Saturday, October 15, 2011

Winter Friends are Here Again

A few weeks ago, we were mired in a quagmire of massive American Goldfinch flocks spilling seed and defecating all over the yard.  Thankfully, their maximum numbers have receded from 100+ to a 50 or so at a time.  Flocks of 10-30 are most common.  I am still excavating mold-infected spilled seed from underneath feeders, but less frequently now.  More importantly, our winter friends have slowly begun returning.
Dark-eyed Juncos (above) began appearing in the yard last Sunday.  I typically see them a week or two earlier, but this is an unestablished yard, so it's not surprising that it took a little longer for them to find it.  A few days ago, a small flock of at least 5 were probing the yard for seed.  They were joined by a Song Sparrow.  Songs Sparrows are year-round residents here, but usually breed in more rural areas.  They often invade urban areas in search of food in the winter.  At the end of that day, a larger member of the sparrow family, a Spotted Towhee, was seen scratching around under the sunflower feeder.  Hopefully we'll see Golden-crowned and White-crowned Sparrows in the next month.

A female Dark-eyed Junco feeds on millet and cracked corn.
A Song Sparrow joins the flock of Juncos
Several other uncommon species have come through the yard.  A week ago, a migrating Yellow Warbler and Hermit Thrush were seen foraging through our bushes.  A Townsend's Warbler was observed in the neighbor's bushes last Sunday.  Townsend's Warblers are often regular visitors to suet feeders from November through April.  Their migration patterns are complicated due to multiple populations migrating through the same regions at different times.  The individual that I saw last Sunday was most likely an early migrant from the north or east of here.  This morning a small flock of Cedar Waxwings briefly congregated in our magnolia tree.

A juvenile male Rufous Hummingbird enjoys sugar-water on a rainy October morning.

A male Bushtit forages in the shrubbery

American Goldfinches still represent in substantial numbers.

Downy Woodpecker numbers have been increasing as of late.

An acrobatic Red-breasted Nuthatch hits up the suet feeder.
In other news,  Bewick's Wrens have been very active as of late.  Hopefully they stay around for the duration of the winter.  Northern Flickers have been loudly conspicuous in the immediate area, but have not spent much time at the suet feeder.  Chestnut-backed Chickadees have been observed on-and-off again recently as well.

Birds aren't the only newcomers to the area.  The Western Gray Squirrel shown above is relatively uncommon in our Fox Squirrel-dominated neighborhood and has been hanging around for the past week.

That's it for now.  I hope to have additional sparrow species and possibly a Purple Finch to report next time.


Anonymous said...

yay for all the winter birds! so exciting to see them all.

BJG said...

Things are kind of quiet right now, but I hope that they pick up in November.