It just takes a little food, a few perches and a lot of patience.
Each year, a winged group of visitors make their way to the Jackson Hole valley—some passing through and some making it their summer home. Birds of many species, sizes, and colors show up in my back yard and I feel almost obligated to try to capture images of them with my camera. This page contains images of many of them, taken in 2013 and 2014.
I’m not a trained ornithologist, so I created links to All About Birds for each bird. If you are interested, you can read more about the characteristics, color phases, weight, size, range, and songs. For most of the birds below, I chose the male since they are usually more colorful. If there is a noticeable difference, you can see the female of each by clicking on the links I added.
Clark’s Nutcracker’s are some of my most dependable year around birds. They are very good problem solvers and usually clean out peanut feeders as a team. They leave my yard for a few weeks when the White Bark Pine cones need harvesting, but otherwise come to the feeders anytime I put out peanuts for them. All About Birds : Clark’s Nutcracker
Black-capped Chickadees can be found in my yard year around. They are difficult to photograph because of their jittery nature. The Native Americans called them the bird of seven songs. All About Birds : Black-capped Chickadee
Mountain Chickadees are equally difficult to photograph. They are a bit smaller than Black-capped Chickadees. All About Birds : Mountain Chickadee
White-breasted Nuthatches spend some winters in my back yard. Red-breasted Nuthatches are a little smaller and will occasionally feed in my yard. They typically walk “down” tree trunks. I’ve seen them go into cavities of other birds or squirrels to rob them of their stash of seeds. Both species leave about the time other migrating birds begin showing up. All About Birds : White-breasted Nuthatch & Red-breasted Nuthatch
Cassins Finches are some of the first “birds of color” to arrive each year. They arrive in waves, feeding mainly on sunflower seeds, before heading on north. I can sometimes have a few hundred of them in the yard at one time. All About Birds : Cassin’s Finch
Pine Siskins leave the valley during the coldest periods, then return in early March. They are smaller than most sparrows and prefer Nyjer seeds (thistle). All About Birds : Pine Siskin
Hairy Woodpecker’s often spend the winter in the valley and visit my feeders for suet and peanut butter. The males have a patch of red on the back of their head. All About Birds : Hairy Woodpecker
Downy Woodpeckers resemble the larger Hairy Woodpeckers but have shorter beaks. Both species are amazingly tolerant of me taking their photos. All About Birds : Downey Woodpecker
Northern Flickers also visit the tree trunks and feeders, mostly in the winter and early spring, in search of suet and peanut butter. All About Birds : Northern Flicker
Red-naped Sapsuckers occasionally pass through my yard, but never seem to stay long. All About Birds : Red-naped Sapsucker
Black-billed Magpies are also year around valley residents. They pick up peanuts dropped by the Clark’s Nutcrackers and are equally attracted to suet. All About Birds : Black-billed Magpie
Dark-eyed Juncos are also some of the earliest birds to return in the late winter or early spring. The bird above is sometimes identified as “Slate-colored”. Oregon Juncos look much the same, but have a darker cape and lighter chest. All About Birds : Dark-eyed Junco
Blue Jays are not typically found in the Jackson Hole valley. This one spent the 2013/2014 winter here. I watched it follow a red squirrel to see where it stashed peanuts, then go there to take them after the squirrel left. All About Birds : Black-billed Magpie
Bullock’s Orioles usually start showing up during the first week or two of May, adding a very bright splash of color. They can hang around until the first week of June, but will leave sooner if I forget to keep sugar water in the feeders or stop feeding orange slices. They are good at pulling the yellow “baskets” off Hummingbird feeders to get to the sugar water. All About Birds : Bullock’s Oriole
American Robins are typically considered harbingers of spring. A large population spends their summers in Jackson Hole. Some can spend the winter in the north country, but I don’t see the them often in the Winter. All About Birds : American Robin
House Finches resemble Cassin’s Finches in some ways, but usually have more red in their chest and lack some of the stripes found on the chest of the Cassin’s Finches. All About Birds : House Finch
