I spend so much time watching and photographing the wildlife in my own backyard. I do what I can to maintain the area to encourage wildlife to continue hanging out here. Thankfully, the previous owners and many of my neighbors do the same, which has created a beautiful haven for wildlife and some great opportunities for wildlife photography.
Cardinals are abundant and I frequently find them arguing over territory. Although I change the food I put out for wildlife so they don’t grow accustomed and dependent on me as a source of food, several of my neighbors maintain regular feeders. Cardinals frequent these feeders, ousting smaller birds and bickering amongst themselves.
View more of my wildlife photography at
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Once again, I’m taking Ornithology! This time as a graduate student. I loved taking it as an undergrad and as always, my favorite part is the field observations. It’s like work, school, and play all rolled into one 🙂 This field report was especially fun too because I was also able to combine it with the Great Backyard Bird Count, a citizen science effort to collect data on bird observations during one weekend every year. This data is published on the eBird website at
The Black-capped Chickadees (Poecile atricapilla) were the most abundant and active throughout both my observations. I saw at least four distinct birds during my first day out. They were flying back and forth from tree to tree, foraging for food. One would occasionally noisily come to an already occupied branch and displace another bird. They have a black cap on their heads (hence their name) as well as a black throat, while the rest of them is white and tan. They look like Carolina chickadees but have different vocalizations, which is one of the methods I used to ID them as black-capped chickadees.
Northern Cardinals (Cardinalis cardinalis) were also very active. I saw four in total, three males and one female. One of the males appeared to be watching over the female as she foraged. He would inspect a tree, move to a higher branch or tree, and she would come over to his previous location to begin foraging. He maintained a relatively close distance to her the entire time I was observing. The other two occasionally appeared to face off with one another, while minding their own business looking for food the rest of the time.
Male cardinals are bright red with a black mask and females are brown with red tinges on their wings and head crest. Although the males are known as the beautiful ones, I’ve always been partial to the females.
Fun note, when I first spotted the male he appeared to be drinking sap off of a tree. The female also came to that tree to do the same .
Not to be left out, this squirrel decided to see what the cardinals found so delicious about this tree’s sap.
I encourage you to check out the data collected from this year’s bird count and to be on the lookout for it next year! If you participated in this year’s count, comment about your experience 🙂
Great Backyard Bird Count
http:// gbbc.birdcount.org .
Check out cool audio files of bird songs at
Tekiela S. 1999. Birds of Illinois Field Guide. Cambridge, Minn.: Adventure Pub.