Tuesday, March 4, 2014

March is here, So is the First Oriole

March 31, 2014

Almost the end of March - looks like three families of orioles hanging out (3 adult males seen at once, anyway).

Here is a capture from the 'Hummercam' this morning -


March has arrived, seems like it has been Spring for a while. Finally, some rain for San Diego county. We have been woefully short of normal rainfall and March is really the last chance.
The first sighting this year for Orioles was Sunday Feb 2. A bright orange and black male visited the backyard 3 times. That precipitated looking for a few good feeders, a little cleanup and fresh fill-ups. As a few more show up, I should get some fun new photos!

The hummers are still sipping 1-2 gallons/day, a pretty constant rate over the last 3-4 months. Still mostly Anna's. I did see a Rufous male zipping about a month or so ago. And I think I saw a Costa's male yesterday, those purple swooped back gorgets are striking!


Feb 14-17 was the Great Backyard Bird Count organized by the Audubon Society and Cornell Labs! I did a couple sessions in the backyard, and of course, the regulars made a good showing - common ground doves, mourning doves, lesser finches, hummingbirds, crows, ravens, red tail hawks, scrub jays, and turkey vultures. But a couple of new birds showed up - A dark eyed junco and a Great Blue Heron! He was standing on the neighbor's roof. He's almost 4 feet tall!

Sometimes, the hummers get very territorial, and here is an older male Anna's who is guarding 'his' feeder. All other males get chased away, I don't usually see them resting so close to the ground as this guy. The photo was from in the house, not very sharp image.


Here is a not too shy dark eyed junco catching a snack as I was walking by, he kept snacking!


Friday, January 31, 2014

February is Almost Here

It's been an unusual winter so far. Very little rain, in fact, January will end with less than 10% of normal. If not for about a quarter inch on the very last day, we would have gone the whole month with no rain at all. Jan, Feb, March are the rainiest months (practically the only months getting rain) and for a third of our rainy season - nothing.
But what has that done for the backyard birds. Hard to tell for certain. The refill rate on the hummingbird feeders seems about normal (1-1.5 gallons per day) and the number of 'seeders' is close to normal.
So far I have had no luck deterring a certain bird from hanging out. Here are two webcam captures from about five minutes a part. This is very likely the same Sharp Shinned Hawk that has been hanging around off and on for six to eight months. It has been getting the occasional hummer and last summer got an oriole.
 If you look carefully, just under the time stamp on the upper photo - there is a hummer on a branch waiting for the hawk to 'buzz off'!


No hummers to be seen in this capture.

I did spot a male Allens hummingbird a few days ago. It seems like it has been just Anna's over the winter so far.
Have got to come up with a plan before the orioles return - or they may not stay here.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Hooded Orioles have 'Flown the coup'

September is here, the orioles are not. They have left a little early from our neighborhood - not sure if the string of hot humid weather sent them packing or if this was just a year to leave early. The honey bees were not worse than normal. All the other non-migratory birds are around in the usual numbers.

It's noticeably quieter without their chatter. looking forward to next March!

We are trying to fill the gap by boosting the mourning dove / common ground dove population a bit. The only drawback - now a squirrel or two have been visiting the backyard cleaning out the dove feed. Grrr.. if it is not rabbits, it's crows/ravens or squirrels! I have started raising the bowls to see if I can get them high enough to keep the squirrels out - first round - squirrels 1, me 0.

Now that the orioles are gone for the fall/winter, it's time to change the feeder lineup more toward hummingbird only, this will reduce the bee scavenging some. And maybe another round of mods over the winter on the oriole feeders to make them less bee friendly.

If you visited during the spring, you might remember we had a 'problem' with a sharp shinned hawk taking up lookout in and around the backyard. That would be fine if he only went after the squirrels and rabbits (sorry to those who are fond of them, actually I like them as well, just not in my yard! Or at least, not eating all the bird food). Of course, sharp shinneds go after small birds - and that's not so great. Anyway, it looks like he is back after summering somewhere else for a while. At least the orioles are gone, though we won't encourage him to stay.

I hope everyone has a nice fall and plenty of birds to watch!

Monday, August 26, 2013

September Draws Near

It's almost the end of oriole season for San Diego county. The hooded orioles that have been chirping, beeping, chattering over the summer will not be here much longer. Soon they will have all left for parts south and east - Arizona and Mexico mostly. But there are still a few showing up!
The first sighting this year was mid March, now 5 months later it's about time to go - new families in tow. 

Here is a capture off the 'hummer cam' in the backyard. Adult male (bright yellow with black and white wings and tail) and female (more subdued color).

