wildlife photos, new york wildlife, carla rhodes

Two northern cardinals captured on Carla Rhodes' bird-feeder camera.

The pandemic has caused many people to reevaluate their surroundings. When you’re stuck at home more often than you’d like, you start to pay a lot more attention to what goes on in your own backyard.

This type of introspection inspired wildlife photographer Carla Rhodes to get a closer look at the furry friends that live near her home in the Catskill mountains of New York.

What she found was magical.

“The winter of 2020-2021 was particularly brutal to humankind. After months of enduring the Covid-19 pandemic, we were now collectively slogging through winter. As a result of being stuck at home, I focused on my immediate surroundings like never before,” Rhodes said in a statement.


Rhodes positioned a DSLR camera trap beneath her bird feeder to get an up-close glimpse of the wildlife that came to sample her delicious seeds. The results are an incredible series of photos of birds and other woodland creatures from a vantage point most people never see. Rhodes calls her project, "Beneath the Bird Feeder."

The birdfeeder photos also gave a new glimpse into the behavior of several species of birds and rodents that call the Catskills home.

“As I got deeper into the project, intriguing observations emerged,” Rhodes says. “I noticed distinct repeat visitors such as a Dark-Eyed Junco with an overgrown beak, a deer mouse with a notched ear, and an irruption of Red-Breasted Nuthatches. Dark-Eyed Juncos always showed up at the crack of dawn and Northern Cardinals would always be the last visitor of the day as dusk turned into evening.”

Here are 15 of the most captivating photos that Rhodes captured from beneath her bird feeder.

1. Dark-eyed junco

via Carla Rhodes

"Often overlooked and considered drab ground-feeding birds, Dark-Eyed Juncos hold a special place in my heart due to their funny and curious behaviors. Every day they were first to arrive beneath the bird feeder," Rhodes says. "Dark-Eyed Juncos were one of the most frequent and curious subjects beneath the bird feeder."

2. Dark-eyed junco

via Carla Rhodes

3. Dark-eyed junco

via Carla Rhodes

4. Tufted titmouse

via Carla Rhodes

According to All About Birds, the tufted titmouse is "common in eastern deciduous forests and a frequent visitor to feeders."

5. Mourning dove

via Carla Rhodes

​"Observing Mourning Doves was a daily pleasure, especially when they gathered to form a clean-up crew beneath the bird feeder. Mourning doves are monogamous and possibly mate for life," Rhodes writes.

6. Mourning dove 

via Carla Rhodes

7.  Mourning doves

via Carla Rhodes

8. Blue jay

via Carla Rhodes

"Blue Jays are known for their intelligence and complex social systems with tight family bonds," All About Birds says. "Their fondness for acorns is credited with helping spread oak trees after the last glacial period."

9. Northern cardinal

via Carla Rhodes

"Northern Cardinals were always the last to show up beneath the bird feeder, shortly after dusk every evening," Rhodes writes.

10. Black-capped chickadee

via Carla Rhodes

"Little flocks of Black-capped Chickadees enliven the winter woods with their active behavior and their cheery-sounding chick-a-dee callnotes as they fly from tree to tree, often accompanied by an assortment of nuthatches, creepers, kinglets, and other birds," the Audubon field guide to North American birds says.

11. Black-capped chickadee

via Carla Rhodes

12. Eastern gray squirrel

via Carla Rhodes

Eastern gray squirrels are important members of forest ecosystems as they play a vital role in dispersing seeds.

 13. American red squirrel

via Carla Rhodes

The American red squirrel is known for its distinct bushy and dark red tail with hints of a white outline.

14. American red squirrel

via Carla Rhodes

15. Northern short-tailed shrew

via Carla Rhodes

If you see a northern short-tailed shrew, be careful. It's venomous and paralyzes its victims with poisonous saliva. In humans, a bite can cause swelling and intense pain.

Moricz was banned from speaking up about LGBTQ topics. He found a brilliant workaround.

Senior class president Zander Moricz was given a fair warning: If he used his graduation speech to criticize the “Don’t Say Gay” law, then his microphone would be shut off immediately.

Moricz had been receiving a lot of attention for his LGBTQ activism prior to the ceremony. Moricz, an openly gay student at Pine View School for the Gifted in Florida, also organized student walkouts in protest and is the youngest public plaintiff in the state suing over the law formally known as the Parental Rights in Education law, which prohibits the discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in grades K-3.

Though well beyond third grade, Moricz nevertheless was also banned from speaking up about the law, gender or sexuality. The 18-year-old tweeted, “I am the first openly-gay Class President in my school’s history–this censorship seems to show that they want me to be the last.”

