Posts Tagged ‘Anna’s Hummingbird’

We have taken to building a fire in the portable fire pit (my husband’s “gift” for 25+ years of labor, upon his retirement). A glass of wine, the pop of sap igniting, the sun dipping below the tree line to the west: the garden birds make their last mad dash for the bird bath, freshly filled. We talk about abstract thing, our neighbors, the bees we encourage to live in our yard, the butterfly identification book I lost somewhere and recently replaced, and any news of grandchildren I learned through Facebook or Instagram.

My husband does not have a smart phone. He doesn’t trust Facebook. I am a recent convert to the world of smart phones, and Facebook is my little garden of friends (some real, some imaginary, some I’ve only met online). Grandchildren live too far away for us to see them on a daily basis, so when our children toss out tidbits of information (Korinne wants anything unicorn for her birthday; Eli came in 3rd for his weight division in wrestling), I relay the photos and stories to my husband.

The birds have taken over our lives now that we have no dags to patrol the yard and protect us from these tiny feathered creatures: I change the hummingbird feeders out once a week, usually to the scolding clucks of a female Anna’s: Hurry up, Human, I have babies to feed and bugs to catch! I don’t know where the hummingbirds nest.

One evening, three pairs of spotted towhees entertained us as they made their way back and forth across the yard, chasing each other. Things have settled down now, and our resident nesting pair seem to have chased off the interlopers. Their nest is under the bramble pile where we were going to build a dog run, so very long ago. Dusk falls, and the male hops out from under one of the espaliers to the Spanish lavender, then onto the rim of the concrete bird bath. This is the favored bird bath, and he takes his time, dipping, splashing, shaking out his feathers. A robin scolds from somewhere, impatient for its turn.

One evening after work, I busied myself pulling weeds in the front yard. A white-crowned sparrow scratched the sidewalk under the bird feeder. That’s a new visitor: I usually see them in parking lots, along hedgerows, but not in our yard. But this year, our song sparrow is absent, and perhaps this opened the door for the white crowned? I caught him in the Hawthorne, fluffing out his feathers from a dip in one of the lesser-used bird baths. My camera, however, was not so quick, and I had to follow him to the espalier.


He made his escape quick, a camera-shy resident.

The Bewick’s wrens surprised us this season by moving into the garage. They built their nest behind the radio, on one of the shelves just above the garden tools. It’s an old detached garage, more of a shed than a place to park a car, and there is a gap between the side door and walkway.


The wrens come out, hop along behind the garbage and recycle bins, onto the fence behind us. They flit into the Hawthorne and catch bugs. Across the back stoop, down into the leafy forest of peonies, milkweed, asters, and Dragon flowers, and around to the garage door, again. They are easily as friendly as the scolding hummingbirds, but much quieter and stealthy in their coming and going.

Another evening, and it is one of the neighborhood robins in the bird bath, ducking and splashing, and rolling in the fresh water just as the sun sets.

We watch, safe by our fire. Soon, darkness will come, and birds will retire. The swallows make their last dips overhead before they are replaced with the bats. Mosquitoes have not yet hatched out, and so we sit, sipping our wine, watching our birds.

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Pansies & nasturtium blossoms in a vase.


Nasturtium breaking ground in the garden.


Hummingbird visitor.


She’s a coy one, always buzzing us when we step out onto the front porch, but disappearing if the camera comes out, There are about six hummers using the feeders out front, and I’ve been refilling one every other day. Anna’s hummingbird.


Different female hummer. Anna’s hummingbird. I love this funky ceramic feeder I found at Goodwill – and so do the birds.


There were four little fluffs following around a mama red-breasted Nuthatch today. She’s teaching them to feed themselves in the suet feeders.


Friendly little fledglings – I walked right up to the tree and put my hand out. One almost hopped onto my finger! Came so close that I felt its feathers.

That is just so amazing.


I took this photo to take down to the local bird shop. That squirrel is eating insect suet laced with hot peppers – all the things that are supposed to keep squirrels out of the suet!

