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?

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!

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.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

March is here, So is the First Oriole

March 31, 2014

Almost the end of March - looks like three families of orioles hanging out (3 adult males seen at once, anyway).

Here is a capture from the 'Hummercam' this morning -

March has arrived, seems like it has been Spring for a while. Finally, some rain for San Diego county. We have been woefully short of normal rainfall and March is really the last chance.
The first sighting this year for Orioles was Sunday Feb 2. A bright orange and black male visited the backyard 3 times. That precipitated looking for a few good feeders, a little cleanup and fresh fill-ups. As a few more show up, I should get some fun new photos!

The hummers are still sipping 1-2 gallons/day, a pretty constant rate over the last 3-4 months. Still mostly Anna's. I did see a Rufous male zipping about a month or so ago. And I think I saw a Costa's male yesterday, those purple swooped back gorgets are striking!

Feb 14-17 was the Great Backyard Bird Count organized by the Audubon Society and Cornell Labs! I did a couple sessions in the backyard, and of course, the regulars made a good showing - common ground doves, mourning doves, lesser finches, hummingbirds, crows, ravens, red tail hawks, scrub jays, and turkey vultures. But a couple of new birds showed up - A dark eyed junco and a Great Blue Heron! He was standing on the neighbor's roof. He's almost 4 feet tall!

Sometimes, the hummers get very territorial, and here is an older male Anna's who is guarding 'his' feeder. All other males get chased away, I don't usually see them resting so close to the ground as this guy. The photo was from in the house, not very sharp image.

Here is a not too shy dark eyed junco catching a snack as I was walking by, he kept snacking!

Friday, January 31, 2014

February is Almost Here

It's been an unusual winter so far. Very little rain, in fact, January will end with less than 10% of normal. If not for about a quarter inch on the very last day, we would have gone the whole month with no rain at all. Jan, Feb, March are the rainiest months (practically the only months getting rain) and for a third of our rainy season - nothing.
But what has that done for the backyard birds. Hard to tell for certain. The refill rate on the hummingbird feeders seems about normal (1-1.5 gallons per day) and the number of 'seeders' is close to normal.
So far I have had no luck deterring a certain bird from hanging out. Here are two webcam captures from about five minutes a part. This is very likely the same Sharp Shinned Hawk that has been hanging around off and on for six to eight months. It has been getting the occasional hummer and last summer got an oriole.
 If you look carefully, just under the time stamp on the upper photo - there is a hummer on a branch waiting for the hawk to 'buzz off'!

No hummers to be seen in this capture.

I did spot a male Allens hummingbird a few days ago. It seems like it has been just Anna's over the winter so far.
Have got to come up with a plan before the orioles return - or they may not stay here.