Watch for Winter Visitors at Oakridge Ranch

The Lamberts saw Cedar Waxwings and American Robins this morning on their walk.  If you’ve never seen a Cedar Waxwing previously, check out these pictures, as well as others online.  Don’t forget to click on any picture you see here to enlarge it.   These are beautiful birds that come to our area each winter.  Before leaving in the spring, they will eat all the berries from your Yaupons.   These birds come to the Ranch in the hundreds!   Watch for them and enjoy!

Cedar Waxwings with a Northern Cardinal feeding on Youpon berries; Photo by B.LaVergne, Feb 2014.
Cedar Waxwings with a Northern Cardinal feeding on Yaupon berries; Photo by B.LaVergne, Feb 2014.
Cedar Waxwings; Photo by B.LaVergne, Feb 2014.
Cedar Waxwings; Photo by B.LaVergne, Feb 2014.

The Northern Cardinal is an ever-present bird in our area.  But they really stand out during the winter months.   The American Robin is a fascinating bird, also.  They will eat everything from insects, to worms, to berries & fruit.   And like the Northern Cardinal, the American Robin has a beautiful song.   Live life outdoors!

American Robin: Photo by B.LaVergne, Feb 2014.
American Robin: Photo by B.LaVergne, Feb 2014.
American Robins early morning bath; Photo by B.LaVergne, Feb 2014.
American Robins early morning bath; Photo by B.LaVergne, Feb 2014.

Hummingbird Census – Late Summer 2014

Hungry Hummingbirds sharing ports; Photo by B.LaVergne, Sept 2014.
Hungry Hummingbirds sharing ports; Photo by B.LaVergne, Sept 2014.

The just completed Oakridge Ranch hummingbird census has been attached to the bird group tab.   This has been an outstanding year for hummingbirds at Oakridge!   We’ve included a few pictures here for your enjoyment.  Click on any picture and enlarge it on your screen.  The one above shows more than one hummingbird drinking from the same port at once!   And one picture below is a fantastic shot of an Orchard Oriole invading a hummingbird feeder here at Oakridge. 

As of this posting the majority of hummers appears to have left the Ranch.   Let us know if you still have more than a handful…..click on “Leave a Reply” and keep us posted.   Keep at least one feeder filled and you may have a few birds that winter here rather than flying south.

Hummingbird feeder invader; Photo by J.D. Ray, Sept 2014.
Hummingbird feeder invaded by Orchard Oriole; Photo by J.D. Ray, Sept 2014.
Hummingbirds at Sunrise, Photo by B.LaVergne, Sept 2014.
Sunrise Hummers; Photo by B.LaVergne, Sept 2014.
Hummingbirds in the Rain; Photo by B.LaVergne, Sept 2014.
Hummingbirds in the Rain; Photo by B.LaVergne, Sept 2014.

 

Hummingbird Census, Fall 2014

 

Hummingbird Dinner, Photo by Beverly Olsen.
Hummingbird Dinner, Photo by Beverly Olsen.

Saddle up, folks, it’s roundup time!  Join Oakridge Ranch Wildlife Management Association (ORWMA) in a hummingbird survey.  Your participation will help us to determine more about range, distribution, favored sites and feeding habits of hummingbirds.  The survey is also a way to share information about their natural history. 

Brenda LaVergne, our Birding Chairperson, requests your participation in our  Hummingbird Census September 1 – 15, 2014. Please see the list below and begin your daily count.  This month’s focus will be hummingbirds. 

Thank you,
Larry Petter
President-ORWMA

Hummingbird Species                                               9/1-15
     (Please use tick marks in count column)

Black-chinned
Buff-bellied
Ruby-throated
Rufous
OTHER:
    TOTALS:

Please send your totals to oakridgeranchwma@gmail.com by September 19th to be included in our census.

An Early Thanksgiving Visitor

This beautiful bird posed for a photo while visiting my south feeder.  The Oakridge Ranch habitat is very supportive of  Rio Grand turkeys and we’ve had numerous sightings this year.  Please share your recent photos of turkey or quail that you have seen within the ranch.

 

Tom Turkey

Mexican Ducks

Mexican Ducks, MBaudin, Mar2014

Here is a picture of some Mexican Whistling Ducks, also known as a Black Bellied Tree Ducks, that started frequenting one of my feeders close to Deer Trail recently.  I had not seen these in the past.
Best regards,
Mark Baudoin

Thank you Mark for sharing!  Larry Petter

Preparing for the Cold

Tufted Titmouse & Chipping Sparrow at Feeder; Photo courtesy of B & D Mitchem, Jan 2014. Tufted Titmouse and Carolina Chickadee; Photo by B & D Mitchem, Jan 2014.

