Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Yard Birds Spring is in the Air

New Yard Birds, Returning birds and Nesting birds:

We have at least three male and two female Black-headed Grosbeaks. They showed up about two weeks ago. We have had several for a couple of years now. They haven't stayed around all summer in the past so we will have to see how it goes this year. They are much more active in the yard this year. Whenever we look out at the feeders we can usually see at least one. I put up a new platform feeder in the ivy and I'm putting sunflower seeds on it and they seem to love that. It is very near the trees so they must seem safe there.

Male Black-headed Grosbeak

The Female like a lot of the female birds looks nothing like the male. She is striped without the bright colors that the males have. I think she looks very interesting with the bold markings.

We are getting more Black-chinned Hummingbirds lately. The large hummingbird migration seems to have moved on from the house. The numbers of hummers are about half of what it was last week. It seems that the Allen's are moving on. There are still several here and they might stay all year but at least half of them seem to have moved on. It is good timing as we will be gone for a couple of weeks and this way at least some of the feeders might stay full for part of the time we are gone.

There is at least one Golden-Crown Sparrow hanging around. I don't think we have had one in the yard before. Of course we might have and I just don't remember! If I don't write it down ..... I see him every morning eating seeds under the feeder by the bedroom. He hangs out with the White-crown Sparrows that are still here. Right now I'm sitting in the living room watching the birds in the back yard and I don't see one White-crowned! There are usually several around at this time of evening. Maybe they are finally starting to head north. There were several still around this morning. The Golden-crown should be moving on soon also. *Tuesday: in the five days it has taken me to finish this post both the White-crown and the Golden-crown sparrows have moved on. They have headed up to the north country.

Golden-crown Sparrow
It must be dinner time, the Cooper's Hawk just flew through the yard hunting for his dinner. He flew down to the feeder by the garage and picked out a dove and took off after it. When I lost sight of him he was still chasing the dove. We watched him almost catch a dove a couple of days ago also. He just didn't get a good enough hold on the dove and it got away. He looked hungry tonight and was going to keep chasing until he eats! He seems to be coming around at least once a day. I haven't seen the Sharp-shin Hawk for a week or so but he might still be here and I just haven't been looking outside when he flew by. I heard him hit the back window again a couple of weeks ago. He was fine but it must have hurt!!
We now have a couple of Redwing Blackbirds coming in to eat at the feeders. Paul and I walked over to the Equestrian Center the other day and there are lots of them over there. Maybe they are flying in from there to get something to eat. It isn't that far. The first morning I saw them there was a male and female but since I have only seen the males come in. Maybe the females are staying closer to their nests.

I love how they sound. It seems more like a computer noise then a natural noise to me.

Another bird that we have had before but we are getting more of this year is the American Goldfinch. We mainly have the Lesser Goldfinch but there are at least a dozen of the Americans this year. The males are very bright yellow with no green or black on their backs. They are bigger than the Lessers also.

We have a pair of nesting Northern Mockingbirds on our back fence. They have made their nest in the pyracantha bushes right next to the veggie garden. I might have a problem with that later but as I haven't done much in the garden yet it is okay for now. I'll just have to work around it. When I looked two days ago there were two eggs in the nest. It was fun watching them make the nest. I am looking forward to watching them feed the babies and then the babies learning to fly. They are constantly guarding the nest. When the crows or squirrels get too close they go after them and really get rough. The poor squirrels really get a beating with the mockers hitting them so hard I can hear the hit from across the yard! That is why I say I might have a problem working in the garden, they might try and do the same thing to me! When Paul and I were up in Big Sur one year there was a Mockingbird with a nest in a tree by where we parked. He came down and attacked me when we walked under the tree!

With as many birds as we have in the yard we very seldom have any of them nest here. Maybe it is because we have so many birds in the yard that they go somewhere less crowded to nest.

As I said before it has taken me several days to get this finished. I stopped the other day as blogger wouldn't let me upload pictures. I'm having the same problem now so I'm just going to post this and worry about the pictures some other time. I think I need to work on it during the day when the traffic might be lighter.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Tree Trimming and Cats - Bah Hum Bug!

Saturday morning when I walked out back there were bird feathers everywhere. While I know it might have been the Cooper's or the Sharpshinned Hawks that have been around a lot lately I think it might have been a cat's fault. This is a hard subject because when I had cats I let them roam everywhere and didn't think anything of it. Now that I am catless and on the "otherside" of the issue I wonder if this is the best thing to do. I just don't know. I do know that when I look out and there is a cat in the yard it bugs me. Early Sunday morning I opened my eyes and what do I see? A mallard duck had landed in the yard and the big fluffy black and white cat is about to pounce! I jumped out of bed and ran outdoors and scared the cat and the duck not to mention Paul who was still sound asleep!! Oh well.
The other thing that happened on Saturday is the neighbors trimmed their large Ash tree and cut down the crow's nest that the crows had just finished making. All week I had been watching the crows bringing back nesting material and with one cut of the chain saw it fell to the ground! :( One good thing is that I don't think they had had time to lay eggs and if they had they wouldn't have had time to hatch yet. The crows just circled around watching the tree trying to figure out what was happening. As of today it looks like they are building a new nest in the large pine tree in back of the Ash. Hopefully that won't be cut down also. They just trimmed up the Ash so in a couple of years it will be ready for new nests. That is good news as we have lost several large Ash trees lately. Two were cut down in back of us the other week. I know these trees are getting way too large for some of these lots and they do need to be cut or at least trimmed but it is so hard to watch happen!! I hate the sound of chainsaws!!!!!!