In the Garden Today


Gerbera Daisy

Well, it was outside until last week when I dug it up and brought it indoors. Gerbera Daisy reseed and don’t produce blooms until very late in the season. Last year I pictured a white and purple one that was frosted with snow in late December.


Male Cardinal

Whether at the feeder or in the trees and shrubs, shooting wildlife takes some sneaking up on the skittish critters.

With this male cardinal, I was inside shooting through a window. With the female cardinal I went outside and photographed her high up in the tree.


Female Cardinal

The Downy Woodpecker in this post was so close, I almost could reach out and touch her. I just kept moving in very slowly. She did shimmy up the tree the closer I got though. I swear I could have plucked her from the branch.

Today she flew to the feeder I was filling and sat looking at me mere inches away. I talked to her for about 20 seconds and then she went off to the suet feeder. She was in the garden for years, so she has come to know me very well. There used to be a dove pair that I could pet while they fed. Unfortunately, a hawk snatched them one year.


The pear tree is very popular, for safety and for food. Many species eat the fruit.


Gray Squirrel

This robin was in the pear tree this morning. I did put fruit out to attract a variety of birds.


The robin was at the top of the pear, a little out of my camera’s lens range. I also was shooting through a window, which does lessen the sharpness.


Walnut from the Black Walnut tree behind my garage.  Not sure what made me shoot a walnut. It was sitting in a colorful spot.


 How it escaped the squirrels, I am not sure.


The female cardinal is the partner of the male in this post.


Little Tubby above.


There are too many cats in the neighborhood and yesterday there was a hawk preying on my feeder friends. These predators are why many of the birds and squirrels vamoose when I open the door. They do see me scare off the cats, and I swear I hear them cheer.


Downy Woodpecker

The hawks keep all the birds constantly on the lookout. The birds remain motionless and quiet when the hawks are in the area. When the cats are in the yard, the birds chatter their heads off from the high perch in the pear. I never saw a feral cat catch one of the birds.


Tufted Titmouse

Are the little dicky birds not the cutest? Dicky birds are the sparrows, finches, Tufted Titmouse, chickadees and all the little guys. I learned this term from a wildlife photographer. I did not know it actually was a term for little birds. Now I am not going to stop calling them that.


I took a course on shooting backyard birds at Kelby Training. The instructor was Moose Peterson, a well known nature photographer. I will share some of the tips that I learned in an upcoming post.

What you might not realize, many nature photographs are staged images, where the photographer sets up the shot and expects a bird to perch at a specific location, like shown above and below. I will show you how to make your own backyard studio. There are tricks I am certain you do not know.


I am still learning how to make my backyard studio, but I can tell you already it makes a big difference. My aim is to make the images as nice as the ones I get at the Falls, with a whole lot less time and effort. I could never be a real wildlife photographer because I really lack the patience to sit hours on end.

I am currently training the wild birds to visit locations of my choosing. When they become accustomed to my ‘natural elements’, I will take the food away.

I have a post on squirrels up next. Something you may not know about recent squirrel population control. Researchers come up with some crazy science!


Downy Woodpecker

Linking the garden birds today to, May Dreams Gardens, Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day.

About Garden Walk Garden Talk

I love to photograph, paint, draw, design, garden, travel the world, and pass on a few tips and ideas that I learned through experience as a Master Gardener and architect. I am highly trained in my field and enjoy my work each and every day. I garden in Niagara Falls, NY in zone 6-B. Find me at:
This entry was posted in Birds, garden, Photo Tips and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

70 Responses to In the Garden Today

  1. Great Captures – love the cardinals and the squirrel! I wish I could feed our song birds but it attracts piegons and small creatures which leads to coyotes. Have a Great One – Beautiful Day in the Garden:)

  2. Now I am subscribed. Love all the wildlife shots as usual. I always heard those little birds called LBJs for little brown jobs. My cats bring all there kills to the front door for inspection and praise. I am happy to say that they rarely catch birds and are much more interested in mice, moles, voles, chipmunks, and squirrels.

    • I never heard of LBJs either. I wonder how many other names they are called? My Labrador Retriever in PA used to bring presents too. Many mammals like ground hogs, squirrels, rabbits, and raccoons, even some pheasants and chickens. He would be so darn proud of himself.

  3. Beautiful photographs Donna! Love how the birdies cheer when you open the door :-)!

  4. Cardinals and downy woodpeckers are definitely among my favorite birds. We get lots of downies and a steady stream of cardinals. I like bluejays, too, but they seem to have disappeared lately. Great pictures! Ours are staged to some extent as well, since we have bird feeders just outside the back porch windows.

