Feathers on Friday & Merry Christmas!

If you would like to join me for my Feathers on Friday meme, please put the link to your blog post in the comments and I’ll add the link to my post.

Merry Christmas from Prairie Birder and all best wishes of the season!

The Common Redpoll numbers are ever increasing at my feeders, so I thought I’d share some more photos, DSC_1042

I truly apologize for this grainy photo, but I just wanted to share this shot of all the redpolls on my 36” Droll Yankees feeder. DSC_1073

More Feathers on Friday Posts:

Bird Boy

Birds in Your Backyard

The Cats and the Birds

Wolf Song Blog

Kathie’s Birds

JG Birds+

4forfeathers

Backyard Bird Blog

The Morning Side of Life

Feathers on Friday

If you would like to join me for my Feathers on Friday meme, please put the link to your blog post in the comments and I’ll add the link to my post.

After two years of seeing only a handful of Common Redpolls, that never stopped at my feeders, they have returned! For the past week, about 30 Common Redpolls have descended on my feeding station devouring the sunflower and nyjer seed.

I took this photo through our kitchen window with my Nikon D610 and 200-500mm lens,DSC_1036

More Feathers on Friday Posts:

Bird Boy

Birds in Your Backyard

The Cats and the Birds

Wolf Song Blog

Kathie’s Birds

JG Birds+

4forfeathers

Backyard Bird Blog

The Morning Side of Life

Feathers on Friday

If you would like to join me for my Feathers on Friday meme, please put the link to your blog post in the comments and I’ll add the link to my post.

The snow has all melted and the redpolls will soon fly north, so here’s a photo of a Common Redpoll at my feeders from February,

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More Feathers on Friday Posts:

Bird Boy

Birds in Your Backyard

The Cats and the Birds

Wolf Song Blog

Kathie’s Birds

Feathers on Friday

If you would like to join me for my Feathers on Friday meme, please put the link to your blog post in the comments and I’ll add the link to my post.

Common Redpolls started visiting my feeders earlier this week — for the first time in two years! I’ve been looking closely at the birds to see if any of them are Hoary Redpolls, but I haven’t seen any yet.

A Common Redpoll,

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More Feathers on Friday Posts:

Bird Boy

Birds in Your Backyard

The Cats and the Birds

DIY Digiscoping Adapter

One of the things I am hoping to learn with my new scope is digiscoping. Digiscoping is using your scope with a camera (point and shoot or dslr), even an iPhone, to take close-ups. It’s a good alternative to an expensive telephoto lens (especially once you have spent all your money on a scope!), and some people can take amazing digiscoped photos.

One of those people is Sharon Stiteler aka Birdchick. Not only is she a great digiscoper, but she is a great teacher as well and has video tutorials, posts, and other helpful tips on digiscoping at her Birdchick blog.

One downside to digiscoping is that the adapters that help you get better photos can be expensive, especially if as mentioned above you have just spent a lot on a scope. You can hand-hold the camera to take photos, but it can be difficult to hold it still enough. One solution, which I like, is a DIY adapter. While it’s not as good as the real ones, it works quite well and is very cheap!

You will need:

A plastic pop/soda bottle (a 2-liter bottle works well)

Duct tape (also known as gaffer’s tape)

Scissors

A hot glue gun

Backer rod foam insulator (from the hardware store)

Most importantly, patience!

Following along with my how-to video below, cut the plastic bottle to the specifications of your scope’s eyepiece. My adapter’s dimensions are 4″ high and  8-1/2′” long. Make sure the adapter isn’t too tight or too loose, and that it slides up and down the eyepiece easily. I wrapped duct tape all around the clear plastic to give it more of a finished look. I glued backer rod, cut in half, inside the adapter to give the camera support when taking photos.

Here’s my finished DIY effort,

When taking photos with this adapter you get vignetting, which is the black ring around the photo. You can get rid of the vignetting by cropping to get rid of most of it, or zooming in with the camera to reduce the amount of vignetting.

Before cropping,

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After cropping,

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Swarovski holds an annual “digiscoper of the year” contest, and there is a Facebook digiscoping group too.

In winter in my part of Alberta there aren’t a lot of digiscoping opportunities, but it’s fun to practice on the chickadees, redpolls, and woodpeckers at my feeders. I took more than 40 photos of this Common Redpoll,

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Mystery at My Feeders

Yesterday morning, while I was watching the birds at my feeders for the for the GBBC which had just started, I counted 42 Common Redpolls and two Hoary Redpolls. That’s the most birds I’ve seen at my feeders all year!

After a while I noticed what looked like a redpoll lying on its side. It was snowing moderately so it was hard to it see clearly.

After coming back from doing farm chores I went out to inspect, since I had to refill the feeders anyway.

This is what I found,

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I’m not quite sure what happened to this redpoll. I don’t think it hit any of the windows, because it was a good 12 feet from the windows and any bird strikes usually fall within a few feet of the house. There are no cats or other predators around our yard, my feeders were all cleaned a week ago, and all of the birds until yesterday looked in fine condition.

But on Thursday, with a low of only -7 Celsius, we had blizzard conditions — snow and very strong winds, with whiteouts. It might have all been too much for this redpoll or something entirely different. I guess I’ll never know.

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On a Cold Winter’s Day

The last week has been very, very cold here, -29C (-20F) with a wind chill of below -40 some days.

Today is just cold, no wind, which is nice. Two days ago it was incredibly windy and bitter cold. The wind is hard on the animals, especially the cattle and horses. We have wind-breaks and bales set out to provide a bit of shelter from the wind for the animals, though the wind seems to blow from every direction. Our laying hens and rabbits are spoiled in comparison, living inside an insulated building that keeps them cozy and warm.

Our hens: the brown ones are Isa Browns and the others are White Leghorns,

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We have 49 hens and they lay about 40 eggs a day,

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My steer, Marco,

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Our dog, Lady,

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The redpolls and Black-capped Chickadees are quite puffed up, and the Downy Woodpecker who usually comes to the feeders has been absent for the last couple of days, probably due to the wind. When the wind was at its worst, only five Common Redpolls were at the nyjer feeders, but when the wind died down there were 32 Common Redpolls and 2 Hoary Redpolls at the feeders.

A Hoary Redpoll,

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I’m cold too, though I’m not spending the night (or even all day) outdoors like the birds and mammals, so I don’t have too much to complain about, but once the cold snap is over (supposedly tomorrow) it will be easier on the animals and more fun to go birding.

Common Redpolls,

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