A Busy Yard

Anna’s Hummingbirds

There are a lot of hummers in our yard now, doing their courtship thing, and eating a lot.

Orange-crowned Warbler

My little warbler will be migrating soon. Last year she left about March 10. I hope she will have a safe summer and return in the fall again.

American Kestrel, male

Gila Woodpecker, female

Verdin

Curve-billed Thrasher

Abert’s Towhee

Svengali says, “Mom, that sun is bright!”

Svengali has lived here about 7 years and was an adult when he showed up. He was a little mean until he got neutered and now he’s mostly sweet although a few cats are scared of him at times. He just had 13 teeth extracted and now only has 4 left! It hasn’t affected his eating at all.

Ferguson

Ferguson joined our outdoor cats a few months ago. It turns out he has a microchip and we’ve found out that he moved to Phoenix from New Mexico for a few months and, while his owner was moving back to New Mexico, he ran off. She decided he must be dead, moved, got a new cat, and doesn’t want him anymore. We don’t know if he lived closeby, none of our neighbors had ever seen him before. He seems happy here and I’m in the (loooong) process of getting his chip transferred to us.

We have 6 outdoor cats. Svengali, Ferguson, and Stripey are tame.

https://maccandace.files.wordpress.com/2014/12/stripey-2.jpg?w=1122&h=776Stripey

Edie

Edie, Kit, and Tortie are in various stages of feralness. Edie is 10 years old and the sister of 2 of our indoor cats, Ebony and Ivory. They are now tame but a little “different,” shall we say. Edie will not let us touch her or get within about 10 feet of her after all these years. She is spayed as are all of them (or neutered).

Kit

Kit is skittish but I can touch him briefly now and then although Tony can’t. Tortie is even more skittish but I’ve touched her a couple times while she’s eating. They both are younger but we don’t know how old. They’ve been here a year or more.

Tortie

I’ll post our 4 indoor cats soon but they do want to be mentioned here: Google, Jessi, Ebony and Ivory. Four is pretty much our indoor limit. Our house is fairly small and we have cat fights break out daily. Google likes to intimidate Ebony who is at least twice his size. Chaos then ensues. It’s just a good thing we think they’re cute.

 

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Eat or Be Eaten

American Kestrel, male

I know everyone needs to eat but please don’t eat any of the sweet birdies I feed, Mr. Kestrel.

Orange-crowned Warbler

And this is what I feed “my” birds daily:

  1. Suet Cake (1)
  2. Orange (1~halved)
  3. Grape Jelly
  4. Black Oil Sunflower Seeds (BOSS)
  5. Thistle
  6. Sugar water for the hummingbirds (4 feeders)

The Orange-crowned Warbler (above) really only eats the jelly anymore.

Abert’s Towhee

The towhees eat everything but the thistle and hummingbird food.

Curve-billed Thrasher

Same for the thrashers and they seemed to be working on a nest the other day although I couldn’t locate it.

Anna’s Hummingbirds, males and female

Bugs and nectar for these guys.

Northern Mockingbird

Mockingbirds are bold, aggressive birds yet they seem shy around the food. They will eat everything but the thistle but I don’t see them come to the feeders very often at all. They watch and wait before they come in to have a bite.

White-crowned Sparrows, adults and immature

These guys eat nothing I put out but do like mulberries. It will be a couple months until we have mulberries, though, so we’ll see if they stick around. There seem to be 4 of them.

Gila Woodpeckers, female and male

These woodpeckers love the oranges but will also eat suet and BOSS. I don’t think I’ve seen them in the jelly yet. But the male is so loud when he arrives, announcing to everyone that he is here, and the female sneaks in without a chirp. Many people I know say they drink from their hummingbird feeders but I’ve never seen them do that in our yard.

Verdin

Pretty much oranges only for the Verdins now that the only hummingbird feeder I had that they could drink from broke.

Eurasian-collared Dove

These doves are hogs, especially in the BOSS feeder, knocking all the seed to the ground. When they leave in the summer, the White-winged Doves show up and they’re just as obnoxious. Oh, yes, we have pigeons, too; same for them, obnoxious.

House Sparrow, male

Everyone’s favorite invasive species eats everything I put out except the thistle. They’re raucous and plentiful but I don’t really mind them much. This guy was after peanuts which I put out once in awhile for a special treat.

House Finch, male

The finches eat everything, including thistle, but they’re so pretty, I enjoy them.

European Starling

I guess I’m lucky because some people complain that starlings, another invasive species, are feeder hogs. We have a few starlings but I’ve never seen any eat any of the food. I do enjoy the sounds they make; it sounds like a happy circus when they’re around.

Lesser Goldfinches, males and females

And these little cuties, so different from the House Finches, eat only thistle. I love that they like the swings. They sit on them while they wait for an opening on the thistle socks.

