Wednesday, October 1, 2008

It's all about the birds

I have a fountain in my backyard along with seeds, berries, flowers, and bugs. As a result, I have been getting LOTS of birds. Of the more regular visitors: the Lesser Goldfinches love the sunflower seeds, the Yellow-rumped warblers enjoy the wax myrtle berries, the Hummingbirds love the flowers and the tiny bugs that get caught in spider webs, the Finches like to raid the hummingbird feeders of the nectar, the occasional Cuckoo digs the caterpillars, the Mockingbirds love the Chili Pequins and the Beautyberry berries, the White-winged doves like to roost under the Orchid tree, the Barn swallows make a vain attempt to build a nest directly over my front door every year and every year I have to spend several weeks trying to deter them, the Hawks like to steal an occasional finch for lunch, and in February the Cedar Waxwings swarm in with their meep-meeping and relieve all my various holly-type bushes of every last berry. I even had a Painted Bunting earlier this year, but couldn't get a photo (Darnit-all!).

But this week I have had a new visitor - A Philadelphia Vireo (I think that is what it is). He bounces around everywhere so quickly, I can hardly get a snapshot. Here is my best effort (another thru-the window shot):

I also have caught the Mockingbirds taking a shower in the neighbor's sprinkler sitting atop the clothes line - very refreshing!:

And stealing the Chili Pequins:

I think my attempt at making a little wildlife garden is working. Every year I get new visitors. Last year around the 3rd week of October, after the Ruby-throats and Black-chinned hummingbirds left for the winter, a Rufous Hummingbird arrived to stay until the end of January. That was really nifty! I will be keeping an eye out to see if he returns this winter - hopefully I can get a photo of him this year.

My summering hummingbirds have not left quite yet this year, but they should be moving out fairly soon. I didn't have too many Ruby throated hummingbirds migrate through this year or last. Maybe only 6 or so this year - 8 or so last year. Two years ago we had upwards of 30 of them come through one weekend in mid-September! The orchid tree was simply covered in hummingbirds - I had never seen anything like it. I had to fill the feeders up every hour they were draining them so fast. But like I said, this year and last the migration has thinned significantly. I have no idea why. Maybe a storm caught them on their way across the gulf one year or maybe something happened to their wintering grounds - I have no idea. I guess that is why they migrate at different intervals - to keep a disaster from wiping them all out. Hopefully I will see their numbers increase during next year's migration.

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