Trying to Feed Jays

May 3rd, 2008

I’ve been trying to attract Scrub Jays to my feeders. They don’t seem to like the Squirrel Buster Plus. There are probably two reasons for this: 1) This feeder is a little uncomfortable for such a large bird! The Squirrel Buster Plus can accomodate many birds, but I would think Jays would not enjoy feeding from them. I’ve noticed the Scrub Jays in my yard feeding once or twice from the Squirrel Buster Plus, but they usually avoid it. This is not to say that the Squirrel Buster Plus isn’t a great feeder; the other birds in my yard love it and it really does keep squirrels away. However, it may not be the feeder for my Scrub Jays. 2) Finches. Lots of them! Aggressive finches. I wouldn’t want to hang out with them if I were a Scrub Jay. :)

So, I began looking for an alternative to feed these beautiful birds. I figured a platform feeder would be a good choice because it would give Scrub Jays room to feed comfortably. I tried one out, and sure enough, a Scrub Jay showed up the next day!

My BirdCam caught some wonderful pictures! I’ve uploaded the originals, so they are very detailed. Click on them to enlarge the pictures in my blog post.

But, later in the day, I had a problem. The squirrels started to eye my feeder. I’d used a long branch hook, so I figured the squirrels would at least have a difficult time reaching the feeder. I’d assumed they’d get to it eventually, but I was surprised at how fast they got there! The tray tipped over under the weight of the squirrels, and a whole slew of them had a feast of sunflower seeds! Once it was all gone, this one actually climbed on the feeder hanging on its side to finish the remaining seeds!

The Jay returned. Not much to eat now. :(

So…. How did the squirrels get to my bird feeder? They climbed up the tripod I used for the BirdCam. Lesson learned. Next time I’ll need to pole mount a feeder, use a squirrel baffle, and then use the BirdCam Mounting Arm above the squirrel baffle.

Squirrels are persistent!

Shop By Bird Section & Backyard Flowers and Citrus

April 29th, 2008

Despite my blog absence, I’ve been very busy over the past couple of weeks! Our store just launched a new “Shop By Bird” section. This makes it easy to get all the information you need about the birds you love, and shop for these birds and for yourself. We have six sections, Bluebirds, Cardinals, Clinging Birds, Goldfinches, Hummingbirds, and Orioles. Each bird section has a ton of information available, an informative video, and products categorized by bird for easy shopping. This is a great new feature of our web site, and I’m sure that our customers, blog readers, and other bird lovers will enjoy it! Click here to check it out! If you’re just interested in the information, not our products, click this link instead.

Over the past few weeks I’ve gotten some great shots of my yard. As spring began, my yard bloomed! It is so nice to have some flowers back.

And the citrus came back! Oranges, Lemons, and Limes!

Squirrels are Crafty Animals!

April 7th, 2008

A friend of mine sent me a cute squirrel video! It really is amazing how crafty squirrels can be. When I came home today I enjoyed watching a couple of squirrels as they tried to get to my squirrel-proof feeders. Watching the squirrels in my yard is a hoot!

Click here to check out the video my friend sent me.

More Beach Pictures

April 3rd, 2008

Before I get back to my own backyard, I wanted to share a few more beach pictures. The first one is a shot of a Pelican flying right above the water. I love the reflection! CLick it to see a larger picture.

There are always tons of pigeons at the beach!

As I sat on the breakwall, this bird was right below me. He hung out with me for quite some time. I still can’t figure out what this bird is.

We just sat and enjoyed the view. It is so nice to have the sun back!

Pelican Tries to Eat an Octopus

March 24th, 2008

Spring just began last Thursday, but on Easter Sunday, it felt like Summer! It was over eighty degrees at the beach with almost no wind. Everyone was out and having a good time. So, this meant a parking headache. As much I hate the crowds, living by the beach can be a lot of fun. I saw a lot of great birds, but one incident with a pelican really stood out.

I stopped to admire a pelican that was standing on some rocks right below me. A few other families were also watching this bird. At first, I thought they were simply interested in the pelican. It was a beautiful bird. But, as I watched, I realized that the pelican had a large bulge in its neck.

Suddenly, the pelican rose up and regurgitated something! It almost escaped from its bill…

…but then the pelican snapped its bill shut, preventing the prey from escaping. I was finally able to get a good look at a tentacle. This looked like an octopus!

The pelican struggled to swallow the food, but each time it got stuck in its throat. It was simply too big to go down. As soon as the pelican lost its grip on the octopus, another pelican swooped in and scooped it up. I captured the action above just as the second pelican grabbed the octopus. The first pelican almost looks sad sitting on the rock above.

The second pelican flew to a nearby rock and tried to swallow the food it had stolen. Unfortunately, it had the same problem. I watched for another twenty minutes as the pelican tried to swallow the stolen goods unsuccessfully. It would force the octopus down its throat and then push its beak against its neck in an attempt to keep the food down. As time went on, other pelicans began to gather around, waiting until this bird gave up and they could have a chance at the octopus. If you look behind the bird flapping its wings in the picture above, you will see a daring seagull. It grew impatient and started to nip at the pelican. The pelican was not happy and gave it one bad look before the seagull went back to waiting patiently.

Videos, Jays, and Finches

March 12th, 2008

I decided to try capturing some videos with my BirdCam for the first time. I was very surprised by the results! I expected to see a ton of House Finches, and I did.

