The Original “Puffer” Coat

I slept in this morning, which is unusual for me. FD and I stayed up late watching the movie, “Stir Crazy” last night. Oh, we have seen it numerous times, but it is one of those ridiculously silly movies one gets hooked on, no matter how many times it has been viewed. It was nearly 2:00 in the morning before we settled in to bed. I had been checking out back all evening, to see if Daisy deer might show up, but there was no sign of any deer. The woodlands seemed abandoned. The wind had picked up and there was a bitter chill to the air. Daisy and Spirit were likely bedded down in a protected area somewhere, awaiting the snow that was predicted for later.

My first subject did not seem too keen on being photographed!
My first subject did not seem too keen on being photographed!

As I opened the window blinds this morning, a scene of white and gray presented itself. The landscape was blanketed in white, and an overcast sky was showering down tiny flakes of snow. The wind from last night had moved on and the atmosphere was quiet. Donning my camo jacket and pants, I decided I would have to scoop a path first thing – for the dogs to do their bathroom business. Our Japanese Chin are much too royal and pampered to venture out into four inches of snow. If I do not shovel a path, all three of them will do their business right in front of the house on the sidewalk.

Here again, I get the feeling this female is not cooperating by showing me her best posterior pose.
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The Cardinals seemed to have it in for me, always alerting the other birds of the presence of a human.

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Already the bird feeders were teeming with activity. I hurried back inside to fix a quick breakfast for FD and me, and have a couple of cups of coffee. By the time I finished scarfing down my huevos rancheros and bacon, the snow stopped falling. Perfect! I would not have to put a protective plastic covering on my camera.  Back in my insulated camo outfit, I headed out the door, hoping to get a few photographs of the winter birds.

It was apparent after about thirty minutes, that the birds were not cooperating with me. I blame the cardinals. They seemed to give other birds the cue that there was a human near the feeders. In my camo I thought I might blend in with the nature scene, but alas, I have the wrong kind of camo for snow. My “Mossy Oak Breakup Infinity” camo was green and brown, and I was in a white landscape. No wonder the birds were flying away each time I tried to move closer! I was not fooling them. I was a big green and brown blob with eyes and teeth!

Finally, I decided I would situate myself closer to a tree that was somewhat near the bird feeders. At the very least I would be hidden behind the trunk of the tree. Minimal movement is preferable which meant I would have to keep my heavy zoom lens propped at eye level. The muscles of my left arm were on fire after standing there for twenty minutes with my camera and zoom held high. I avoided opening my mouth and flashing my pearly white teeth, and I kept my predator eyes behind the camera. I could not even wipe my dripping nose! Let me tell you, wildlife photography is not one bit glamorous. How I look and behave has nothing to do with social expectation. Rather, it is all about what it takes to appeal to, or at least not frighten, my photographic subject. In this case that meant, being motionless, patient, and always prepared to zoom in or out to get the shot.

The Purple Finches were looking quite robust today!
The Purple Finches were looking quite robust today!

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I wound up being outside much longer than an hour, but the only things that got cold were my fingers. My insulated camo jacket and pants kept me toasty and warm, and my old Sorel boots were still doing as good of a job as they had thirty years ago when I first bought them. As I stood patiently waiting on birds to fly in where I could get a decent shot, I thought about many things to keep from focusing on my frozen fingers. I would have to ask FD if I might get a pair of good camo gloves the next time we went to Cabela’s or Bass Pro. Thoughts about purchasing some white snow camo also popped into my head. I had never seen women’s snow camo but surely it could be found online? If I could not find a women’s style, then it was certainly not beneath me to wear the men’s cut. That way FD and I could share it. After all, I often wore his old jackets and shirts when I was doing outdoor work. Heck, I even wore his old steel-toed boots when he got another pair to wear for work. Since we wear the same size, they were plenty fine for me to wear while working in the woods. Now, I was excited to get back in the house to see if there was any snow camo to be found online. Perhaps the winter line of clothing would be on sale now too!

Goldfinch

Goldfinches and Pine Siskins are common winter birds in Oklahoma.
Goldfinches and Pine Siskins are common winter birds in Oklahoma.

Pine Siskin

I inserted the camera card into the computer and began downloading photos. As I sorted through the keepers and the discards, I thought about what it took for the tough little birds of winter to survive. Today, most of my winged friends were busy eating bird seed and visiting the heated bird bath for water. But many others simply hunkered down on a limb in the trees, or on the ground, braving the bitter cold. In every photograph, feathers were puffed up, giving my subjects a rather robust appearance. It reminded me of the “puffer” jackets that are all the rage these days. I remember a similar style of the puffer jacket back in the 1970’s and personally, I thought they gave the wearer the appearance of the Michelin Man. I never thought that look was particularly attractive – especially in a synthetic fabric and loud colors. Definitely, these little birds had a much more attractive “puffer” coat. I liked their sense of style. And all puffed up against the elements, they seemed to not mind the cold, blustery day at all.

