Many of the birds that come to the birdbath fountain are common ones, not mysterious: the Blue Jays in my blog header, pairs of nesting Cardinals, omnipresent Mockingbirds, the English Sparrows who have taken over neighbors' Purple Martin houses, hoards of White-winged Doves, noisy Grackles and the most welcome Chickadees.
Robins were my companions when I gardened in Illinois, waiting for me to throw a grub their way, but we went a decade after moving to Texas without seeing a single one. What a thrill when they began to visit our Austin garden:
House finches flew in-and-out of a huge blue spruce at my friend Ruth's house near Chicago, but they didn't come to our Illinois houses. They're regular visitors at this house.
We saw waxwings 30-years ago at house #2 in Illinois - that house had a berry-covered Mountain Ash tree and a row of large, berry-covered junipers. Cedar waxwings began to stop here a couple of years ago.
Goldfinches (think it's lesser goldfinch?) didn't come to our previous Austin house, but they come here. Titmice and hummingbirds come here too, but are usually too fast for my camera.
Local birder Mikael Behrens has a wonderful website- Birding on Broadmeade. The people who go with him on birdwalks find themselves checking many species off their lists without ever leaving NW Austin - even Bluebirds and Caracaras! Birding along Mikael's magic creek sounds like fun if you're able to walk & look through binoculars at the same time.
Birdwatching takes practice and study, but it's probably necessary to have good vision in the first place. When the description tells me to notice if there is "a black smudge below the second wing bar" - it's a lost cause - I can't discern that even when the bird is right outside the breakfast room window and a bird book is in my hand. But even if being a true birder is beyond me, when something more exotic than the usual White-winged doves and Mockingbirds show up on the next Great Backyard Bird Count, it would be great to turn in the correct identities.
Mikael also uses the birds' songs to help identify them, but only certain voices can be heard through my windows - like grackles, jays and mockingbirds. Outside you can hear the calls of a chickadee, wren, cardinal or titmouse and it's easy to tell when a flock of cedar waxwings is in a neighboring yard.
Last year we had what I think was a male Yellow Rumped Warbler and it looks like another (or the same one) is here now, looking like a wet, real-life version of an Angry Bird through the breakfast room window! Hope this one is right, Mikael:
Could this be the female Yellow-Rumped Warbler? Here's the back of this bird A similar bird was around in January, so maybe they're not just passing through.
In March I took a photo of the male yellow-rumped warbler, perched on an herb trough at right, waiting a turn to bathe. Reflection from the water spoiled the image of the bird at left, but at the time I thought it might be a Nashville warbler.
I'm not sure if the same bird was here yesterday, but with those white eye-rings it looks a lot like the Nashville warbler from last year-
Could the bird with white eye-rings at top left in this trio also be a Nashville warbler ... or maybe the same one, rumpled and wet? As to the other two - any chance the one at right is a Ruby Crowned Kinglet?
Here's another shot of the trio. Did I get anything right?
Insects with wings can be confusing, too - this is some kind of Swallowtail butterfly on the Carolina Jessamine but which one?
A few days ago a mammal with wings rested for a short time on the wall in the Secret Garden - my guess on this is a Little Brown Bat. Some sites suggest a full moon can throw off the bat's normal schedule... my hope is that a night of eating mosquitoes made the bat too full to fly straight home. Thanks for any input ... there is some video footage of the little birds hopping around on the fountain - it can go up on YouTube once they have names.
2016 Spring Flowers
1 week ago