Ashley’s Journal: Birds in my Backyard

Cary, NC — Someone recently asked me, “What is something that was always there before the pandemic that you didn’t notice until staying home?” After a moment of thought, I answered “the birds.”

My curiosity stemmed from a previous article on birdwatching and before I knew it I was sitting in a chair on my patio with my Nikon pointed at birdfeeder — waiting.

It wasn’t long before I was astounded by the variety and the frequency of birds coming to the yard. The more time I spent outside, the more I was learning. I started to find myself deciphering the different chirps, identifying which bird I was looking for before I saw it. Being that I love to take photos, it became an instant hobby to capture the beauty I was seeing.

A surprising benefit from taking a closer look at birds is that I’ve noticed in them a lot of what I have been missing from people.

I get eye contact from them. There’s always a sense of mutual curiosity. I also get amusement from them as their heads swivel back and forth wondering where all the camera clicking noises are coming from. Admittedly, I also get frustration from them too. I have often lined up a great shot with good lighting, some blurred flowers in the background and at the moment of snapping the photo, the limb is all of a sudden bare. No more bird.

They are quick, they are sharp and on occasion, they are just still enough to enjoy. Here are a few of my favorite backyard photos.

A mockingbird takes flight from its perch on the shepherd’s hook.


A house finch shares its treasures from the bird feeder with its fledgling.


The eastern bluebird has become an instant favorite for its vibrant color and, at times, its comical personality.


This red-bellied woodpecker has probably been my most rare find so far.


A couple of house finches take over the bird feeder.


An eastern song sparrow rests on a small limb.

Story and photos by Ashley Kairis.

7 replies
  1. Brent
    Brent says:

    I always look forward to Ashley’s Journal! This is a great article.

    I enjoyed the prose and the pictures.

  2. Elizabeth Ryan
    Elizabeth Ryan says:

    Ashley, thanks for the article and the photos.
    One note: the Red (House)Finch is not sharing its food with another species. That is a young Finch, hunched down, head up, mouth open and fluttering, all infant “feed me” behaviors. You have caught a fledgling and parent here, congrats. All of the bird species do this. We’ve seen Bluebirds, Finches, Flickers, Catbirds feeding fledglings. Would love to see any of the woodpeckers (5 species locally) doing it.

    • Ashley
      Ashley says:

      Elizabeth, thanks for the clarification! I’m always finding new learning moments as I go, and I’ve updated the captions to reflect the correct identifiers. I’ll keep an eye out for any woodpeckers feeding their fledglings, I’d love to see that.

  3. Lindsey Chester
    Lindsey Chester says:

    Great job! Next you’ll be identifying hawks, and heading to Bond Lake to spot the 3 Blue Herons that live there..

  4. Barry Shafer
    Barry Shafer says:

    Ashley, thank you for the wonderful article and photos!

    Currently. I’ve mostly seen Cardinals, House Finches, Chipping Sparrows, and White-breasted nuthatches at my large feeder. I even had two Black Crows, near the foot of the Shepherd’s Hook pole, appear to be eating the dropped seed. That was just one time. I also had a problem with squirrels eating at the feeder. I purchased a different 84” pole/hook and a squirrel baffle. It has surely worked!

    Please keep the stories and photos coming. Stay healthy and safe.

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