Friday, June 4, 2010

Spring winds down...

As the spring migration winds down…so do the numbers of each species I see in my yard. Where earlier this month I had half a dozen Rose-breasted, nearly two dozen Black-headed and only a few Evening Grosbeaks. Even last week I regularly saw, every day, 1-2 Rose-breasted but they seem to have moved on. Still here are half a dozen Blacked-headed and now more than 30 Evening Grosbeaks at a time! I love this photo; I got it from Wikipedia, sure shows ya where these babies get their name. It also is a good shot of the bill-color, which changes during breeding season, to a lovely sort of teal.

Anyway, Bullock’s Orioles numbers are down from two dozen or more to only half a dozen or so at a time. For awhile I watched ten or more Western Tanagers and now see only 3-4 at a time. I wish they were still here in such great numbers, as the Bullock's Oriole is one of the few bird species that will puncture and eject Brown-headed Cowbirds' eggs and Western Tanagers will attack and drive away female cow-birds that enter their territory.

My neighbor Polly and I believe the Orioles, Tanagers and Grosbeaks are all nesting around here. I suppose the pairing-up and nesting duties are what have happened to the large flocks. The Broad-tailed and Black-chined hummers are both here for the long summer. The little Calliope's breed in Alaska and only stop here on their way home...just in time to put up with the pugnacious and beautiful chocolate-brown Rufus Hummingbirds. They remind me of my coffee...just as I add the cream.

I have not seen the Lazuli or Indigo Buntings in over a week; nor the Chipping or White-crowned Sparrows or the Black Phoebe. What I do see from time to time are a pair or more of Cassin’s Finches (I love that pale, pale belly and shock of red on the head), and that little House Wren. This photo from Wikipedia shows a streaky-fronted Cassin’s …the ones I see are beautifully pale-bellied with hardly any streaking.

I still see one or two of the two White-winged Doves, but I’m happy to report the numbers of those !@#$%* Eurasian-collared Doves are down; since I’ve made the concerted effort to discourage them (both safflower seed & caged feeders and of course no longer spreading seed on the ground (for 600 or so Rosy-Finches)). Red-winged blackbirds are also down, but cow-birds not so much. [sigh] Ha, this afternoon I came home to a pile of immigrant ‘pigeon’ feathers; somebody had a good meal! I tell ya, I'm all about feeding birds. LOL

Something else I have noted, which just could be the result of all the tanagers & orioles; the numbers of hummingbirds here, now, seem down…and I’ve heard that comment about town. Both Broad-tailed and Black-chinned hummers have been here some weeks now (they arrived in that order), but generally I don’t see many Calliope’s until after the Rufus arrive in June or July. Last year I had as many as 50 or more hummers in my yard at any one time. It was wild.

The pretty little flycatchers are back; a Western Wood-pewee has been in the yard lately. I love to watch them hawking…but would like to learn how to distinguish them from Olive-sided Flycatchers, which are also seen around here.
Soon my pond will be finished and full and have that delightfully cooling sound of water falling over rock. I’ll stock it with cheap (but fairly attractive) shubunkins, which breed like bunnies. With the price of sunflower, safflower and thistle seeds, plus peanuts, grape jelly, oranges and sugar for nectar…I rather like the idea of a ‘self sustaining’ bird feeder! Yup, I’ll be tickled pink if a kingfisher or egret or a heron visit. My pond is for the birds! In Denver, I had a pair of mallards drop by to think about setting up housekeeping. Perhaps ducks are not a good idea (ewwwwwww) but maybe frogs or toads will come; I like that idea… One sat in a puddle where the pond will be for a couple weeks this spring; calling, calling, calling… I loved it.

Photos from Wiki

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