    • I get lots of Jays. Visiting now is the offspring from last summer. There was a few crows today too. The post I am doing uses the feeders too, but you don’t see them. The class showed how to have the birds perch just outside of camera range.

  5. b-a-g says:

    It sounds like you haven’t heard the children’s nursery rhyme “two little dickie birds sitting in a tree …” The second from last photo illustrates it perfectly.

  6. Patrick says:

    Inside or outside, I love all your images except the squirrels and black walnut. The black walnut is my ugliest tree ever since it heavily stained my driveway at my first house.

  7. Patty says:

    I get the same birds you do. While my cat has stopped hunting I do keep a look out for neighbours cats. We used to get red tail hawks in the backyard but they have not been around for the past two years.

    • Red Tailed Hawks are common here since I am right next to the gorge. I have had the peregrines, kestrals, Coopers and sharp-shinned. I only ever got photos of the Red Tailed and kestral. Yesterdays hawk was a sharp-shinned. It sat on the fence for a few moments and I thought the camera was in manual focus and I had it in auto-focus, so I was fussing and lost my shot.

  8. debgarden says:

    So far our new cat has not focused on birds but rather chipmunks and squirrels. Nevertheless, we are giving up the bird feeders. Capturing good bird images is hard! It seems to take a lot of luck or tremendous patience, and I rarely have either. Your shots are great!

    • Funny you mentioned the bird images being hard. I used to think so too until I took this class. The photos I had in the post of the sparrows on the branch was staged. The branches are attached to my Shepard’s hook that holds the bird feeder. I am going to show this in an upcoming post. By having the branch perch, the birds stop for a moment. Then you can get good, close images of them,

  9. Great photos. I think I’ll stick to photographing flowers. They don’t move much.

  10. Pingback: Time to Celebrate! | Hoof Beats and Foot Prints

  11. Dicky birds is a term used in England, and someone already mentioned the poem. Lovely photos, especially the cardinals. I have also heard/read of staging for bird photos. Looking forward to reading your tips.

    • Thank you. I never heard of Dicky birds before and when I Googled it the answer was small birds, and adults talking to children. I had a feeling it was a phrase from the UK. The tips make it easy to get photos that look like you were out in nature. I don’t have a big backyard, but have figured out how to do it smaller scale. It is all about backgrounds and placement. I never thought to move the feeders to where my windows are. Duh.. such an easy tip for camera position. I cannot believe all the stuff that makes those backyard photos better. If the classes were not on a paid site, I would post the video. No YouTube broadcast either.

  12. HolleyGarden says:

    Love that Downy Woodpecker! I don’t see them much around here. But what a beautiful bird it is. That black and white pattern is amazing.

    • Thanks Holley. That is Woodrina. Her mate is Woody, but I have not seen him since summer. I think something happened to the male cardinal this afternoon. The female was in the tree calling for hours. I hope I don’t go out there and see red feathers everywhere. I have seen that before along with blue feathers. Those hawks are nasty.

  13. lucindalines says:

    Beautiful photos. Your hawks need a few mice and/or voles. I used to be really upset about the hawk in our area until I realized it gets the voles (sort of like moles).

  14. Everyone of them BEAUTIFUL like you shot them in my back yard lol did you while I was at the beach 🙂

  15. Nice photos Donna. Love the little Downy Woodpecker. It is fun to watch the birds at the feeders. I love seeing the hawks, though I wish they would concentrate on the bunnies and voles and not my little birdies.
    I am impressed that you could pet the doves. Very cool.

    • I think I will be able to touch this woodpecker soon. It came to me today. I found that really strange since it does not feed at these feeders. We were looking eye to eye. The hawks fly overhead and hear and see the activity at the feeders. I just live too close to where they live. Yesterday there was a big fight in the juniper. The hawk was trying to get sparrows. Everything else in the yard was frozen in place. I went outside and no animals moved.

  16. I’m looking forward to those tricks I KNOW I do not know.

    • It is just simple stuff for the most part. There was stuff I would never do like set up speedlight flash in the garden, but much of the advice was easy to do for a home gardener. I so wish I could show the video. It was really so well explained.

  17. TufaGirl says:

    I was prepared to be in awe of the microclimate in your garden growing that gerbera. I love your photos of birds more than any other photographers. You always seem to get a expression of what they are really thinking. I think you had this knack before the lessons.

  18. Karen says:

    Love all of your bird pictures. I just got a new camera with a 16x zoom so I’m looking forward to your backyard shooting tips. Thanks!

