Saturday, November 12, 2011

More Migrants

Activity has been down for the past few weeks, which is one reason why I haven't posted in almost a month.  Fortunately, things really began to pick up last weekend.  Overall numbers are still not great, but the lack of quantity is greatly overshadowed by quality of species we've been hosting.

We are currently hosting this uncommon migrant White-throated Sparrow.

One of our more interesting visitors has been a beautiful white-striped morph White-throated Sparrow (above).  This individual, first observed yesterday morning, was a pleasant surprise, as they are rather uncommon winter migrants.  (The last one that we hosted was two years ago, at our previous residence.)  White-throated Sparrows tend to congregate on the coast, so this one may not hang around much longer than a week or so.  At least one Song Sparrow has also been infrequently feeding in the yard.  Song Sparrows are year-round residents here, but are only regulars in urban areas from the late fall through the early spring.

Our two species of wintering warblers, the Townsend's and Yellow-rumped, have also been frequenting the yard for at least a week.  Neither are taking suet right now, indicating that insects are still in ample supply.

A male Townsend's Warbler, apparently tired of consuming bugs, darts off with a peanut.

This Yellow-rumped Warbler forages for insects in the neighbor's apple tree.

One interesting turn of events has been the turnover from American to Lesser Goldfinches.  We were recently inundated with flocks of 100+ American Goldfinches, but they have almost all moved on (only one individual remains).  In their place, a much smaller flock (< 10) of Lesser Goldfinches has been frequenting the nyjer and hulled sunflower feeders.  This has been a nice change of pace.  As much as I enjoy American Goldfinches, the large flocks were just too much.  I hope to see more moderate flocks of them in another month or so.

Our other regulars at this time include Dark-eyed Juncos (of course), Black-capped Chickadees, Bushtits, Scrub-Jays and Crows, who are devouring the walnuts that have fallen from our tree in the front yard.  Interestingly, Chestnut-backed Chickadees are semi-regular at this point.  Expected species that have not been showing up yet include Red-breasted Nuthatches, Downy Woodpeckers, and Northern Flickers.  I hope to see them soon.

A small flock of Lesser Goldfinches feed on hulled sunflower seed.

 A female Anna's Hummingbird guards the nectar feeder from a nearby bush.

We were pleasantly surprised to see our first Cooper's Hawk of the new house last Saturday, a small-ish male.  Interestingly, he showed up at the end of the afternoon, after the vast majority of birds had already left.  Raptors are majestic and I can never get enough of them.  We also appear to have a regular Western Gray Squirrel.  This individual has been hanging around for the past few weeks and doesn't appear to be going anywhere.  As much as I dislike squirrels eating seed that I put out for birds, it's always nice to see a Western Gray Squirrel thrive in an area where the more numerous Fox Squirrels have driven most of them out.

A male Cooper's Hawk searches for a meal in the rain.

Our resident Western Gray Squirrel feeds on an apple from the neighbor's tree.

Well, that's about it for now.  I hope to see some more wintering sparrows and perhaps a small flock of Pine Siskins in the next month or so.  Until then...