Sunday, August 23, 2015

Nearing the End of August - September update

It's the middle of September, we've had hot spells and just got some unusual September rain!
The orioles are still here, last year they were all gone a week earlier. Although, I have not seen an adult Hooded Oriole for several weeks now. I am pretty confident that the remaining birds are adult females and their young. Have not been able to tell if the young males have left with the adult males.

Quite a dinnertime rush at the feeders this early eve, here are a couple photos.

 Here is a new bird type for me, have not been able to ID it yet, the black rimmed white breast feathers should be a big clue!

It's August 23rd, over due for a new post with what's new birdwatching in the backyard!

Some general thoughts of the summer so far -

Where are the honeybees?? By this time of the summer, I usually worry about the bees running off the hooded orioles by virtue of the bee clogging up the feeders that the orioles prefer. Most feeders designed for the hummingbirds are fairly bee proof. But this summer I have been able to convert a few hummer only feeders to oriole feeders by removing the small opening inserts leaving large openings that the orioles can use. This is good for the orioles, but I worry about the lack of bees and the service they provide to our crops. The photo shows the modified feeder, the darker red areas around the opening are where the 'flower' inserts were removed revealing a large opening. Bees could easily climb in, but no bees.

We have had a generous amount of rain over the summer, reminiscent of years past when we actually got rain (a little, anyway!). And the temps seem to have been a bit more mild, especially in August - though we had a couple of shots of HOT!

I saw pretty good evidence of a 'Brood Parasite' this summer. The phenomenon is most illustrated by the cuckoo, when the female cuckoo seeks out a nest of another bird species with eggs. The mom cuckoo will lay one of her eggs in the nest of the other bird (often removing one of the original eggs). She then leaves the other mom to do all of the raising of the mixed family. Often, the 'adopted' bird is larger than the host birds - to their detriment. In my case, the 'adopted' bird is a brown headed cowbird and was very likely left in a hooded oriole nest. The young cowbird and young orioles (and female adult orioles) are quite similar in coloring and size. The cowbird are seed eaters and so the beaks are more robust than the orioles. You can see the young cowbird begging for food, but the adult male is ignoring it.

I think it has been an above average summer for the orioles, probably average for the hummers, lesser finches, mourning doves. No rabbits this year, a couple of squirrels mooching on the birdseed.

Still having a bit of June Gloom this far into August (morning low clouds/fog keeping temps down around the inland valleys) so this morning as I sat outside checking feeders, photos are a little dull.

There seemed to be quite a morning feeding frenzy going on so I grabbed the cam and took these shots within 30 seconds, all of different feeder positions but there are several of the same kinds.

The lesser finch station

I counted 52 hummers between all photos, a pretty good rush and there were others perched in trees and bushes around. Lots of Anna's, of course, quite a few Blackchins and I think I saw a Roufous.

I believe there is only a couple of weeks before the orioles leave for parts south and east - their winter haunts, oh well , it has been a great summer for them - I'll miss them when they leave!


  1. Your commentary on bees and the weather were interesting, especially in that I had the opposite 1200 miles to the north of you. This was the first year ever that yellow jackets have been a serious nuisance at the hummingbird feeder. Yes, only one feeder recently, as only a couple hummers in stuck around for the summer. For a week, the hornets swarmed around the bee guards and just stayed there all day. The nectar level did go down so maybe they developed some extra long feeding tubes??? I finally just took the feeder down. Haven't seen any hummers here for over two weeks. They arrived 3 weeks early last spring and have left a good 6 weeks early in the fall. July here was the hottest month ever in western Washington and it is dry. Gnats and other small flying insects have not been noticed here in some time, which is probably why the hummers left.

  2. Hi bc! I think you may be right about the lack of gnats and the hummers early retreat. There are still some orioles here, though I have not seen an adult male now for several weeks.
    Still no bees but the small wasps (maybe like your hornets) are still around but not causing a problem. Of course, hummers are full force and maybe some of your rufous will be by here on their way south!

  3. The small finch-like birds that you weren't sure of the species are Nutmeg Mannikins.

    Nice site, enjoyed reading about your hummingbirds and orioles. Jackie