Red-bellied Woodpecker at Feeder; Photo by Barbara & David Mitchem, Jan 2013. Over the last few hours and into later this evening, you may see all our wildlife here at Oakridge Ranch, including the birds in these pictures, preparing for the colder weather that’s coming.  Thanks to the Mitchems for providing the above pictures.   The birds have been extremely active today and are still even now as our precipitation begins here at the South end of the ranch.  Stay warm and keep food out for your animals.   Don’t forget to check on your pipes, pets, plants and your neighbors!   And as always, live life outdoors!

Any Albino Birds at Oakridge?

Albino Northern Cardinal; Photo provided by cousin of D.Mitchem, Dec 2013.
Albino Northern Cardinal; Photo provided by cousin of D.Mitchem, Dec 2013.

Albinos occur in all species of life.  Most are due to some mutated chromosome or gene that tells the body to produce melanin.  Usually most albino animals, birds or humans also have different colored eyes.  The lack of melanin may cause difficulty with focusing and depth perception.   Above is a picture of an albino Northern Cardinal taken near Cedar Creek Reservoir, Texas.  This bird has been coming to the feeder for around 3 months.  Has anyone seen any albino birds here at Oakridge Ranch?   Please let us know if you have and send in pictures to ORWMA at oakridgeranchwma@gmail.com.   We’d love to hear from you! 

Has Winter Arrived Early at Oakridge?

A wise man once said…….”Just pay close attention to the birds & animals to know what the weather is going to do and how we humans should prepare”, quoted from Jack Rachal.   The Eastern Phoebe arrived in Oakridge near the first of November, possibly heralding an early winter season.

Winter has arrived with the Eastern Phoebe; Photo by B.LaVergne, 11-09-2013.
Winter has arrived with the Eastern Phoebe; Photo by B.LaVergne, 11-09-2013.

This pretty little songbird winters in our area spending it’s time ridding our woodlands and fields of pesky insects.  This fly-catcher is an amazing bird to watch, although it is a shy bird.  It’s song is nice to hear at this time of year when many of our songbirds have fled to warmer climates.

Eastern Phoebes often perch on lower branches, making short flights to capture insects and often returns to the same or nearby perch.   They have a beautiful plumage at this time of year, showing a butter-soft yellow on the abdomen, with grays, whites & brown over most of their body.   Watch & listen for them as they spread their fall/winter song of joy!   And, as always, live life outdoors!

Eastern Phoebe scoping out the area for insects from his perch on a Fleur-de-lis; Photo by B.LaVergne, 11-09-2013.
Eastern Phoebe scoping out the area for insects from his perch on a Fleur-de-lis; Photo by B.LaVergne, 11-09-2013.

Pokeweed and Bluebirds

Look at this wonderful picture from David Kinneer from Virginia, of his local bluebirds taking advantage of the pokeweed berries.   He was kind enough to permit me to use his shot for our enjoyment.

Pokeweed and bluebirds_D.Kinneer, October 2013

A Favorite Forage for Whitetails & Birds

American Beautyberry; Photo by B.LaVergne, Sept 2013.
American Beautyberry; Photo by B.LaVergne, Sept 2013.

A member of the Verbena family, American Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana), also called “French Mulberry” by some, is a deciduous, perennial native shrub growing up to 6 feet wide and almost as tall.   One of the most eye-catching plants at this time of year, it’s the purple berries that draw people’s attention rather than the palest of pink flowers in spring & early summer.   The flowers are approximately ¼ inch wide, and the berries are not much bigger than that when formed in late summer.   The berries hold their bright color for many weeks, even after the leaves are gone, usually until a good frost has occurred. 

American Beautyberry is one of the favorite forage plants for whitetail deer in the Oak Prairie Region of Texas.   Check out the link on the ORWMA “Groups” tab above, and click on Deer, then “Links for Managing Whitetails”, click on “Favorite Forage Plants of Whitetail Deer” to learn about other favorite plants for deer in this area.   While the deer enjoy the leaves, several species of birds enjoy the berries in the fall & winter, such as Bobwhite Quail, Robins and even domestic chickens. 

What beauty is added to our landscapes when most others have stopped blooming in late summer and fall while adding to beneficial food sources for both deer and birds!   The berries on their long stems also make beautiful dried fall decorations in our homes (but please take care to keep them away from children).   Click on the following link to find out more on this wonderful plant: http://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=CAAM2.

Enjoy this beautiful season!  Live life outdoors!