Article and photos by Charly Mann
This male Northern Cardinal was happy to pose for me
I have a multi-generation family of six Northern Cardinals in my backyard that have been with me for more than seven years. The oldest male often comes up to me on my back patio to bring me a seed.
This Northern Cardinal is enjoying a mulberry in my front yard
Northern Cardinals do not migrate, staying in the same area year round.
Juvenille Northern Cardinal in my backyard
Cardinals live between three and ten years on average, though some have lived for more than fifteen years in the wild.
Adult Northern Cardinals weigh around one and a half ounces. They are about 9 inches in length, and have a wingspan between 10 and 12 inches.
Northern Cardinal up-close in Bartlesville, Oklahoma
Male Cardinals are bright red, while female Cardinals are buff-brown with a red tinge on their crest, wings and tail. Both have orange bills and black faces.
The brighter the red of a male Northern Cardinal, the larger territory it dominates and the more offspring it is responsible for.
This Northern Cardinal often shares this branch in the Spring and Summer with a Ruby-throated Hummingbird
The Northern Cardinal is the state bird of North Carolina, Ohio, West Virginia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and Virginia. The Scissor-tailed Flycatcher is the state bird of Oklahoma,
While the Northern Cardinal is found throughout The United States, it may soon disappear in California because of loss of habitat.
Photos and article by Charly Mann
Downy Woodpecker sitting on a limb in my backyard
For the last five years a pair of Downy Woodpeckers has shared my backyard with me. They are a very small woodpecker, only about 6 inches in length. Their upperparts are checkered black and white with white only on their wings. Their outer tail feathers and underside are white. Males have a red patch on the back of the head, while females do not.
Female Downy Woodpecker perched near the Caney River
Downy Woodpeckers often live more than six years, and some have lived beyond 15.
Downy Woodpecker searching for insects
The Downy Woodpecker is the most common type of woodpecker in the United States.
The Downy Woodpecker looks like a miniature version of the Hairy Woodpecker. The only real difference is that the Hairy Woodpecker is about 4 inches longer and has a longer bill.
Downy Woodpeckers eat bugs that live in trees. They peck holes in trees to get to the larvae of wood boring beetles which they eat. If not for the Downy Woodpecker many hardwood trees would be greatly damaged or killed.
The Downy Woodpecker and his red badge of courage on his nape
American Indians believed the red patch on the head of the male was a badge of courage, and made the Downy woodpecker a symbol for bravery.
Article and photos by Charly Mann
Two Pipevine Swallowtail Butterflies from northeast Oklahoma on 7-16-2010. It is a photographer's delight to get a butterfly in flight in focus like this.
Beautiful and graceful, varied and enchanting, small but approachable, butterflies lead you to the sunny side of life. And everyone deserves a little sunshine.
Pipevine Swallowtails can often be found on wild flowers in Oklahoma fields throughout the summer months. They can be distinguished from other butterflies by the "C" shaped row of orangish red spots on their underside. They have black wings with vibrant bluish-green metallic flecks on the hind wings, and females have a row of yellowish-white dots which males do not. Their wingspan is about 3.5 inches.
Note the "C" of orange spots on the underside of this Pipevine Swallowtail
While you may observe the ravages of bird bites on the wings of many butterflies, Pipevine Swallowtails are largely immune from being eaten by birds because they are poisonous to them. As a several other species of butterflies that are not poisonous have developed the look of the Pipevine so birds will avoid them. This includes the female Tiger Swallowtail, the Eastern Black Swallowtail, the Spicebush Swallowtail, and the Red-spotted Purple (all of which can be found in Oklahoma). Because of this it can be difficult to tell these species apart.
Top view of spead out Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly wings
Pipevine Swallowtails enjoy the nectar of honeysuckles, milkweeds, and thistles.
Article and photo by Charly Mann
There is a beautiful secluded small shallow pond in the woods near my house where I occasionally see a Green Heron standing still on a fallen tree waiting patiently for a small fish to come near. When she spots a fish her head will quickly dart into the water to grab her meal.
Green Herons are highly intelligent birds that will often drop insect bait into the water to attract a fish.
Green Heron fishing
Green Herons are only 14 inches long, but have a two foot wingspan. They have a dark blue bill and yellow legs. Their head is dark blue with a small blue crest. Their back and wings are dark gray-green to dark gray-blue. Their neck is chestnut with a white stripe down its center. Their chin is also white. Males and females look the same. Their coloration, silent nature, and motionlessness as they stand near a body of water which is surrounded by grass and trees, often make them difficult to spot.
A heron is a wading bird that walks through shallow water in search of small fish. They have long legs to move easily through the water and long necks to spot their prey. Green Herons are one of the smallest herons in the world.
Green Herons have lived as long as 8 years, but their common life expectancy is half that.
Article and photos by Kathryn Mann
I think the Tufted Titmouse is the most adorable looking bird in Oklahoma. They are a small bird, six inches in length, and are usually heard before they are seen. Their song is a lively whistle that sounds like "peter-peter-peter".
Tufted Titmouse enjoying the sunshine
Most Tufted Titmice spend their entire life within a two mile radius of where they were born. In the wild they typically live less than three years, but some have lived as long as 13.
Tufted Titmice have a distinctive crest of gray feathers on the top of their head. They have a black forehead with grey around their eyes. Their bodies are gray on top and white to light gray on their chest and belly. They are rust or chestnut-colored on their sides. Males and females look the same.
Tufted Titmouse on the Pathfinder Trail in Bartlesville
Tufted Titmice mate for life and live together as a pair.
The primary food source of the Tufted Titmouse is seeds and nuts. They have a short and powerful black bill that they use to crack open seeds and shells.
Unlike most birds they do not eat all the food they find at once, but store much of it in the crevices of trees or buried in the ground for later use.
This Tufted Titmouse came closer to me after I whistled to him
Tufted Titmice are very curious birds. If you softly talk or whistle to one it often will come closer to determine who is talking to it.
Article and photos by Kathryn Mann
Brown Thrashers may be the world's best singers. If you ever hear one sing you will agree that its voice is beautiful, its song unforgettable, its phrasing impeccable, and its performance always memorable and enthusiastic.
Brown Thrasher on the lookout outside of Bartlesville
Brown Thrashers are almost a foot long. They are reddish brown and have a white belly with black streaks. They have a gray face with yellow eyes and legs. They have a very long tail that accounts for half of their length. Both males and females look the same. They weigh just over two ounces.
Brown Thrasher close-up
Brown Thrashers have lived as long as 11 years in the wild.
A Brown Trasher foraging near Pawhuska
Brown Thrashers make their nests in bushes, thickets, and shrubs.
Brown Thrasher perched in a cherry tree near my house
There is no better bird to have in your yard if you do not like snakes. They will make life miserable for almost any snake they see in their territory by getting very close to it and then spreading their wings until the snake leaves the area. If it does not leave they often kill the snake and eat it. Their primary diet is insects which they eat off the ground. They also love wild berries.
Brown Thrasher outside of Dewey, Oklahoma
Brown Thrashers are also known as the Brown Thrush.