[Tweeters] Yard birds - the changing scene

Rob Conway robin_birder at hotmail.com
Thu Feb 26 13:59:53 PST 2015


I've been mostly confined to home for the past several weeks - except for a 2 week trip to Florida to be evaluated for a transplant at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville (no time for birding there).

Here at home spring is definitely starting with changing birds, blooming flowers, and general vernal behavior from flora and fauna alike. Every morning I am now awakened by the penny whistle calls of Varied Thrushes from every direction. It is fun to listen to the differences in tone and call length from individual birds - just wish I could see them when they are calling as I'd like to know if sex makes a difference in call type and length. Continuing on the thrush front American Robins have moved in en force over the past two weeks. Their songs and calls continue all day. I even saw a robin exploring the vine clad porch column where there was a nest last year - so early for this.

I had my first Rufous Hummingbird male at the feeders yesterday (2/25/15). He stayed around for at least a couple of hours, sparring on and off with the resident Anna's. The Anna's are showing mating behavior and their song/call is a constant from dawn 'til dusk every day.

Great Horned Owls are calling every night - I have even gotten them to converse with me and come in to the dead snag where I can see their outline against the western evening and night sky. I have also heard both Saw Whet and Screech Owls in the yard and Barred Owls in the more forested area on the slopes to the north and west. Yesterday Redtail Hawks appeared and were calling loudly before the rain set in. I'm guessing this might be the pair that has nested yearly in the big fir just up the slope for the past 3 years - they have produced 8 offspring during that time that have all fledged and then stuck around with juvenile antics and calls until fall pushes them out.

My feeders are crowded with Purple, House and Cassin's Finches, American and Lesser Goldfinches, Black Capped and Chestnut Backed Chickadees (a 2 Mountain's!), White and Red Breasted Nuthatches and the occasional cowbird. The suet feeders have a constant clientele of Bushtits, Flickers, Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers, Fox and Song sparrows, and Scrub and Steller's Jays. I put out seed on my deck and have a flock of 30+ Dark Eyed Juncos feeding there. It is interesting to observe the diversity of plumages shown. I have Oregon, Slate Colored, and Pink Sided almost every day - with the Oregon numbers taking up most of the flock. I have trained to Steller's and Western Scrub Jays to come to the sound of a cup I bang out after throwing out my feed mix of millet, milo, corn, sunflower seeds and peanuts. I get as many as 20 at a time and they are a hoot to watch. They are joined by many Mourning Doves, Towhees, 5 sparrow species and occasional surprises like a seed loving Varied Thrush.

I'll put out my bird boxes and nesting materials this weekend to see what critters stick around.



Rob Conway
Camas, WA
45.58°N 122.44°W - elevation 310 ft.
robin_birder at hotmail.com

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