Birds are always around, one of the things that makes bird watching such an approachable activity. If you don’t have time to watch for awhile, there will be birds to watch when time opens up again. When you do have time for it, it can be a very peaceful and healing activity.
I haven’t done much birding or bird watching in the past month or so. My brother died unexpectedly last month and as often happens when life throws you such things, my daily focus and activities narrowed for awhile. I’ve missed the birds. So today I made a point to go and sit out on my back step and see who might come for a visit.
Right now in the yard, the American Goldfinches are very present. I’m not sure if they have started nesting yet, but if not, it will be soon. These bright flashes of yellow mate later than many backyard birds and soon my yard will be full of the sounds of their fledglings demanding food from dawn to dusk. I think if I was a goldfinch mom I would go mad!
There are other families of birds in the yard. The Red-Bellied Woodpecker fledged awhile ago but is still wearing his (or her?) juvenile feathers. Like many juveniles, he looks a bit lanky and awkward.
The juvenile Downy Woodpecker likewise has not changed over to the adult feather pattern yet. I remember that the first time I saw a juvenile Downy, I was very confused by the rusty red found on the top of the head instead of the brighter red usually seen on the back of the male Downy’s neck. Because many bird guides focus so much on the adult male appearance of species, it can be challenging for a new birder to figure out a juvenile that looks a bit different (or an adult female for that matter.)
The Blue Jays are very active in the yard as well. They have young ones in their family groups too and have especially been going after the suet lately. I put out peanuts for them every morning and there is a family of them (maybe two families) that comes to grab a peanut and fly off and then return for another. There is usually at least one among them enjoying the dried mealworms I put out as well. I wet the worms down with the hose to soften them up just a little.
Earlier in the summer, the jays had competition for the mealworms from the Fish Crows. One of the crows would settle in at the feeder and fill his/her beak with mealworms. The jays were not happy with the crows being around though and would mob and pester them. I haven’t seen the Fish Crows in the yard lately.
There is a little family of Carolina Wrens in the yard and they like the mealworms too. One day I watched a little wren repeatedly get a mealworm and bring it back to another wren waiting on the brush pile thirty feet away.
The House Finches and a pair of House Sparrows are still around, as are the Northern Cardinals. The male cardinal I see most often is molting the feathers on his head and so has been looking a bit scruffy lately. At one point he was completely bald. The feathers seem to be growing back from the neck upwards.
I’ve been excited to see Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds at the two hummingbird feeders out back. It has been so very hot lately that I’ve been changing the sugar water every other day to keep it fresh. Last year I was seeing a female, but this year I’ve seen both male and female, although never at the same time. Hummingbirds are notoriously territorial about feeders so I’m thinking that there may just be the two in my yard, but I’m not sure.
This morning I challenged myself to take a picture of each bird species I saw at the feeders. Where in the winter months I would often see twenty or more, this time of year, the thirteen I saw was pretty good: Carolina Wren, Carolina Chickadee, Northern Cardinal, Blue Jay, White-Breasted Nuthatch, Downy Woodpecker, Red-Bellied Woodpecker, House Finch, House Sparrow, Chipping Sparrow, American Goldfinch, Ruby-Throated Hummingbird and Mourning Dove.
What birds are you seeing in your yard this week?