Sunday, January 4, 2009

Happy New Year!

After a relatively weak December, I was able to get away for a nice Christmas in San Diego (where I saw a Townsend's Warbler at the zoo... go figure) and give the birds a chance to make their way back to our yard. And things are beginning to look up once again.

Just before our departure, Yellow-rumped Warblers (above) were really beginning to re-establish themselves here for the winter. Since returning, I've been seeing at least two Myrtles and one Audubon's regularly. Both subspecies have also figured out my new caged suet feeder. And late this morning, my favorite wintering species finally showed up: two Townsend's Warblers were dining at my caged suet feeder. It was great to see them again, and hopefully they'll be regulars until early April

The first-of-the-winter Townsend's Warbler... finally!

And if that wasn't exciting enough, it finally appears that we're finally pulling out of our "finch famine." The numbers are still somewhat low, but 9 Lesser Goldfinches (left) and 7 American Goldfinches showed up at the thistle feeders late last week. Still no Siskins for the past few weeks, but the overall finch numbers are a lot better now than they were two weeks ago.

There has also been a noticeable increase in Bushtit numbers since the winter storm of mid-December. Not only are they appearing in relatively large flocks (I counted 25 at once this afternoon), but they're also showing up very frequently over the course of the day.

Downy Woodpeckers and Northern Flickers have also been out in full force for the past couple of weeks. Interestingly, I realized a couple of weeks ago that I haven't seen a male Flicker in the yard for several months. I don't recall seeing one since at least last spring and my last photograph of one is from back in March. That's especially odd considering that at least one pair raised a brood somewhere nearby this past summer. I also received a nice treat of four Chestnut-backed Chickadees this morning. They've been laying low recently.

Species that are holding steady in numbers include Black-capped Chickadees, Red-breasted Nuthatches, Anna's Hummingbirds, Brown Creepers, Dark-eyed Juncos, and my trusty Song Sparrow. Species not seen frequently over the past couple of weeks include Varied Thrushes (are they ever going to show up regularly this season?), Pine Siskins (massive drop since November), Scrub-Jays, House Finches (few around since our return from SoCal), and Starlings (this is a good thing). The Golden-crowned Sparrow that we hosted in December has also apparently departed.

Well, we had a blast during the holidays and things are looking up again for '09. A couple of Purple Finches or (gasp!) a small flock of Evening Grosbeaks would be a super-cool way to kick off the new year. We'll see what happens...


linda said...

Currently I have suet blocks and sunflower feeders. I'm thinking about adding a thistle feeder. Do you think I could hope for some american goldfinches or lessers?

BJG said...

My apologies for responding to your comments several months late (I apparently haven't activated the e-mail alerts).

You'll almost certainly attract American Goldfinches with a thistle feeder. Lesser Goldfinches are restricted in area from Texas through the Southwest, and up the Pacific coast to NW Oregon.