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Bullock's Oriole

One Day in May: Back Yard Birding

This page consists of images I captured in one day…May 15th, 2017.

Western Tanager

This morning, I went out my back door to see my first Western Tanager of the year. I grabbed my Nikon D500 and Nikon 200-500mm lens and set up in my makeshift blind. I had a steady flow of colorful birds passing through my back yard in Jackson Hole. The photos on this page were selected from over 2500 images I captured today!

American GoldFinch

American Goldfinch:

Black-capped Chickadee

Black-capped Chickadee: A few of the birds, like this Black-capped Chickadee are year around residents. Most of them are combinations of gray, black and white.

Chipping Sparrow

Green-tailed Towhee: (Thanks to a couple of readers that corrected my identification of this bird!)

Chipping Sparrow

Chipping Sparrow:

Lazuli Bunting

Lazuli Bunting:

Dark-eyed Junco

Dark-eyed Junco:

White-crowned Sparrow

White-crowned Sparrow:


Song Sparrow: (Thanks to readers for helping identify the bird!)

Eurasian Collared Dove

Eurasian Collared Dove:

Eurasian Collared Dove

Eurasian Collared Dove:

Northern Flicker

Northern Flicker: Last year, a pair of Northern Flickers chipped out a nesting cavity, and then raised several chicks. This year, they returned to the same nest and appear to be starting a new family. I’ve seen them mating several times. They are aggressively defending the nest. Check out: A Northern Flicker Journal : 2016

Northern Flicker

Northern Flicker: I captured this image after the male successfully ran off a much larger Black-billed Magpie.

Broad-tailed Hummingbird

Broad-tailed Hummingbird:

The shots on this page were taken with a Nikon D500 and a Nikon 200-500mm lens. A D500 has a DX sensor, so the 1.5 crop factor gives the 500mm lens an effective reach of 750mm. That combination works very well! Last week, my wife and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary in the Carribean. Just before heading out of town, I sent my Nikon 70-200mm lens to Nikon Service to replace the bayonet mount. I also sent my Nikon D5 and new Tamron 150-600mm G2 lens to Tamron Service to get the free micro adjustment and calibration. It should be back in my hands by the end of the week. There should still be some birds around by then!

Red Squirrel

Red Squirrel: This female has been a fixture in my back yard for quite a few years, but the Northern Flicker’s pushed her out of yard last year. She came to the feeders today, but didn’t get close to the Flicker’s nest.

Black-billed Magpie

Black-billed Magpie:

Cassins Finch

Cassins Finch:

Cassins Finch

House Finch:  Most have a red head and chest. Females have very little color.

Pine Sisken

Pine Sisken:

American Goldfinch

American Goldfinch Female:

Bullock's Oriole

Bullock’s Oriole: In most years, the Orioles arrive a week or two before the Western Tanagers. Today, this was the only Bullock’s Oriole around, leading me to believe the rest of them are still to come. There’s also a possibility the wave already came through and didn’t find enough food, then headed on North. The two Western Tanagers might also be “early birds” this year. I should know more is a day or two.

Brown-headed Cowbird

Brown-headed Cowbird: These birds are often seen in the Park riding the backs of Bison.

Brown-headed Cowbird

Brown-headed Cowbird Female: I saw a few Brewer’s Blackbirds today, but didn’t photograph them. Starlings are also around. Grackles usually arrive towards the end of May.

Black-headed Grosbeak

Black-headed Grosbeak: I should get better shots of these over the next week or two. This one stayed back in the bushes and then to the back side of the feeder.

Mallard Ducks

Mallard Ducks:

Mountain Chickadee

Mountain Chickadee:

Each year, I spend quite a few dollars on sunflower seeds, Nyjer seeds, peanuts, peanut butter, & suet to feed the birds in my back yard. Each year, I am rewarded with a steady flow of colorful subjects. I am fairly sure many of the same birds return year after year. They hang around for a few weeks, then many of them continue on North.

Last year’s blind was crushed by the weight of the heavy Winter snowfall. The current makeshift blind will work for this year. I’ll disassemble it after about the 7th of June when I begin to focus more on Hummingbirds.

Other Birding Posts:

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Comments (15)

  1. Donna

    Hi Mike, Lucky are you to see and have such colorful assortment birds in your yard. I live about 2 hours north of Galveston TX where the migrants stop to eat & rest after making their long journey across the Gulf of Mexico and it was hit and miss for me and the migration this year. I also offer a smorgasbord of food in my yard for birds and butterfly’s but not much to focus on this year. I’m making a trip to your area this summer and hope to get on your schedule. Glad I found your blog.

  2. Diana LeVasseur

    Hi Mike,

    Was just looking thru all your beautiful bird photos and I think your chipping sparrow is actually a green-tailed towhee. Beautiful shot and I would love to get a shot like that as I have zero photos of that particular bird. You sure have a “birdy” yard, we could only wish here in Evanston as all we get are house finches and the occasional white-crowned sparrow.

  3. Kathy Harrison

    Sensational bird photos. Will you share your exif? How many feet was your lens from the birds? Thank you much.

  4. Wow Mike! You shot some great ones. Fantastic work…all in one day? Keep it up, you are an inspiration to us all. Nikon owes you big time.

  5. Dave Ruane

    That chipping sparrow is actually a green tailed towhee – great capture on these skittish birds!

  6. Beautiful collection of bird photos. I’d love to have you put together a blog post about how you have created a yard that is so alluring for so many different kinds of birds. I have a simple bird feeder and get a few Bullock Oriole’s, sparrows, and Stellar Jays but nothing like the assortment you have invited to join you.

  7. Lowell Schechter

    Mike , a wonderful assortment of species of birds. I guess if you have the right setup in your backyard, you can blaze away all day. Most of these birds that you captured are so beautiful. The D500 is on my list and including the 200-500 lens.

  8. Thanks! I changed the name and then added a Chipping Sparrow photo under it!

  9. Thanks! I changed the name and then added a Chipping Sparrow photo under it!

  10. Diana LeVasseur

    Song sparrow it is! Great shots all of them and such beautiful birds!

  11. Rob Koelling

    Impressive, as always.

  12. Maurice Horn

    Hi Mike, I think there are at least a hundred sparrow species, maybe more. Good luck identifying that one. There are lots of birds that are not sparrows and look like sparrows.

  13. Bruce McCammon

    Great collection. Yes, it’s a Song Sparrow

  14. Marcy Starnes

    Beautiful Birds – however it is snowing and cold as hell right now in Island Park Id

  15. John Burkett

    Hey Mike Great shots. I believe your second shot you are calling a male Cassin’s Finch, is actually a Male House Finch. There is a variant of the House Finch which can range from yellow to orange instead of the typical red. Also note the streaked underparts which are not typically present in a male Cassin’s.

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