Thursday, August 11, 2011

Bird Days of Summer

Our unusual (unusually nice) summer is continuing with many days being cooler than normal, which is nice for August! A Catalina Eddie is spinning off the coast of Southern California, so our mornings are more like June than august - fog and even some drizzle giving way to low to mid 80s in the afternoon.
The hummingbirds and orioles seem to be enjoying the cooler weather as well. The activity is high and the feeders are draining fast, so much so that I am re-checking the rate. I started Tuesday AM with 9 gallons worth of sugar pre-measured and will see what is left by Thursday PM (3 days). As of Thursday AM, less than 2 gallons jugs are left - so between 2 and 3 gallons a day. That is close to all time high.
Update Thursday night:   All 9 gallons are gone in 3 days - yikes! Off to get sugar tomorrow.

The bees are somewhat in check, most of the feeders are open to the birds without clouds of bees competing for drink.

There are still several family groups of orioles hanging around, unfortunately - by September they will probably be gone for the year, back to Arizona and Mexico.

  I have seen several videos of fellow hummingbird enthusiasts getting up close and personal with the little birds (nectar in the hand and birds drinking from and landing on the hand). I have never had the time to attempt this yet. However, a couple days ago, I noticed a hummer at a feeder that was hovering and frantically  trying to get a foot hold on the side of the feeder (no perch near).
   This is the same feeder that was a favorite for a couple years of 'the old guy' hummer, male Anna's. He was quite the character and his beak was getting a bit gnarly. I did not think more of that until I noticed the beak of this other bird who I will call 'the old gal' since she is showing signs of age as I have determined - rounded physique, reduced speed, somewhat deformed beak. Her's does not close well at the end and I imagine she has a harder time with the smaller openings of the standard hummingbird feeders.
   The feeder she was struggling with has much larger openings that her beak fits in just fine. I now imagine that 'the old guy' was so protective of this feeder because it was one he could easily feed from and if he guarded it well, it would always have fluid (not emptied by hoards of other hummers). I am not sure I have seen him this summer, but I think  I spotted him on the side yard guarding a different feeder, also with larger holes. Back to where I was leading,  'the old gal' was seemingly struggling and perhaps tired but hungry, so I decided to see if I could lend a 'perching hand'. I slowly reached out toward her with a finger out, when my finger was just under her, she lit on my finger and continued to feed for 10-20 seconds. I could barely feel her weight, but it was very cool (exciting)! That feeder has movable perches and they had rotated to an in between position so they were too far away to use while feeding. I will make sure that does not happen again, poor 'old gal'!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Rainy Sunday!

A rare and short summer rain was a nice change of weather around most of San Diego county today. It was an early morning event and seemed to boost the hummingbird activity during the showers. It also lead to a couple of unusual activities by the hummers. One perched on a widow surround that was sheltered by the roof overhang.

I am fairly sure it was  a different hummer flying a serpentine pattern right under the eves, either staying out of the rain or chasing flying bugs that were staying out of the rain.

Most of the birds were just out in the rain swarming around the feeders, some seemed to be getting a bit soggy! Careful examination of the image shows the falling drops.

No gully washer, but a nice shower.

Late addition:
August 6, Saturday afternoon.. A nice morning working at the Park and came across some wildlife of the snakey kind. It is good to keep a lookout!

It's a rattler, so Park security is called for relocation away from the visitors.
Here he is about to go off to the 'BOX' and a short ride to the back country.