The Dark-eyed Junco preferred foraging on the ground rather than visiting the feeders.
The Dark-eyed Junco preferred foraging on the ground rather than visiting the feeders.
Goldfinch
Goldfinch

And alas, I did not have much luck online finding the snow pattern camo I was looking for. Since snow and winter weather advisories are forecast for the coming week, I will have to come up with some kind of getup in white to wear over my green and brown insulated camo jacket and pants, if I wish to blend in.  And perhaps it will not matter at all. I doubt I am fooling the birds anyway… unless I can come up with a feather “puffer” coat!

A Goldfinch watches for its turn at the feeder.
A Goldfinch watches for its turn at the feeder.

© 2014 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…


46 thoughts on “The Original “Puffer” Coat

    1. Thanks, Melanie. I thought the “curls” from the first posterior pose was unusual! And maybe you are right! These might just be young ladies showing off their stuff! LOL Great comment!

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  1. You have such a variety of birds there. Just finished putting out more bird seed. Not that these guys are as needy as your crowd – but it’s entertaining to see them. The cardinals ( we’ve got the one resident small couple and a very large visiting pair) sing almost any time the sun’s out. There’s a big bluejay pair, the dovies (2 varieties) and an assortment of little sparrow and small brown birds. We make the dog stay in when they are eating or huddling out of the wind – recently it’s been so cold I hate for them to expend energy and fly off.
    You ought to be able to find a white suit…army surplus or hunting gear? should be on sale!

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    1. Good point about the army surplus! I’ll check that out!

      We have more species of birds that frequent the canyon, but I didn’t go down there but once yesterday. The slope is slippery! I have noticed the doves – especially the white-winged doves, and the cardinals have been down feeding on the deer corn. Nothing goes to waste here with this woodland menagerie! The corn, bird seed, and deer chow has been a huge expense this year, but we look at it as entertainment. You can’t imagine the number of deer we see at night. And, since the snow, the deer tracks are all over the place! I feel Daisy has quite a party with her friends every night!

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  2. These are all such good pics, Lori. Great going lady. A lovely variety of birds too. Aren’t you lucky to live near a wooded area? It’s a great haven for the birds as well at the mammals. Hope you find those boots. 🙂

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  3. I have never seen so many beautiful little (puffy) birds before Lori. Thankyou for sharing them (even though some of them were rump intensive 😉 )

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    1. Ha ha!! I try to capture all of the angles you know! There are actually many more species of birds that hangout in the woods, but the slope is too slippery for me to venture down there.

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      1. They are so lovely and it’s completely worth your effort to go and capture them twinkling in the snow. I, for one, completely appreciate your efforts 🙂

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        1. Oh, thank you Fran! You know I love being out there with the camera… and it’s equally enjoyable to write about my experiences and share with y’all (as we say in the south). It is what I love about following so many bloggers from various regions and around the world. There’s so much to see and learn, and discover. I’m always amazed when we’re on the computer at the same time! It’s just 8:15 PM here and it’s late afternoon TOMORROW there! LOL You are probably worn out from the days work there and I haven’t even gotten TO the next day! Ooh, and I’d love to be basking in your warm weather about now. It didn’t get above freezing here today.

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          1. HOT weather but today we have a delightful 23C to cool us down enough before it heats up again on the weekend. It’s 1.19pm here so entirely reasonably early afternoon. It is a bit crazy to think that we are actually living in your future! 😉

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  4. Beautiful photos! I’m thrilled to pieces – I suddenly have one – ONE! – little goldfinch that has shown up to eat with the sparrows. I wish I didn’t have to content myself with others’ songbirds, but at least I have the pictures from all of us. And I do have the seabirds.

    It’s fun to see the snow, too. We’re forecast to have sleet again on Thursday. It may be our last gasp of winter.

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    1. It has been the strangest winter here, though I’m not complaining. I don’t prefer the snow, sleet, ice and cold but we don’t get years like this either. Most of the time I’m content with the occasional winter weather. I was discouraged too, about the goldfinches not showing up until about a month ago. I’d gotten a new feeder (an Aspects Quick Clean finch feeder http://www.aspectsinc.com/) and I thought maybe it was the feeder. No, as soon as the weather turned cold for long periods of time, they finally arrived and they are eating us out of house and home! I’ve gone through thirty pounds of thistle seed! Between the birds and the deer, we can’t keep up! Gosh only knows what other critters are eating corn and deer chow at night! LOL It’s all good. We enjoy the company!

      Be safe out there. That sleet and ice is dangerous!

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  5. Oh, you know I love this post! You got some wonderful shots of your puffy birds, Lori. (Speaking of bird butts, have you seen this blog? http://burdzbuttz.blogspot.com/) The view from below or behind is what I usually get when I try to photograph warblers in the spring. But it’s good, because one of the best ways to identify some warblers is by the undertail pattern. So it all works out, lol.

    I can’t wait to show you my next post…I’m waiting for my friend to send me some pics she took of me on a special adventure last week.

    Thanks for loving the birds too!

