Category Archives: Birds

Solo Junco

A little over a month ago I wrote about a new bird that had been with us since October, the dark-eyed junco. We had something like 15-20 of them living here all winter. Then, a week or so after that first post, I noticed that I hadn’t seen any in days and days. And days. A little research showed that they were migratory and it was about this time we should expect them to leave, as they apparently had.

Except for one.

After a good two weeks where we hadn’t seen a single one, this guy started showing up again.

We call him “Solo Junco.”

I’m not sure why he’s here when all of the rest of his flock took off back to Canada to mate.

He doesn’t appear to be hurt or have any issues that would prevent him from flying north.

He’ll eat with the finches without any problems, just like the whole flock did with the dozens of finches that descend after the food is put out for them.

Maybe he got a few days out, got hungry, and came back. Canada and sex are all well and good, but nothing beats a steady handout!

Of course, there could still be a dozen of them in the bushes and they only come out one at a time to fool us and keep us feeding them, while still maintaining the illusion that they flew north for the summer. You know, to keep the Finch Union guys off their case.

Or I could be overthinking it.

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Fine Feathered Friends – May 02nd

A new visitor! I’m very excited, especially if this one sticks around and brings friends.

I had noticed, briefly, because these little flying gremlins are quick, a flash of red on one of the hummingbirds zooming around the yard. With the new feeders, there are more of them – “more” meaning that it seems at swarming/feeding time just before sunset there are maybe 8-10 of them zooming about instead of 4-6 of them. I know we have Rofous hummingbirds, and we have what I think are black-chinned hummingbirds.

I finally got a good look at this guy today and my first thought was “ruby throated hummingbird” because I know I’ve heard of them and it’s a widespread species. Then I found out that they’re rarely seen west of the Mississippi and never on the West Coast.

So what is it?

The Cornell Lab Merlin bird ID app immediately told me this was a male Anna’s Hummingbird. That bright magenta head is a dead giveaway for this part of the world.

The biggest issue I’m having right now is that (as the hummingbird literature discusses) we have a dominant Rufous hummingbird that tends to chase off other hummingbirds from the feeder. In order to prevent that, we need to put up two or three other feeders around the yard, away from this one. That should allow others to come in and have the “boss” Rufous abandon his territory. Or at least chill out a bit.

And I’ll get the chance to get some better pictures of them all. They are a wonder to watch as they zip and zoom about!

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Bird Zillow

No, not “birdzilla!” There are not avian kaiju rampaging through our back yard. Although that might be sort of cool. No, it’s the squirrels and gophers that are doing all of the damage.

Bird. Zillow. You know, that app and website where you can browse for your dream house off in the middle of someplace far better than the place you are now? The inspiration for one of the best Saturday Night Live bits in years?

If you’re a long-time reader you might remember many, many posts after the COVID quarantine lockdown started about the finches that had built a nest right outside out kitchen windows. Many, MANY posts.

This year there’s another pair of finches looking to build a nest out there.

Or maybe there are three pairs looking to build a nest each.

Fact #1 – there are a LOT of finches out there.

Fact #2 – there are at least three separate nests in various stages of construction. There might be as many as five, hard to tell up there in the rafters and speakers and vines.

Fact #3 – last year’s nest is not being used, but is being picked apart for building materials.

I don’t know if the pair from last year is the one or one of the ones from this year. Little monsters refuse to wear name tags like I ask, but boy do they get pissed off if they’re not fed every day!

The only nest that I can clearly see is one that had the foundation of an old nest from before we moved in three years ago, but which has been substantially built up over the past couple of weeks. It’s growing almost every day, and we see several birds up there all day long. But when I took a look today:

It’s newly made, but there’s no sign of occupation or eggs.

Maybe in one of the other nests or nests-in-progress? Who knows.

But my current theory is that it might be just one pair (with PLENTY of other finches nesting elsewhere nearby in the trees or neighbor houses) and they’re not able to pick a spot, make an offer, open up escrow, and finish up the nest. They’re on “bird Zillow” and every spot they see is great, right up until they look at the next one and it might be just a tiny little bit better, and then they look at the next one…

Paralysis by analysis. It’s not just for humans with a smart phone any more.

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Hummers In Silhouette

Maybe you won’t get much more than pictures and nonsensical rantings for the next few days

Only time will tell.

Definitely feeling a bit off, probably going to last 48 to 72 hours.

Everyone should know what this feels like. Seriously!

Random pictures of birds and flowers will get us through.

Never forget that it was April 23rd, 2020 when we truly started to know how unbelievably screwed we were with COVID-19 sweeping across the country and a psychotic simpleton in the White House.

April 23rd will be a holiday in our lifetimes, reminding us to be on the alert for fascists, white supremacists, puppets of enemy foreign powers, and any “leader” who would encourage hundreds of thousands of us to die rather than ever admit that they were wrong.

Got it?

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The Juncos Have Left The Building!

I knew from researching them that they are migratory, and they most certainly showed up out of nowhere back in October.

The cute little fuzzbuckets had become a real favorite of mine over the winter and I realized this weekend that I hadn’t seen one in a few days. We’re still hip deep in finches (half of them almost as red as cardinals as they try to impress the ladies), the mockingbirds have become more numerous, and the wrens that I like so much have started being so noisy right outside the bedroom that they’re waking me up as they celebrate the freakin’ DAWN at about 05:00 every freakin’ morning. But no Juncos.

“Our” flock should be well fed and fat for their commute to Canada. They didn’t miss any meals in our back yard. So that’s a good thing.

I just hope that they’ll remember where we are come October again.

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Fine Feathered Friends – April 14th

Another new visitor. This one made their presence known first by their call. They’re LOUD and very distinctive. (Listen to the first song recording, credited to “Oklahoma, April 06, 2012 Recorded by Wil Hershberger | Macaulay Library“)

Given the volume, I spent a few days trying to hunt down a larger bird, maybe something the size of a robin or jay, or the California Towhee. No joy.

When I did find them I was delighted – they’re tiny. “Tiny” as in “smaller than the cute little chunky Juncos!” They’re barely bigger than the hummingbirds!

Now that I know what I’m looking for, I’m finding them all over the place. There might not be as many of them as the wrens or the juncos, but there’s at least a dozen or so, maybe double that.

They’re constantly flitting about through the bushes and hedges that separate our neighbors’ yards from ours, along with the juncos and finches and towhees. Those hedges are turning into quite the little aviary.

I’ve also seen them hanging out in the small bushes behind the roses that line the driveway. That was surprising. There’s not that much cover there, but they make the best of it. But at the slightest hint that I’ve seen them and might take a step in their direction – “poof!” There’s a cloud of them heading across the street into the big hedges in the neighbor’s yard over there.

Tiny, loud, with that BIG tail sticking up like a flag or the rudder on a 787 or C-5. Welcome to the aviary!

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