Sunday, October 13, 2013

From One Season to Another...

Yes, it's been a while!  Sorry, I've been busy working on my other blog and the yard activity hasn't really picked up until recently.  It's good to finally see some of our winter friends again.

Birds typically begin to move around between mid-August and September, though activity has seemed muted this year.  Hatch-year Robins (above) have been occasionally stealing my huckleberries, but southbound fall migrants (Yellow and Black-throated Gray Warblers, Willow Flycatchers, etc.) have been absent from the yard.  My lone sighting of a Western Wood-pewee (below) in late August was all that we had.  Lame.

This Western Wood-pewee was one of the few southbound migrants that moved through this summer

Thankfully, our winter peeps have not disappointed.  Most excitingly, a male Townsend's Warbler has been visiting our suet feeders for almost two weeks.  Multiple breeding populations of Townsend's Warblers move through at this time of the year.  We typically see one come through between late September and mid-October, and they tend to not hang around.  Individuals from the population that comes through in November tend to be those that overwinter in the neighborhood.  So it was great to see an individual buck this trend.  Townsend's Warblers are one of my favorite winter visitors.  Dark-eyed Juncos are also back, pretty much on schedule.  The first individual was observed on 9/21 and there are approximately eight individuals at the feeders right now.  The first-of-the-season Ruby-crowned Kinglet made a brief appearance earlier in the week, but I wasn't able to get a photograph.

This male Townsend's Warbler has been a regular at the suet feeders for almost two weeks

One of the first Dark-eyed Juncos of the winter season

This funky-looking junco appears to be a molting hatch-year male

Most of the individuals in the yard at this point are year-round residents that breed in the rural areas and move into urban areas in the late summer.  Over the past month, we've had a significant uptick in Downy Woodpeckers, Northern Flickers, Chestnut-backed Chickadees, Cedar Waxsings, American Goldfinches, and Spotted Towhees.

Flocks of a couple dozen Cedar Waxwings have been roaming the neighborhood recently

A female Spotted Towhee feeds on cracked corn

One of at least two Downy Woodpeckers that are now regulars at the suet feeders

One of my goals this summer was to introduce more natural food sources for hummingbirds.  I planted several California fuchsias and penstemons (both in the ground and in pots), and the hummer response has been very positive.  As these plants mature and flower more heavily, I imagine that they'll be even more popular.  I also planted several manzanitas in the yard this year, in part to provide hummers with winter and early spring nectar.

An Anna's Hummingbird enjoys my Hummingbird Trumpet (Zauschneria garretti)

This plant was also popular with the migrant Rufous Hummingbirds.  This hatch-year male hung around into the last week of September.

Well, that's it for now.  More to come in the next month, I'm sure.

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