Yard Overview

Drama Bee

Bee. 6.1Leafcutter Bee

Skipper HeadonFiery Skipper

Mud DauberWasp

Twinsie BeesHoney Bee Twins

The bees like the birdbath, everyone likes the lantana. Just wish there were more butterflies around this year.

ROFL 5 5.9

ROFL 5.9_edited-1Rosy-faced Lovebirds, occasional visitors

GIWO 6.1Gila Woodpecker

Thrasher ScratcherCurve-billed Thrasher Scratcher

Baby Verdin in Orange 2

Verdin in TreeJuvenile Verdin

There are a couple of juvenile Verdins who are happily feeding themselves but now there appears to be an even younger fledgling Verdin who still needs to be fed by a parent. This is it flapping its wings and begging for food:

Verdin Baby

And it got fed, again and again…

Verdins A and J Orange 1

And here’s an interesting little family of Abert’s Towhees:

Towhee with Nut 5.27.19

Towhee Parent

Here is one of the adults feeding a juvenile Towhee:

Towhee Bio Baby

And here is the same adult feeding its foster baby, a Brown-headed Cowbird!

Towhee Foster Baby

The Brown-headed Cowbird is North America’s most common “brood parasite.” A female cowbird makes no nest of her own, but instead lays her eggs in the nests of other bird species, who then raise the young cowbirds (Cornell Lab of Ornithology). They evolved this way because centuries ago this bird followed bison herds on the Great Plains, feeding on insects flushed from the grass by the grazers, and so did not have time to nest the normal way. Some people hate them and think they are “evil,” because heavy parasitism by cowbirds has pushed some species to the status of “endangered” and has probably hurt populations of some others (Audubon). I think it’s pretty interesting behavior.

BRHC JuvyBrown-headed Cowbird, juvenile

Anna's Closeup

Anna's 5.27.19Anna’s Hummingbird, male

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Transitions

Towhee-Bath 2Abert’s Towhees have a very limited range, mostly in Arizona. They’re shy birds but this one wanted a bath so badly that he hopped right in~with me sitting very closeby.

Swallowtail 4.27Greater Swallowtail

Checkered White 5.3

Checkered White 3 5.3Checkered White

I guess this is sort of more of the same from my last post. Late spring/early summer happenings in our yard.

Mock in Pine Needles

Baby Mock 4.29Northern Mockingbird, adult and juvenile

Anna's Young Male 5.4

Anna's 4.29_edited-1

Anna's 2 4.29_edited-1

Anna's Feeder 4.6Anna’s Hummingbirds

Bee Reflection TopazHoneybee (in the birdbath)

BCHU at Feeder 5.4

BCHU Brakes_edited-1Black-chinned Hummingbirds

Verdin 5.4

Verdin Nest Making_edited-1Verdins (last one with nesting material)

We have a reprieve from the 100 degree days for the next couple of weeks, at least. Time to hit the road again…

Reach 11 Nature Trail

Roadrunner_edited-1Greater Roadrunner with lunch

Reach 11, in north Phoenix, is part of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department but it exists for flood control. A 7-mile long earthen dam keeps flood waters out of the nearby canal and out of housing developments to the south. The area where the nature trails are is only about 1 mile wide. Amazingly, this place is not well-known at all. I only heard about it from some birders recently. Driving down the busy street where the entrance is, one would never know what a beautiful place it is. Someone described it as a “hidden gem,” and it really is. From the street it just looks like desert scrub.

This poor, old, decrepit saguaro is at the beginning of the trail. We saw a bird fly into it so stopped to watch.

Saguaro R11

Who’s that?

Gila in Cactus 1

Gila in Hole_edited-1

It’s a male Gila Woodpecker. There must be a nest in there.

Gila Bill in Hole_edited-1

He was kind of shy. But then we saw more action…

Starling in Hole_edited-1

A European Starling. It had a nest in one of the center holes and kept flying in and out with food. We could hear babies chirping every time a delivery was made.

Then we saw someone else fly in the other side…

Flicker on Cactus_edited-1

A Gilded Flicker (male) seems to have a nest, too…

Flicker Butt in Hole_edited-1

Flicker in Hole_edited-1

We stayed on the trail and didn’t disrupt the nesters but I’m sure they were pleased we left. We also saw another Starling head into a hole in the back so this saguaro is home to at least 4 different nests now. Who knows what else might be living in there? The wind was really blowing hard and gusting while we were there so I hope when that poor saguaro falls that there are no nests left.

After we walked a little more, we started to see the “hidden gem” part of this area. It was very lush back in there, all sorts of grasses, wildflowers, etc.

Wild Plants

Thru the Trees

There was a mesquite bosque and a little hidden pond in there, full of tadpoles, called Bullfrog Pond. It was really peaceful and pretty. No one was around but one biker.

Pond 1

Tree Tunnel

Globe MallowGlobe Mallow

LizardCommon Side-blotched Lizard

BTGCBlack-tailed Gnatcatcher

Hummer R11Anna’s Hummingbird

I know this place is teeming with birds and other wildlife but it was so windy that day that the birds were having a hard time staying airborne. It’s definitely a place we will return to as it’s only about 20 minutes from our house and very unique.

