A Colorful Yard

Anna’s Hummingbird, male

Some people think the desert is brown and boring and our birds are brown and colorless. It’s just not true! Here are pics from our yard in the last few days…

Tiny Birds of Yellow

Above are a Pine Siskin, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Verdin, Lesser Goldfinch female, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Lesser Goldfinch male, and Orange-crowned Warbler. They are all only 4-4.5 inches long.

Rosy-faced Lovebirds (the young ones have black on their bills and less vivid coloring on their faces)

White-crowned Sparrow

Honeybee on Sage and Lavender

Mr. White, an unusually marked House Finch

My sweet little Orange-crowned Warbler, “Tink”

Yellow-rumped Warbler, female

Inca Doves (there were over 22 in the yard that day)

And guess what? We had snow in Phoenix on January 25! We’ve seen it in the mountains around town and a light dusting now and then but nothing like this storm!

So the desert is not all brown…and we haven’t even started spring yet when everything here bursts into color!

How’s 2021 Going?

Anna’s Hummingbirds, male

Well, 2021 has been both bad and good. Let’s hope Good prevails. If everyone was as happy as these Rosy-faced Lovebirds, I guess we would be in good shape. They are feral in the greater Phoenix, AZ area. Cheery and loud little critters.

I guess the quarantine has gotten to me. I can’t seem to stop putting my backyard birds into little tableaus. The ones I have done so far are all in an album on Flickr. But here are a few more since my last post. The Curve-billed Thrashers are the ones that are the most common stars of the show but the Abert’s Towhees and Northern Mockingbirds get brave sometimes, too.

The Congregation
Sharing and Caring in the Forest
Ahoy, Towhee
“How can we start a Rock ‘n Roll band if everyone plays guitar?”
“Okay, I’ll learn bass.”
“What in the actual Hell is this?”
The Curve-billed Thrasher is looking for an agent; peanuts are not enough pay anymore

I feel certain there will be more anthropomorphizing to come…but here are a few other of the yard birds who do not participate in this birdplay.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet, wintering

“My” wintering Orange-crowned Warbler, “Tink”

Lesser Goldfinches, male and females

Pine Siskin

Pine Siskins recently became the 54th species of yardbirds I have. There is an irruption of them all over the country right now, which means there are a bunch of them in places you don’t normally see them. They love thistle (nyjer) and share the sock with my goldfinches. So you might see some, too, if you’re looking.

A New Year

Who isn’t ready for a brand new year, much better than the last? This Curve-billed Thrasher is ready for another year of peanuts.

One more of an Abert’s Towhee ending the holidays:

I read this in an Audubon email I got today: “A tradition among bird-lovers is taking note of the first bird we see on New Year’s Day. Whether it’s a charming Red-breasted Nuthatch or the ubiquitous American Robin, the first bird you see can symbolize the start of great things in the year to come.”

The first bird I see most days is a pigeon (or 20) so I’m going with the first bird I photographed on New Year’s Day, a female Anna’s Hummingbird doing a pole dance.

So this is what I’m taking as the symbolism of the hummingbird into 2021: “The hummingbird represents an ancient symbol of joy and happiness. Its colorful appearance brings good luck and positive energy to our lives.” I’ll take that…

The other day I went for a walk at a little pond close to where I live and was surprised to find several Pintail Ducks, so elegant-looking (click to enlarge):

I finished out the old year with one more new yard bird species, #54, a Pine Siskin. Now there are more and they are sharing the thistle sock with the Lesser Goldfinches.

The doves in my yard now: Inca Dove, Eurasian Collared-Dove, and Mourning Dove:

Here is a male Anna’s Hummingbird on the last day of 2020, a dreary day in Phoenix. I almost never see one on their little swing so, of course, he did it on a cloudy day when I was far away.

I have a Yellow-rumped Warbler, Audubon’s and a Ruby-crowned Kinglet also wintering in my yard. They are both so fast that good photos are hard to come by.

And, of course, my little Orange-crowned Warbler, Tink:

Would you like to see one of my cats, Ferguson? He’s become quite the Chess prodigy. Here he is, choosing white, strategizing, licking a rook, and making his first move of the Tuna Gambit.

Wishing a better year for us all.

Twenty Twenty!

Female and Male Anna’s Hummingbirds

Here are a few yardbirds that have shown up in 2020. I think this little guy was here last winter. You often don’t see the red crowns on the males unless they are excited…I guess he got excited.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

My favorite wintering bird for her 4th-5th year, Tink, is getting more willing to pose for me:

Orange-crowned Warbler

Gila Woodpecker, female
American Kestrel, male
Inca Dove
Northern Mockingbird

Lesser Goldfinches, female and male

We recently took a walk around nearby Granada Park, not a great photography day:

Above are a cairn, Rosy-faced Lovebirds, a Ring-necked Duck, and a mountain rescue we observed on nearby Piestewa Peak.

Wishing you a happy 2020!

Granite Reef

This beautiful Ladder-backed Woodpecker was busy excavating a hole in a mesquite tree when we were at Granite Reef Recreation Area on the Lower Salt River last week. This is the first time I’ve been able to get photos of one at eye level. He was not bothered by me at all and I got within 10 feet of him.

It was a big hole because he was able to get all the way inside.

Granite Reef is the best place to see Red Mountain. Its real name is Mount McDowell but everyone refers to it as Red Mountain because of the way it looks in the sunset. It was not quite sunset when this photo was taken. Red Mountain is on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Reservation and is off limits to hikers, climbers, and photographers.

Western Kingbird

Vermilion Flycatcher, male

Say’s Phoebe

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Song Sparrow

We really went to try to find the Bald Eagles that nest there as well as a Peregrine Falcon who returns every year. We never saw the falcon and all our views of the eagles were from across the river. We did see two parents and there are two chicks in the nest. Bad photos…

This guy was up in the air the whole time we were there:

And, just as we were leaving, we were lucky enough to see five of the Salt River Wild Horses having a drink and snack right by the parking lot.