Saturday, March 28, 2015

Last weekend of March

It still feels like Summer - March 28th and temps have been tickling 90 for the last several days. Should be around 75. No rain lately, of course, still about 50% of what we should have by this date.

We do have orioles, though! And confirmation of the fledglings coming around, I have seen at least one young male. Here are a couple captures from the feedercam today -

This shows the young male to the right. He has his black bib, but is not brightly colored like the adults.

 This one could be 2 young or older females or young males center and right, they are facing away so can't tell ;-)

Plenty of hummers around, though none in these shots! There is at least one Male Rufous hummer hanging around. And I saw a Blackchinned yesterday, first for the year - I think. There should be lots of them later.
It has been a very long time since I've seen a calliope, but we have a couple Allen's helping to keep the many many Anna's company! 

Other birds stopping by lately include -
red winged blackbirds
California towhees
lesser finches
scrub jays
mourning doves
common ground doves (so small!)
dark eyed juncos
sparrows
crows
and still - sharp shinned hawk - the one I don't want to see!

Birds noted soaring lately
red tail hawks
red shoulder hawks
turkey vultures
ravens


Saturday, March 14, 2015

March and the Return of the Hooded Orioles

It's the middle of March and almost Spring.... Well, it's felt like spring or summer all winter long. We have had about 50% of the normal rainfall for the season (July 1 to June 30) and the season really only has two more weeks. That is only slightly better than last year. Does that mean anything as far as migratory patterns of the orioles and hummingbirds that frequent this area?

The first Hooded Oriole returned to the backyard a couple weeks ago, right on par with the last few years. But confirmation of a second oriole did not come for two weeks, usually several show up within days. But that is only a couple weeks, may be not significant. Now I have seen at least four at once - 3 adult males and 1 female. This weekend was the first time they have been chattering up a storm as they come in for a drink. I have seen confirmation in the San Diego newspaper that others have seen the orioles coming in also.

I've seen at least one Rufous hummer over the last couple weeks as well, so the migrating hummers are showing up, too. Time will time if the whole migration season is per usual - I hope so!

The honey bees have really not taken off any time this year, usually they are not around in big numbers over the winter - oh yeah, we didn't really have winter this year.

I installed a new 'Hummercam' recently and am pleased with the image quality.


Here is a late evening photo of the rufous male, a bit grainy in the low light, but his brown back is evident.


The last several days have been unseasonably warm, let's call it hot since it has been in the 90s. Care must he taken to keep the feeders fresh - meaning cleaned every few days to keep the sugar water from going bad. I don't use commercial mixes that may contain anti spoilage ingredients for two reasons - I am not sure the hummers/orioles need anti spoilage ingredients and at 1-2 gallons a day it is too expensive.


A couple photos of male Anna's I have taken over the last few weeks. The Anna's have stayed in pretty large numbers of the winter - they are generally not migratory but some must shift their range around a bit judging by the summer/winter numbers of them.



Here is a fun evening photo of hummers at dinnertime.



Here are a couple of regulars around here, at least there are Red Tail Hawks to be seen here all year long. I have seen a couple doing close flying quite often lately.
None of the smaller birds (doves, hummers, orioles, juncos, red wing blackbirds) seem to be concerned at all when the big hawks are flying overhead. But the small Sharp Shinned Hawk sends them all heading for cover!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Happy New Year

January is here and with it the new year. 2015 started out with very clear skies and a cold snap. Still fairly clear skies and now a warm up - mid 70s for the coming three days.

I have not see anything but Anna's hummers lately (that I could be sure of). I would expect to see an Allen's or maybe Blackchin every once and a while. Not sure which these are! Most likely female Anna's.
Here is a male Anna's at an angle showing off a little gorget color that makes them easy to ID.
This photo shows the full over the head color that Anna's males have - the light angle has to be right!

I caught one male Anna's doing a couple display gestures while sitting at a feeder, usually the displays are while aerial and hard to catch.
 Not very impressive from this angle, but the male (center in photo) is fanning out his gorget (colorful neck feathers) for the female (lower right of photo).

Below, the same male fans out his tail feathers - not sure she is taking note ;-)
 


I took a quick survey of birds noted during lunch today - house finches, lesser finches, spotted towhee, California towhees, mourning doves, hummingbirds, red tail hawk, red shoulder hawk, scrub jay, dark eyed juncos, common ground dove. Unexpectedly missing - crow, raven, turkey vulture.

A first time sighting from a couple days ago - two Acorn woodpeckers! I think they close to a nearby park that has several old large oak trees. The one near the top of the photo is either playing or lost his grip - he hanging upside down!

 A different angle to help in my IDing of bird online.




Somewhere in the water is a lesser finch taking a swim!

Here's one of the two scrub jays making regular visits to the backyard. They have stashed over five pounds of peanuts somewhere around the neighborhood!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Almost December

Official Winter is just three weeks away, we may be 2 days away from our first good rain of the winter season in Southern California - let's hope the forecasts are correct!

This time of year it's all about the hummers, the orioles are long gone of course. The winter population is about 1/3 of the summer crowd, a bit easier on my wallet ;-)

Most commonly seen now are the Anna's hummers, then a few Allen's and Blackchinned. Today, I am only sure of seeing Anna's, some of the males head and neck (gorget) feathers are quite showy - though today's overcast weather is not very conducive to showing off!

