Inspired by change, challenge and creativity

Wildlife Lessons: Welcoming Autumn Visitors


“These are brand-new birds of   
twelve-months’ growing,  
Which a year ago, or less than twain,   
No finches were, nor nightingales,  
Nor thrushes,     
But only particles of grain,   
And earth and air, and rain.”  

~Thomas Hardy



In spring, I wait patiently for life to stir in my garden.  For the first native bees to wake and buzz happily finding new nectar and pollen.  To see the first butterflies stretch their wings, and the first frogs and toads hop into the pond.



And of course I await the return of the song birds who migrate here to find a spot to make a nest and raise a family….the robins, red-winged blackbirds, hummingbirds and orioles….to name a few.



And once these birds begin to leave, in late August for their winter homes, I am saddened by the silence in the garden.  The butterflies flying south keep me company, but I miss the birds’ gladful chorus.



This autumn, I was reminded that there is still much to be grateful for as critters find their way to our oasis, and share a few moments.  With the warmer weather lingering longer, we were able to welcome many wonderful creatures.





The first new visitors were the White-crowned Sparrows you see above and here.  This one is an immature bird, probably born just this year.  The mature bird is at the top of the post.  I love their black and white striped heads.



These beauties come north to breed every year in summer.  And while they are nearby, I don’t see them until they are migrating back south for the winter.  They stop by for a snack of seeds, which is why I try to leave my seed heads in the garden well into late fall.





With the warm weather, we saw many robins come down from the north.  They hung around for quite a few weeks, finding berries and fruit to eat.  Our usual robins, who return each spring, left us in August.




birds feeding

And with the exodus of the summer songbirds, comes the reemergence of resident birds in to the garden.  They now take their rightful spot here all fall and winter to enjoy the suet we provide.  The Red-bellied Woodpecker (top left), the Pileated Woodpecker (center), and White-breasted Nuthatch (bottom left) also look for any insects they can find in the trees.  The Black-capped Chickadees (right) will forage for seeds.




birds in distance

The Cardinal (top left) and his mate love to hang about in our front trees once the throngs of other birds have left.  And we are thrilled to see the Red-winged Blackbirds (right) come by for a bite on their way south.  Although this year, there were many more throngs of them for many more weeks than in years past.  Some mature males seemed to be checking out the area for possible nesting sites too.  Perhaps we’ll see more of them in spring.



And with the cooler air brings the raptors back from Canada.  This Red-tailed Hawk (bottom picture-he was far away) is making our garden and wild area his winter home.  We watch him hunt almost daily.





The last groups of birds to go, and the first to come in spring, are the European Starlings.  I have never seen so many large groups visiting for days on end.  I adore watching their murmurations around the trees and fields.  Maybe next year I can catch them on video.





Of course, in our garden, the toads bury themselves in fall, but the frogs (these are Green Frogs) were lingering in the pond well into early November.  They will bury themselves at the bottom of the pond to overwinter once the mercury dips to freezing, and stays there.  Here is our romantic couple still together.


We spotted many frogs still in the pond at the end of November.





One of the biggest surprise visitors was this Northern Leopard Frog.  I have never seen them around the pond in fall, and especially not in late November.  But they will find permanent water, like our pond, and also bury themselves in the mud at the bottom.  This frog will emerge before the others and breed in the pond in early spring.  Then they move to the grassy areas of the garden in summer while the other frogs and toads come to the pond to breed.  I just love the cycle of life, through the seasons, in our pond and garden.


If I hadn’t been clearing the pond garden later than I usually do, I would have missed this frog….of course the warmer November weather kept it in the garden longer as the pond never froze until the end of November.





Our last surprise visitor in late fall was this insect.  No it’s not a strange looking giant ladybug.  It is a Swamp Milkweed Leaf Beetle, Labidomera clivicollis.  How cool is that!  I will be looking for these beetles next year on my Swamp Milkweed plants, and seeing if they also hang around on the other milkweed I have growing in the garden.  Then I can study them a bit more.



It is amazing what wildlife still lingers in the garden from September to November, when we think all have left for warmer climates or hibernation.  We just have to pay attention.  And I find it easier to spot the wildlife in the declining garden and leafless trees of fall.  I wonder who will come visiting this winter.  You know I’ll keep you posted.




With this wildlife story, I am joining in the meme Wildlife Wednesday hosted by Tina@My Gardener Says that happens the first Wednesday of every month, and with Saturday’s Critters hosted by Eileen@Viewing nature with Eileen that happens every Saturday.  I am also linking in with with Judith@Lavender Cottage who hosts Mosaic Monday, and Michelle@Rambling Woods for her Nature Notes meme.  It is a great way to see what is happening in nature around the world every week.



