Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Squirrel With Hiccups




Gray Squirrel With Hiccups! "Hic -cup... Hic -cup" This little Red Squirrel has a serious case of the Hiccups - no doubt from eating too fast!
Seriously, this little guy has "eating issues" and does not want to share its food.  Dinner for him is full of dramatics see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tt10Eeryimg  and  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tN1S0DrCxuM

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Squirrel With Hiccups

Gray Squirrel Alarm Call Decoded



Squirrel language translated - the most common is the alarm call of the Gray Squirrel with the tail waving - crossing their hearts with the front paws and the incessant barking Kuk...Kuk...Kuk....followed by long Quaaas. But there is a lot more to making those calls and speaking squirrel than meets the ear.  I was fortunate to get very detailed video of one of the Backyard squirrels extremely upset at a cat on the other side of the backyard fence and it is clear there is a lot going on physiologically to make these unusual mammal sounds. In particular, close up slow motion shows how the little ones close off their nostrils and draw air in to get those big Quaaa...s following the barking Kuk...Kuk...Kuk's. Watch closely and enjoy! More information on how to speak Gray Squirrel is at:

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Gray Squirrel Alarm Call Decoded

Monday, December 29, 2014

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Winter Trees - A Poem

Winter Trees - A Poem

Sometimes we forget to look up - and contemplate the meaning of the patterns we see. I found this poem that fits this scene in the Great Smoky Mountains perfectly. It is only in winter you can appreciate the intricate details of a tree to the very tips of its branches.


Winter Trees 

All the complicated details
of the attiring and
the disattiring are completed!
A liquid moon
moves gently among
the long branches.
Thus having prepared their buds
against a sure winter
the wise trees
stand sleeping in the cold.

Poem by WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS (1883–1963)

Yellow Rumped Warbler Eating Brazilian Peppers



Yellow Rumped Warbler hovering to eat the ripe berries of the Brazilian Pepper Tree. The Yellow Rumped Warblers aka "Butter Butts" have returned for winter. Not ones to come to feeders they scour the trees for small bugs and have adapted to take advantage of the ripening of the Brazilian Peppers in December to provide an arrival feast. The Pepper Trees are invasive and near impossible to get rid of and the birds do their part to scatter the seeds across the landscape.

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Yellow Rumped Warbler Eating Brazilian Peppers

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Blue Gray Gnatcatcher


This cute Blue Gray Gnatcatcher is a new species documented in the Backyard! Although I'm sure they've always been in the area they are very hard to spot. The energetic little bird is rapidly hopping through dense brush catching spiders and small bugs on the dew covered vegetation in the morning when bugs are easy picking. It is very difficult to get more than a few seconds of video of these little birds when they are feeding.

The blue-gray gnatcatcher (Polioptila caerulea) is a very small songbird, 10–13 cm (3.9–5.1 in) in length and weighing only 5–7 g (0.18–0.25 oz).Adult males are blue-grey on the upperparts with white underparts, have a slender dark bill, and a long black tail edged in white. Females are less blue. Both sexes have a white eye ring.

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Blue Gray Gnatcatcher

Red Bellied Woodpecker Drumming



Male Red Bellied Woodpecker Drumming on the house just before sunrise is Nature's alarm clock. This is the time of the year when they start to stake out territory and find potential nesting sites. The Woodpecker nest box is ready again this year.

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Red Bellied Woodpecker Drumming

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Florida Scrub Jay



The rare Florida Scrub Jay is the only bird species endemic to Florida and one of only 15 birds endemic to the United States. The Florida Scrub Jay was listed as a threatened under the endangered species act in 1987 and critical habitat loss continues. They live in oak scrub land with isolated pines and can not live in dense canopy so loss of habitat to development and growth of dense tree cover due to unnatural fire suppression shrinks suitable habitat.  I was fortunate to encounter this one guarding its territory on Cape Canaveral National Seashore.

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Florida Scrub Jay

Spiny Backed Orb Weaver Spider Spinning A Web



Spiny Backed Orb Weaver Spider masterfully weaving a web set to Classical Music. Because of it's stunningly bizarre beauty it is natural that the Gasteracantha cancriformis is called by many names - the star spider, spiny-backed orb weaver, spiny orb weaver spider, crab-like orb weaver spider, crab-like spiny orb weaver spider, crab spider, jewel spider, spiny-bellied orbweaver, jewel box spider, smiley face spider or sometimes in the Philippines, the king. I think of it as the happy smiley-faced spider as it really seems to enjoy its work and is a joy to have around the Backyard! Watch as this beautiful spider fastidiously works its magic set to classical music:

Habanera by Bizet
Solo Cello Passion by Doug Maxwell 
Dance Of The Sugar Plum Fairies by Tchaikovsky

Closeup views of another Spiny Orb Weaver

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Spiny Backed Orb Weaver Spider

Monday, December 22, 2014

NASA Orion Delta IV Heavy Launch




NASA’s Orion spacecraft is built to take humans farther than they've ever gone before. Launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on 12/5/2014. Heavy rain south of the launch site blocked the view of the launch from the "Backyard" and for many people and it was only visible for a minute before disappearing into the clouds. Nevertheless, a great successful launch and the sound of the launch reaching the backyard was quite loud! One of the bigger "birds" that can be seen or heard from the "Backyard" and its definitely heading "beyond".

