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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Autumn Returns

Verdin (on the Autumn Equinox)

Painted Lady

These were all taken in our yard in the last few days (okay, one is an older one but I won’t say which). It’s been very nice here, seeming like Fall, but it will probably warm up again before Fall really begins. However, we’re at the point now where the mornings and nights will be pleasant and that’s when we know we’re in the home stretch here in Phoenix…a happy time for most of us.

Curve-billed Thrasher

Anna’s Hummingbirds

Giant Swallowtail

Painted Lady (again)

House Finches, female and male

towhee-2-10-21-16Abert’s Towhee

Inca Dove

Gila Woodpecker, female

HAPPY AUTUMN!

 

Melting/Molting

Curve-billed Thrashers

All the critters in our yard are either melting, molting or both right now. The thrashers dig holes and lay in them to keep cool. Notice the second one is drifting off to sleep, showing his nictitating membrane. We have a lot of shade and some water so they are able to keep relatively comfortable.

Abert’s Towhee, refreshing in bird bath

Anna’s Hummingbirds

House Finch, male youngster

Ash-throated Flycatcher (or Brown-crested Flycatcher)

I was surprised to see the above bird as I’ve never had one in the yard before. That is yard bird species #32. If it was a Brown-crested Flycatcher, it would be a lifer (bird never seen before) but when I asked the “experts, ” about half said it was Brown-crested and half said it was Ash-throated so I still don’t really know. It’s a juvenile, whichever it is.

Cicada Exoskeleton

Baby House Sparrows (possibly House Finches), I can’t really tell

The following 2 shots are in the “Things Only the Camera Sees” category. I didn’t notice until I looked at my photos that this Verdin was shedding a feather just as I was taking pics. It’s too bad it was behind branches and so dark.

Verdin

Stripey, preferring muddy rain water to fresh water.

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Hot Town

Hibiscus, its 7th year

Summer in this city means photographing my yard because it’s too hot to go anywhere else…

Anna’s Hummingbirds

Fiery Skipper

Verdins, adult and juvenile

Abert’s Towhees, adult and juvenile

Water is life, we have plenty out for the critters…

Ornate Tree Lizard

Northern Mockingbird, juvenile

Rough Stink Bug

Curve-billed Thrasher, juvenile

House Sparrow, fledgling

House Finch, juvenile

Brown-headed Cowbird, juvenile

Svengali

Hot town, summer in the city
Back of my neck getting dirty and gritty
Been down, isn’t it a pity
Doesn’t seem to be a shadow in the city

All around, people looking half dead
Walking on the sidewalk, hotter than a match head.

(Summer in the City, written by Steve Boone, Mark Sebastian, John Sebastian, 1966)