*The Not Excited Category*


I weeded around my bottle brush a little today and found a number of the leaves on the ground with ragged holes cut into them. Flipped the leaves over and discovered this.


This is a Flea Beetle. No, it’s not a flea – it’s a beetle that resembles a flea and it can hop, but it doesn’t suck blood. It eats plants.


There is, apparently, a lot on the Interwebs about these critters – and I’ve never even heard of them before! Wonders!


Darling thing.

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There’s something about the first snowfall of the year (that sticks to the ground) that makes it magical, even when that first snowfall is in February when the rest of the Northern Hemisphere is sick and tired of snow. I recall how much I hated February snow and slush before I moved to the Willamette Valley. We get some of our best snowfall in February, here in the lower end of the valley, and I now look forward to February snow.

That is, as long as I am not at work, don’t have to drive on any of the Interstates, and it falls on a weekend.

They closed the office on Friday: instant three-day weekend. I didn’t have to worry about calling in and saying I wasn’t making the 23-mile drive after all. Score that for this snow: I didn’t get caught up in the normal gridlock for more than the normal amount of time, I didn’t have to call in, it came as close to a weekend as one could hope for, and I could just enjoy the snow.


Harvey, of course, was delighted, and declared so loudly.


I had to trim the hair between his toes and up the backs of his legs because of the ice balls, but otherwise he is a snow dog.


Any time it is below the freezing mark, we switch out the hummer feeders: two in the house to thaw and two outside for the birds.


This is well appreciated by our native Anna’s hummingbirds which overwinter in the valley.


It is also appreciated by a couple black-capped chickadees and this Townsends Warbler.


Where is that buzzy bird? This is *my* feeder and it better not try to move me!


This snow brought us a bird that I haven’t had in my feeders for a long time: Audubon’s Warbler (the western version of the Yellow-rumped Warbler). So pretty!


I had to keep brushing the snow away from this feeder, which is frequented by the ground birds: Spotted Towhee and the Dark-eyed Juncos, among others. The Towhee was out there, but refused to cooperate with a photo.


We had four Varied Thrush come in. I felt sad for them because they won’t go into the backyard where the other ground feeders were, but it hopped around on top of the snow out front, looking for spillage from the front yard feeders.


So when I put our peanuts for the jays, I tossed out mealworms, too. The thrush ate the peanuts first. Who knew?


“Baby! It’s c-c-cold out here!” Dark-eyed Junco takes five.


The Northern Flicker (formerly Red-shafted for the red feathers in it’s tail) paid a visit. This is a female (no red “moustache”).


There’s always the requisite “our house in the snow” photo that has to be taken. Snowfall like this is rare (last time was four years ago). A photo taken from the right angle gives the impression that we live out in the woods and the tall Douglas firs that stand in neighbor’s yard and line the busy side street give the appearance of forest.  We don’t: there was a lot of traffic on the side road: sledders, skiers, snow-boarders, and cars. And people walking dogs.

Harvey had to go for walks. We walked in the middle of the street on the side roads so he wouldn’t have to wade in the deeper snow.


The Retired Man crossing the street to take a photo with me.


8-9 inches of snow fell over two and a half days, which isn’t much – not even for here – but it is plenty.


Snow makes ordinary things interesting.


Lawn chair frames – used as plant supports in the summer – become works of art in snow.


Or frames for icicles to form on.


Speaking of icicles… This fallen one looks like a murder weapon!


The bird house on stilts becomes a cozy cabin.

The freezing rain began falling around 4 this afternoon. It will be interesting to see what tomorrow brings in terms of freeze or thaw.


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The advent of nicer weather has not only warmed my toes, but it has forced me to get my camera out again. I have taken to sitting in a lawn chair with the camera on my lap, 75-300mm lens on, and lens cap off. I am stalking birds without moving very many muscles and while sitting in the open. Sometimes I have a book nearby or my Kindle, but I am waiting.

