have a gray back and head with a buffy, white belly and peachy sides. Their distinctive crest or tuft can be a quick way to identify them. They are pretty agile and like the trail camera shows full of acrobatic antics.
Now that I see the potential in using the camera trap to get these fun shots, I am working on figuring out the best location for the camera trap and the feeder to get sharper more clear photos, and also playing around with different feeders to attract different bird species. It is also great because instead of standing out in the cold of winter to get photos, I can let the camera trap take them for me. Obviously you have less control but like I mentioned you can also get more varied behavior.
In the next set of photos I have a meal worm feeder specifically set out for bluebirds, and as you can see I have a nice family of bluebirds that visits every year. They are the cutest and very pretty, I will write more about them later. They particularly like the dried mealworms. But I also get a variety of other birds checking out this feeder including, titmice, chickadees, and even this female cardinal and female red-bellied woodpecker.
A bluebird family munching on mealworms
Female cardinal checking out the feeder
A female red-bellied woodpecker missed out on all the mealworms
The red-bellied woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus) is also a common, year round resident of the eastern United States. They are striking birds, with their barred, black and white backs, yellowish belly and red cap. I learned that males have a red cap that extends from their beak down to their neck , whereas the females have a bit of red near the beak and then at the back of the neck but not on the top. So the one in the photo is a female. You might be tempted to call this a red-headed woodpecker, but that name already belongs to another species found in Missouri. The red headed woodpecker ‘s entire head is read with black wings and white belly.
So where is the red belly on the red-bellied woodpecker? Well it is there, it is just not very prominent and hard to see as they are usually perched with their belly to the tree.
A fun fact for those less inclined to keep their yard overly orderly, most woodpeckers nest in dead trees and make new cavities each year in the same tree. So if you have dead trees in your backyard, it might not be bad to keep one around for these cavity nesters. We have one in our back yard just for this purpose.