Category Archives: Birds

Hummingbird Census at Oakridge

The 2013 Summer Oakridge Hummingbird Census has begun.   Today through Monday, September 2nd.

Hummingbirds at feeder; Photo by B.LaVergne, 08-27-2013.
Hummingbirds at feeder; Photo by B.LaVergne, 08-27-2013.

Count the number of hummingbirds of each species you see on your property during these seven days.   Take pictures, keep track of how many times a day you need to refill your feeders, etc.   Send all your information to “Attention: Birding” (in the subject line of your email) at oakridgeranchwma@gmail.com.   We’d love to share you pictures with others here on the website.

Live life outdoors!   Have fun watching these beautiful little birds!

We have two feeders and are seeing approximately a dozen Hummingbirds at each feeder. Photo by B.LaVergne, 08-27-2013.
We have two feeders and are seeing approximately a dozen Hummingbirds at each feeder. Photo by B.LaVergne, 08-27-2013.

 

Water Sustains Life for All

Birds share their bath with a thirsty fawn; Photo by Earl & Maria Fly, May 2013
Birds share their bath with a thirsty fawn; Photo by Earl & Maria Fly, May 2013

All life must have water to survive.  Like many of these pictured here, the wildlife hidden in this beautiful Oak Prairie region of Texas will take water where they can find it.

Barred Owl female with her owlet drinking water; Photo by P.Wilcox, May2013.
Barred Owl female with her owlet drinking water; Photo by P.Wilcox, May2013.
Yearling White-tail Deer; Photo by Earl & Maria Fly, May 2013
Yearling White-tail Deer; Photo by Earl & Maria Fly, May 2013

Be sure to clean your water containers at least once a week such as stock tanks for large animals.  Even our bird baths need to be kept clean and filled with fresh water during these hot summer days.  Water is truly the basic need for all types of wildlife.  Let’s help out our wildlife by providing clean water where we can during this season.

Baltimore Oriole "Sun-Bathing" with his Northern Cardinal friend; Photo by Earl & Maria Fly, June 2013
Baltimore Oriole “Sun-Bathing” with his Northern Cardinal friend; Photo by Earl & Maria Fly, June 2013

 

Good Morning, World! – Update2

Moving Day!

Moving Day!  Carolina Wrens moving out; Photo by B.LaVergne, June 6, 2013
Moving Day! Carolina Wrens moving out; Photo by B.LaVergne, June 6, 2013

Little Carolina Wrens are ready to leave the nest at 12-14 days after hatching.  These little ones are just about ready to fly!  Today is day 12 and we are watching them as they move halfway in and halfway out of their nest.  Sure hope these little birds reuse this nest soon!

Ready to Leave Home; Photo by B.LaVergne, June 6, 2013
Ready to Leave Home; Photo by B.LaVergne, June 6, 2013

Almost a week old, all 5 hatchlings are still doing well (see below).  Mr. Carolina Wren (the dad) brings food to Mrs. Carolina all throughout the day.  These little ones open their mouths when my camera nears thinking food is on it’s way in!

One week old Carolina Wrens; Photo by B.LaVergne, May 30, 2013.
One week old Carolina Wrens; Photo by B.LaVergne, May 30, 2013.

The Carolina Wren is an industrious little bird and a noisy one, too!  They have a loud song for such a small bird.  The male & female are similar in color & markings, only the male is slightly larger.  Male Carolina Wrens work vigorously to build several different nests at the same time.  These little guys are tireless!  But when it comes time to actually lay eggs, the female will chose which nest she wants.  Below is a picture of the male wren as he works building his nest in a flower cart on our porch earlier this month.

Caroline Wren Male Building Nest; Photo by Brenda LaVergne, May 2013
Carolina Wren Male Busy Building Nest; Photo by Brenda LaVergne, May 2013

Once the female has chosen a nest, she sets up housekeeping and lays her eggs.  This family laid five eggs most of which you can see below.  Only the female sits on the nest and the male brings her food all throughout the day.  She will only leave her nest about 6 times a day for water and such, much less often than other species of birds.

Wren eggs in the new nest; Photo by B.LaVergne, May 11, 2013
Carolina Wren eggs in the new nest; Photo by B.LaVergne, May 11, 2013

Hatching begins after 14 days and all the eggs will be hatched out over a 24 hour period.  “Mrs. Carolina” left her nest this morning just long enough to allow me to snap this picture of her new babies.  If you click on the picture below and enlarge it, you can see they have very few feathers at this point and you can see the small bones inside the wing and the claws on the feet.

Three of the five have hatched out just this morning; not many feathers on them yet.  Photo by B.LaVergne, May 25, 2013.
Three of the five Carolina Wrens have hatched out just this morning; not many feathers on them yet. Photo by B.LaVergne, May 25, 2013.

The male will continue to bring food to the female and new hatchlings until they are ready to leave the nest.  The male is a busy bird!   It’s been a real treasure to have the opportunity to watch this happen right on our front porch.  So keep your eyes and ears open for the Carolina Wren.

Hawk Nursery at Oakridge

Red-Tailed Hawk babies are growing!  See below for an update from the Petters.  One baby moved down into the nest, but this one remained on the look-out.  Click on the picture below to enlarge it and see more color and detail on the hawk.

