Tuesday, September 29, 2009

This is a photo of a deceased ceanothus that is a favorite hangout of the hummers. Click on it for a larger view. How many hummers can you count on or around the bush (not counting the feeders)? No cheating now, the photo below has all the birds circled that I could find.

I could only find 42!
Below is a photo of the old timer that I saw this morning. This afternoon he was guarding his feeder like nobody's business. Any one got close and he would chase them away. He looks like he's seen better days but he is holding his ground (air space?). I'll keep an eye out for him over the next few months to see how he is doing. Since he is an Anna's, I don't expect him to leave for the winter.

A Change in the weather

It seems as though at least most of the hummingbirds have made it through the last spell of hot weather (almost a week of highs topping 100 degrees, whew!). Activity is still very high at breakfast time (6:30-7:00AM) and again by the time I get home from work.

After close to 3 years of using my indoor network camera as an outside hummingbird cam, I think the camera is giving it up. It is only occasionally working now :(

This morning I caught a glimpse of what is probably an elderly hummer. Seems like they get quite round when they get old and lose a bit of zip. Sounds familiar! I will try to get a photo.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Lovely Morning

Phinny and I are sitting out on the back patio enjoying a beautiful morning and watching the hummingbirds buzz around. It's around 10:00 AM and the morning marine layer clouds are just breaking up. The afternoon temperature should get just to 80 today, just about perfect. About time to go back inside and I see an oriole, this time a close enough look to see that it is a female - can't tell juvenile or youngster. We shall see how much longer she hangs around.
Hummers perching in skeleton of ceanothus (Ramona Lilac, the plant was doing great - then croak!) Now it is the perfect perch, just looks a little nasty.
Hummers and bees (errrgg) at feeders
Hummer snacking on Desert Willow (Chilopsis linearis)

Friday, September 11, 2009

Where do they nest?

I've been feeding hummingbirds (1:4 sugar water and native plants - monkeyflower, sage, penstamen, desert willow) and orioles for 5 years, (well, orioles for the last 3 or so years) and have been a little disappointed that I have not found any nests around the yard somewhere. I know it's not likely I would find an oriole nest (we have no fan palms). There are plenty of photos online of nests in unlikely places at peoples homes and friends around the area remark when they find one. What are the odds? I have tried to estimate the number of hummingbirds visiting each day and recently came across a suggestion that a gallon of sugar water per day may equate to 1000 birds. The last month has averaged 2-3 gallons per day - I'm hard pressed to imagine 2000-3000 birds. OK, so I do have bees - no shortage for sure. I have put thought and effort into 'bee proofing' and this year has been more effective. And there are (were) orioles. Given that hummingbirds can use all feeders and orioles can only use 'oriole feeders' and bees - maybe half of the food goes to hummingbirds. Still, 1000 birds and no nests to admire? Maybe next year ;)

Just got home and began feeder refill duties, heard the distinctive clunk coming from oriole feeder generally made by the orioles. Sure enough, saw one. Can't tell if it is a juvenile or adult female. Guess they are not all gone yet!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Starting my hummingbird/oriole blog

I've told myself that I should take notes regarding when I see or don't see the regular visiting birds in my backyard. A couple years of procrastination and here it is. It's September 10th and no signs of any orioles for the last couple days. I don't recall exactly when they began to arrive this year, certainly by June. Their return to Arizona and Mexico will lighten the load to my wallet for sugar. The last 6-8 weeks have been one 25 pound bag per week, an all time high for the last 3 years. Most of the demand is from hummingbirds. If I had to guess, there are around 100 hummers visiting the feeders each day now. Mostly Anna's, but a fair number of Black-chinned and Costa's with just a couple of Rufus hummingbirds. As fall approaches, the Anna's will be the only ones remaining in any quantity.

I had 5-6 families of orioles this year (same as last year) judging by the male count and it looks like they did a good job of reproducing bases on the count of juvenile males. One photo is a favorite of mine from my ipcam. The female or juvenile male is leaving the feeder and the camera has distorted the wings into an unusual configuration. The other is one of the Black-chinned Hummers.