Saturday, August 4, 2012

Familiar Faces Return

This summer may have been the most uneventful on record.  Regular summer feeder birds such as American Goldfinches, Lesser Goldfinches, and House Finches were only sporadically present.  Thankfully, birds that did not nest locally are beginning to make their way back, some en route to their warmer wintering grounds.

One of the more interesting recent observations is the return of the Black-headed Grosbeaks.  A movement of them came through yesterday, and I've hosted both sexes of adult, as well as a first-year male, over the past 24 hours.  Black-headed typically arrive here in early May, breed near rivers or streams, and disperse in July.  Males (above) are typically on their way south by now (the one that I photographed this morning may be the last I see until next year).  Females and fledglings hang around for most of August and are usually completely gone by late September.

This hatch-year male Black-headed Grosbeak was the first post-breeding yard visitor of the season.

This male Red-breasted Nuthatch is one of two that's been visiting the feeders frequently since late July.

I'm also very happy to report that at least two Red-breasted Nuthatches have been frequenting the yard for a good week and a half now.  RB Nuthatches are very tame, acrobatic little guys that don't breed in the area and are even very spotty visitors in the winter.  For some reason, the second half of summer is the only time that they're reliable feeder visitors.

Lesser Goldfinches, who have been rather spotty visitors this summer, have made a big comeback this week.  A local pair has recently been visiting the nyjer feeder, along with its fledglings.  I presume that this is this pair's second brood of the season.

A male Lesser Goldfinch extracts nyjer seed... feed its hungry offspring waiting above.

 A "horned" fledgling House Finch acquaints itself to sunflower seed.

Fledgling House Finches have been frequent visitors for the past month or so.  These young'uns are easily distinguished by their "horns," which are long downy feathers that they originally grew as nestlings.  After a little while, the "horns" fall out and they look like regular House Finches.

Juvenile Western Scrub-Jays have also been representing in large numbers.  I counted seven juveniles in the yard one day.  As much as I like them, it's nice that they've dispersed a little.  They're quite raucous, especially when a perceived threat (predator) is nearby.

This boisterous fledgling Western Scrub-Jay feeds on cracked corn.

Some other interesting sightings included an adult Northern Flicker foraging through our court with two juveniles.  Chestnut-backed Chickadees have been around semi-regularly for a good chunk of the summer.  I spotted my first post-breeding Rufous Hummingbird (a female) two weeks ago and have observed a juvenile male at the daylilies since then.  I've also been hearing Bewick's Wrens calling from the neighbor's yard recently.  Hopefully I'll be able to get photos of these latter two species sometime soon.

This adult male Northern Flicker was seen foraging terrestrially with two of its offspring.

Black-capped Chickadees have been one of the few regular visitors this summer.

This male American Goldfinch is likely in the early stages of nesting.  In a month and a half, we'll host up to 100 of them at the feeders.

Well, that's it for now.  In the next few weeks, I should be seeing migratory warblers and flycatchers moving through the area.  Wilson's Warbler, Black-throated Gray Warbler, Yellow Warbler, and Western Wood-pewee are the best bets for my neighborhood.  I hope to have photos to share.

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