A Short Note About This Winter’s Birds

My bird feeding has been erratic the past several weeks, mostly due to my misadventures with my back. So, there has mostly not been any bird feeding. My back is fine now and the other day I put some seed out. Finally, I’ve got a goldfinch. I even saw two of them while ago. My neighbors down the street haven’t seen any yet and they have had seed out, so I guess I haven’t been missing anything and these are the first ones.  Last year we started seeing them in November. Not sure if that was unusual, or if this year is unusual.

I’ve had a few hummingbirds. There are at least two rufous hummingbirds and at least one ruby-throated. I think one of the rufous is a young male, the other is female, as is the ruby-throated.

I have no idea where the blue jays went. I haven’t seen one in months and I wish they would come back. They have attitude and they are so pretty; I love to watch them.

Mostly, there are tons of sparrows. Well, birdtons anyway. I think they are pretty; the shades of brown are nice to look at. There are doves, too, of course. I’d just like some variety. I have seen a few warblers in the vines on the fence, but I’m so out of practice identifying warblers that I can’t tell you what kind are out there.

I sure miss putting out the lard, peanut butter, flour….all that good stuff mixed up. It’s got gluten in it, so I can’t have flour and cornmeal in my kitchen. I could feed them gluten-free flour and cornmeal, but that is pretty expensive. So, I can’t. I’m keeping an eye out for substitutes though. If I find anything, I’ll try to post it here in case someone else is in the same boat.

Well, I just thought that if anyone is wondering where the goldfinches are and what else might be making an appearance on the Upper Texas Gulf Coast, I’d give y’all a little report.

Happy Birding!

ADDENDUM: Be sure to read “All Those Hummingbirds Will Come HERE?”, written on March 11, 2013. I misidentified some birds!

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Lost My Flying Flower Garden

I regret to have to tell y’all that Bubba (the male painted bunting who spent 11 days at my feeders) has left. His lady is gone, too. The last time I saw him was the day he landed on my windowsill. I guess he wanted to let me know he needed groceries so he could fill up his little bird tank for a trip to someplace else. I miss him! It’s like a whole flower garden is gone; he was so colorful. We’re back to our brownish, grayish with a bit of green winter. I’m not seeing enough cardinals to make up for his absence.

However, there are lots of other birds around here to appreciate. There is a flock of robins who are out in my backyard at this very moment eating Ligustrum seeds. I didn’t know they would do that. I always think of robins and worms, and I never see them on a feeder, so I just assumed they were carnivorous. I guess not. They sure are pretty. Have you ever seen one’s face straight on? I was looking through the binoculars and saw one of them turn his head so that his beak and eyes were what I was seeing. The way his markings are on his eyes and throat, he looked like a cartoon character.

One morning, I opened the blinds to see a Northern Flicker up in a tree on the other side of my neighbors’ house. He is so pretty! And another morning, I saw a pileated woodpecker. We had one of those several years ago who was pecking at his reflection in side mirrors on vehicles in the neighborhood. He broke two of my dad’s mirrors down the street. My cousin (next door) saw it on a truck at his house and said he never would have believed it if he hadn’t seen it himself. That bird even saw his reflection in one of my windows and went after it. I was torn between shooing him away so he wouldn’t break the glass and staring at him in awe. I’d sure never seen a pileated woodpecker from just a few feet away! I guess you know I just watched him. No shooing here.

Everybody I talk to is wondering why we don’t have many goldfinches. The most I’ve seen at once is nine. We have tons of sparrows. I like them but they sure like the expensive food. I got some safflower the other day, so they can eat more black oil sunflower seeds and just a little of the millet. That way the other birds can have something to eat without so much competition at the table.

OH! There is still a lady rufous hummingbird coming to the feeder. She sure is hard to photograph! As soon as I get ready, she flies. Last time it warmed up she sort of disappeared, so I’m glad to still have her during this warm spell we’re having. Shoot, most of this winter has been a warm spell. Birds are singing like it’s spring. I wouldn’t get too comfortable though; I’ve seen snow on roses around here.

ADDENDUM: I just saw the female bunting!! It’s now about 8am on the 21st of January, one day after writing the above post. Maybe Bubba is still out there!! It’s been a week since I’ve seen either one of them. Oh, wow. How cool!

About Those Hummingbirds…

You know (if you have been reading my bird posts) we have been watching more than one hummingbird at our feeder the past few weeks. Last week, my son who carries binoculars and a bird book in his car, (my other two are what I would call ‘incidental bird watchers’ but this son is deliberate about it) was here to visit for Christmas. He took the window screen off so we could get a better look because we really need to see detail so we will know who we have here. He asked if I was sure that both of the hummingbirds were female rufous hummers. I told him I was wondering about one of them because I’ve noticed the throat is dark-colored, but not orange. (Females have a bit of what my friend likes to call “beading” on their throats, except our female’s throat is pretty much white. It’s rows of teensy tiny spots that go from their chin down the throat just a little ways. The female also has a dark spot below the “beading” that males don’t have. Males have a solid orange throat.) My son said it may be an immature male rufous. He noticed the rufous in front of his(?) wings goes back over his shoulders a little ways, too. This bird is also a little bit smaller than the aggressive one.

A few days later in the week, my friend who has been watching birds for decades and is very good at identifying them, came to take a look. She said it’s possible that my son is right. We will have to watch and see if he(?) changes and begins to look more like the mature male.  So, maybe we will be watching a little boy hummingbird grow up this winter. That would be so cool!

Another thing I’ve noticed is that the female, who is so aggressive she chases off sparrows, has never showed up to chase this bird away when it is feeding. She does chase a hummingbird, but it’s hard for me to tell if it’s this one before it lands, or if it’s a different bird entirely.  I’ll be getting some new batteries for our new camera in a day or two, and I hope to get some photos so I can compare these birds, especially their throats. Then, I want to learn how to put them on here so you can see, too.

One more bird thing – yesterday, I finally saw two goldfinches on the thistle sack at the same time! Won’t be long and there will be a crowd. Winter sure is a great time for watching birds in the Southern US. I hope you are seeing some great things out your windows, too.