Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Crippled hummingbird

Discovered something very sad yesterday - our male hummingbird has a broken leg/foot. He seems to be doing okay - flies and feeds no problem, and still does the courtship dive for the females - but when he perches, he straddles the branch and his bad leg just dangles. It breaks my little heart to see him like this. :(

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Yard bird species #58 and #59

Two new yard birds in the span of 24 hours. Not bad!

#58 - Cedar Waxwing. I know, it's a very common garden bird for a lot of people, but it's a first in ours.
#59 - Pine Siskin. This guy has been hanging out with the Goldfinches and House Finches, and I thought it was a female House Finch. But then I got a better look at it, and I realized the beak was completely wrong and it had a yellow tint to its wings.

Yesterday morning I was outside trying to get some more pictures of my tree swallows, and I got to witness the babies fledge! It was pretty special to be able to see these little guys take flight for the first time ever. I felt a bit like a proud mom. They spent about half an hour working up their courage - first squeezing their shoulders out of the hole, then perching there with their little feet grasping the ledge, and then - jump and lift off! Now they're gone, and the nesting box will be empty until next spring. Maybe one of those babies will come back and start a family of its own. :)

I also reached new levels of bird nerdiness yesterday. I bought a small photography blind to set up in the backyard to allow me to photograph our birds more closely without disturbing them. Tried it out yesterday afternoon, and from a preliminary review of my pictures, I'd say it was a success! (That's actually how I realized the Pine Siskin wasn't a House Finch - I was able to get some pretty close-up pictures of it in our pond.) So we'll see how this works out. Hopefully I'll be able to get some pictures of yard birds who have eluded me so far - like the Rose-breasted Grosbeaks and House Finches. I also really, really want to get some good Oriole pictures - NOT with them sitting on the feeder. Wish me luck!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Killdeer babies!

We have killdeer babies in our field! Dave spotted them and I actually saw one of the cute little critters as its parent was checking out the large puddle left by the rain we got today. My new mission is to stalk them and get pictures, because OMG I don't know if there are cuter baby birds out there than Killdeer babies.

Tree swallow family

We were finally able to get a peek at the babies in the nesting house in our backyard. There are at least two, but you can only see one in this shot.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Finally, some pictures!

Friday night I was able to spend half an hour shooting out my living room window (which is where I take a lot of my yard bird photos). Two female hummingbirds were semi-cooperative, and a male Baltimore Oriole posed all pretty-like just long enough for me to snap a couple of shots. Here are the results:

Monday, June 11, 2012

Fledglings everywhere

Work has been keeping me beyond busy the past month and a bit, so I haven't had much - or any - time to focus on taking pictures. Any spare time I have been spent trying to finish up the garden, and that's about it. That said, we've had a lot of bird activity lately.
  • Lots of fledglings being fed in our yard: robins, starlings, grackles, sparrows, and house finches.
  • Our tree swallows must have hatched their eggs, because the activity level has been crazy. One is always inside the nesting box, and the other goes off and comes back a few minutes later with food. Then they'll switch off. Lather, rinse, repeat, from dawn 'til dusk.
  • We suspect there's a Killdeer nest not far off our driveway in the wheat field. We have a lot of them in the fields adjacent to our property, but they're usually pretty far out. (Except the last two weeks, when they've actually been bathing in our pond.) Anyway, there's an adult Killdeer in the same spot every time we come or go, and we figure it can't be coincidence. That has to be its designated guarding-the-nest spot. I want to try to find the little cuties (seriously, baby Killdeer are so freakin' cute it should be illegal), but I don't want to stress out the parents.
  • Baltimore Orioles are our new summer bird of plenty. Yesterday there were three adult males frolicking in our pond. Yes, at the same time. It was really odd, since they're usually so territorial towards each other.
  • Hummingbird activity is depressingly bad. We've got maybe two males and two females, and they don't stick around for long. They also don't seem to have developed any kind of behavioral pattern that would let me get any decent shots. Very frustrating. Hopefully activity will pick up in August again. *fingers crossed*