And I am sharing this lesson with Beth@PlantPostings for her wonderful Garden Lessons Learned meme.  I hope you will join her.  Please check out all these great blogs.



Also as the solstice approaches, please join me at my garden blog, Gardens Eye View,  for my quarterly meme, Seasonal Celebrations. There you can find all the details for linking up to this celebration of the coming of the new seasons around the world.  I hope you can join me with a post.




I leave you with another thought about the lessons I am learning from nature.  Feel free to download the photo and share.


All original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-15.  Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only.

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  1. December 3, 2015    

    Every season brings its magic – for those with open eyes, hearts and minds.
    Thank you so much for sharing a little of yours.

    • December 3, 2015    

      My pleasure Soosie! It makes the long gray days so much better….

  2. December 3, 2015    

    Lovely post Donna, the Swamp Milkweed Leaf Beetle is extraordinary – like a wonderful glamorous piece of jewellery!

    • December 3, 2015    

      I love that description of the beetle Julie…it does look glamorous.

  3. December 3, 2015    

    Isn’t it great fun to watch the songbirds in the various seasons. It seems we have similar ones in our gardens, and I have noticed different patterns and species this season, too, presumably because of the mild autumn weather. Thanks for the reminder to remain grateful, even in the colder months. Several species stay with us here during even the coldest months. The ones that truly amaze me with their hardiness are the Juncos, the Chickadees, and the Cardinals. They visit the feeders and fly around the garden on the coldest of winter days. Thanks for joining in the meme!

    • December 3, 2015    

      I agree it is fun and makes winter much more enjoyable….I do think we saw so many birds because of the long warmer autumn….I do worry about the birds that linger all winter…we provide loads of seed and suet. They all seem to eat the suet…some from the feeder and others from the ground where pieces fall.

  4. December 3, 2015    

    A great post and wonderful accompanying photos. Really interesting about your Northern Leopard frog(s) and their ability to withstand your formidable winters. Well, I guess they’ve been doing that for a while–they are around in the warmer times of year, aren’t they? 🙂 I also had some milkweed beetles, though of a different species this autumn–they are quite gorgeous! Thanks for participating in Wildlife Wednesday, this post was a pleasure to read!

    • December 3, 2015    

      They are around all year Tina. They come in early spring to mate in the pond and by mid spring they move to the other parts of the garden and hang in the plants and grasses. Then they come back to the pond in mid fall to hibernate. So glad you enjoyed the post!

  5. December 4, 2015    

    Wonderful poems and pictures on the wildlife subject! I am happy to see that quite a few of our summer birds (Canada) are finding good homes for their winter season 🙂

    • December 4, 2015    

      Thank you for your visit and so pleased you enjoyed the poems and stories…..and I love hosting your lovely birds!

  6. December 4, 2015    

    You have a wonderful collection of wildlife living in and visiting your garden. All very colourful 🙂

    • December 4, 2015    

      Thanks Cherie….we love all the visitors and especially the newcomers!

  7. December 4, 2015    

    Wonderful photos Donna… There is magic as you have shown us…. Michelle

  8. December 5, 2015    

    Marvelous images!

    • December 5, 2015    

      So glad you liked the post Elena!

  9. December 5, 2015    

    Hello, your nature post was marvelous. I love all the pretty birds and the frogs. The Leopard Frog is beautiful. It must be awesome to watch the hawk hunt, they do need to eat too.
    Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Have a happy weekend!

    • December 5, 2015    

      Thanks so much Eileen….it is fascinating watching the hawk!

  10. December 5, 2015    

    The black-capped chickadees have been very busy here lately, and I finally saw some juncos (weeks later than I would normally expect them).

    • December 6, 2015    

      The chickadees have been very visible and busy as well this year. And the titmice have made a reappearance. Nice to see them all. Hoping to see bluebirds return….took care of the comment duplicate too. 🙂

  11. December 7, 2015    

    That beetle is great!
    I would love to get a shot at a pileated wood pecker. We hear them.

    • December 7, 2015    

      Thanks Gayle….I adore the unique visitors here.

  12. December 7, 2015    

    Lovely photos of out wild “friends”!

    • December 7, 2015    

      Aren’t they just adorable…we love their visits!

  13. December 10, 2015    

    There is so much to see and enjoy while you wait for the summer visitors to return. I am eternally envious of anyone who has cardinals. I wish we had them here. I have never seen one on my travels, I suspect I might keel over when I finally do! That swamp milkweed leaf beetle is a pretty thing. I’ve never seen one of those either!

    • December 10, 2015    

      I do feel fortunate that the cardinals leave the woods and visit us from time to time…a stunning bird that I hope you will see one day soon….that beetle was a rare treat as well. Hoping to see it this spring when the swamp milkweed is blooming.

Favorite Quote This Week:

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