    • Good luck with your new camera. Is it not exciting? I hope it is fast focusing too. I love photographing the birds in the back yard because it is from the convenience of not going anywhere. But, the birds at the Falls always make nicer photos. I am trying to make an area in my yard that kinda mimics the natural look at the Falls, and the class showed how easy it can be done. I am working on it, fashioning my perches.

  19. newvoice says:

    Love the birds!!! Blue Jay and Red Cardinals are the best!

  20. Your photos are beautiful Donna! I love the shot of the walnut, the little titmouse is mt favourite!

  21. Layanee says:

    He is a pretty boy but don’t you think the female is just so much more subtle and beautiful? .

  22. I enjoyed your wildlife photos immensely! It is true that they don’t always cooperate when you are ready to photograph them. I am looking forward to reading your tips. I have been trying to get shots of our overwintering hummers in action but they are so fast!

    • Usually it is me and my camera, not as much the critters. I keep missing those ‘money shots’. I get too excited and forget what I am doing. The class I watched had a long section on photographing hummingbirds. It was more from the perspective of knowing their behaviors and ‘building’ a place to have them frequent. My post on shooting hummingbirds gave camera setting specifics, but the class did not. So I did learn much I did not know.

  23. Oh, I’m envious that you have the Tufted Tit Mouse. I love those little birds. I didn’t realize that Gerber daisies bloom so late, and that one is a beautifully festive color!

    • They only bloom late up North I imagine. Our growing season is shorter than many places, since it is not zoned for here. The seeds make it though the winter I think because I did not have the red, or white and purple plants for years. They just appeared last year and this year in the garden, not even where the parent plants were located.

  24. Nell Jean says:

    Gerberas do their own thing. I have seedlings in pots trying to fool them into early bloom next summer. Happy Bloom Day.

  25. Donna@Gardens Eye View says:

    Tremendous shots…looking forward to hearing about how you are getting these shots…

  26. Love the red cardinal photo – it reminds me of North Carolina. The silly season has kicked in so catching up on blog reading, will check in again soon x

  27. The male cardinal is a real beauty, we don’t have them here but I saw them back east when visiting. I really enjoyed your bird photos, some great shots.

  28. Wonderful shots as ever Donna, and am intrigued by the “outdoor studio” idea, will read that with interest. I keep missing lovely birds down at the beach, so much to learn, but I am not very patient either. Ah well!

  29. Pingback: Woodpecker, blackbirds on balcony | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  30. Charlie says:

    The photos are amazing. The art of photographing birds is very challenging so I truly appreciate it when it is well done. This is not a talent I possess.

  31. A.M.B. says:

    Lovely photos! I particularly like the contemplative titmouse. I’m sorry to hear that a hawk has been snatching your friends. We have a Cooper’s Hawk that keeps watch over our feeders. My youngest daughter is in awe of him. So am I. He’s beautiful.

  32. Andrea says:

    Hello Donna, Merry Christmas! I can imagine you are cold there now, but the birds seem still very lively. I love the woodpecker most as i haven’t seen it often in someone else’s posts. And your hawks are very lovely colored too, as ours are mostly brown. How lovely it is to shoot birds in the privacy of your home, unlike others who still go out and make makeshift houses to wait for them. Keep warm. I am the one sick now!

  33. supernova says:

    Hi there Donna, the sqirrels and birds look happy and well fed. Your photograph’s are beautiful as ever and are a credit to you, well done. Very nice post! SN

  34. catmint says:

    dear donna, i love the dicky birds and the non dicky birds. Looking forward to hearing tricks to take bird shots. I think I am a noisy creeper – the birds take off as soon as I start creeping towards them.

    • I know what you mean. They are always on the lookout for hawks here at my home, so are mostly very wary. That is why most of my photos are from a window for photographs in my backyard. The ones at Niagara Falls, like the squirrels from the current post, are taken of birds and squirrels tamed by all the tourists at the Falls. They have even flown and jumped in my Jeep. That is very disconcerting when they come to fetch their own food.

  35. Charlie says:

    I absolutely love the photos. It is just like spending time in the garden with and watching all of the birds come and go. I am looking to your posts outlining the tricks you use to get such wonderful shots. Thanks for posting.

    • Thank you. I have been doing these posts just to help others. I know some do not need or want the instructions, but I am sure there are those that find these posts somewhat enlightening. I know when I took the classes, I did. It was like, duh, why did I not think of these tips myself.

Comments are closed.