I cannot possible share all the photos I have taken – the ones I kept, that is. And I have only scratched the surface of the variety of birds that use our yard for habitat. The dying lodge pole pine tree out front is never empty: nuthatches, Northern Flickers, Band-tailed Pigeons, Black-Capped and Chestnut-backed Chickadees, Bushtits, English House Sparrows, House Finches – those are just a few of our regular visitors to the tree. But I cannot see much of the tree from my perch in the backyard, and most of those birds are safe from the lens.


I discovered – by accident – that one of our female Anna’s Hummingbirds is fond of showers. She sat under the sprinkler on a ninety-degree day, spreading her wings and chasing drops on the grape vine.


It is fascinating to me that as much as she loves the sprinkler, I never find hummingbirds stopping by one of the two bird baths in the yard.


They take their water with sugar. The male Anna’s is much too shy for a photo.


She came back to the sprinkler and played on yet another day. I think she winked at me.


I prefer to buy hummingbird feeders with perches so the wee insectivores can rest a moment. Somewhere, I read that professional photographers like to use feeders without perches so they can capture hummingbirds in flight. I can see why. I have a mix of styles in my yard and the ones with perches get the most use, but the birds don’t hesitate to hover around the other feeders as well.

Juiced up, they fly to the top of the dying pine tree and catch small insects.


The Song Sparrow has lived around here for years. There are always a couple of nests nearby – thankfully, they are not in our yard. They have nested in our yard, in the crazy Camellia. That’s a sad story and I cried: when the babies fledged, we were outside with Murphy. He spied the fledgling running across the grass and –

Well, I rescued the baby from him (he is a bird dog and he has a soft mouth), but it died in my hand. No punishment was meted out to the dog (he is only a dog), but the sparrows learned – and they have not nested in our yard since then. Next door, yes. But not in the Yard with the Killer Dog.


If you go to AllAboutBirds.com and click on the “typical voice” button, you can hear what this Song Sparrow was singing.

I have been trying to capture him taking a bath in the bird bath out back, but so far, he has eluded me. I have noticed that some birds don’t seem interested in bathing, but they will come to the water to drink: chickadees, finches, English House Sparrows, the Pileated Woodpecker, the flickers, and the pigeons all relish the water. But the thrushes, the scrub jays, the starlings all love to use the big bird bath out front as a bathtub. The Song Sparrow uses the bird bath in the back yard as his bathtub.


The birds are wary here – the dogs have easy access to this bird bath. But the neighborhood cats have easier access to the one out front. Perhaps that is why the smaller birds come out back for water and the larger birds use the one out front.


The female House Finch gives me the Evil Eye. “Hey! This is almost empty over here!”

Blame the Black-capped Chickadees.


They came through with their fledglings and cleaned out the bird feeder. There’s seed all over the ground.


But you really can’t be mad at a bird like this, can you?




Not all of my photos are a success. I had a hard time following this female English House Sparrow as she worked her way along the fence. I think she saw the camera and was camera-shy.


There are plenty of photos of bird’s butts as they duck behind leaves. (That’s a Bushtit.)


Exit: Stage Left. Or is it Right?


Ack! Camera! Flee!


Bird on a Hot Tin Roof?


And then there’s this. The Band-tailed Pigeon stare. I don’t dare have an empty feeder with birds that look like this…

(click on the photo. That red-eye glare will give you nightmares…)


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Random things.

Harvey hunts imaginary cats.

It is pretty funny. He comes to a perfect point and holds. Then he inches forward, slowly, deliberately, cautiously. He never loses his point until he gets to where he thinks the imaginary cat should be.

Then he tried to crawl under the fence.

Fortunately, he is 10 pounds overweight and can’t fit in a cat-sized hole.

Unfortunately, he is 10 pounds overweight and is now on a diet.

