Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.

Stalked by Mr. Red


Now where was I? Ah yes, tramping around chilly Kensington Park one morning last week. I was checking out the herons on a dreary overcast day with spitting snow and drizzling cold rain.

Standing guard on a rainy morning.

And, as you know, I left the herons after a few minutes of attempting to get decent images in the low light and headed into the woods in hopes of finding skunk cabbage, a sure sign of spring here in lower Michigan.

Have a good walk lady! Don’t forget about us over here!

And of course I hoped to spend some time with my little birds too. Those chickadees and titmice and downy woodpeckers and nuthatches that hang around visitors begging for a snack.

A tiny little one waits in line for breakfast.

Since it was early, and the weather was bad I was probably the first person to venture into their woods that day. I knew the birds out on the boardwalk were hungry, they had already told me so. And the little ones back in the woods were ravenous too.

Just showing off my cuteness before I grab a peanut.

As I was being swarmed by a small cloud of birds I heard the sound of a red-bellied woodpecker high up in the trees. As I fed the little ones I watched him watch me.

I see you have breakfast bits. I’d like to place my order, please.

Down, down, down he moved. Slowly, from one tree to another, pretending he wasn’t interested in all the activity. Not interested in those luscious peanuts or succulent woodpecker suet balls in my outstretched hand.

I’ll take some, lady!

He even did a couple fly-overs, as he gaged the risk versus reward, but he couldn’t make himself land on my hand.

That’s OK, more for us if he stays away!

I waited patiently, camera held in one hand, the other outstretched filled with delicacies. Eventually my shoulders ached and I dropped a few treats on the ground and proceeded up the path and around a corner, intent on getting further into the woods.

I’ll sing for you lady, if I get one more treat before you leave!

He immediately dropped to the ground and gathered up his breakfast. I laughed and went on my way.

But just around the corner a new batch of birds waited for their snacks. I spent quite awhile there, photographing them in the branches and on the grasses near by, as they waited patiently for their turn for a treat.

Please notice how beautiful I am.

Then I heard it. The distinctive sound of the red-bellied, and there he was, just out of reach in a tree near my head. Once again I held out my hand, and once again he flew over but couldn’t trust me enough to land. And once again I tossed him a peanut or two and went on my way.

I finished my first course, do you have more?

Further into the woods a nuthatch was chattering loudly, and I stopped to give her a treat.

Don’t listen to him, lady. The rest of us are much more polite.

A bluejay showed up, and darned if that red-bellied wasn’t far behind.

Hey Mr Jay, pay attention, the lady has treats!

Sighing, I moved over a bridge to the other side of a wetland, one of my favorite places to stop and feed the birds. Several littles were waiting for me and you know who followed me over there too.

Hey, don’t forget about me!

As I was leaning over to put some seed on a bench for everyone to share I heard a gobble to my right. And there was a magnificent manly turkey, with his three wives strutting down the path.

Yes, you can admire my stunning colors. Everyone does.

He was so handsome that I pulled the camera away from Mr. Red-belly and focused it on the big boy showing off just feet away from me.

Thank you for giving us the right of way, lady.

Mr. Red-belly wasn’t having it and he dive bombed my head while I was looking toward the turkey. As the turkey harem moved on down the path I left my increasingly rude stalker with a few seeds and moved on in the other direction.

Hmmmm…what looks good this morning?

And that’s the way the rest of my walk went. Wherever I stopped to feed a hungry bird, the red-bellied and increasingly fat bird followed. I finally dropped a whole lot of treats on the ground and got away.

Everyone was hungry.

I think he followed me for at least an hour and more than half a mile. He never came to sit on my hand but he knew he didn’t have to. If he was just persistent he’d get a contactless treat.

Not all woodpeckers are so rude, lady. Thanks for the suet ball!

Though I describe him as a stalker and a pig, I actually smiled each time I’d hear his call. I’d look for him and there he’d be, a tree or two over from me, acting like he was entitled.

Even the deer thought he was a bit pushy.

I guess he was.

As I scurried away I heard a munching sound in the underbrush. What kind of bird was making a sound like that?

I found this all on my own! I don’t need handouts!

Ahh….the infamous little red squirrel bird. He never blinked as I stood and took his picture. This guy didn’t notice me either.

Well, hey. I found my own breakfast too. Those birds asking for handouts give us all a bad name.

Everybody was hungry that morning, and I realized I was too. No one was standing around offering me breakfast, so I decided it was time to head home and find something to eat.

I should probably say thank you, lady.

But wait! I was in the woods looking for skunk cabbage, looking for a sign that spring has indeed come to lower Michigan. Did I find any? Or was I too distracted by the bird drama swarming my head?

Skunk cabbage poking up from the swamp.

Well of course I found it. And it made me smile too.

Author: dawnkinster

I'm a long time banker having worked in banks since the age of 17. I took a break when I turned 50 and went back to school. I graduated right when the economy took a turn for the worst and after a year of library work found myself unemployed. I was lucky that my previous bank employer wanted me back. So here I am again, a long time banker. Change is hard.

39 thoughts on “Stalked by Mr. Red

  1. That first closeup photo of the titmouse is amazing!
    Suet balls? Do you buy those, or make your own somehow?
    Oh, yeah! You were looking for skunk cabbage. Glad you found them. Spring is definitely on its way!


  2. The detail you capture in your photos is incredible. Like Linda said, the titmouse photo is stunning – it made me whisper “wow!”


  3. What a post! Wow, wow, and wow! The close-up of the tufted is one to frame. So many other good ones, too. Glad you found the skunk cabbages.


  4. Stalked by the birds, or at least one. Didn’t what happened to Tippi give you some warnings about birds? lol some great photos.


    • Sometimes I do get those feelings if the birds are extra hungry and active…but it’s kind of cool too. No scary music, so that helps.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I guess as long as the path isn’t lined with crows… I’m sure the lack of scary music helps, or creepy music, like little kids singing nonsense songs as the crows gather.
        On a more serious note, I do think the photos of the birds on your hands are always cool.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. So much fun with all the birds! Love your follower red belly beauty, haha! And the turkey, wow!! So handsome! I’m glad you found the skunk cabbage, never heard of it so glad you shared a photo. Here’s to Spring, on it’s way! 🤩🌞❤️


  6. As I scrolled through I just kept oohing and ahhhing- what amazing captures Dawn! I love every single one.


  7. “Contactless treat”….LOL.

    I always love your stories and photos from Kensington Park. Such a cool place.


  8. All of the pictures are great, but that first image of the heron in the trees is haunting.


  9. Dawn, I am so in awe over your ability to balance a camera in one hand, extend a handful of bird seed and receive eaters in the other — AND come up with such great photos!! As I was looking over these birdies, I couldn’t help thinking about the wee one that Monkey caught the other day (and hoping he somehow managed to escape death). Glad you found your skunk cabbage, harbinger of Spring on its way!!


    • I hope little Monkey’s bird escaped death too. I get quite attached to the birds, both out at the park and in my own back yard. I’m always heartbroken when I find one that died from whatever cause.

      I can’t wait for spring. I’m so tired of having cold feet and wearing so many layers. Plus Katie likes to go out A LOT and it’s so much more pleasant for me if cold rain isn’t dropping down my neck. She, on the other hand, doesn’t mind cold at all.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I always have so much fun with all your birds. Great shots! And one day I will get a bird or hummingbird to eat or drink from my hand… I love seeing that!


  11. WOW! I got a bunch of smiles out of this post! Thank you, Dawn!


  12. Fantastic! I am in awe of your bird photos! ❤️❤️❤️


  13. Wonderful post! Made me smile and laugh out loud. And … skunk cabbage! yay! Spring is indeed here. Not a lot of folks understand how wonderful skunk cabbage is. Although, the “red squirrel bird” was pretty spectacular. 🙂


  14. These photos and captions are just superb!! I am totally in awe of you. I’m enchanted by the birds and wildlife around me but haven’t been able to get the quality of my photos any where close to yours. Curious what camera you are using one-handed while enticing birds to eat from your hand? I keep buying cameras thinking this is JUST the ONE for that certain activity but am never convinced it is JUST the one. LOL


  15. I’m using a Nikon Z6ii, but have done this with Cannon too. The trick to catching moving wings is make sure you have a shutter speed of at least 1/2000. You will need to increase your ISO most likely t get the shutter speed up that high. I shoot almost all in aperture priority mode.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Do I see your reflection and the horizon, in the black eye of the really close-up titmouse?


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