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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Backyard notes

I thought all of our winter warblers had moved on, but today as I was working in the backyard, I heard a familiar "chipping" and looked up to see a Yellow-rumped Warbler dropping from the magnolia tree into the birdbath underneath to have a splash. A straggler, I'm sure.


I've noticed a lot of bluebird activity around the bird boxes recently. Today, I checked the box where the Eastern Bluebirds raised their first brood last month. The box contained a neat, new pine straw nest, so the pair is getting ready for a second go at family-raising.

I checked the other box on that side of the garden and it had a nest, too, but it was rather untidy and I'm pretty sure it wasn't a bluebird nest. The House Sparrows had built there earlier and I had removed their nest, but this one didn't quite look untidy enough to be a sparrow nest, so I left it alone. It could be a wren or perhaps even a particularly inept bluebird. In fact, the earlier bluebird nest from which the chicks were fledged was not an especially tidy affair.


Sitting in my swing on the patio one afternoon recently, I was watching a flock of White-winged Doves around the feeders, when suddenly they exploded into the air, and one of the doves, with a hawk chasing it, headed straight toward me!

The swing has a cover over the top to provide shade and the dove managed to avoid that cover, but the hawk smacked right into it! It was a Sharp-shinned Hawk and it took a second for it to get its bearings and, in that second, its intended dinner escaped. The hawk flew up to a nearby crape myrtle tree to regain his equilibrium. A few seconds later, he rose into the air and continued his hunt, but, to add insult to injury, a pair of Barn Swallows who are nesting somewhere in my neighborhood chased him!

I see the swallows over my yard quite often, but they are not nesting in it. It's likely that they have a nest in my back fence neighbor's yard, but I haven't confirmed that.


The Pine Siskins are still here, but in significantly fewer numbers than before. Occasionally, I see an American Goldfinch with them, but those are almost all gone now.  


A few days ago, I saw my first female Ruby-throated Hummingbird in the yard. I don't think she tarried. I haven't seen her since, but I continue to see one or two males in the yard almost every day. I think, in most instances, they, too, are just passing through. I'm still hoping that the female that has nested here in recent years - or maybe one of her daughters - will show up and linger with me through the summer.

UPDATE (04/18/13): One more note - Outside this morning, I saw a Ruby-crowned Kinglet in the redbud tree. He was taking a "bath" in the morning mist. Another winter bird that I thought was long gone.

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