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Pseudo Scorpion or False Scorpion



A nest of pseudo scorpions is uncovered when I replace a rotten board on the backyard fence. An amazing and extremely small creature in the arachnid family - it has scorpion like pincers, but no tail stinger. This is a new species for me. It is about 1/10 of an inch long and moves extremely fast and has a great "reverse gear". No doubt harmless and beneficial, unfortunately I disturbed its nest with several baby Pseudoscorpions or "Scorplings" which are white. The mother seems to display very strong maternal characteristics as she scrambles to check up on the youngsters. Amazingly, fire ants were on the move right next to their nest and even when exposed you can see the fire ants swerve quickly to miss the pseudo scorpion as they pass on the fence post. The fact that two incredibly small creatures can be approaching each other at a relative high speed and sense each other and react in a fraction of a second says something about the miracles of Nature that never cease to amaze!

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Pseudo Scorpion or False Scorpion

Grackle Flock Calls - Amazing Sound!


Common Grackles by the Hundreds descend on the backyard to rest briefly in the trees - resulting in a deafening cacophony that may not be pleasing to the ear, but is surely exciting. They depart as rapidly as they arrived - leaving silence and a few upset Blue Jays wondering what just happened. Grackles are year-round residents, but they form into huge flocks in the winter and move as a group looking for food.

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Common Grackle



Monday, December 15, 2014

Cute Baby Tree Frogs


Cute little Cuban Tree "Froglets" just a day or two removed from the tadpole transition stage. Found a few of them sitting on a wet leaf in the morning. Three of them would fit on your finger tip.

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Cute Baby Tree Frogs


Backyard Birding and Beyond Channel Trailer



I updated the promo for the YouTube channel www.youtube.com/MyBackyardBirding to make it shorter and more engaging. Let me know if you have any feedback. 

Welcome to Backyard Birding ....and Beyond! Sharing original videos of birds, wildlife and Nature observed in the backyard and in my travels. New HD videos are uploaded weekly. Subscribe, comment and share the love of Nature! Adventure is as near as the Backyard!   Backyard Birder (BB)
Video clips included:
Dance Of The Nuthatch !
Funniest and Cutest Baby Screech Owls!
Painted Buntings - Up Close and Hungry!
Pileated Woodpeckers Amazing Calls!
Wild Transformer Owls - New and Natural!
Funniest and Cutest Baby Squirrels !
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White Breasted Nuthatch, Eastern Screech Owl, Painted Bunting, Pileated Woodpecker, Baby Red Squirrels




Sunday, December 14, 2014

Purple Finch or House Finch



Purple Finch or House Finch which is it? It is a challenge filming small birds foraging naturally away from feeders like this voracious very red male Finch catching insects on wet tree leaves in the morning, even more challenging to identify them on the fly high in the tree canopy. House Finches are relatively common, Purple Finches less so, but the give away on this very red House Finch is the heavy streaking on sides and belly, and less noticeable the less notched tail than a Purple Finch.

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House Finch



Turkey Vulture Sunbathing to Clean Wings

Turkey Vulture

Turkey Vulture Basking in the Afternoon Sun

Turkey Vulture at Cape Canaveral National Seashore, Florida seeing to personal hygiene, contrary to common belief they are very fastidious about their appearance. Exposing the vast expanse of their 5-6 foot wingspan to the strong afternoon sun helps to reduce bacteria and small pests and keeps them looking good! 

Friday, December 12, 2014

Record California Rain Storm Radar Loop



Record California Rain Storm Radar Loop


Historical Radar Loop of December 2014 Record Breaking Northern California Coastal Rain Storm bringing heavy rain, high winds and flooding.  Time lapse of San Francisco Area Radar every 30 minutes for complete storm from 0600 GMT Thursday December 11th (late Wednesday night) through 1256 GMT Friday December 12th (Friday morning west coast time).   Radar data from NOAA/NWS. Map background from OpenStreet Maps.

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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Robin, Goldfinches, Juncos, and Towhees Eating Devil's Walking Stick Berries



Devil's Walking Stick trees (Aralia spinosa) provide a bounty of purple berries in early fall that is a feast for birds such as American Robins, Dark Eyed Juncos, American Goldfinches and Eastern Towhees. You'll hear many other birds calling in the background. This is a great native plant (Eastern U.S.) to develop in the yard for bird lovers especially at a transition from grass to forest. 

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Robin, Goldfinches, Juncos, and Towhees Eating Devil's Walking Stick Berries


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Bonsai Tree Garden Meditation North Carolina Arboretum



Bonsai Tree Garden Tour at the North Carolina Arboretum. Relax and enjoy the amazing displays of bonsai trees and "open your mind to the possibility that the greatest mystery of life can be found in a single, tiny leaf....."  A great place to visit if your passing through the Asheville, NC area - more info at:
http://www.ncarboretum.org/
"Eureka" by Huma-Huma from YouTube Audio Library

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Bonsai Tree Garden North Carolina Arboretum

Osprey Calling - Loud and Long!