I was thinking about Llewellyn (English) Setters last night. When I was a little girl, I read all of the Big Red books by Jim Kjelgaard. Like so many others of my generation, I dreamed of owning an Irish Setter. I never dreamed there was a more beautiful setter out there until I met my first Gordon Setter.

And I never dreamed there was a more beautiful setter out there until I met my first English Setter.

Each time, I have been in love.

This is the first time I have actually owned a Setter. And he’s hysterical.

I told my husband tonight that I think Harvey is trying to push his way under my bamboo screen. But it isn’t the way you’d think: I formed the bamboo screen into an “L” shape: most of it screens the neighbor’s yard but there’s one section that blocks the narrow strip of our yard behind our shed. Guess which way Harvey is pushing?

Yep: he’s trying to “escape” into his own yard.

In other random news: The Anna’s hummingbird has been busy at the feeders and on the gladiolas. Unfortunately, I have not had a camera when the hummingbird is present. You just have to trust me that it is an Anna’s.

The goldfinches have nested somewhere nearby. Usually they move on. I have never kept thistle seed out for them during the summer but this year I have refilled the feeder once and it appears I will have to refill it a second time. This is exciting to me. They are bringing their fledglings to the feeder. Birds have a long genetic memory and I know I will have goldfinches every year now.

The towhee nested nearby, too.

I finally have a garden that attracts insects! When we first moved into this house the yard was sterile. We sat out in the yard and lamented the lack of insect life and bird sound. There were no bees, butterflies, or birds. We don’t use chemicals (or use them sparingly) and I’ve painstakingly planted to attract bees, butterflies and birds.

First the bees came: bumblebees, honey bees, other bees, wasps. I killed the yellow jackets. Sorry – some things just have to go. I allow the mud-daubers to stay.

Then came the birds. This is the first year that the hummingbirds and the goldfinches have stayed.And the first year the robins have discovered the bird bath.

And this year I have more butterflies than the little white cabbage moths (which are a pestilence, no matter how pretty).

And in another random note, Murphy thinks he is a human and he ought to be able to sit in the lawn chair. I think Wire-haired Pointing Griffons have a human complex.

Ummmmm Hello? I was just sitting there, Mr. Murphy!!

Isn’t it wonderful how butterflies can move only part of their wings?

Yes, I did get that close. Western Tiger Swallowtail.

I will be gone for a few days as my family reunion is happening at a resort along the coast. Don is staying home to dog-sit the dogs and will come up for one day.

I think that is it for random notes.

Just watch out for a Llewellyn Setter hunting imaginary cats!

And I thought Harvey the Pooka was imaginary!!

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Anna’s Hummer

Not “Hummer” like the car, but “hummer” as in “hummingbird”.

Don & I were eating out in the yard (!!!!) tonight(!!!!!) (That deserves a lot of exclamation points because until today we have had an ark-full of rain and cold. But today it got to 79.9 degrees (F) in our backyard and we could actually sit out and eat.)

I kept hearing a very sharp CHIRP! It was so loud that even Donald (who cannot hear most high-pitched sounds) could hear it.

Then we noticed the bright red (irridescent metallic red) of a hummingbird on the wire from our house to the telephone pole.

And the hummer kept flying from the wire to a neighbor’s tree. Back and forth. We tried not to stare too much, thinking he was hesitating to use the hummingbird feeder on the back porch because we were sitting there (although I have never known for that to give hummingbirds pause).

Then we’d hear that loud CHIRP! Hummingbirds make that noise when they are courting. They fly straight up into the air and dive suddenly and the wind through their wings makes that CHIRP! when they suddenly pull back up.

I looked over my shoulder and just happened to see her.

She was not eight feet from me, just resting on the little fence and enjoying the courtship ritual of the male Anna’s Hummingbird as he flitted back and forth and did his dive-bomb CHIRP!

I hurried into the house to get the camera while Don distracted Murphy (we didn’t want Murphy to see her). I got two photos of her before the pair got spooked and flew off.

Pretty cool. 🙂

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