Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve With the Hummers

Day after Christmas and we have noticed a visitor the last 2 days hanging out on the fences near the feeders.

Best as I can id this guy - it's a sharp shinned hawk. Almost a foot head to tail, not a big guy. Description says they sometimes hang out at feeders, no kidding! I watched this guy dive from the fence into a small manzanita trying to get a hummer. He came out empty 'handed'. Not overly shy, I was only about 15 feet away.
 Not sure I appreciate his company as much as I might elsewhere.

It's Christmas Eve, a drizzly but slowly clearing day. Seems more wintry for the gray skies though Christmas will be sunny. I think I blinked and missed the fall migrating Hummingbirds this year. Did not see a Rufus or Calliope pass through. But lots of Anna's and an occasional Blackchin.

Here are a couple male Anna's lined up. The bottom one seems to be saying, "Hold it!"

An Anna's showing some seasons color!

2 turtle doves - no no.. a partridge in a - no no.. 3 hummers in a pear tree??

A little Christmas Eve feast!!

A few finches having lunch

I hope everyone has a peaceful holiday and prosperous New Year!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Labor Day Breakfast

Oct 17 Wed 2012
Orioles are long gone, plenty of Hummingbirds and Lesser Finches. Bees are still a problem. Temperatures are up and down a lot - 70s last week with a bit of rain, upper 90s to 101 last couple days but maybe 70s by the weekend. Once the night temps drop another 10 or more degrees, the bees should be less of a problem.
We had a new visitor to the backyard today. I missed it, but my better half got a photo -
Hope it did not catch any of the several lizards we have running around back there!

Sept 15 Saturday 2012

I just looked back to last year September to check when the Orioles left. In deed, it was mid September, BUT last year Labor Day we were having cool drizzly weather. A far cry from the extended heat wave we are having now. This afternoon while filling hummingbird feeders and a couple of the oriole feeders that the hummers use, I heard the unmistakeable oriole chatter from the back corner of the backyard where the oriole favorite feeders are. So there is at least one, and I think maybe a couple, orioles left since they generally chatter when there is a group.

Sept 12 Wednesday 2012

It has been a day since I have seen any hooded orioles, last sightings were a couple females near the plum tree. Vary consistent, mid September was the last of the orioles last year. Lesser Finches seem to be taking up the slack. Time to take down the oriole feeders and concentrate on hummingbird feeders that bees can not get to.

Sept 3 Labor Day -

A week into the 2 day heat wave, a few more days to go..

Labor Day breakfast for the birds is attracting at least one hooded oriole, too many hummers to count, and 15 or so lesser finches. Here is an encounter I call Beak to Beak!

Update Sept 2 Sunday

September is the end of Oriole season here, I've only seen one adult male and one female today.
I rotated but did not crop the out of kilter photos.  

Update August 20th - Here is a link to a video from a friend taken in his backyard of a 'birdie in the birdbath' . The birdbath video is short, then a short night video of 'Kitty' plays in rotation.

 It's the middle of August and it's been above normal hot for almost two weeks. A lot of the hooded orioles that visit for the summer have left. There are a few left, have seen males and females.

 This morning saw lots of action at the fountain. Usually I see lesser finches splashing or drinking, this morning it was hummers and a oriole.


 The finches kick it up pretty good!
 Rub a dub dub, three hummers in a tub..

Sad to see that the orioles are heading back to Arizona and Mexico, over the winter will be a renewed effort at bee resistant oriole feeders..

Monday, July 16, 2012

Hummingbird Madness

It's the middle of July and the hummingbird population is close to maximum. Feeder mix is going at 2 1/2 to 3 gallons per day, phew! Several male Allen's hummers are spotted so probably as many females. They are a bit small than Anna's and the males have a lot of brown, especially on the tail feathers as well as breast area. They really stand out when sighted in the right sun direction.

Several families of Hooded orioles still visiting the backyard. Seems fewer than last month but not sure, they may be getting annoyed with the bees.

A nice group of Lesser finches are regularly visiting the 2 socks and making good use of the fountain for drinks and baths.

The web cam views have been down for a while but are up again. Not sure what the issue was, maybe the indoor network switch which is outside with the indoor cams locked up.

I have a big gap in the sugar log, will fill that in as I can from receipts.

