Well, today was a busy day at the buffet! Besides the normal squirrels and chipmunks, I also had a fabulous woodchuck visit my yard, not once but twice.
You can see him here, cowering on my neighbor's patio, behind her air conditioning unit. He startled me when he pushed his girth through the tiny gap between the house and the privacy fence and shot out onto my concrete patio just a few inches from where I sat.
After a few moments of pretending that he was a statue, he lumbered off to hid behind the neighbor's futon. I caught this photo of him after he left my area, and he stayed hidden in that spot for a good ten minutes. Then he ventured back to my side, just long enough to trample my daisies and accuse me of spoiling his fun.
He waddled off into the woods, but a few hours later, he (or a buddy) was back. This time he gave me and the patio a wide berth, and he grazed contentedly on the boarder of the preserve. I'm not sure he thinks that I belong out there, but he's going to have to get used to it--or find a new feeding ground.
Besides the groundhog, I also had my first visit from a family of Hairy Woodpeckers. The male spent a great deal of time at the suet feeder with a fledgling, feeding it sweetly. The female visited later, but by herself.
You can see the male and the baby in these shots. They remained on the feeder for at least five minutes, giving me wonderful opportunities to get some good photos.
I particularly like the one below, where I caught the feeding in action--even if the action made the baby's head just a bit blurry.
Since these were the first woodpeckers to come to my feeders, I was extremely excited, and I certainly hope that they become regular visitors!
I was surprised to see the male take on the role of providing meals for the young woodpecker, but observed a male cardinal performing exactly the same task a little further off in the woods.
It is possible that these woodpeckers are Downy Woodpeckers, but I think--based on the identification photos I looked at--that they are Hairy Woodpeckers. If you know, please set me straight!
Last, but not least, is this charming little mystery bird. I first noticed it yesterday, hopping on the ground underneath the feeders. It shows absolutely no interest in going to the feeder, and seems just as happy pecking at ants and moths as it does the fallen seed.
If you happen to know what kind of bird this is, please drop me a note. I'm very curious! Unfortunately, as you can imagine, a search for "small brown bird" doesn't exactly narrow the field. I think it might be some kind of sparrow, but, I really don't know. [UPDATE:] After a bit of research and a few tips, it seems likely that this is a Fox Sparrow. Other interesting guesses include some type of Thrush and an Ovenbird, but the ID photo at WhatBird.com (see FOX SPARROW) really resembles both the behavior and the image. Too bad it hasn't been singing; the link for its song is beautiful!