Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

Things have really picked up here over the holidays, including our first woodpeckers!

After over a month and a half of no woodpeckers (not even a Downy!), we were rewarded with TWO Northern Flickers last weekend. This was somewhat surprising, as Downies are more prevalent than Flickers in urban/suburban areas with minimal mature trees. Even more surprising is that one of them was a Red- x Yellow-shafted "Intergrade" (a hybrid of the two subspecies). There are not exactly unheard of out here, but it was a nice surprise. I hosted a similar-looking intergrade juvenile at our previous residence (2 miles away) this summer and am wondering if this is the same bird.

A Northern Flicker stops in for some suet. This individual appears to be a regular now.

An "Intergrade" Northern Flicker. Note the small red mark on the nape. This individual very well may be the same one that we saw at our previous residence this summer.

But Flickers aren't the only story here. A pair of Mourning Doves graced us with their presence a week and a half ago. Some of you Easterners may wonder why I consider this noteworthy, but these were actually the first two first yard Mourning Doves that I've hosted here. They're far from uncommon, but their numbers are far lower here than in the other half of the country. I'm actually somewhat surprised that they haven't returned.

This past weekend was extremely active, owing to a massive amount of flocking. There was a mixed flock of 300+ Starlings and Robins in the neighborhood and, at one time, approximately 200 Starlings in the backyard. Fortunately, that only lasted for a day, and the Starlings appear to have completely moved on (knock on wood). However, it was nice to listen to the calls of Robins for a few days. An added bonus was a small flock of Cedar Waxwings last Saturday. They did little more than perch and occasionally feed in the neighbor's apple tree, but they were a treat nonetheless.

FeederWatch Data for Fall/Winter 2009. Overall, things are looking up.

Starlings invade the suet feeder! Thankfully, only for a few days.

A flock of Waxwings help ease the Starling surge...

...and Robins are always a good time.


Our "usual suspects" are still out in full force. These include our numerous Juncos and Bushtits, American Goldfinches, House Finches, White- and Golden-crowned Sparrows, noisy Scrub-Jays, our ultra-aggressive Yellow-rumped Warbler, and the elusive-but-regular Ruby-crowned Kinglet. The only downer thus far was the discovery of a House Finch with Avian Pox this morning. Hopefully that doesn't spread.

Our not-so-friendly Yellow-rumped Warbler is happy to have the feeder all to itself.

If you have peanuts, you'll have Scrub-Jays.

Our resident White-crowned Sparrow feeds on millet and cracked corn.

Actual visual evidence of our elusive Ruby-crowned Kinglet!

I had the opportunity to get out of the yard recently and photo a couple of passerines. The rain and fog hampered my efforts somewhat, but I was able to get really nice photos of a Ruby-crowned Kinglet and a Brown Creeper...

Well, that's about it for now. I hope that you had a good holiday and here's to a wonderful 2010!

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