Sunday, March 15, 2015

Photos from Bird Land

I promise to get back to all things beady soon, but I just had to share a few photos that I was finally able to take of the activity at the bird feeder.  They are not super high quality as I did have to take them through a window, but I was still able to catch a lot more than I had thought would be possible.

I figured out that if I get below the edge of the window sill and crawl up onto the couch and move really slowly, I can raise my iPhone high enough to snap photos without scaring the birds.  Can't use my regular digital camera as, apparently, it is too noticeable really freaks out the birds.  I think because the iPhone is so slim and is in a dark case, it's not as obvious to them.

Here's what I was able to capture:

This is a male House Finch.

He has a red head and chest.  The females are all brown/tan/cream and don't have the red.
These are the mourning doves that like to come in the late afternoon up until sunset and clean up whatever has fallen from the feeder above.  It's awesome to have a great clean up crew!  Normally, I only see them in pairs of two so it was a little odd to see a third one - hopefully nothing happened to its mate.  I couldn't capture it in the photos, but their necks and wings have a subtle lavender iridescence to them in the right light - you think they are very plain birds until you see that and then it's like pretty!
I got super lucky and managed to already be in mid-click on the iPhone camera when my little hummingbird showed up and took a seat at the feeder.  I had just brewed a new batch of nectar about an hour before this so was excited to see this little visitor drop by.

I just kept clicking non-stop and got a shot of it actually drinking!

And flying...okay, kinda blurry, but still so cool!

This shot is a bit better...if only the hummer wasn't the same color as the fence LOL!  I'm still learning my identification skills, but I'm pretty sure this is a Rufous...and I think it's more likely to be a female (or a juvenile) because the colors are more subdued.
This bird first showed up last weekend and I spent most of the week trying to identify it from one brief glimpse and not having much luck.  I finally saw it again later in the week and realized it was a bit lighter in color than I had remembered from my first sighting and that it has a pale cinnamon/pink area underneath its tail.
Armed with that information, I'm pretty sure I've correctly identified it as a California Towhee.  This one, like the doves, is part of the ground clean up crew.  I did see him go to the main feeder once or twice, but he seems to prefer the ground.
This is my favorite of all the birds that have come by so far - mostly because I never realized we had any local birds that had this kind of coloration.  Just goes to show how much is going on around you that you can totally miss!

He's very timid...and will not come directly to the main feeder at all.  He starts out on a high branch in the palm trees in my neighbor's yard that overlook the feeder, then moves to a lower branch, then moves to the fence and then finally will go to the suet cage...

...and attempt to grab a mouthful in mid-flight...

...which I was lucky enough to capture (look at that bright yellow on his back - so pretty!)...
...and then off he flies with his beak full of yummy suet!  And that's our Yellow-Rumped Warbler
I will get over this obsession soon LOL.  I probably watched too many episodes of "Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom" as a child (and now you know how old I am, too!)

Sunday, March 08, 2015

News from the Bird Feeder

After a slow start, the backyard bird feeder is going strong!  In fact, I may have to re-think the potential budget impact of this idea if I keep having to refill the thing every 2 days!

The feeder has continued to draw the main crowd of House Finches, but they've been joined by a supporting cast of House Sparrows, Chipping Sparrows, a pair of Mourning Doves, a Rufous Hummingbird (who is getting so bold that he even tried to follow me into the garage today), and an occasional special visitor!

This visitor is so shy that he flies away immediately if I even try to peek out the window so it's taken me a few tries to get a good enough look at him so that I could identify him.

I'm not an expert by any means, but between the bird guide that I bought and the Internet, the closest I can come to an id is that it's a Yellow-rumped Warbler (above photo borrowed from the Cornell Ornithology Lab site).  There just seems to be the one and he doesn't come every day so I'm not entirely sure if he's lost or what.  We are on a migratory pathway so it's not unheard of to see unusual strays.

My next project is to figure out how to get some pictures...can't get any from outside because the birds all fly away immediately and taking photos through the windows doesn't yield good results.  I'm thinking about some kind of motion activated camera or something...assuming its not crazy expensive.

I'm excited to see who will show up at the feeder as the seasons change!


P.S.  Edited on 3/9/15 to add photos and links and to advise that the Warbler was back again this morning and remains the most skittish of all the visiting birds so he's hard to get a look at, but when he took off this morning, I saw something in his beak so am wondering if it's possible there's a nest getting built somewhere nearby.  Hummingbird was back again as well and spent a long time sitting still (for a hummer!) on the feeder and I even saw it try to go after a tiny gnat that was buzzing around.  The doves are getting bold enough that they are no longer content to pick up the stray seed off the ground and are landing directly on the feeder itself.