Bird Lady Blog

May 2, 2014

Mish Mash


Red-Faced Warbler courtesy of Gordon Karre

Red-Faced Warbler courtesy of Gordon Karre

Usually I like to have a theme for these articles, but sometimes it’s good to try something different, so instead I’ll ramble a bit.

After the woodpecker article, I was contacted by Mel and Marsha who live on Caribou Road.  They reported that this winter, beginning February 16th to be exact, they had a “bully bird” at their feeder for two months.  They described it as a pretty bird, but it was so dominating that it kept other birds from coming to their feeders.  It had a greenish-black back and a pinkish-salmon colored belly, and yes, they identified it as a Lewis’ Woodpecker.  I really appreciated hearing from them because no one else to-date has reported seeing this woodpecker here in Munds Park.  For those of you who are year-round residents, this will be good bird to keep watch for during the winter.

A while back I wrote about Martha and the bird-friendly environment she has created in her front and back yards on Reindeer.  After seeing her water set-up, I went to Wild Birds Unlimited in Scottsdale and bought the same equipment.  It consists of a hose hook-up to our outside water spigot, quarter-inch tubing, a valve that controls the drip or spray of water into my birdbath, and brackets to position the drip or spray over the bath.  It really works well, and this last Sunday right before heading out the door for golf, I spotted the Red-Faced Warbler flitting in the trees near the bird bath drip.  That was my first spotting of the Red-Faced Warbler all year.  The previous time it was in the same area but I was running a hose sprinkler – so this bird is definitely attracted by running or dripping water.

The Red-Faced Warbler is a small, mostly-gray bird with a brilliant red head and neck that is only found in the high mountains of Arizona and New Mexico.  If you have seen this bird and have birder friends back East, you should definitely brag to them about the sighting because this bird is really quite rare.

The Yellow-Headed Blackbirds have reappeared at the pond at Pinewood Country Club.  Also in the same pond we recently spotted a Great Blue Heron.  It is the largest and most widespread heron in the U.S., and you can find one pretty easily at Lake Odell, your local golf course, and urban ponds or fishing lakes in the rest of Arizona.  These herons migrate all the way into Mexico and Central America.

What I have not seen here in a number of years is a Brown Creeper.  They are small, brown, inconspicuous birds that “creep” up the largest trees they can find searching for insects.  On our second house-hunting trip here in Pinewood, I spotted a Brown Creeper in a tree on the property of the first house we ended up buying.  Can you imagine what Rosie our realtor was thinking?  “Yes, my client bought that house on Thunderbird because there was a bird she liked on the property”.  Well, if any of you see one around here, please let me know and I’ll make sure the rest of Munds Park gets the update.

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June 30, 2012

House Birds Part I

Filed under: Grosbeak,Nuthatches,Red-Faced Warbler — Munds Park Birding @ 2:19 pm
Tags: , ,

Photo courtesy of David Cree

What birds are showing up at your house?  If you have feeders, the answer to that question will depend on what kind of bird food you are offering.  If you have a bird bath, you may attract a wider variety of birds.  If you have a shallow fountain with trickling or moving water, you will have an even better chance of attracting a variety of species.

So let’s start with the type of bird seed you might use and narrow down the obvious choices.  Even if you are only a beginning birder and your bird watching is focused on your own property, you should be able to identify the common birds with a minimal amount of effort.

With a nyger seed feeder (plastic or sock tube) you will attract Lesser Goldfinches and Pine Siskins.  The male Lesser Goldfinch has a bright yellow breast, olive back, and a black head.  Females and immature are duller, lack the black cap, and have olive backs and breasts.  Often at the same time the Goldfinches are feeding you will see Pine Siskins.  These birds are just a little bigger than the Goldfinches, and they are mostly brown with definite brown striping on a light colored breast.  The wings have a small patch of yellow and two white wing bars.

If you have a feeder with sunflowers seeds, millet, and milo, you will attract a nice variety of birds.  Look for the Black-Headed Grosbeak, Mountain Chickadee, and two types of Nuthatches:  Pygmy and White-Breasted.  The Black-Headed Grosbeak is stunning with a mix of black, orange, and white.  The Mountain Chickadee is mostly black and white with a black cap; it is a small, busy bird, also easily identified by its call, which sounds just like its name: “chick a dee dee dee”.  Nuthatches are small birds with almost no necks.  They creep up and down trees, head first, jamming nuts into tree crevices and then “hatching” them apart with their large bills to get to the seeds.  With this type of seed, you will also get Band-Tailed Pigeons, and if seeds fall to the ground, you will be visited by Mourning Doves.

When you add a feeder with peanuts, you should see Acorn Woodpeckers and Steller’s Jays.  The Steller’s Jay has a black and crested head, iridescent dark blue body, and loud call.  You may also attract the American Crow.  While sitting on our deck and writing this article, an American Crow came to our bird bath and dunked unshelled peanuts in the water, and then either opened and ate them here or flew off to eat them in the woods.  I don’t know from where the Crow got the peanuts, but our bird bath was the next stop for the Crow’s meal preparation.

Fresh water is a thrifty way to attract birds, especially dripping or spraying water.  I am thrilled to report that while taking a break from writing this article and turning on our front yard sprinklers in the late afternoon, I spotted a Red-Faced Warbler flitting from tree to tree.  I have been trying to see this bird for six years. There it was: a small, mostly-gray bird with a brilliant red head and neck, showing up at the start of a phone call with my mother in Illinois as I was sitting on the front deck and monitoring the sprinklers.  It stayed around for over 15 minutes, giving me great looks with and without binoculars, while my patient mother heard about this “lifer” during the phone call.  This bird is very rare in the United States – only found in the high mountains of Arizona and New Mexico.  As I’ve stated in past articles, you never know when you may run across that special bird, so always keep your eyes and ears open.

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