Western Tanagers are probably the highlight of the birding season for me. Males are extremely colorful and almost look out of place here. Check out this earlier Feature Page containing lots of photos of Western Tanagers:
All About Birds : Western Tanagers
American Goldfinches are among the wave of brightly colored birds that show up near the end of May. The earliest males often still have patches of brown, but change within a few days. All About Birds : American Goldfinch
Evening Grosbeaks are beautiful birds. I typically only see half a dozen pairs and they never stay around as long as I would wish. They focus on sunflower seeds. All About Birds : Evening Grosbeak
Black-headed Grosbeaks have quite a bit of color and are welcome in my yard anytime. Some nest in town, but I’ve never seen one nest in my yard. All About Birds : Black-headed Grosbeak
Yellow Warblers hang around in the willows on the other side of the creek that flows behind my house. They seldom come to my yard to feed. Yellow-rumped Warblers also visit my yard in early summer, but never stay long. All About Birds : Yellow Warbler
Gray Catbirds have been coming to my feeders for the past four or five years. They are sleek and sly. You can hear them approaching by their catlike meow call. I like to try to capture them in an image showing the rusty orange underside of their tail. It is not an easy assignment. All About Birds : Gray Catbird
Lazuli Buntings are one of my favorite birds of summer. The males are brown for most of the year, but change to the bright blue during the breeding season. All About Birds : Lazuli Bunting
Brown-headed Cowbirds are fairly common in the valley. A group of them hang around my yard all summer, but most can be seen later in the sage flats and sometimes sitting on the back of a bison. All About Birds : Brown-headed Cowbird
Brewer’s Blackbirds show up about the same time as the Brown-headed Cowbirds, Common Grackles and European Starlings. All About Birds : Brewer’s Blackbird
Chipping Sparrows spend a lot of the time on the ground and less time on perches, making them difficult to photograph. All About Birds : Chipping Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrows are also ground feeders and do a great job of making my photography life difficult. There are probably at least half a dozen different other kinds of Sparrows here in the summer. All About Birds : White-crowned Sparrow
Cedar Waxwings usually follow the Tanagers into the valley. I look forward to their return in both summer and mid-winter. This year, for whatever reason, I only had a handful of them in the summer. If the prior few years, I had dozens at a time on the feeders. They are mainly interested in fruit and suet. Bohemian Waxwings often spend a month or so in Jackson Hole during the winter months, but I don’t think I’ve ever had one in my yard. By that time, Robins and other birds have cleaned off all of my berry bushes. All About Birds : Cedar Waxwing
Eurasian Collared-Doves have been moving into the Jackson Hole valley for the past half a dozen years. They are fairly plentiful now, but are quite skittish when I am in the back yard. All About Birds : Eurasian Collared-Dove
Hummingbirds nest in the Jackson Hole valley. This earlier Feature Post shows several different species and includes some information about trying to photograph the: The Teton’s Tiny Winged Visitors
All About Birds : Calliope Hummingbird | Rufous Hummingbird | Broad-tailed Hummingbird
Each year, there seems to be a “standard” set of species—yet it is never the same. Waxwings and Evening Grosbeaks were almost non-existent in 2013. Seems strange, knowing they had been regulars for several years prior. Occasionally, I have a Stellar’s Jay. One year was great for Red Crossbills and White-winged Crossbills, while Gray-crowned Rosy Finches were at feeders another year. Tree Swallows have been common in some years but not others. Right now, a Spotted Towhee is in the yard, but it stays just out of good shooting range. A Sharp-shinned Hawk patrols the area and occasionally kills an unsuspecting bird. I spend a lot of time photographing the birds from a blind in the back yard as the songbird migration moves through. It saves gasoline! Of course there are lots of other bird species that visit Jackson Hole. This page features some of the birds that actually come into my yard. Overhead, Osprey, Swans, Eagles, and a wide variety of waterfowl fly by. A pair of Mallard ducks waddle into the yard regularly, so I probably should include them.
Click this link for some additional photos and information about my back yard setup. Attracting and Photographing Wintering Back Yard Birds:
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