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Abundant Sunshine

mystery-bug_edited-1

I have no clue what this insect is but I’m trying to find out. He has some loooong antennae, though. He was soaking up the sunshine nibbling the lantana.

mystery-bug-2

abundant-sunshine

Today’s weather sounded more like a fortune than a forecast. I intended to go birding somewhere but made the often repeated mistake of sitting in the backyard watching the birds “for just a couple minutes,” and then it was too late to head out. Tomorrow…

cb-thrasherCurve-billed Thrasher

grackle-girlGreat-tailed Grackle, female

incaInca Dove

annas-9-23-16

annas-2-9-23-16

hum-molt-10-3-16Anna’s Hummingbirds, males, molting

verdin-and-hummerVerdin and Anna’s Hummingbird

You can see that Verdins are only a tiny bit larger than hummingbirds.

cloudless-sulphurCloudless Sulphur

bee-9-24-16Honey Bee (with full pollen baskets)

kestrel-boyAmerican Kestrel, male

kestrel-couple

The female Kestrel flew in a few seconds later and all the rest of the birds took off. They soon left, empty-taloned.

flesh-flyFlesh Fly

eufala-skipperEufala Skipper

Notice how the skippers, above and below, seem to have tiny little horns coming out of their heads? I never noticed that until today, after years of photographing them.

skipper-horns

fiery-skipperFiery Skipper

The lantana is the popular place to be if you’re a little flying critter. I’ve seen some other butterflies there in the last few days but haven’t been able to get any shots.

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Gilbert Riparian Winter

Great EgretGreat Egret

Snowy EgretSnowy Egret

Black-crowned Night HeronBlack-crowned Night Heron

Green HeronGreen Heron

Last weekend I met some birding friends at The Riparian Preserve At Water Ranch in Gilbert, a Phoenix suburb. It’s usually just referred to as Gilbert Riparian. It’s really the place to go to see mega-birds but, being lazy, I seldom go there because it’s about 30 miles from home…which isn’t much, I know. I should go more because I got 8 lifers there that day!

Here they are:

LB Dowitchers

DowitcherLong-billed Dowitcher

Lesser Yellowlegs 2Lesser Yellowlegs

It’s kind of dark there in many places and some of the ponds (there are 7) were very low so the ducks were far away. The water levels fluctuate because it’s part of Gilbert’s water treatment system so a lot of my photos were not great.

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Spotted Towhee, Green-winged Teal, Cattle Egret, Cinnamon Teal, Northern Harrier

And I also got a really, really bad photo of a Song Sparrow that I’m not posting but it was also a lifer although I’m sure I’ve seen them around a lot in life as they’re quite common. But I only count birds as lifers if I have seen and photographed them since starting to bird.

And a few more non-lifers rounded out the morning.

Ruddy Blue BillRuddy Duck, male

KestrelAmerican Kestrel, male

Anna'sAnna’s Hummingbird

AvocetAmerican Avocet

After spending a few hours there, my friends and I went on to Apache Junction, where one of them lives, and spent the afternoon on her beautiful patio at the foot of the Superstition Mountains where she attracts a ton of birds and where I got some of my favorite photos I’ve ever taken. Next time…

Beneath the Canopy

RC KingletRuby-crowned Kinglet (lifer in my yard!)

RC Kinglet 3

Even though we live in a very urban area in central Phoenix, our backyard is almost entirely covered with trees. On Google maps, you can’t see anything but treetops. It means there’s a whole other world under there and it also means most of my photos are high ISO because it’s dark, even on a sunny day (which is rare lately).

I’ve seen 24 species in our yard which isn’t bad for an urban setting. Here are a few of the birds that flit from branch to branch daily.

Thrasher 3 1.2.16Curve-billed Thrasher

Thrasher 4 1.2.16

Thrasher 1.2.16_edited-1

I love their Angry Bird look.

Mock 2 11.18.15Northern Mockingbird

Sparrow 1.2.16House Sparrow, female

DSC_1468Abert’s Towhee

Hum 12.5.15

Hum Fly 12.28.15_edited-1

Hum 12.8.15

Hum 1.2.16

Hum 2 12.5.15Anna’s Hummingbird

We have a huge Goldwater pine, a large mesquite, African sumac, mulberry, pomegranate, oleanders, queen palm, and California pepper. In the front, we have lantana, ficus, silk oak, and more African sumac. Most of these trees/bushes seem to provide some sort of seeds or other sustenance for the birds so I don’t have any feeders out other than for the hummers because I don’t want seed falling to the ground for birds to forage any more than happens naturally. We do have outdoor cats…

Pine in Yard

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But…since the holidays, I have been putting out an orange a day and a few nuts high in the trees much to the excitement of several birds.

“OMG, is this for me?”

OCWA Orange cropOrange-crowned Warbler

Verdin Orange cropVerdin

Wood Thang

Tree Thang

Above our cozy, happy little canopy danger always lurks, however.

Kestrel 1.2.15American Kestrel

dsc_0508 aHarris’s Hawk

I know these guys have to eat, too, but I don’t want them eating my cute little birds.

dark, brimming with life
beneath the lush canopy
birds sing, eat, drink, fly

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