Thursday, July 23, 2009

Lotsa Hummingbirds!

I am floored at the number of hummingbirds in my yard.
Last year, when the guy across the alley was repairing the roof on his old barn…he said he watched as many as 50 hummers at a time, buzzing around my yard. Well, that might be an exaggeration, though he did have a better vantage point of my whole yard from his roof-top, but I’ll tell you I’m thinking there are 30 or more here at the feeders just about any time of the day. Of course, very early mornings and late evenings are the busiest.

They are here at 5:30 am when I get up…feeding and fighting over feeders. I have five feeders and see as many as 6-8 birds at each one. I’ve shown other pictures of them here, group-feeding like little polite soldiers. I talk there, about my theory on why they settle down at in the early evenings and feed communally.

For those of you who follow such things, here are the 2009 arrival dates of the four species who regularly visit here:

  • April 22 – Broad-tailed
  • April 25 – Black-chinned
  • July 9th - Rufus
  • July 14th - Calliope

While I read others descriptions of a couple of each species at their nectar feeders, I’m astounded to find so many here. Is this unusual? I have no idea. I do have sort of a Wildlife Habitat going on in my yard…and continue to plant many bird-friendly trees, shrubs and perennials; but it is a slow process and nowhere near all that ‘wild’ yet.

I think I’ll just color myself lucky!

The first four of these (poor) photos were taken outside my kitchen window, where two of the favorite feeders hang.

These last four were taken from inside my kitchan, and show that hosing off a window is NOT cleaning it!

Also obvious here is the black, nylon, bird-netting I've hung outside my window. It has stopped the regular 'thud' of birds slamming into the reflection of sky and clouds; while this year I have had two actually hit, I've not had a death in over a year now!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

FOS Calliope Hummingbird!

Just now, July 14th, I observed the first of season Calliope in my yard. Lordy they are tiny things. At first, watching the little thing hover over the feeder next to another bird that I could barely see, I wondered if it was sparing with a small oriole! No, of course not...but the other hummingbird seemed twice as big, by comparrison. (my photo here doesn't show what I mean at all! The other bird turned out to be a Rufus hummer...which IS nearly twice as big as the little guy I observed!)

The Calliope Hummingbird is the smallest bird in North America (about 1/3 the size of our smallest warblers) and the smallest, long-distance migrant in the world...breeding in the Northwestern US and Canada and spending winters in Mexico.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

FOS Rufus Hummer & White-breasted Nuthatch

Just before I left for a weekend in Taos, on Thursday July 9th, I saw a FOS Rufus Hummingbird at my feeders. We got home late last night, but I and my out-of-town guests saw a beautiful, chocolatey male several times at the feeders this morning. I love how they look like polished brass shining in the sunlight. The Calliope can't be far behind!

We also saw a FOS White-breasted Nuthatch today…a bird I have not seen here in such a long time! I thought, in my limited experience, they were here all year…but they’ve been missing for months and months! It’s good to see the feisty little buggers.

Other birds of late are lots and lots of American and Lesser Goldfinch, several fledged families of Black-billed Magpie (funny to watch the great lunkers that are really still babies, beg for food), Bullock’s Orioles, Black-headed Grosbeaks, Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers, Grackles, House Finch, House Sparrow, and of course Starlings.

The White-winged Dove hasn’t been around in awhile…but it's such a treat to hear the Mourning Doves. This morning a pair was here...I don't see them every day.

I also get a kick out of the baby woodpeckers. A friend (bless him) attached a suet feeder underneath a wooden, flat-bed feeder for me...the idea was to foil the grackles and starlings that are eating me out of house and home. Well, I should have offered up a larger feeder...the bigger birds are able to lean over the feeder and reach under; but because he centered the feeder, they can only get to the edges. We've slowed them down some, but even the young Downys and Harrys have figured out how to fly up under, or gingerly walk over, around and down the feeder to get to the suet. I haven't yet seen the very busy Nuthatch at the suet yet, it seems intent on stealing just the sunflower at a time, as is their wont.

Oh, and June's Monthly List: