Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Lots O' Finches and Fledglings

Well, it's been some time since my last post (this is becoming a recurring theme). I vacationed in Florida in late May, and have been working on another web site as well. But it's well-worth the wait, as Mmid-May through mid-June has been much more exciting than I had expected.

The most pressing question of this spring was whether or not Pine Siskins would nest in the area once again. At least one pair raised a brood here last year, which is uncommon here in the valley. I had noticed four healthy adults (plus one diseased individual) last month, and they stayed through May. And then I spotted three overly-tan fledglings in the seed tray of one of my feeders approximately two weeks ago. In addition to the slightly darker plumage, they had a somewhat more difficult time flying around and exhibited that classic "clueless" juvenile look. Confused or not, it was great to see them. I'm also flattered that my feeding station can serve as a viable alternative to their natural seed crops up in the hills.

In addition to the Siskins, juvenile Lesser Goldfinches have also been prevalent. They've also been particularly noisy and active, cheep-cheeping! loudly for their parents to feed them. Along with the Siskins, they've also been enjoying the bird bath and fountain on the back deck. And I've been spending a fortune on thistle!

Fledgling Lesser Goldfinches and Pine Siskins dine on thistle

Fledgling Lesser Goldfinch and Pine Siskins (left) wait as an adult Siskin makes creative use of the fountain power cord

In addition, I've seen at least one juvenile House Finch, a couple of fledgling Red-breasted Nuthatches, a couple of juvenile Black-capped Chickadees, and a small flock of fledgling Bushtits. I've also seen a marked increase in Mallards, including what appear to be are two juvenile females. And speaking of Mallard, their numbers are back up into the 5-6 range now, which means that they're going through almost 10 lbs of cracked corn per week! Good thing it's relatively cheap.

Mallards have found the ground feeder in the backyard

Late May also afforded two new species on the yard list: a Western Tanager and a small flock of 10-20 Cedar Waxwings that foraged through the oak trees along the street for a good week or so. The tanager was just a migratory passer-through, but I found it odd that the waxwings were feeding up in the oaks. Perhaps these trees were infested with insects?

A Cedar Waxwing tries its best to stay outside of my field of view on a Sunday afternoon in late May

Yes, even our Fox Squirrels are having offspring!

Well, that's about it for now. Hopefully next time I'll have some photos of juvenile Downy Woodpeckers or Scrub-Jays. I'll also try to post some photos from my trip to the Deschutes National Forest last month.

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