Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A couple of summer visitors and a few of our year-round residents

This summer we have had a couple of visitors I don't remember seeing before in our back yard. First, on the fourth of July we were visited by this Nuttall's Woodpecker. I thought at first it was a Hairy since it looked about the same size as a Hairy. But its call was a bit different and its back was more "ladder-backed." It certainly was a moment of excitement for me when my daughter Red made me realize that it wasn't a Hairy. See Red's photo of this bird by clicking here. Also, don't forget you can click on each of these photos to see a larger view.

Here are a couple of mourning doves acting lovey-dovey. These birds are regular residents around here. I think I have about 6-8 pairs that always hang around here.

Another group of residents - lesser goldfinches. It's always fun to watch them eating the niger thistle seed. Note the one I captured flying into the feeder to the lower left of the feeder. I happened to take this photo while I was waiting for my all-time most bashful visitors to show up.
Can you imagine my excitement when I saw this bird visiting one of my hummingbird feeders? I actually squealed (according to Red). I was so excited, because it has been about 3 years since I last saw any orioles here in my back yard. I apologize for the lack of crispness in this photo, but I quickly took it from inside the house, looking through double glass panes.

Here is a better shot, taken from the back patio -- and this time I was able to get two of them at the same time! Also notice that I had pulled out my oriole feeder and hung it so that they didn't have to struggle to get their nectar from the hummingbird feeder. I've also tried jelly, but no takers. :-(
To the best of my knowledge and with Red's help we are figuring that these orioles are female and juvenile hooded orioles. There seemed to be a total of four that I have seen at one time, so I'm not sure if it could be one mama and 3 juvies, or possibly 2 mamas and 2 juvies. I never did see any males. One other reason they are most likely hooded orioles is that the Stokes and Golden field guides say their nesting habitat is palm trees, and our next door neighbor has two palm trees in their front yard. We also have other palm trees spread throughout the neighborhood. And there have been a number of times I can hear them long before I see them. Their call/song is not very melodious. Part of it is a trill, but the ending of it sounds like a squirrel when it is upset about something. It's a most unusual sound, quite distinct, that I can easily tell it is not one of my usual residents around here.
Have you had the chance to enjoy orioles this summer?


wendy said...

Hi Mary, Nice blog! I will have to keep you on my list of blogs I check often.

I am the one that asked about window feeders. I checked out that site, there are some nice ones. Have you had experience with window feeders?
My questions-
Do the birds really come, even with kids in the room?
Do they make the window dirty?
Do they stay on?
Do they stay on in the winter with the window cold?
If you answer here I will check back later. Or you can go to my blog, I'd love to have you.
I don't have any pictures of birds because I don't have a nice camera, someday!

Lynne said...

That Nuttall's woodpecker is really neat and the lovey doves look especially lovey! Great job catching the lesser goldfinch in flight. I'm always tckled when I can catch one. I LOVE photos of birds in motion. I'll bet you were happy to see the orioles. I've only ever seen Baltimore orioles here. They come every spring to my jelly feeders. Eventually they bring their young but now that you mention it, I haven't seen them in a while.

Linda in Erie said...

It was great to see birds I haven't seen out here like the Lesser Goldfinch, Hooded Orioles and the Nuttall's Woodpecker. I do have a pair of Mourning Doves that I love that come to my feeders. They brought in a fledgling of theirs this year and he was pretty cute. He sat on our patio table close to the window so I got a good look at him.

jan m said...

Mary, thanks for sharing the Nuttall photos, as I have never seen one. And how exciting to have orioles. I've never been able to attract them to my yard.

Thanks for your well-wishes, I am feeling a little better each day, and anxious to get out and do some serious birding.

Wren said...

What a lovely day you had. Great photos! I'm beginning to think I need to take my bins with me next time a go visit my brother in CA. I've seen many of these western birds, but not in a long time.

Shellmo said...

So glad you were able to get the orioles! I've had no luck! Enjoyed the woodpecker photos - they sure do love telephone poles!

Mary C said...