The impressive sound of an Osprey call very loudly from a Longleaf Pine behind the Backyard. Osprey's are year-round residents of Florida, but only make themselves known in winter when they begin calling often for nesting and mating season, either skydancing like last year:
or as in this case trying to attract a friend to share the nice big fish with. After sitting on the branch for over 30 minutes he moved on to "peddle" his fish on another tree.

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Osprey Calling

White Ibis



Pair of White Ibis make a rest stop in the yard. With the characteristic long reverse-curved beak and black wing tips. One mature and one with a partially dark head and neck that likely fledged in late spring and has not turned completely white. A fairly common bird in Florida wetlands and fields they rarely visit the Backyard - this is the first time I captured them resting on the security light in mid-afternoon. The young Ibis seems to be watching me as much as I'm watching it.

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Sunday, December 7, 2014

Record Buffalo Snow Storm November 2014Three-Day Radar Loops



Three-day Radar Loop Time Lapse of November 16-19, 2014 Buffalo, New York Winter Snow Storm. Radar displayed hourly from Sunday evening (00GMT 11/16/14) through Wednesday Morning (12 GMT 11/19/14). Record breaking Lake-Effect winter storm in Buffalo, NY area. Zoomed in Version at:
Radar data from NOAA/NWS 
OpenStreet Maps
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Zoomed-in Radar Loop Time Lapse of November 17-19, 2014 Buffalo, New York Winter Snow Storm. Radar displayed hourly and zoomed in with transparency so you can see the detailed geography affected by the narrow line of extreme heavy lake-effect snowfall.

Zoomed-out version for big picture is at:
Radar data from NOAA/NWS 
OpenStreet Maps

Black Bellied Whistling Duck Flock Calls



Flock of Black Bellied Whistling Duck's call loudly as they fly over the Backyard after taking off from a lake beyond the treeline at sunset each night. Recorded over three evenings. These are new arrivals in my area of central Florida. I don't recall seeing these birds regularly before. They feed nocturnally, and leave in flocks around sunset to out to fields from their roosts.Crank up the volume you can hear them way before you see them and they are very fast!!! 

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Black Bellied Whistling Duck Flock Calls



Sunday, November 30, 2014

Brown Thrasher



Brown Thrasher returns for the winter 2014-15. This may be my buddy that I was able to hand-feed from last season: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uloShH5idls
It will take awhile to reestablish the relationship regardless.
Theoretically Brown Thrashers are year round residents of Florida, but I never see one from late May to mid-October and I only get one or two of them at most during the winter. Very handsome and striking birds with some of the wildest eyes in the Backyard.

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Brown Thrasher
Brown Thrasher


Eastern Screech Owl



Male Eastern Screech Owl sitting in tree hidden among the branches, but his big eyes give him away.

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Eastern Screech Owl
Eastern Screech Owl

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Mourning Dove Preening




Mourning Dove Preening in an Oak Tree as it prepares to bed down for the night. Mourning Doves have some of the most attractive eyes of the backyard birds and, as in this case, they tend to make strong eye contact.

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Mourning Dove
Mourning Dove
Video: Mourning Dove Preening

Looking Glass Rock, North Carolina

Looking Glass Rock, North Carolina
Looking Glass Rock, North Carolina
Looking Glass Rock - about 25 miles southwest of Asheville, North Carolina in mid-October, 2014.  Picture taken from the Blue Ridge Parkway.


Friday, November 28, 2014

Anole Lizards Eating Deadly Fire Ants



Anole Lizards Eating Deadly Fire Ants

 Five Brown Anole Lizards feeding voraciously on venomous Fire Ants in the backyard. I'm not sure this phenomena has ever been filmed before. Amazingly the common, but invasive, Brown Anole Lizards living in the backyard have evolved to enjoy a treat of invasive fire ants, probably because they have been around together for many years now. The YT videos of fire ants eating lizards are all staged for shock value with dead lizards that people have probably killed and thrown on the ants, and of course the ants eat all the lizards. But lizards can take care of themselves if left alone. I  Recently treated for fire ants which causes the colony to break up into little ones from the survivors - I picked up a palmetto branch and a small colony of fire ants with eggs and winged adults was hiding under the branch. I went to get some bug spray and by the time I came back a group of lizards were literally feasting on the eggs. I got my camera set up and they continued to feast on mostly the winged fire ants and stood right among them. This would normally be hard to see as the lizards almost blend in with the ground and this kind of action probably goes unnoticed. "Adventure is as near as the backyard"

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Anole Lizards Eating Deadly Fire Ants


Saturday, November 22, 2014

Corn Snake (Red Rat Snake) Tongue Flicking



Corn Snake or Red Rat Snake surprise behind a piece of lumber stored along the back fence in Florida. Spend a few minutes with this gentle sweet snake and then leave it be till it warms up. Beautiful and beneficial constrictor snakes - the ones that inhabit the backyard have very unusual color patterns and are quite pretty. See this snake or its sibling at:

And probably its Mom at:

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Corn Snake (Red Rat Snake) Tongue Flicking