A couple of Anna's males

Lookouts! One male and three females perched over the feeders as if to keep an eye out for danger.

 One male coming in to join three already feeding
 The gorget on this guy is quite dark from this angle - like black velvet!
 Here's one putting on a rainbow effect!


We still have a couple of scrub jays making regular visits, seems like he is looking for something.
Oh yes, a peanut!!





We get a pretty good breakfast crowd of doves, mostly mourning doves with a couple of much smaller common ground doves for good measure. And plenty of lesser finches still giving the finch sock a workout. Mr Sharpie, the sharp shinned hawk is also coming around occasionally - what can you do?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Visitors are Gone

The summer seemed to zoom by  -  as a recap -

There were lots of orioles this summer with several apparent families of fledglings.

Lots of hummers, though the number of migrating visitors seemed down this year. I suspect the very dry weather shifted the routes home to places with more flowering 'fuel' stops. The occasional spotted towhee was the only 'new' bird this year.

This fall saw the return of Sharpie, the Sharp shinned hawk, to the backyard with fair regularity - much to the dismay of most of the regular birds.

Honey bees were less of a problem this year, partially due to changing feeder styles in some places. 

We have a very regular pair of scrub jays that have been getting a supply of peanuts (along with pickings from the dove seed). But the peanuts have caught the eyes of some of the local crows. We are trying to adjust the peanut time for when the crows are not around ;-)

 Some of the non-hummer non-oriole visitors this summer/fall


One of the scrub jays

Roadrunner doing some grooming

 Spotted Towhee

 Red Shoulder Hawk, he was really talking that day!



Back to the hummers, from a week or so ago.

Female snacking
 Young male, female, adult male - all Anna's, I think
 Adult male Anna's



Saturday, July 12, 2014

July Already

Haven't posted for awhile, geez - July already!

Possibly good news (unless bee population has crashed big time!), the new feeder array seems to be less desirable to the bees but still acceptable to the orioles :) Most all oriole feeders are now First Nature oriole (or hummingbird, the only difference is color) 32 oz feeders. No bee problem yet, a few bees around, but that's fine!

There is a good mix of hummers showing up and in big numbers - over 2 gallons a day of sugar water mix now, whew!

Pardon the photo blast!

I think we have a Blackchin, Anna's, and Allen's here

Same feeder - an Allen's, note green back

Not sure here, maybe Anna's, Allen's, and unknown female

Blackchin and female

Quite a crowd, in the shade so a bit hard to ID but the Blackchins favor this area

I am pretty sure the next two shots are Rufous, note NOT green back, but this time of year would be unusual as they are migratory and should be up north - as far as Washington and Alaska!

Lots of Hooded Orioles this year, enjoying their antics and vocalizations - they seem to know how to party!
 Most of the birds partake in the fountain - hummers to orioles. Here a couple of lesser finches cool off in the water!


I am a little worried about a long winter judging by the quantity peanuts our two scrub jays are salting away !

3-12 mourning doves usually visit each day
Only occasional visits by the sharp shinned hawk (fortunately) and regular visits by squirrel and rabbits - grrr... So except for that, it has been a great summer so far!

As always - a click on a photo will show full size!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Return Of The Bees!

Early May has brought the Return of the Bees! I suppose one could not expect them to stay away from the feeders forever ;-)
I have a new thought for bee excluders on oriole feeders - something has got to work.

Update May 27

A nice long weekend for watchin birds - the weather was just about perfect.
I got one photo of a male hooded washing off a bit of dust - 
This has been a very good year, so far, for numbers of visiting orioles - and they are very vocal as well. 

Update - May 20, a few days after the big Santa Ana east wind event and many fires of last week.
Here on the north east side of Escondido there was not much effect other than the wind. Not so for those living on the west side near the new hospital or Harmony Grove. Here is hoping for a speedy return to normal.

I know he's not an oriole and is a bit of a pest - but a bit cute. Yeah, I see you all fat from mooching bird seed.



Dive, Dive! A lesser finch taking a dive in the fountain.

Not colored for camouflage!

What happens when you try to use a cell phone for video instead of a real camera?
video

Did anyone try the oriole audio at the end of this entry? It works for me but I don't know if it works in other environments.



Back to the original  entry --

OK, this time for sure (maybe), this guy sounds like and looks like a Spotted Towhee. The tail is longer, the beak is thinner and dark, the eyes have a bit of the towhee glow. I have seen him a couple times now, only on the ground and shyer than the (for sure) grosbeaks.



Here is a first for the backyard (so far as I know) - and not sure of the ID, possibly a Western Tanager. It's about the size and color of a female hooded oriole - except for the bight red blush.






Once again this year, we have a couple of common ground doves coming by for breakfast and dinner.



Great fun over the weekend listening to and watching the Hooded Orioles play. And among the many Anna's, Black Chin, and Costa's hummers - I spotted an Allen's male, lots of brown with the tell tale green back. A little blurry and in the shadow, sorry!
Bright

Hang on!


No wings, no landing gear!


Here is a sound capture of some pretty good chatter from Saturday, hope it plays for everyone - about 2 minutes worth.