However, during his speech, Moricz still delivered a powerful message about identity. Even if he did have to use a clever metaphor to do it.

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Leah Menzies/TikTok

Leah Menzies had no idea her deceased mother was her boyfriend's kindergarten teacher.

When you start dating the love of your life, you want to share it with the people closest to you. Sadly, 18-year-old Leah Menzies couldn't do that. Her mother died when she was 7, so she would never have the chance to meet the young woman's boyfriend, Thomas McLeodd. But by a twist of fate, it turns out Thomas had already met Leah's mom when he was just 3 years old. Leah's mom was Thomas' kindergarten teacher.

The couple, who have been dating for seven months, made this realization during a visit to McCleodd's house. When Menzies went to meet his family for the first time, his mom (in true mom fashion) insisted on showing her a picture of him making a goofy face. When they brought out the picture, McLeodd recognized the face of his teacher as that of his girlfriend's mother.

Menzies posted about the realization moment on TikTok. "Me thinking my mum (who died when I was 7) will never meet my future boyfriend," she wrote on the video. The video shows her and McLeodd together, then flashes to the kindergarten class picture.

“He opens this album and then suddenly, he’s like, ‘Oh my God. Oh my God — over and over again,” Menzies told TODAY. “I couldn’t figure out why he was being so dramatic.”

Obviously, Menzies is taking great comfort in knowing that even though her mother is no longer here, they can still maintain a connection. I know how important it was for me to have my mom accept my partner, and there would definitely be something missing if she wasn't here to share in my joy. It's also really incredible to know that Menzies' mother had a hand in making McLeodd the person he is today, even if it was only a small part.

@speccylee

Found out through this photo in his photo album. A moment straight out of a movie 🥲

♬ iris - 🫶

“It’s incredible that that she knew him," Menzies said. "What gets me is that she was standing with my future boyfriend and she had no idea.”

Since he was only 3, McLeodd has no actual memory of Menzies' mother. But his own mother remembers her as “kind and really gentle.”

The TikTok has understandably gone viral and the comments are so sweet and positive.

"No the chills I got omggg."

"This is the cutest thing I have watched."

"It’s as if she remembered some significance about him and sent him to you. Love fate 😍✨"

In the caption of the video, she said that discovering the connection between her boyfriend and her mom was "straight out of a movie." And if you're into romantic comedies, you're definitely nodding along right now.

Menzies and McLeodd made a follow-up TikTok to address everyone's positive response to their initial video and it's just as sweet. The young couple sits together and addresses some of the questions they noticed pop up. People were confused that they kept saying McLeodd was in kindergarten but only 3 years old when he was in Menzies' mother's class. The couple is Australian and Menzies explained that it's the equivalent of American preschool.

They also clarified that although they went to high school together and kind of knew of the other's existence, they didn't really get to know each other until they started dating seven months ago. So no, they truly had no idea that her mother was his teacher. Menzies revealed that she "didn't actually know that my mum taught at kindergarten."

"I just knew she was a teacher," she explained.

She made him act out his reaction to seeing the photo, saying he was "speechless," and when she looked at the photo she started crying. McLeodd recognized her mother because of the pictures Menzies keeps in her room. Cue the "awws," because this is so cute, I'm kvelling.

Joy

50-years ago they trade a grilled cheese for a painting. Now it's worth a small fortune.

Irene and Tony Demas regularly traded food at their restaurant in exchange for crafts. It paid off big time.

Photo by Gio Bartlett on Unsplash

Painting traded for grilled cheese worth thousands.

The grilled cheese at Irene and Tony Demas’ restaurant was truly something special. The combination of freshly baked artisan bread and 5-year-old cheddar was enough to make anyone’s mouth water, but no one was nearly as devoted to the item as the restaurant’s regular, John Kinnear.

Kinnear loved the London, Ontario restaurant's grilled cheese so much that he ordered it every single day, though he wouldn’t always pay for it in cash. The Demases were well known for bartering their food in exchange for odds and ends from local craftspeople and merchants.

“Everyone supported everyone back then,” Irene told the Guardian, saying that the couple would often trade free soup and a sandwich for fresh flowers. Two different kinds of nourishment, you might say.

And so, in the 1970s the Demases made a deal with Kinnear that he could pay them for his grilled cheese sandwiches with artwork. Being a painter himself and part of an art community, Kinnear would never run out of that currency.

Little did Kinnear—or anyone—know, eventually he would give the Demases a painting worth an entire lifetime's supply of grilled cheeses. And then some.

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