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!