Chipping sparrow (Spizella passerina)

They love my backyard.

My daily early morning visits to Charles H. Rogers Wildlife Refuge mean I get less sleep and admittedly, I do feel tired. I'm up earlier so I can walk around the refuge while the birds are out foraging for food. Sometimes I come back empty-handed. When lunchtime comes around, I sit in the backyard with the camera nearby, hopeful that I will get a photograph.

This spring, Chipping Sparrows have been very active and vocal in the backyard, especially near the edges and clearings of the woods. Males sing a series of rapid, dry chips to establish territories and attract mates. They are frequently seen foraging on the ground or in low shrubs at the fence line, searching for seeds and insects.

The Chipping Sparrow (Spizella passerina) is a small, slender bird with distinct colouration, especially noticeable in the spring. Adult Chipping Sparrows have a bright rusty-red cap, a striking black line through the eye, and a white eyebrow stripe. Their upper parts are streaked brown, while the underparts are a plain greyish-white.

Chipping Sparrow (Spizella passerina) in juniper tree
Chipping Sparrow (Spizella passerina) · 15 April 2024 · FujiFilm X-T3 · XF150-600mmF5.6-8 R LM OIS WR

White-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis)

Watching bird behaviour can create a sense of hope. Observing birds in their natural habitats, engaging in activities such as feeding, nesting, and interacting with each other, remind# me of the resilience and continuity of nature. This connection to the natural world provides a sense of peace and well-being, offering a hopeful perspective on life's challenges. Bird behaviours often display resourcefulness and adaptability, inspiring a feeling of optimism and a reminder that life goes on despite difficulties.

Even at this size, the White-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis) looks like a large raptor.

White-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis) on the ground near grass and twigs
White-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis) · 15 April 2024 · FujiFilm X-T3 · XF150-600mmF5.6-8 R LM OIS WR

Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus)

I like the red cap.

Scientists are beginning to find evidence that being in nature has a profound impact on our brains and our behaviour, helping us to reduce anxiety, brooding, and stress, and increase our attention capacity, creativity, and our ability to connect with other people. Sitting in my backyard watching the antics of the woodpecker, feeling the sunlight on my skin, makes me feel happy and hopeful.

The Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus) is a medium-sized woodpecker. The bird's upperparts are mostly black with white barring on the wings, while the lower back, rump, and belly are a pale red, although the red on the belly is often difficult to see. The head features a distinctive red cap on males, while females have a smaller red patch or no red at all. I think a better name could have been red-capped woodpecker.

I see the Red-bellied Woodpeckers all around town, including the nearby deciduous forests, mixed woodlands, and parks. They are omnivorous, feeding on insects, spiders, fruits, nuts, and seeds. Their strong bills and long tongues allow them to extract insects from tree bark and probe into crevices for food.

From my backyard I can sometimes hear the woodpeckers drumming and tapping sounds, which they use for communication, marking territories, and foraging for food.

Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus) · 15 April 2024 · FujiFilm X-T3 · XF150-600mmF5.6-8 R LM OIS WR