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    1. Oh, Kim, I thought of you when I was putting this together! I just took a look at the blog link you included. What great photos… but that font is hard on the eyes, and the black on blue doesn’t help! Maybe it’s my “old” eyes! LOL I never thought of the rear and under shots making for an excellent perspective, but you are right! I hope I can get some better shots of the woodland birds, which are different than the birds I photographed here, up top at the feeders. The woodland birds are really difficult to capture. It means a lot of sitting still and waiting patiently!

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  6. Love your pics. Just a thought – as to the white camo, take an old sheet or two, you can just use safety pins and attach to your regular camo stuff, it’s something you might have around and you don’t even have to cut them. It’s cheaper and a lot faster than waiting for anything you might order and one size pretty much fits all. Keep up the good work.

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  7. You are brave, Lori!
    I don’t believe I could bear the cold like you’ve done to get these pictures. However, I admire your bravery and appreciate that you did! Your photographs are so lovely! I’m liking them all, but the little goldfinch in the second to last photo is my favorite. It’s the wings I think. 😀

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    1. Thank you,Lynda. I wouldn’t have been out there had it not been for my insulated camo outfit. FD got that for me for the holidays last year and though quite expensive, it was worth every penny. The jacket is actually a double jacket (one zips inside the other) and the outer jacket and pants also act as rain gear. I have a set of olive green scrubs that offer ease of movement and comfort for photography during the spring and summer months. I enjoy wildlife photography so much that having appropriate clothes is just as important as the camera equipment!

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      1. I think I wouldn’t mind that insulated camo outfit for working with the animals in winter! Celi has the jumper part she wears in winter. She calls it her “clown suit”. Hm, maybe Bob will get me a clown suit for Christmas this year? 😉

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        1. As much time as you spend outside you would really enjoy it, Lynda. Cabela’s has the camo stuff on sale right now, but there may be other styles (not the camo print) that might be less expensive elsewhere. These pants are adjustable and have zippers at the bottom for ease in getting boots off and on. The jacket is double – one zipping inside of the other. The warmer one is inside, and the outer one is rain proof fabric, with a hood and all sorts of adjustable toggles to make for a snug fit to keep out cold. Easy to get everything on and off too!

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          1. This sounds a lot like the Carhart model (jump suit) I have been drooling over in recent weeks! 🙂 Going to go look at Cabela’s to get an idea of their cost vs. buying local cost. Thanks!

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    1. Oh thank you so much! One thing that I admire about your work is, “The picture tells a story”. Often, you capture the moment without having to explain or express much about it. They are photographs to ponder and “feel”.

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    1. Ha ha!! Gee, I kind of like that perspective Sandy. I feel more like a true artist now that you’ve mentioned the part about suffering! The purple finches are a favorite of mine too. That one had more of an orange hue to its feathers. That wasn’t a glitch with the lighting – that bird had a whole different color going on. I meant to ask my birding friend about that. Maybe it wasn’t a purple finch at all.

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  8. You are most definitely an ARTIST with wonderful photos and the story-telling that never fails to suck me in. Girl, you could write a story about going to the supermarket and I would be fascinated. Great pictures as usual and I especially LOVE the cardinals. We have a Bradford Pear tree near the front door and it always has a nesting pair every spring.

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  9. Amazing coats those birds have, they’re super puffed up! But those cardinals (even though they blew the whistle on you, how rude lol!) are the most flamboyant of all, that red!! It’s amazing that such vibrant colors exist in nature just like that.

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    1. I know! We have so many cardinals around here! They are the first up in the mornings, chirping away, and at nightfall they are the last chirping in the woods. I think they are most brilliant in the winter time – that stark red in the browns and blacks… and of course the white from snow this week!

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  10. Deeply envious of your lens, what gorgeous crisp shots, though getting those kinds of images takes real skill and as you said Patience.. Love the red of the cardinals against the grey of the background.. wonderful.. Here it is all bright bright bright, nothing but snow and my darling always-loyal sparrows, who have been seen sitting in rows in the barn lately, they have had it with toughing out this winter. I hope you have a lovely day.. c

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    1. Greetings, Celi. The days drone on here with the white, the wind, and chapped lips and hands. I am the protector of birds today. A Cooper’s hawk keeps attempting easy lunch pickings in the bird feeder area. I’ve been out twice to shoo him away. Tenacity seems to be the word of the day for the hawk and me. He doesn’t want to give up his easy dinner post, and I am on guard to send him packing in case he tries.

      Meanwhile, I would love to photograph all of the lovelies out there at the feeders, but I’ve been out twice already and it is just too cold. Even in my best thermals, my hands and face cannot stay out for long. Where is our Lady of Spring? I miss her so!

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  11. Beautiful photos Lori! Those birds look nice and warm, and they have such vivid spots of colour against the greys and whites. I wish it would snow here instead of rain, rain, rain all day long. I love going for walks in the snow to see what animal prints I may come across, and just admire the landscape and how different it looks.

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    1. Thank you so much Rachel. Following animal trails is one of my favorite aspects of the snow here. I’m always amazed at how deep in the woods the deer go, to hunker down this time of year. And, the snow makes for excellent photography opportunities.

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