Wednesday, September 30, 2015

A Long Overdue Yard Update

There has been so much happening in the yard - both with birds and with other issues - that it's crazy to think how long it has been since I last wrote about all my feathered guests. In the past few months, so much has happened, including...
  • Several spates of travel which have yielded wonderful new lifers and great bird sightings on top of other travel necessities, even though it takes me out of the yard.
  • A shift in job circumstances and changing clients, opening new opportunities and easing out of obligations that no longer fit my work preferences and career goals.
  • Dramatic backyard changes not all of our choice, at least not in the timing, but changes that will improve the landscaping and value nonetheless.
Above all, there has been so much introspection and thoughtfulness, so much to consider, it has wrought havoc with birding, and it is at these times that yard birds may be all I have left. And I'm glad I have so many! I've had a wide variety of new feathered visitors since May, including...
  •  The random band-tailed pigeon that descended on the open tray feeder and its offering of mixed birdseed. A solitary guest, it was immediately recognizable by its yellow bill and legs, overall darker plumage and large size. I only got a glimpse of its namesake tail band, but it was without a doubt a new and exciting visitor. Unusual as well - while these birds are regular summer residents in the area, they generally stay higher in the foothills, but I hope its appearance one time may mean it will one day return more regularly.
  • The quick glimpse of a lazuli bunting that flitted between a freestanding feeder pole and a feeder hook attached to the wood fence. While this bird didn't stay for long, the rich, cheerful blue it showed was unmistakable, and it changed position enough for me to see the rusty bib that helps clearly identify the species. This visit was more fleeting than most, but memorable because it's a bird I always look for in late spring and early summer. That is the only time they appear in the yard, and I hope it will return next year.
  • The hungry visit of a pair of black-headed grosbeaks that availed themselves of the hulled sunflower seed without hesitation. These birds are shy at first, but once they realize the quality of the food source, they happily finish their meal. I wish they would stay around longer, but even a brief visit is a satisfying one when I can see that characteristic black hood, thick conical bill and orange-white-and-black plumage. Despite always appearing in the summer, these birds remind me of Halloween, and it's always a treat to see them.
  • The first hummingbirds to the yard - from an overeager female who first flew nearly in the basement window to alert me that I was overdue putting out nectar feeders, to at least two different confirmed species I enjoyed throughout the summer, both the black-chinned hummingbird and the rufous hummingbird. I'm sure the broad-tailed was likely here as well, but I never managed to spot that brilliant rose gorget, so that's a new yard bird I'll have to look forward to next summer.
And of course, there's always more to look forward to in the yard, particularly a yard that is still so new and growing. Leaves are changing and temperatures are (barely) dropping now, and a new season will undoubtedly bring even more beauty to this small patch of bird-friendly land. I'm glad I'm here to see it.

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