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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A Sampler

Anna’s Hummingbirds, males

I’ve gone birding a few times lately with a new birder friend, Karen. We went to several places that Tony and I have actually been to so I didn’t take the lens I use for landscapes, only my birding lens. And, of course, I got very few birds at those places so this post is just a sample of some of those birds as well as a few in my yard. These first few are yard birds.

Inca Doves

Gila Woodpeckers, male and female

Northern Mockingbird

Curve-billed Thrasher

Orange-crowned Warbler

One of the places Karen and I went to was Arlington, full of agricultural fields, where Tony and I were in January (post).

Ferruginous Hawk

Northern Rough-winged Swallow

Savannah Sparrow

Sandhill Cranes

We saw about 12 cranes, they were lifers for me, as were Brewer’s Blackbirds (no pic).

The following 3 shots were taken at a strange and not very attractive place called Robbins Butte Wildlife Area, run by Arizona Game and Fish Department. The sound of gunfire accompanied us. We did both get a lifer there called Bell’s Sparrow but neither of us got photos. We just saw it briefly and clearly through her scope and then it took off.

Northern Harrier

Western Meadowlark

Kestrel Nesting Box

We drove over to Lake Pleasant Regional Park in search of 2 particular rare waterbirds and found neither.

Rock Wren

Double-crested Cormorant

The other day Karen and I went to Seven Springs, where Tony and I went in December (post). It was cold, windy, raining and hailing and there were very few birds out. We did drive up Humboldt Mountain, where the FAA radar facility is, and it was a gorgeous drive on a narrow but paved road. Once again, I only had my birding lens so no photos. That is on my “return to” list.

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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Cacophony and Color

Anna’s Hummingbirds, male

Our yard has been pretty active lately but it seems to have gotten even more so the last few days. Some new, colorful birds have been dropping by and sometimes it is so loud out there that it sounds like we’re deep in a busy, bird-filled forest.

Verdins

Orange-crowned Warbler

“Tink,” above, is no longer the yellowest bird in the yard! Since I hung a thistle sock a few days ago, a whole flock of these guys, below, have moved in. There must be at least 20 of them and they are very chatty. I only recently saw a couple in the yard and, once the thistle was out, the word apparently got out among their friends. I love watching them, they’re so bright and pretty.

Lesser Goldfinches, male and female

I was hoping the thistle would draw some other kinds of goldfinches or some Pine Siskins (which would be lifers) but, so far, the only new birds I’ve gotten are:

Rosy-faced Lovebird

The lovebirds were originally escapees from a pet store back in the 1980s but they were able to flourish here and now there is a large, feral population. I had seen them pass through our yard now and then but now they are dropping bu more regularly. They also like black oil sunflower seed and they like the swing, too, but I haven’t gotten a photo of that yet. You can always hear when they are around.

Gila Woodpeckers, male and female

The male is very loud and raucous but the female has just started showing up to eat oranges and she is very quiet.

Gilded Flicker, female

Yard bird #37:

Northern Flicker (Red-shafted), male

House Finches, male

Some of these male House Finches are soooo bright red that I keep thinking I’m seeing Cardinals. We have many, many more bird species in our yard as regulars but these are the most colorful of the bunch.

Hope your New Year is off to a great start and that you have all sorts of fun plans ahead. These were my 2017 Goals and the results:

  1. Volunteer 100 hours at Desert Botanical Garden. Volunteered 102.75 hours.
  2. Find 60 new Lifers (new birds). Found 58.
  3. Go on many AZ day trips with Tony. Went on 23.

2018 Goals are about the same: 100 hours, 50 Lifers, 25 day trips.

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Bring on the Buses

Orange-crowned Warbler

I love this bird, who I used to call “Yellow Bird,” but now call “Tink,” because of the sound she (might be a “he”) makes. As I’ve mentioned before, this is her third year to winter in our yard. I’m assuming it’s the same one because it’s always only one bird and they do often migrate to the same place.

A couple weeks ago, Tink became Lifer #390 for a local birder that I know, Karen. Karen’s life count is way ahead of mine but, after seeing Tink’s photo on Facebook, Karen told me she needed this bird for her life list and I told her it was pretty much guaranteed that Tink would show up if she came over. Whew, Tink did eventually show up! That was my first experience delivering a life bird to someone in my own backyard.

But, coincidentally, the day before Karen came over, there was a lot of bird action in my yard. That day I got yard bird species #34, 35, and 36! Sadly, some of the pics are lacking in quality but I’ll show you anyway:

What Am I?

I went out to put out the daily bird food quota and heard a very light drumming sound. This bird was in our pine tree and flew off just as I noticed it. I got my camera and came back out and a couple hours later, it showed up again, just briefly enough to fire off a few bad shots. I thought it was a Red-naped or Red-breasted Sapsucker and asked the ABA (American Birding Association) experts what they thought. Some thought Red-breasted and some thought a hybrid of the two and requested more photos. Well, the bird never showed up again while I was out there…until today but when I ran in to get my camera, it flew off again! At any rate, I know it’s still in the area so I still have hope that I get a good shot soon. Neither of those birds would be lifers for me but if it’s really a Red-breasted Sapsucker, they are uncommon for the area and it’s possible that some local birders might want to come to see it if it’s a regular visitor. Hence, the buses…I like to think of busloads and van loads of birders dropping over to catch a glimpse. 🙂

Species #35 was this guy circling overhead:

Red-tailed Hawk

And, of course, a few days ago, it landed right in a tree in our front yard! Once again, cameraless, I ran inside to grab my camera and off it flew. It would have been a great closeup.

The day was so fruitful for me in my yard that I stayed outside for a few hours, hoping the sapsucker would return again. Just as I was getting ready to go inside, 2 of these showed up, species #36:

Lesser Goldfinch

I’ve not seen them since but I was certainly surprised to have 3 new bird species in quick succession. I think I saw 17 different species in my yard that day. Here are a few more:

White-crowned Sparrow, male

He’s all alone and has been here for several weeks, just hanging out with the House Sparrows.

Anna’s Hummingbirds, male

Verdins

House Finches, male and female

Gila Woodpecker, male

And, I believe this particular bird is now spending its second winter in our yard:

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Now I really have to hope that Sapsucker will show up again and let me get a good diagnostic shot so the buses can start rolling in…

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