*The reason this recreation area is called “Reach 11” is because it’s on the 11th reach of the Central Arizona Project canal. Across the street from the nature trail is a huge sports complex with 20 soccer fields, an equestrian area, and more.

 

Humming, Buzzing, Chirping

Hummer Diag 3.24

Anna's Feeder 3.24

Anna's F 3.23

Anna's Boy 3.24

Anna's 3.24

Anna's 3.17

Anna's 3.13Anna’s Hummingbirds, female and male

It’s migration season and breeding season so birds are very active right now. Our yard is full of sights and sounds of spring. There is lots of territorial aggression going on at the hummingbird feeders. The rare Broad-billed Hummingbird stayed for 3-4 weeks but she has now moved on.

We now have at least 3 Black-chinned Hummingbirds (2 males). I assume some may be the same ones who have come for the last few years because they always come from about March-May. The males are very aggressive around the feeders and chase each other and the several Anna’s hummers all over. Fortunately, there are 4 feeders so everyone is able to get a turn eventually. The Black-chinneds make a funny, buzzing sound, totally different from the sound of an Anna’s. The sun has to hit them just right to make the males’ purple collars visible so it’s a fun challenge to try.

BCHU 2 3.22

BCHU 2 3.15

BCHU 1 3.25

(These smaller photos can be clicked on to make larger; I just don’t like feeder shots that much.)

BCHU Branch 3.17

This is the female, below. She is lankier with a whiter underside than the Anna’s Hummingbirds. They also have longer, slightly down-curved bills.

BCHU Female 3.24_edited-1

Here’s a few more of the tiny birds currently in our yard:

Verdin 3.23_edited-1Verdin

We have at least 3 in our yard. They are here year-round, desert birds.

OCWA 3.17

Tink Mesquite 3.23

OCWA Crown 3Orange-crowned Warbler

My favorite bird in the world, “Tink,” is still here. She usually leaves by the second week of March but I’m afraid she’s hooked on grape jelly and doesn’t want to leave. Everything I’ve read said that having food out doesn’t affect migration so she will probably leave soon. I finally caught a glimpse of her orange crown a few days ago (you can see it in the last photo, above). It isn’t normally visible. This is her 4th winter in our yard so I hope she’ll have a safe summer and come back next year.

YRWA 3.23

YRWA Shy Girl 3.23Yellow-rumped Warblers, Audubon’s, male and female

These guys will probably be migrating soon, too, although some do stay year-round, apparently. We’ll see. They don’t really seem to be a couple. I see the male (“Chatty”) all the time and he likes to follow Tink around rather than the female of his own species (“Shy Girl”).

I’m hoping we’ll get a few more migrants coming through, someone new and exciting, maybe. I haven’t had much luck lately getting new birds.

Great Backyard Bird Count 2019

Merlin 2 smaller

MerlinMerlin

On Valentine’s Day, I saw a new lifer and it was in my yard! A Merlin, I was totally shocked to see it there and sad, when I looked at the photos, to see it was dining on an Anna’s Hummingbird, no doubt one I have been feeding. I have photos but I know most people don’t want to see things like that. Neither did I, even though I know that’s nature, raptors have to eat, and if you feed birds in your yard, there’s a chance you’ll attract their predators, too. Still, a hummingbird…

This year’s Great Backyard Bird Count was held from February 15-18, sponsored by National Audubon Society and Cornell Lab of Ornithology. My birder friend, Karen, and I were going to go out that Saturday but she was sick so that didn’t happen. It was a gloomy weekend and, finally, on Monday, I wanted to have something to report on eBird.org so I sat in the yard for awhile. Here are some of the birds I saw. Most photos were taken on that day.

YRWA 2 2.1

YRWA M 2.18

YRWA SidelitYellow-rumped Warbler, Audubon’s, male

He has been in my yard for the last several weeks but on the day of the count, a female of his species also showed up, just to get counted! I have seen her a couple times since then, too, very cute.

YRWA F 2.18

YRWA F 2 2.18Yellow-rumped Warbler, Audubon’s, female

LEGO 2.2Lesser Goldfinch, male

GIWO M 2.18

GIWO F 2.18Gila Woodpeckers, male and female

Towhee 2 2.18Abert’s Towhee

Verdin 2 2.18

Verdin 2.18Verdins

My favorite little bird wanted to be counted, for sure:

OCWA 2.2

OCWA 2 2.18

OCWA 1 2.18Orange-crowned Warbler

And my rare bird for this area is still hanging around:

BBHU 3 2.18

BBHU 3 2.8

BBHU 2 2.18_edited-1

BBHU 2 2.8

BBHU 1 2.18Broad-billed Hummingbird, female

Anna's 2.6

Anna's 2.5Anna’s Hummingbirds, male

And an occasional visitor to our yard also showed up to be counted that day, 2 of them, in fact:

ROFL 2.18Rosy-faced Lovebird (along with Eurasian Collared-Doves)

Altogether, I saw 16 species in the yard that day in about an hour and a half.