Growing Baby Hawks updated  May 17, 2013; Photo by L.Petter
Growing Baby Hawks updated May 17, 2013; Photo by L.Petter

 

Red-Tailed Hawks just born at Oakridge; Photo by Linda Petter, May 2013
Red-Tailed Hawks just born at Oakridge; Photo by Linda Petter, May 2013

The attached pictures were sent in to ORWMA by Larry Petter. Linda Petter was so excited to take these of new hawk babies!  The parents are the Eastern Red-tailed Hawk. This is the 3rd year in a row they have raised little ones here at Oakridge.  Both hawk parents come regularly to feed the chicks.

Red-Tailed Hawks are monogamous and are solitary nesters.  This is the most common hawk in North America.

Red-Tailed Hawks just hatched; Photo by Linda Petter, May 2013
Red-Tailed Hawks just hatched; Photo by Linda Petter, May 2013

 

New Visitor to Oakridge

This Greater Yellowlegs came fishing at our pond late this afternoon; he’s a common sandpiper.  Looks like he still has his winter plumage due to the mild temperatures we’ve had this spring.  These birds like small fish, insects and snails.  What a joy to find a new species on the Ranch!

Greater Yellowlegs; Photo by Brenda LaVergne_May2013
Greater Yellowlegs; Photo by Brenda LaVergne_May2013

 

Awaiting Flight Plans

Just born here at Oakridge this baby Northern Cardinal is waiting for instructions from mom & dad.  But for now, he’s resting up for his first flight!  Wish you could have seen his little heart beat moving his chest as he slept.  Cardinals make their nests about 3 -5 feel off the ground and will often reuse the same nest year after year.

See what gifts you find on your properties and share it with all of us.  Send it to ORWMA at oakridgeranchwma@gmail.com to be added to our website.

Peacefully sleeping with a sibling yet to be hatched.   Photo by Brenda LaVergne, 5-2-2013
Peacefully sleeping with a sibling yet to be hatched. Photo by Brenda LaVergne, 5-2-2013

 

 

 

Bobwhite Quail at Oakridge Ranch

Bobwhite Quail

By:  Marilyn Rutledge

“Bobwhite!”  The peaceful call of the Northern Bobwhite, commonly referred to as Bobwhite Quail, is a peaceful sound that echoes through the woods where these moderately-sized birds live.  The bobwhite is a ground dwelling bird with adults standing six to seven inches in height and weigh about six to seven ounces.  The male’s upper parts are reddish-brown, while the belly is pale and streaked.  There is a white stripe above the eye and a white patch framed in black on the throat.  The female looks like the male with the exception of the white patch on the throat being caramel-colored instead.  They travel in coveys of two or more families and once they pair with a mate, they stay with that mate until death.  Both parents will incubate a brood for about 24 days with the young leaving the nest shortly after hatching.  Both parents then lead the young birds to feed and care for them for about two weeks until their first flight.  They raise 1 to 2 broods of 12 to 16 eggs per year.

The bobwhite is a non-migratory, year-round resident found mostly in the eastern and mid-western United States from southern Ontario and Maine, west to southern Minnesota, South Dakota, and southeastern Wyoming, and south to the Gulf coast and eastern Mexico.  Their habitat includes active and fallow crop fields, pastures, grasslands, woodlands, and brushy areas.  The bobwhite’s diet consists of grass seeds such as ragweed, panic grass, Johnson grass, spurges, crotons, chittamwood, dayflowers, black locust, sweetgum, sunflowers, crabgrass, foxtail, bull grasses, beggar’s-tick, smartweed, oaks, pines, and ash.  In addition to grass seed, they consume legumes such as partridge pea and mild pea.  The bobwhite also enjoy eating cultivated grains such as soybeans, wheat, millet, corn, tick trefoil, grain sorghum, buckwheat, rye, cowpeas, prairie clovers, and peanuts.   Added to their diet is wild fruits such as mulberries, blackberries, bayberries, Muscadine, hackberry, plums, pokeberries, raspberries, strawberries, huckleberries, wax myrtle, grapes, rose hips, persimmons as well as berries of dogwood, sumac, poison ivy, and greenbrier.  Finally the bobwhite eat insects and arthropods such as grasshoppers, flies, aphids, spiders, ants, leafhoppers, mosquitoes, potato beetles, snails, and others.  They require daily easy access to water as well.

Since the bobwhite are ground dwelling birds, their nesting cover is normally native grasses or dense vegetation communities with open passable alleyways on or near the ground.  They avoid areas that encourage rodent populations, fire ants, and snakes as these are major predators of bobwhite nests.  The nest is a shallow depression lined with dry grasses located in grass clumps that range from 6 to 18 inches in height.  Once hatched, the brood-rearing cover differs from the nesting cover to enable movement of quail chicks.  As much as 70 percent of this area can be open with overhead concealment and a diversity of low-growing green foliage and abundant insects.  During the winter months, a woody cover where snow is abundant is preferred by the bobwhite.  Tangled thickets, dense grasses, shrubs, and other vegetation that conceal quail from predators are used as escape cover when located close to travel lanes, nesting, brood-rearing and loafing areas.

The bobwhite, once very popular and numerous, initially provided a subsistence food for settlers.  During the early 1900’s however, hunting and trapping of quail became popular as markets developed to sell them.  This practice, along with the reduction of food sources, nesting and protective covering has reduced the quail population by as much as 70 to 90 percent.  Although these birds are not typical backyard birds, in the appropriate habitat they will visit ground feeders for seeds or cracked corn as well as ground-level bird baths.  To encourage bobwhites to visit your area, one should avoid insecticide sprays and choose low shrubs for landscaping to make them feel secure.  For more information, visit the internet and search either Northern Bobwhite or Bobwhite Quail.

Bobwhite Quail_Rutledge_Mar2013