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!

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.

Escape to Gilbert

Mexican Amberwing on Amaranth

I escaped my quarantine the other day, in the late afternoon, for a couple of hours. I went to the Gilbert Riparian Preserve where I go about once a year. I should really go more often as there is an extreme diversity of all sorts of birds…water birds, songbirds, raptors, and always a rarity or 2. I went in pursuit of a rarity this time. I had seen literally hundreds of photos of a Roseate Spoonbill that has been there for a few weeks in my Facebook birding group. Most of the photos were so pretty, up close, so you could see its pink feathered fluffiness in detail. Well, I didn’t get there until about 4pm and I heard it had left for the day so I walked around looking, to no avail, but saw a lot of other birds. About 6pm, as it was getting dark, disappointed, I headed back to my car and saw it in a different pond than those it usually frequents! It was out quite a ways and it was getting dark so I didn’t get those pretty, detailed photos that I had seen from other people. But I saw it and it was awesome and it was a new life bird (lifer)! And I have proof:

It has giant black feet! This is not a bird that you find in Arizona normally. It likes Florida and Texas and other Gulf coasts. Actually, right now there are also 3 more of them at Glendale Recharge Ponds, too, on the completely opposite side of town. I would love to go see them and if it ever cools off here before they leave, I am going to go look for them, too.

But here are a few more of the birds I saw before finding it…

Great Egrets

Great Blue Herons

Green Heron

Snowy Egret

This beautiful red amaranth was all over; I had never seen it there before.

Mallard in Amaranth

Now for some songbirds…

Yellow-rumped Warblers (last photo indicates source of name)

Say’s Phoebe
White-crowned Sparrow
Vermilion Flycatcher, immature male, SO CUTE!
Orange-crowned Warbler
Townsend’s Warbler

Different than my yard birds! This makes me want to get back out there birding after this intense heat we have had, much longer than usual, and this horrible quarantine we’re in!!!! It was nice to have a change of scenery…

Moon Before Yule

Moon Over Camelback Mountain

This was the moon on December 10th, early evening, at 97.9%. I haven’t been out photographing much with holiday shopping, get-togethers, home repair issues, and quite a bit of rain for Phoenix.

Orange-crowned Warbler

My Orange-crowned Warbler, Tink, has decided to spend her 4th winter here in our yard. I’m always so happy when she returns and make sure there is plenty of grape jelly for her enjoyment.

This tiny snail appeared after one of our rains. I put it into one of our outdoor plant pots and haven’t seen it since.

Here are a few more of our winter birds:

Curve-billed Thrasher
Verdin
Gila Woodpecker
Anna’s Hummingbirds, male and female
Inca Dove
Yellow-rumped Warbler, Audubon’s
Ferguson

Tony used Christmas lights to make the peace symbol but we will probably keep it in our front window year-round because why not?

Happy Holidays!

Spring Heads Into Summer

Painted Lady 4.13Painted Lady

Bee Green EyesLeafcutter Bee

Fiery Skipper 4.12Fiery Skipper (with Green Bottle Fly)

Checkered SkipperCheckered-Skipper

Once again, the lantana is pulling the butterflies, bees, and flies into its sweet nectar. It totally froze this winter, turned black, and then came back to life again! Lantana is hearty.

So, sadly, my winter visitor birds have now moved on to their summer homes. Hope they come back next year! Especially my favorite, “Tink,” below:

OCWA New Branch 4.6Orange-crowned Warbler

YRWA 3.25Yellow-rumped Warbler, Audubon’s, male (“Chatty”)

YRWA F 3.15Yellow-rumped Warbler, Audubon’s, female (“Shy Girl”)

But, in return, the only migrator I saw~so far~in my yard was a Plumbeous Vireo and I didn’t get a photo because it left right away. But it as well as the following bird made my Yard Bird species count jump to 47:

Gambel's Quail YardGambel’s Quail

These quail are normally in desert areas, not crowded urban areas like where we live. I strongly discouraged this guy from settling in as quail spend so much time on the ground and lay their eggs on the ground. There are way too many cats for that to have a good outcome. So after 2 days of me shooing him off, he disappeared. I hope he got out of our cat-friendly neighborhood fast.

So we are now back to the year-round regulars:

Thrasher 3.5

Thrasher Discussion

Thrasher BabyCurve-billed Thrashers (above photo is a juvenile)

Towhee Nuts 4.6Abert’s Towhee (gathering nuts to take back to the nest)

Mock Mulberry_edited-1

Mock with BflyNorthern Mockingbirds (gathering food for nestlings)

House Finch, male and Lesser Goldfinch, female

Mourning Doves

Eurasian Collared-Dove and White-winged Dove

Gila 2.6Gila Woodpecker, male

Verdin 4.7Verdin

Starling OrangeEuropean Starling (bashing an orange)

And, of course, we have House Sparrows, too. Who doesn’t? Now we are settling in for another long, hot summer here in Phoenix.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.