Between the hummingbirds, orioles, and bees - the sugar load has stayed around 25 pounds a week for the last month. I expect that will drop a bit as the orioles leave and the weather cools leading to less bees. We should start to see a few more returning hummers from parts north as the migration south begins.

Here is an occasional visitor too the backyard - geococcyx califorianus - greater roadrunner, or speedipus rex meep meep, as the kids might know him as.

Although usually know for eating lizards, snakes, scorpions - but they are 'opportunistic foragers' and will go after small birds at feeders and nest boxes. This guy was setting up below a feeder.






He's not resting in the shade, but ready to spring up at an unsuspecting snack. I watched as he tried once, but the feeders are too high and the hummers get plenty of warning.



Friday, August 16, 2013

Summer's Almost Done

Last blog was at the end of May - What's changed? The Pepsis Formosa (tarantula hawk wasp) is still visiting the feeders looking for jelly or 'nectar'. The orioles are still here, have seen less adult males than earlier and have seen more juveniles.

Lots and lots of hummers! There have been a couple adult male Rufus hummers sighted the last couple weeks, this seems unusual to me since they  migrate to Washington and Alaska for the summer and I don't think they should be on their way back south yet. Rufus hummers are always a little scarce around our yard any time of year. A nice treat!

Plenty of Anna's, of course and a good number of Costa's and Blackchinned. At the moment, we are mixing up at least 3 gallons of sugar water per day, thirsty birds.

We are finally getting some normal summer weather, which means it's getting warmer. That seems to be bringing out more honey bees to the feeders, especially the oriole feeders. 

Below are a few of the visitors to the backyard lately.

Here is a hummer that looks like she is hunkering down for the evening, it was cooling a bit and she is fluffed up and stayed there 10 minutes or so. But I have not seen hummers overnight in this tree.

These are uncommon visitors to our yard - a common ground dove. About half the size of a mourning dove and a stubbier tail.

A his and her's matched set! More unusual to see 2.

Here is our regular mourning dove, longer tail, solid head coloration compared to the black tipped light feathers of the common ground dove. Much bigger also!



Saturday, May 25, 2013

Unofficial Start to Summer

Memorial Day is almost here and the start of what usually seems like Summer! This year we have had a bit of 'Summer' weather but now through the first week of June will be very pleasant - mid 70s. Seems like the birds are enjoying the weather and the feeders are requiring 2-3 gallons of sugar water per day. That's a trip for 25 pounds of sugar once a week!

The hooded orioles are clowning around, we have 3-5 families buzzing the backyard. Seems like the fledglings are the most vocal and playful, chattering and beeping like R2D2. This year they seem to be enamored with grape jelly. Not so much last year.


Is that an Oriole??


 Weather vane Oriole and one on the feeder


Oriole and Hummer sharing


Hanging around

A pose off between a young male and another oriole!

Hummers are very active, especially 7-8 in the morning and 6-8 in the evening.


Costa's hummer showing nice purple gorget


Blackchinned hummer, from this angle, the neck feathers are black, purple iridescence is not showing.

Anna's showing nice color

A couple of Blackchins, the one flying has a nice purple neck band. 


3 Anna's males and a female







Mourning doves are a common sight here in San Diego county. Here are a couple 'Luvy Doves'!




A lesser Finch on the fountain, a favorite drink and splash place.

A look up into the hills in front of the house, the orioles are often seen zipping up to the top of an avocado  tree there.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Earth Day Orioles

Update April 29

A capture off of a blog by Ylee on Wunderground weather site who is linking to the Hummer cam.


It's Earth Day 2013, a good day to reflect on nature - and post a few photos of bird antics in the backyard. Bird activity is up as the weather warms up a bit.

Lesser finches and hummers hanging out together at dinner time.

Mourning dove scratching around for some seeds. 


Adult male hooded oriole snacking.



Birds in the Birds of Paradise! I did not see the female oriole at first, bonus 2 for 1!


It's getting late, the flash has given the hummers eye shine!


The elusive (and migratory) Rufus hummingbird. There may be one or two in the area, they are recent arrivals. Always nice to see visitors mixing with the local residents!


Adult male hooded oriole handing out on the back fence.


I see you! The orioles are very wary, peeking out from around the feeders after each sip.


Another? adult male getting a drink.


A blurry shot of a Rufus and maybe an Allen's (perching left side) and an Anna's perching right side. The Allen's are migratory also, but sometimes, one will seem to be here all year long.


A funny shot, possible siblings playing around with their food!


A young male hooded oriole, colors are not bright but his dark bib is showing up, not black yet.