The Halloween Ball

Curve-billed Thrasher with treat

The birds (and other critters) have been having a ball in our yard the last few days leading up to Halloween. In addition to their regular oranges, grape jelly, and suet, they’ve been enjoying bird seed packed with fruits and nuts that I recently won in the Pennington Wild Bird Photo Contest (with this photo). Plus they find extra goodies in the yard like insects, berries, and pomegranates.

Gilded Flicker, female, yard bird species #33

This girl, above, has started dropping by for a drink now and then. She’s so pretty.

Honey Bees enjoying pine sap

Anna’s Hummingbird, male

Northern Mockingbird

House Finch, female

White-crowned Sparrow, first of season

Eurasian Collared-Dove

House Finches, male

Gila Woodpecker, male

Queen Butterfly in Mesquite

Orange-crowned Warbler

If this is the same warbler, this will be its third year to winter in our yard. He or she is also over a month early so I’m not positive it’s the same one yet. Time may tell…I hope it is or, if not, I hope the other one will show up later and I’ll have 2. There is grape jelly in this feeder and this bird loves it.

House Sparrow,male

Abert’s Towhee

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Fall in Page Springs

Oak Creek

We were in Page Springs the other day, which is technically in Cornville, close to Cottonwood. It’s known for having Page Springs Hatchery where they raise rainbow trout for sport fishing and for Bubbling Ponds Native Fish Research Facility. Both are owned by Arizona Game and Fish Department and are surrounded by a preserve where AZGFD and the Northern Arizona Audubon Society are engaged in conservation projects for the plants and animals. It is located on Oak Creek and has several miles of well-maintained trails which we were on.

For those of you who have real autumns, these shots won’t be that exciting to you but, in Phoenix, where fall doesn’t produce many changing leaves, we all get excited at fall colors. This area was not at peak yet, unfortunately, but it was still pretty. So here are too many fall shots of the area.

Rainbow Trout

Maybe that was too many…sorry. The Important Bird Area was not full of plentiful birds, of course. No lifers here.

White-crowned Sparrows, male and female

Red-winged Blackbirds

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Northern Cardinal, female

Nor did we see the River Otters which are sometimes spotted there.

This area is also known for its many vineyards and wineries.

We didn’t feel right not getting some souvenirs to make up for the lack of birds. It’s always nice to support the local economy…

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Winter’s Over Here

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.

Orange-crowned Warbler

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.

White-crowned Sparrow

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.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Rosy-faced Lovebirds

House Finches, male and female

Anna’s Hummingbirds, male and female

Gila Woodpecker, male

Northern Mockingbird

House Sparrow, female

Verdins

Curve-billed Thrasher

Migration will be in full swing soon so I hope to see some new and exciting birds.

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So This Happened…

Mulb 1

…It was a lonely early spring evening, maybe a year ago, maybe more. The delicious mulberries were slightly fermented…it was hard to stop eating them…

Thrash Perch 4.2.16Curve-billed Thrasher

Mock 7.22.15Northern Mockingbird

“Hey, we’re both in the Mimidae family, why would it be wrong?”

Mock x Thrasher 1Mockingbird x Thrasher Hybrid?

Here’s the facts:

  1. Mulberries do ferment and birds can get “drunk.”
  2. Mockingbirds and Thrashers are in the same family of birds and, if they live in close proximity, they can mate but it’s quite rare.
  3. We have mulberries, mockingbirds, and thrashers in our yard.

Did it happen?

Mock x Thrasher 2

Mock x Thrasher 3

Probably not. The expert birders in my Facebook group all agree that this is a Northern Mockingbird with a bill deformity. Sad, but it is busily building a nest with another mockingbird so it must have adapted. It certainly threw me for a loop when I first started seeing this bird, though.

In other less R-rated news in my yard…I hit yard bird species #26 with this bird:

WC Sparrow 3.27.16White-crowned Sparrow

WCSP 4.13.16

There were at least 4 of them here for 2-3 weeks but they don’t summer in Phoenix and I think they moved on a few days ago. I saw one lagging behind but it’s gone now, too.

WCSP Mulberry

Speaking of mulberries, they loved them. I don’t know if it led to any R or X-rated behavior, though.

WCSP

And then yard bird species #27 stopped by:

CowbirdBrown-headed Cowbird, female

Cowbirds are parasitic nesters. “Females forgo building nests and instead put all their energy into producing eggs, sometimes more than three dozen a summer. These they lay in the nests of other birds, abandoning their young to foster parents, usually at the expense of at least some of the host’s own chicks” (Cornell Lab of Ornithology). Looks like she’s looking for nests…

I’m almost sure I saw another bird in my yard that would have been a Lifer but I didn’t get a photo and I saw it for only a few seconds. It was a Plumbeous Vireo. I spent hours sitting in my yard waiting for it to reappear but it never did.

Oh, and the little Black-chinned Hummingbird that I mentioned a few posts back is still here. This tiny guy is speedy but I finally was able to capture a glimpse of his purple collar:

BCHU #.26.16

BCHU Purp Show

See? It’s barely visible, above.

Bird Patio, Part 2

Roadrunner

Roadrunner 4

Roadrunner 3

Roadrunner 2Greater Roadrunner

Everyone is on guard when this guy enters Samantha’s yard because, yup, he will eat them if he must. He’s fascinating to watch. Here are more birds I saw in Samantha’s yard a couple of weeks ago. See my last post for more.

Quail F 2

Quail F 3

Quail FGambel’s Quail, female

Quail MGambel’s Quail, male

Thrasher 1

Thrasher 2

Thrasher 3

Thrasher Eat NutCurve-billed Thrasher

WC Sparrow

WC Sparrow Eating

WC Sparrow 2White-crowned Sparrow

White-Crowned SparrowWhite-crowned Sparrow, immature

GoldfinchLesser Goldfinch, House Finch

I wish I had paid more attention to the Goldfinches because I’ve never gotten a very good shot of one and seldom see them.

Birds aren’t the only ones who receive preferential treatment at the Bird Patio. There are all sorts of critters around. We saw a coyote pass by, too.

SquirrelHarris’s Antelope Squirrel

I have many more shots of Samantha’s patio birds but I think I have covered most of the birds I saw in these 2 posts. Some of the others might pop up here and there in the future…all in all, a great birding day for me.

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