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.

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

Orioles at Oakridge Ranch

Baltimore Oriole at Oriole Feeder; Photo by P.Vretis, Sept.2013.
Baltimore Oriole at Oriole Feeder; Photo by P.Vretis, Sept.2013.

We have noticed both Baltimore and Orchard Orioles here at Oakridge Ranch for the last 2 years.   The Orchard Oriole (Icterus spurius) is slightly smaller and darker than the Baltimore Oriole (Icterus galbula).   The males of both birds are brightly colored and all are somewhat skittish.   Both enjoy nectar offered at Oriole feeders, Hummingbird feeders, grape jelly in Oriole feeders or sliced oranges & grapefruit hung in the Yaupon.   Although some references show our area of Texas only as a migration area for the Baltimore Oriole, other books & researchers show that both these birds spend summers here in our part of Texas.   Both enjoy a deciduous wooded habitat with large trees.   We have also noticed they enjoy bird baths as well as water sprinklers here at Oakridge Ranch.

Following are links to information on both of these beautiful birds:
http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Orchard_Oriole/id
http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Baltimore_Oriole/id

Baltimore Oriole at Hummingbird Feeder; Photo by B.LaVergne, May 2012.
Baltimore Oriole at Hummingbird Feeder; Photo by B.LaVergne, May 2012.

Please consider adding an Oriole feeder at your home.   Let’s invite more of these gorgeous birds to the Ranch before they migrate south for the winter.   Keep us posted on your birds via email at oakridgeranchwma@gmail.com.

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.

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