Monday, August 15, 2011

New Digs

We're finally moved in to the new place. Aside from the house being a major upgrade, the property itself is much more bird-friendly. We now have a lot more trees and shurbs, including a massive 80-ft-tall black walnut in the front yard, a mature cherry tree along the back deck, and a magnolia tree in the corner of the backyard. Also near that corner area are five arborvitae and two large photinia. Perhaps most importantly, the neighbor's yard is a long, narrow (~150' x 40') lot that is almost entirely a garden surrounded with overgrowth. Species include apple, plum, black walnut, arborvitae, hemlock, and a few others. The surrounding yards also contain two 60' maple-like trees, one of which has almost engulfed a large spruce. There are also three 150' douglas firs two yards away. So not only will there be ample cover for forest-dwelling sparrows and warblers, but the fruit-bearing trees will also likely attract species such as Cedar Waxwing.

Thus far, we've been treated to a couple of species that we haven't hosted with any regularity since our location when this blog began. These include Red-breasted Nuthatches and Black-capped Chickadees. While my guess is that only the former species breeds locally, the habitat here is good for both and it's nice to see them again. Crows are also much more abundant in this area. They wait for cars to run over/break open fallen walnuts in the street and then dine on them. Hummingbirds (both Anna's and Rufous) are in large abundance here, seemingly more so that at our other residences. Other, more "regular" yard visitors have included Western Scrub-Jays, Black-capped Chickadees, Bushtits, House Finches, House Sparrows, and American Goldfinches.

A Rufous Hummingbird makes an early evening visit to the nectar feeder.

The Anna's Hummingbird is currently one of the most frequent yard visitors.

A female Black-headed Grosbeak feeds on sunflower seed on an early August afternoon. Black-headed Grosbeaks are slowly making their way south right now.

This male House Finch enjoys a drink on a warm, dry mid-summer afternoon.

We are delighted to host Chestnut-backed Chickadees once again.

This female Red-breasted Nuthatch stops in for a sunflower seed. We are also overjoyed to see these guys again.

The one downside to this yard, as you may have noticed from some of the pictures above, is the mediocre photo quality that I'm getting at the feeders. This is mostly because the feeders are set back in a shaded area of the yard. Unless I were to put them in the sunny middle of the yard (which would look silly), I'm not going to get awesome photo quality at this distance (30-40'). So I may have to invest in a hunting blind to get closer to my subjects. We'll see.

It's only mid-August, but I've seen some evidence of local and migratory movement. As shown in the photo above, female Black-headed Grosbeaks were semi-regular last week (though not so much this week).
A mature Sharp-shinned Hawk (most likely a female) attempted to nab one of these grosbeaks last week. During our first week here, a pair of Bewick's Wrens were foraging through the neighbor's bushes. We may see more of those in the winter. While Turkey Vultures circling overhead are relatively common out here in the summer, I was surprised to see an Osprey take a few circles over the neighborhood recently. I imagine that it is feeding from the nearby Willamette River.

Well, that's about it for now. As migration ramps up over the next few weeks, I'm sure that I'll have more stories to tell (and hopefully photos to share as well). Until then...

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