But, I was surprised to find a new visitor on film! I see them all the time in my backyard, but I have only seen one land on my bird feeder once. He quickly left. It seems they have rediscovered my feeder and are becoming more interested in what’s inside. Be patient — The bird arrives at the end of the video.

Western Scrub-Jay! Here, the Jay takes a little tour of my feeder.

Very fun! I will have to do some more videos in the future.

Broken Camera Card

March 8th, 2008

If you’ve ever wondered what a camera card looked like on the inside, take a look. Early this week, I was taking some shots of Finches in my yard. I went inside and excitedly pulled the card out to see what I had captured. But, as I slid my card out of my camera, it split in two. Sigh. :(

Now to see what I could recover! I smooshed the card back together and held it firmly as I stuck it into my computer. To my delight, it was reading the card! I was able to recover some of my pictures, but others would not copy.

The next task was to buy a new camera card. I procrastinated as I knew that camera cards were very expensive. But, when I found myself at an office supplies store on a completely unrelated errand, I knew I had to plunk down the change and buy a new card……I was shocked! The prices on camera cards have really come down since I last bought one. My new camera card has twice the capacity and cost 1/4 of what my last card did.

So, I haven’t had much of a chance to photograph anything in my yard this week. But, I did have all the left over pictures on my camera card that I was able to salvage. Here is a collection of pictures that have never made it past my camera card.

My cat likes to watch the birds as much as I do! :)
Finch action shot!
The Finches in my yard are getting pretty used to me. I was only about 1 1/2 yards away from these birds when I shot this.
Extra credit for anyone who can identify this bird. I saw it at the aquarium near us, but I couldn’t identify it. (Shouldn’t they have a sign?)

What’s at my hummingbird feeder?

March 1st, 2008

I’ve continued my search for some great hummingbird photos. This time I avoided flowers, and pointed by BirdCam directly at my hummingbird feeder. I got one great shot!

I was pretty happy with this picture! They are beautiful little birds to watch. But, this wasn’t the most extraordinary picture I took over the last couple of days. While my hummingbirds have been content to fly around my yard looking for flowers, a whole crew of other birds have been taking their place at my nectar feeder. The most common visitors over the last few days have been my House Finches. Yes, House Finches. At first, I thought they were just perching there. But then, I saw one drinking. The photos from my BirdCam confirmed this.

They already dominate all my seed feeders. I guess it was time for them to try something new! :) This next picture is really amazing. When I first saw it, I thought it was a male House Finch because its neck was bright red. But, after studying it and other pictures of the same bird, I realized that this was a female House Finch. The red glow is from this bird’s inside! The light from the sun illuminated this bird all the way through. If you look closely you can see blood vessels in the birds neck.

In addition to a ton of House Finches, my hummingbird feeder also had another visitor.

This warbler has become a frequent visitor at my hummingbird feeder.

Black Phoebe Discovery

February 28th, 2008

During the Great Backyard Bird Count, I noticed a Black Phoebe in my yard. I had seen them a couple of times before, but not very often. So, I was pretty excited to see one and record it for the bird count.

Then, yesterday, I noticed that there were some bird droppings on the phone box outside my house. The phone box is located on the side of the house, and around Los Angeles, you don’t get much room on the side of your house. So, I rarely go over there. (Not much to see except my neighbor’s house!) I looked up, and sure enough, there was a Black Phoebe sleeping on a wire from my phone box just below the roof overhang of our house.

This is the second time that this has happened. We had another bird that decided to start sleeping on the same wire. But, it chose a spot on the wire in the backyard, so it was much more obvious. Well…actually…to be more specific, it chose a spot right above our doormat in the backyard. Our doormat is black. I’m sure you’re getting a picture in your head; it wasn’t a pretty sight! :)

As I thought back, I realized that I had heard some bird activity recently on the side of our house. It is pretty cool that this Black Phoebe has decided to make its home on our property. Black Phoebes are attracted to water, and our neighbor has quite a water feature in their yard. I guess it is no surprise that it likes our side yard!

Trying to Photograph a Hummingbird

February 25th, 2008

It has been a wet week in Southern California! My feeders have run dry, and I need to get out there and fill them. I couldn’t bare the thought of climbing my tree to fetch my feeders in the rain, so I have put it off. I look forward to the return of the birds!

Before I ran out of food, I noticed that some hummingbirds were feeding from a flower that had recently bloomed in my yard. I set up my BirdCam to catch the action, but they never returned. Oh well. No hummingbirds this week. But, I did get some pictures of the mourning doves that like to visit my yard.

I also got a picture of a sparrow ground feeding.

They were a little blurry. What I was really aiming for was this flower.

No hummingbirds. :( Oh, well.

Remember, you still have until the end of the month to submit your reports to The Great Backyard Bird Count. Here’s what I saw in my yard:

Sunday February 17, 2008
7 House Finches
2 Mourning Doves
1 Black Phoebe
1 Hummingbird (Couldn’t identify type…too fast!)
2 Gulls (Couldn’t identify type…too high and too fast!)

Monday, February 18, 2008
1 Orange-crowned Warbler
10 House Finches
10 Goldfinches
1 White-crowned Sparrow
1 Mourning Dove
1 Hummingbird (Couldn’t identify type…too fast!)