Update July 26 - a snapshot from one of the yardcams. A couple adult male hooded orioles snacking.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Orioles and Bunnies

It's May 10th and we are in to May gray and soon June gloom. But, the morning - evening fog has mostly been thin and clearing early in the mornings.

Plenty of Hooded Orioles at the feeders and 'playing' around the backyard. I spotted 5 adult males at one time last Sunday.  Lots of hummingbirds, as well. Mostly Anna's but Blackchinneds and Costa's also.

Speaking of feeders, not so many bees. I am trying a suggestion from a Wunderground acquaintance. 'Brush vegetable oil on the base', bees don't like it. Seemingly, they don't! Makes for a slippery feeder, so care in refilling is called for. And I am not sure of effects on the sugar water from mixing - by me or the birds. So far, the birds don't seem to mind (much, anyway - can't tell). Application frequency will be once a week, if not more often. I hope this will be a long term solution. It is easy to bee proof feeders, but then the orioles are proofed as well. Not the solution I am looking for.

I did not realize bunnies would be so fond of bird seed. I put out a large clay pot base with seed for the morning doves and whatever. Very soon after in the early mornings, bunnies would be sitting in the saucer munching away. I put the saucer on a 5 gallon paint tub ( a little over a foot off the ground) and the next day, bunny was up in saucer on tub. Need a new plan.

Not sure what happened to all of the Lesser Finches feeding on the finch sock. Shortly after putting up one, there were 8-10 buzzing around. Lately, only 2-4. Maybe a dud batch of nyger seed.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Fledglings Arrive at Backyard

All these many years, well maybe all these few years, I have been unable to tell if any fledgling hummingbirds have frequented the feeders in the backyard. I would suppose they have, but I am not aware of any visual characteristics of 1st year hummers that would distinguish them from 2nd or later year birds. However, the Hooded orioles that spend the spring and summer here are a different story. A month and a week from sighting the first returning oriole, I have seen the 1st fledgling male(s). They are quite easy to spot, having the same dull yellow coloring of the females but having the distinctive black 'bib' on the neck and top of chest. I am presuming that thee are fledgling females as well, but they would be very hard to tell apart from their mothers.

The first positive id was Saturday 21st, multiple times then and Sunday, the young males have been sighted. As an additional indicator,  the number of orioles seems to be up a bit. Also, an adult male will fly up to a feeder and, seemingly, cajole or coax another bird to the feeder. 
This morning early, I caught a glimpse of a possible family unit in the middle of a high speed game of chase. A bright yellow male was in the lead and following close behind were two 'non-adult-males' (best id I could make). They came from the left side of the yard to about the center and abruptly made a 180 and made for parts unknown.

Plenty of honey bees around - the new style feeder with lightly spring loaded balls that cover the feeding ports is not especially effective. Also, as suggested by an online source, cucumber peels do not a honey bee repellant make.
The 'Sugar Log' has been going since Jan 27th, and I conclude my calculator must be malfunctioning. In about 2 1/2 month's time 275 lbs of sugar has been purchased! The last 25 lb bag has not been opened yet, but the last gallon of premix is in use so the birds (and bees, for sure) have consumed over 200 pounds or roughly 96 gallons of sugar water.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

A New Month

It's April and the Orioles are beginning to show up in force. This afternoon, while relaxing in the backyard, I spotted 7 male Orioles at one time chattering at 2 different feeder locations. Such characters when they get a group going - clicking and whirring like R2D2 (quite different from the chatter of one or two), pointing their beaks to the sky! Later in the afternoon, a female showed up.

One of the male hooded orioles snacking. Photo shows the business end of the ip cam keeping tabs on the 'feeder tree'. Thinking of replacing it with a higher res cam, but it holds up well out in the elements - not meant to be outside! This cam view is on the blog and can run a 24 hour time lapse if you have a shockwave-flash enabled device.

I have decided to put up a finch sock, we'll see how long that lasts. Seeds are generally too messy, but very shortly several finches turned up - males (fairly bright yellow body with darker wings) and females.

A western Bluebird male also made an appearance. Based on the activity at a friend's backyard birdbath, we are trying out one.

Speaking of trying out, I bought a new type of oriole feeder today to try. It has an interesting plastic spring in the bee 'excluder' mechanism. Hopefully it works. That would be a first!