Even though some of you may be buried in snow, winter has definitely left Phoenix: it’s been in the 90s. That is unseasonably warm and most of us hope it cools off again before it’s supposed to be that hot. But before winter is officially over, I wanted to post some of the birds that wintered in our yard.
Without a doubt I enjoyed this little guy, above (“Yellow Bird”), the most. He was here last winter, too, and I hope he comes back next year. It’s a drag getting attached to a wild animal, not knowing if you’ll ever see them again. The above photo was taken a couple days ago and I haven’t seen him since so maybe he has begun migration. Safe travels, little dude.
Yellow-rumped Warbler, Audubon’s
This warbler, above, was the first time I’ve seen this species in our yard. It and the Orange-crowned Warbler were chasing each other around the mesquite tree the other day.
I only saw this bird, above, for one day. Last year we had several come in the spring when our mulberry trees got berries…that will happen in the next couple of weeks so maybe they will be back. Hoping for some other berry-eaters, too.
House Finches, male and female
Anna’s Hummingbirds, male and female
Gila Woodpecker, male
House Sparrow, female
Migration will be in full swing soon so I hope to see some new and exciting birds.
Great Blue Heron
Despite mentioning in my last post that the Glendale Recharge Ponds are not my favorite place, I was back there one day last week. My birding friend, Samantha, wanted to look for the Long-tailed Duck reported there (that I could not find a few days prior when I went). She’s really good at finding birds so I wanted to go, too. We actually had 2 other target birds that day, at other locations farther west of the ponds: White-tailed Kites (2 have been reported) and a Tundra Swan. I was also really hoping to find some Western Meadowlarks and Western Bluebirds as they have been seen in the places we were going. All would be Lifers for me. But…
However, I had a 6 lifer day anyway! Samantha has more birds on her life list than I do so she was not so lucky. Here’s what I got at Glendale Recharge Ponds:
I was most excited about these two:
I saw these cute guys before we left:
We then drove several miles to our second location in search of Kites. No such luck but I did get one other lifer there and have a really bad shot to prove it:
Then we drove several more miles to where we hoped to see the Tundra Swan. No such luck again but we did see these guys and there were lifers, for me, among them. I saw them slightly better with my binoculars than these photos show.
Since we had already gone so far, we decided to make one other stop a few more miles away referred to as the “Thrasher Spot.” I had never been there but Samantha had with much success. It’s a nondescript little area known for a variety of thrashers, Horned Larks, and a few other less common birds but they all seemed to be taking afternoon naps by the time we got there. We saw hardly any birds and nothing unusual.
The most exciting thing I saw there was this mistletoe cluster in a mesquite tree with a tiny bird in the upper right corner. However, despite getting zero target birds, 6 lifers in one day was awesome!
Yellow-rumped Warbler, Audubon’s, male
These cute guys show up in the Phoenix area in the winter but they’re so fast that it’s often hard to get a clear shot. However, this little guy was very cooperative the other day at the Desert Botanical Garden and almost seemed to enjoy my attention. So did this guy, who let me get about a foot away from him:
Costa’s Hummingbird, male
I never see Costa’s in my yard. We have many Anna’s year-round and a couple Black-chinned in the spring.
Anna’s Hummingbirds, male
My little yellow yard bird has done many cute things lately.
Orange-crowned Warbler, male
And the tiny Verdins are always busy and love their fruit:
House Finch, female
House Finch, male
Did you know that House Finches were originally a southwestern bird but can now be found all over the US? I just found that out recently.
I’ve been to two places in the last week looking for specific Lifers and didn’t find either! I’m declaring two 2017 Goals here:
- Find at least 60 Lifers (this will require more day trips but as Tony is now retired, he is willing to come along to interesting places).
- Volunteer at the Desert Botanical Garden for at least 100 hours (which isn’t really much over a 52 week period).
Do you have any goals you want to put into writing this year?
It’s cold here in Phoenix right now…really. See?
The birds in our yard are happy to have some food.
Anna’s Hummingbirds, males
I was just telling a birder friend last weekend that I had a sweet Orange-crowned Warbler who wintered with me last year and that I hoped it would come back this year. Monday I walked outside and guess who was here? And I’m pretty sure it’s the same one because it has a little black “muzzle” around its bill. I’m so flattered and amazed that it came back to my yard and hope we have many photo shoots in the future.
That same friend and I went on a little birding outing last weekend. She had yet to see the (rare for AZ) Red-breasted Sapsucker that I mentioned in my last blog post. And I had never seen a Red-naped Sapsucker, reported at the same Scottsdale park. It was a very cloudy day, not the best for photography, but we found her target bird:
And we found my target bird, a lifer:
It had been months since I last had a lifer. My friend and I then went back to Scottsdale Xeriscape Garden as she had never been there. No lifers and not much bird action at all on a cold, cloudy day.
LIFE WITHOUT MARBLES
In sadder news, we had our almost 19 year old cat, Marbles, put to sleep last week. The vet came to our house and it was very peaceful. Marbles left purring.
He loved laying in sunny spots. We didn’t get Marbles until he was 6 so we only spent 12 and a half years with him. He was always a very small cat but very alpha, especially the first few years. He mellowed later on and he and Google were great brothers.
This is Google saying goodbye on his last day.
Kitty dynamics always change when one dies. We still have 3 indoor cats, who don’t get along with each other very well. Maybe that will change now. And we also have our many outdoor cats. Soon I will update on them.
Wilson’s Warbler, male
Wilson’s Warbler, female
It’s that happy time of year again, Warbler Season, when the migrating warblers pass through our area on the way to their northern summer breeding grounds. These two Wilson’s Warblers were in my yard. I only saw the female once but the male has been around a couple days so far.
I saw some at the Desert Botanical Garden (DBG), too, where I also saw this warbler (which I think is a female but I’m not positive). I saw one of these last year in the same exact Mesquite tree but the photo I got was pretty bad):
Warblers are really hard to get photos of because they never stop moving and they like to hide behind branches and leaves all the time.
The following warbler was a lifer and a lot of people are trying to get looks at him! I succeeded on my first day of searching for him at the DBG, flitting around in some Texas Ebony trees.
Hermit Warbler, male
I also saw some Townsend’s Warblers at the DBG but didn’t get a shot. This is what they look like (from last year at the DBG):
There are many, many other kinds of warblers so I hope I get to see something else new and exciting before spring migration ends.
As tiny, bright, and yellow as warblers…these guys were all over at the DBG although I’ve never had any in my yard:
Lesser Goldfinch, male
Lesser Goldfinch, female
Yellow is such a happy color. Happy May Day!