Monday, June 23, 2008

Summertime in the Southern Rockies

We’re just a few days into summer, but it’s already warm enough for me! Temperatures are hovering in the 80s already…and most of the birds have come and gone. My perennials are coming up will be good to see all the new bird-friendly shubbery take off.

‘Course the Hummingbirds are here. The Rufus Hummers just arrived, which I find way-cool as I’d never seen a rich, reddish, milk-chocolate-brown hummingbird before. Sweet! And yet another 'New' bird for me. I hear they are quite territorial, perhaps they'll give the Broad-tails a run for their money.

And the Black-chinned Hummingbirds are here, as well; I thought I could tell by their very dark heads and the lack of ‘trill’ when they fly, but it was the tail-bobbing or -pumping that confirmed it. Very pretty birds though I am less sure at discerning females.

The Broad-tail Hummingbirds were likely the first here…though there was that possible Calliope in May! LOL That link is to a little video clip where you can hear the 'trill' of these birds in flight. The Bt’s are pugnacious little things and try very hard to drive all others away. Still, I occasionally look up to see as many as four or five birds at a single nectar feeder…and I have five out there, so the yard sometimes seems filled with the dive-bombing little wonders of color.

Over the last few days, I’ve seen the pairs of Bullock's Orioles less and less, and the Evening Grosbeaks have been gone for a couple weeks now. I do see the occasional Black-headed Gb from time to time and for some odd reason the American Goldfinches are back again…perhaps with newly fledged young? They all look so yellow! When they left, I began seeing more of the Lesser Goldfinches; and they’re still around, too. I find the black-backed Lesser Gf especially stunning.

I observed an adult White-breasted Nuthatch feeding begging chicks, which I found wonderfully exciting. I knew I had at least one pair of them in my yard with a nest nearby! Yippieeeeeee

An occasional Northern Flicker stops by, too, to poke around at the dry patch in my yard where ants live. And both the Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers continue to drop in daily, though perhaps less often. I wonder if diet changes as babies grow…or perhaps they take them out to wilder territory to learn how to fend for themselves. Even while the orioles continue to visit; they don’t seem interested in oranges anymore and have slowed way down on the grape jelly and even the sugar water. I should do some research to determine if the same nectar for hummers is okay for orioles; maybe there is a reason the hummingbird feeders are too small for the bigger guys!

I also saw a whole string of fat, little, begging Pine Siskins on a phone-wire the other day…that was the cutest thing. Parents were very close…and still feeding, of course. And I also notice House Finches are around again. They look a lot healthier these days. The House Sparrow seems to have moved on now that I no longer put out the mixed Wild Birdseed they seemed to enjoy. I’m winding the feeders down till the weather changes and there is less natural food that is easy to find.

American Robins abound; it’s fun to watch them wrestle, long, fat worms from the ground. And Grackles still come, as well as the occasional Red-winged Blackbird; though far fewer numbers than ganged the yard a couple of months ago. I’m pleased to say I’ve not seen a Brown-headed Cowbird in some time. Ugg The Eurasian Doves are still here though, but again…far fewer numbers; thankfully; same with the Starlings.

I do have a pair of Black-billed Magpies coming to eat suet regularly…which I think is a little odd. They must have a nest nearby, as the huge birds hang cowardly from the feeders, flapping for balance and pecking wildly at the suet cake. They then drop down and pick up pieces they’d knocked away and generally eat as they go, but almost always find one, large morsel to take back home. Nice birdies.

Every morning I still watch the Turkey Vultures slowly warming themselves in the sun and then catching the drafts up, as they head off to do what Vultures do during the day.

I rather like this winding-down business. It’s the same with gardening, by the time the cold weather hits; I’m ready for a break anyway. I used to mourn the more temperate weather I grew up with in California, until I remembered how I’d work till I could hardly stand up. These changing seasons are a blessing!

Edited to add: I published this piece and looked out the window to see what appears to be a Mountain Chickadee, of which I had pairs in my yard regularly. It comes and goes quickly, always taking a single seed; I don't know if it is a young bird or a female or just a not-very-black at all Chickadee. It is slender and has the white 'eyebrow' of the Mountain variety; but where the black should be is not very dark...and somewhat broken. Perhaps they are like the White-crowned Sparrow and become darker and more defined with age. Immediately followed a large, female Grosbeak (really a very pretty bird) and then a male Black-headed Grosbeak, too. Pairs of birds abound in this beautiful habitat of many tall trees right by the river. I love it.


Bosque Bill said...

Thanks for the bird population update and the pretty flowers.

Beverly said...

Hey Pal, thanks for the compliments!

I must say I just love the pic you have on your page:, but then, I’m partial to Phoebes. Lovely shot!

Oh, and speaking of Swallows…did you read Bill Schmoker’s account of the Black Swifts he got to visit this month at Zapata Falls?