Thanks to Kasey for prompting this.
During the current coronavirus event, like many of you, I’ve been paying more attention to my yard birds. Past late winters/early springs have often found me galavanting around the planet, so I have missed a lot of the seasonal action in my own backyard. Here are some of the highlights, so far this year.
Swaison’s Hawk—The first one to return was on March 21. Two days later there were 3. Over the 19 years I’ve been here, a pair has frequently nested in the redwood in my neighbor to the west’s front yard. I expect the same this year.
Mourning Dove—There is currently one sitting tight on a nest in my neighbor’s mulberry tree. There are 2 other adult birds around—papa and maybe one of last year’s offspring?
White-throated Swift—Careening high overhead and chattering for brief periods.
Anna’s Hummingbird—Greedily guarding the butterfly bush, cenanothis, and red hot pokers in my yard. Also hawking the many gnats that seem to have taken up residence near my birdbath.
Rufous Hummingbird—Yesterday morning (Thursday), one bright cinnamon male parked himself for a couple of hours in and around the dense privets in the back. He also hawked for gnats, but I didn’t observe him at the flowers. Later, in the afternoon, I went out again and found an obviously a different individual (green back) on the same branch and behaving the same as he did earlier. I don’t have a camera (or the talent) to capture the spread tail feathers, so I played back both RUHU and ALHU calls, and it perked up for RUHU but was totally uninterested in ALHU. I haven’t found either of them today (Friday). I hadn’t recorded a RUHU in eBird since 2009; I haven’t put up a feeder in several years.
Red-lored Parrot—I didn’t see them this morning, just before 9:00 am, but I definitely heard them flying southbound. I assume these are probably Kasey’s birds.
Cassin’s Vireo—On Feb 22, I had a singing bird pass through my yard. It peeked out of the dense cedar in my neighbor’s yard and gave good looks. “Here today and gone tomorrow”—I never saw (or heard) him again.
Northern Rough-winged Swallow—One zoomed over this morning, giving its distinctive rough call. Oddly enough, this is the only swallow I see on my eBird yard list. (I’ll have to look up more often!)
Bushtit—There must be a pair nesting near here. Over the years, I have had small “gangs” of them tumble through the shrubbery/trees in my yard. Currently, I am only seeing one bird at a time.
Ruby-crowned Kinglet—I’m hearing its wonderful, lilting spring song more often these days. It showed off its ruby crown earlier today as it foraged in another neighbor’s blossoming orange tree.
Red-breasted Nuthatch—There has been one or more nearly all winter, but rarely in my yard itself. I have heard it softly tooting at a distance both this morning and this afternoon.
Northern Mockingbird—Boy, the hormones are flowing! There is a very active pair that likes my birdbath. Lots of swooping and diving going on along with the constant singing.
Hermit Thrush—My old friend comes back every winter. How can you not love this cheeky little fellow. He seems to know me and swoops right by my head from time to time. I’ve heard him softly singing to himself recently, in addition to his usual chupping. Still here today.
Purple Finch—More frequent in late 2019, I had a singing male yesterday.
Orange-crowned Warbler—Winter resident. I’ve learned to recognize its distinctive chip note, which makes it easler to find in my neighbor’s orange tree and the nearby privets. It has even flashed its crown a couple of times.
Yellow-rumped Warbler—It is amazing how much more brilliant the males are now compared to just a few weeks ago.
Fox Sparrow—I haven’t seen him since January, but I enjoyed his presence much of the winter.
White-crowned and Golden-crowned Sparrows—Present annually in winter, and still around in decent numbers. I always look for White-throated, but the last time I had one was in 2013.
I am carefully watching my hackberry and my neighbors’ pistache trees as they slowly leaf out. I know in the past they have attracted warblers, orioles, tanagers, grosbeaks, and flycatchers (oh my!) so I expect the same this year. Now that I am more homebound, I am getting impatient! Bring on the show!
Wishing everyone good yard birding!