Hi Wendy - I meant to get back to you sooner than this. I'm going to add your blog to my Google Reader, and eventually add you to my blog roll. It seems that the rate I'm going around here it may take me a week or two. Anyway, let's see if I can answer your questions. First of all, I have quite a few window feeders. Most of them are hummingbird feeders - I have four of them up right now. And I have two of the other kind of window feeders up for the house finches. The birds will come, regardless of children. Yes, they may fly away if the kids go running to the window. My cats are thoroughly entertained and I have to laugh when the younger birds ignore the cats pawing at the window. Those birds are clueless. If you get one of the feeders that now features a mirror, it may work better for both birds and children. That way the kids can see the birds, but the birds won't know the kids are there. As for making the window dirty, I really don't think so. Windows get dirty on their own regardless. And yes, they stay on; they have really good suction cups to support the feeders. Your next question about the cold winter - well, my feeders stay up all year long since our coldest temps don't usually get worse than 30 degrees. Anyway, if I should think of anything else I'll try to comment on one of your posts. Or if you'd like you can contact me through my email: marycarlson10@gmail.com.

Mary C said...

Hey Lynne -- it's always fun and a challenge for me to get birds in flight. Even better is when I can capture them in a video. I was ecstatic to see those orioles. It's been a few years since I last saw them. And I guess it's even more exciting because they only hang around for about two or three weeks. At least that's how long the orioles were around here. I think they flew south by now because I haven't seen them for a couple weeks. :( I wonder if I can get them to try some grape jelly next time they fly through. I put some out, but it may have been too late.

Mary C said...

Linda, I'm so glad you enjoyed seeing some photos of birds you haven't seen in your "corner of the world." You know, when it comes to goldfinches, most people see the beautiful brightly colored American goldfinch. But, even though they are around here in this valley, I only get to see the lesser goldfinches. They are a bit smaller and certainly not as colorful. But a joy to watch along with house finches. They all are always chattering amongst themselves. And even though a Nuttall's is mostly seen around here, it was the first time I've seen one around here in my yard/neighborhood. Newly fledged mourning doves definitely are cute. I haven't seen any this summer - probably my timing has been all wrong. But I remember a few years ago seeing a pair of newly fledged MODOs. And it was really cute how mama/papa was teaching them where to go for food and how to be careful of predators, etc.

Mary C said...

Jan, I'm so glad you're feeling better each day. I'm glad you also liked the Nuttall's photos. I think this kind of woodpecker is only seen here in CA. And as for orioles, I'm not that successful in attracting them. At least I don't see them every year. But if I can keep in mind that they seem to show up around late July and throughout August, I'll put the feeder out before they arrive and hope they'll stick around a little longer.

Wren, thanks. I sure hope you will be able to take some time to bird the next time you are out here in CA. And please be sure to contact me if you should be up here in my neck of the "woods." It would be fun to get together, even if it's for just an hour or two.

Hi Shelley -- It definitely was fun to have the orioles visit - although their visit was too short for me! I'm glad you liked seeing the woodpecker shots. Yes, they sure do like telephone poles. It's not like we don't have trees around here, but I guess we don't have the right kind of bugs in our trees. ;o)

RuthieJ said...

Wow, Mary, those are great shots of some nice birds at your place. I saw Nuttall's a few years when my brother took us to the nature center near Sacramento (saw Acorn woodpeckers there too which are also neat looking).
After enlarging your oriole pictures, I would say you & Red are totally correct on the Hooded Oriole ID. Their coloring and that slightly down-curved bill (plus the habitat you describe) are all good clues to the ID. Woo-Hoo - another new bird for your yard list!

P.S. to Wendy on window bird feeders: The suction cups will hold in cold weather--mine have never fallen off all winter here in Minnesota. The trick is to get the suction cup attached to the window while the temps are still above 55 degrees and instead of using spit or water, rub the suction cup across you chin or nose (someplace where you have some excess skin oil) and then press the suction cup firmly to the window. Water or spit will eventually evaporate and you lose the suction, and a small amount of skin oil doesn't.

Mary C said...

Ruthie - thanks, and I'm glad you concur about the oriole ID. It's always good to have someone affirm our guesses. Also, a big thank-you for adding the extra info for Wendy, especially about rubbing the cups on one's chin, etc. I forgot about that. And it's good to know someone who lives in cold temps during the winter and has had the experience with the window feeders.

Larry said...

I'd be excited to see a Nuttall's Woodpecker too!it's a good thing you took a closer look at it.

Mary C said...

Larry, I have to admit that I called it a Hairy until my daughter Red told me it was a Nuttall's. She's one that will spend time searching the web and check several of my field guides to verify an ID. I'm glad she does; I don't always have the time or take the time. And truthfully, I probably would have been almost as excited about getting a photo of a Hairy, too.


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