Tuesday, April 10, 2012

My Best Yard Bird?

Visitors today asked me, "What is the best or favorite bird you've had visit your yard?" Interesting question...that I couldn't answer. After pondering my yard's Total List I came up with a few contenders:
  • American Kestrel - having lunch amongst the peonies.
  • Black Phoebe, maybe. I love Black Phoebes.
  • Chihuahan Raven, because I like big corvids.
  • Western Meadowlark - A splash of yellow on the snow covered grass - sweet.
  • Gray Catbird - because I heard it so many times before spotting it!
  • Western Tanager - yellow and red...what's not to like
  • Hermit Thrush come every year...love 'em.
  • Indigo Bunting - so BLUE
  • Belted Kingfisher - I built a fish-pond for 'em.
  • Harris's Sparrow - everybody was seeing them that year.
  • American Redstart - flicking wings & tail, pugnacious little fellow.
  • Turkey Vultures - roosting in my trees!
  • Lewis's Woodpecker - spent a winter visiting my feeders here, once.
  • Calliope Hummingbirds - all hummingbirds actually, 100's at a time!
  • Northern Shrike - dining al fresco...stunning.

So, you can see I can't just pick one. Perhaps if I absolutely HAD to pick the most exciting experience with birds in my yard, it would be the time the young scientist was here with mist nets; sampling, measuring and banding Evening Grosbeaks. He had one he had caught that he was keeping for a few weeks in a cage as a decoy. He watched his caged pal intently, never keeping him out in the sun for long. He regularly moved the caged bird over next to us, sitting in the shade while we waited to catch birds, or where he made his notes on birds he'd caught.

Suddenly, we were shocked to see a Cooper's Hawk swoop down, from over the roof of my house and attack the cage that was sitting on the ground, between us, right at our feet! The poor grosbeak nearly had a heart attach...in fact, we nearly did. We stood up, the hawk moved to the top of the cage and kept trying for the bird inside! He kicked at the hawk, who moved again; trying desperately to get the little bird. Finally, making enough noise and practically physically grabbing the big bird...he finally gave up. Talk about exciting! For a few minutes, we imagined the hawk was going to just pick up the (large) cage and just fly off with it. It's wings nearly wrapped around the entire front of the cage; the darn thing wanted in! Thankfully, the little Evening Grosbeak was just fine and was released later that season.

That was probably my most exciting experience birding my backyard. Leave your experience too, if you like. I like to hear from my readers!


Full Spectrum Mama said...

I thought of you yesterday as i spent - no joke - an hour watching a broad-shouldered hawk in my yard. I have a little pond and i guess it's happy hunting. A wide range of emotions for this lifelong vegetarian to watch it, but soooo majestic!!

Full Spectrum Mama said...

Next best yard bird: our speckled fledgeling robin who has VERY concerned parents -- what a cutie. Somehow he/she seems bigger than the parents. You should have seen the mama yelling at our cat through the (latched) screen door while her baby sat and flapped around in the forsythia! love