Monday, April 20, 2020

Backyard Birds--The Thing To Do in Spring 2020!

For years we've been keeping track of the bird species we see in our backyard (here's our list for 2019).  This year, it turns out, we have even more time to look around our yard to see what's there. All this stay-at-home time means we are trying to #exploreourbackyard even more.

These two geese have been hanging out lately. It's not common to have Canada geese right near our yard, but they seem to be going all over town. By the way, anything you can see or hear from your yard counts. eBird is encouraging folks to record what they see in their yard.

We do have some non-native species that are nearly always present. One is Eurasian Collared Dove. They arrived about ten years ago. Now we hardly every see Mourning Doves.

Another non-native is European Starling. They're actually very pretty birds, but they make a lot of noise.

Fortunately we have a lot of native species, too. As the trees have started budding, we've had flocks of goldfinches and pine siskins visit the yard. The pine siskins make a zipping sound that is very distinctive.

About a week ago, I saw the first Yellow-rumped Warbler of the season. They're a good sign that summer will be arriving soon. This one looked a little confused.

Soon after I saw something that made me extremely happy...a Great Horned Owl in one of our poplar trees. Two years ago, she and her mate used this tree for a nest, but last year they didn't. I'm so glad they're back, especially this year. When I think I'm having a hard time being a mom, I go out and look at her. She's there rain or shine, night or day, cold or hot. She has stay-at-home mastered. While her mate will come and give her little breaks, she is there most of the time. It takes her 30-37 days to incubate the eggs, and then about 45 days to raise the chicks.

I'm not so good with staying-at-home, I like to wander. So sometimes I take little walks. Not far from the house, I saw these two birds, a Brewer's Blackbird on the fencepost and a European Starling landing on the barbed wire. I liked how the tail feathers were spread out.

I was later able to photograph a lone Brewer's Blackbird on a set of posts.

We hear Western Meadowlarks all the time, and they sound so close, but they are usually so far away. And when I get anywhere close, they fly off. The yellow chest is especially bright now during breeding time.

I found a couple White-crowned Sparrows in a bush. There were many others, but they flew off!

And then I found this sparrow sitting calmly on some rabbitbrush. So many sparrows dive into bushes that I couldn't believe my luck. I think it's a Sage Sparrow.

Okay, back to the owl. Did I mention how much I like these owls? :)

I really liked this photo of an American robin on the garden fence.

While I was checking on the owl, I saw little birds hopping around in the grass. Turned out they were goldfinches!

Okay, one more of the owl!
The weather is looking great for the next week, so I'm hoping to spend even more time outside. I'm looking forward to observing the lives of birds. Even though we humans aren't traveling much, the birds don't have such restrictions (except for those already nesting!), and it's so fun to think about where they might have spent the winter and what they might have seen on the way back from their warmer refuges. Bird watching is such a great hobby! If you need help identifying birds, try out The Cornell Lab All About Birding or the Audubon Guide to North American Birds.

Happy birding!
UPDATE: I just learned Great Basin Bird Observatory is having a Bird-a-thon May 1-17!

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