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Posts Tagged ‘birds’

This is the time of year when I most love our backyard. Sixteen years of labor comes to fruition, and the flowers bloom, the beds are temporarily whipped into almost-weedless state, birds have their nests, and the bees are warming up to all the blossoms. This year, we have no dogs or cats, and while that is strange to contemplate it has been a boon for backyard bird watching.

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Bewick’s wren decided to move into our shabby single car 1940’s garage. The fledglings left the nest about a week ago, as evidenced by the bird guano on the garage floor (and everything else). They abruptly left on Wednesday, when no one was watching. The nest remains tucked in behind the radio and some other dusty shelf ornaments, but the birds are gone.

Spotted towhee has at least one fledgling in the yard (I included that crazy captured from the newel post – Towhee is hard to photograph!). Towhee loves the multiple bird baths in the back yard.

Song sparrow loves the options, too, but has been highly elusive of late. One year, when Murphy was a pup, Song sparrow had a nest in the Camellia. Murphy killed the fledglings as soon as they hit the ground. I cried. My husband reminded me it is the circle of things, and I hated him. Murphy is gone now, but Song sparrow remembers and no longer nests in our yard.

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The juncos have been silent. They’re all paired up right now, and tending to nests. We catch a glimpse here and there. I saw two bushtits today, but no more, which means they are also sitting on nests and waiting for the fledglings to be able to join together in their joyful little mobs.

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Crow found the bird bath in the back yard. I washed a robin’s leg and claw out of it yesterday, and today I washed something murky brown out of it. I don’t hate crow, I just wish he knew he wasn’t a raccoon, and doesn’t have to wash his food… in the bird bath.

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The band-tailed pigeons are flocking now. There’s always a sentinel in the now-dead lodge pole pine out front, keeping an eye out while the rest clamber over the bird feeder, jockeying for position. I love their colors in the Spring: the subtle changes of rosy breast feathers against the gray.

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We had a shy black-headed grosbeak come by this week. They aren’t really bird feeder birds, but they will pause while they move north along their migration route, and before the elm trees go to seed.

IMG_4173The house finch is a permanent resident.

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Anna’s hummingbird is also a permanent resident. She’s happy to have real flowers, but won’t hesitate to tell me what she thinks of slothfulness if the hummingbird feeder runs dry. We had two fledglings come through the backyard this weekend: skinny little birds still figuring out how to balance on the feeder, and completely unafraid of us.

I sat in the lawn chair this evening and looked out over my several flower beds and the vast expanse of ‘lawn’ that is really just mowed wild grass, wild geraniums, tiny yellow flowers, and clovers. Green played upon green, shadows danced. The birds came and went, intent on their business, but always with an eye cocked toward me. There are no dogs or cats here, now, and the birds seem to know this.

It’s the trade-off for not having a pet: my garden is full of avian life that is increasingly unafraid of me. My heart is at peace with the birds.

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Aside from the terrible hot, flushed, allergy face – this weekend was very nice. I’m allergic to cottonwood, but it wasn’t terribly overbearing and the grass pollens are only just beginning, so I was able to stay outside for some length of time, pulling up weeds, rearranging fences, and moving things around.

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I love this trio of scrub jay photos. He just hopped from one side to the other and I caught him mid-air. I set my camera on the “sports” setting which shoots at f 5.6 1/1600 ISO 2500. I use this for shooting birds or insect because it invariably captures movement I would not have noticed when aiming the camera.

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Bees, for instance, are constantly on the move. You’re lucky to capture them holding still. The “sports” setting on my D-SLR allows for that.

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Check out this series of goldfinch vs. dandelion fuzz photos.

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The House finches wanted to know what was so interesting about the dandelion.

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At one point, the male and female house finch converged on the goldfinch (below and out of sight in the photo).

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There was this capture, of the male house finch coming in for a landing.

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And this – my favorite – the goldfinch took off, the house finch in mid-air with wings folded back – wow.

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Another house finch vs. goldfinch capture. The house finch is so much larger than the goldfinches.

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This was another drama. The black-headed grosbeak had just settled into the feeder. See the wings on the left?

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A starling comes to rest and chases the grosbeak off.

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“Hey? Where did everyone go?” Starlings always assume they are popular, but everyone hates them.

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Too bad I cut the top starling off. They are striking birds, just they are not native American birds. Highly invasive and a birder’s bane in North America.

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Not sure if this is a starling or Brewer’s Blackbird (they flock together). Probably a starling. But a great capture.

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Bumblebee on the ceanothus.

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Honeybee on the Spanish Lavender.

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Unknown bee on the ceanothus.

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This trio of photos are of the black-headed grosbeaks. The female is less colorful, but not less pretty. The males can be mistaken for orioles. And in the last photo – a female grosbeak in the feeder with a band-tailed pigeon.

I never left home and still had an adventure. I love Oregon.

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Because I tweaked my back doing housework yesterday, I stayed in all day today. I’d like to say I didn’t do any housework, but the darned old laundry and dishes wait for noone’s sore back. Grumble Grumble Grouse Grumble.

Mostly I bird-watched. Of course Project Feeder Watch is over and all the birds took today to come to our yard and the feeders. Stupid birds: where are they when I want to count them? At least the majority of today’s birds were photogenic and I got some decent shots with my little 50mm lens.

I’ve seen these little birds around for about a week now, checking out the thistle feeder. I haven’t gotten a good look at them but I think they are Pine Siskins. So far, it appears we only have females hanging out and females are always hard to identify.

The English House Sparrows have made themselves at home in Don’s over-grown Hawthorne. But do you think they’d hold still when I appear with a camera? I caught this one on one of my tree peonies just about to take flight.

I had to “boost” this photo in photoshop to get the true-to-life color of the Band-tailed Pigeon’s feathers. He was looking real sharp this morning. Only one – sometimes the whole feeder is covered in these large pigeons but it is mating season and we only get an occasional single bird. They are such striking birds and I never get tired of their antics.

Speaking of antics… The robins have discovered the bird bath. That European Starling was trying to take his turn, but the robins weren’t sharing. I can’t say I feel sorry for the starling, either: if there is a bird I dislike, it is the invasive, raucous-sounding Starling. But I will give it this: it can be a pretty bird and I missed an excellent shot of one close up. My camera was in another room. Darn!

The Starling gave up.

“Ah. Bath time all to myself! Nice little spa here. Full view of any approaching cats, warm water. Think I’ll recommend this spot to my Robin friends!”

There were a couple “missed” shots, too. If my camera was really smart, it would know when to shoot a photo at a speed of over 125ASA. I’m pretty certain both of these shots would have looked a lot different at even 400ASA. 1,000ASA and – well, they’re only as good as the little 50mm lens I have,

The Starling in retreat.

A Chestnut-backed Chickadee making a quick escape. All you can see is his mask & top-notch.

And those were just the birds that made it into my camera! I also saw Western Scrub Jays, Fox Sparrows, Dark-eyed Juncos and Spotted Towhees. It was just a busy bird day.

Now if that hummingbird would find the feeder…

ttfn!

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