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!)

Goldfinches!

February 15th, 2008

A lot has happened at my feeders over the last week. I put out some Nyjer in a stocking in an effort to give my House Finches more feeding options. The next morning, I was shocked to find Goldfinches! OK, I guess this isn’t that surprising. But, I’ve never seen a Goldfinch in my yard before, so I was surprised that they found my Nyjer stocking that quickly. I wonder what other types of birds would come to my yard if I offered more feeding options. Let’s see…I already have a window feeder, a Nyjer stocking, a sunflower seed feeder, and a hummingbird feeder. My yard is getting complicated fast! :)

I’ve spent the week marveling at this new addition to my yard. Goldfinches are much duller in the winter, but it is still fun to watch a new bird. My BirdCam took 100s of pictures, but I have narrowed it down to a few favorites.

The look like they are about to kiss! :)



There is some color!

Here are some other shots that I thought were interesting. The House Finches seem to be enjoying the Nyjer just as much as the Goldfinches are. Take a look at some of the coloring on these finches. They are simply beautiful!




The Orange-crowned Warbler that I wrote about in a previous blog post continues to visit my hummingbird feeder. At this point, this Warbler is a more frequent visitor than the hummingbirds that visit my yard! I really enjoy watching this bird drink nectar.

Finally, my BirdCam has uncovered some disturbing news. A squirrel is after my window feeder! Luckily, it appears that he was not able to reach it. The evidence is blurry, but look carefully. The squirrel is reaching up to my window feeder (which is not in the picture). Let’s hope he can’t crack this nut! :)


Don’t forget The Great Backyard Bird Count this weekend – Feb. 15 to Feb. 18, 2008.

The Great Backyard Bird Count

February 10th, 2008


The Great Backyard Bird Count is coming up! Every year the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Audubon, and thousands of bird lovers unite to get a picture of where birds are across North America. Last year, 81,003 bird sighting checklists were submitted that included 11,082,387 individual birds counted. Everyone can help the Great Backyard Bird Count by simply counting the birds in your backyard, at a park, in a nature preserve, or in a city. Checklists are provided based on where you live, and there are easy links to help you identify the birds in your area. All you need is fifteen minutes to watch the birds!

The results from previous years are published on The Great Backyard Bird Count’s Web site. It’s a lot of fun to look through your town and see what other people have reported in the past. Now it’s your turn! I hope all of you get involved in this fun and important project.

Click here for more information about The Great Backyard Bird Count.

Ground Feeders

February 7th, 2008

I set up my BirdCam early this week to start catching some pictures of the ground feeders under my seed bird feeders. These little guys are willing to wait and catch what falls from the feeder above. Below, you will see the second most common visitor in my yard, the White-crowned Sparrow. Adult White-crowned Sparrows have a distinctive back and white streaked head. Immature White-crowned Sparrows have a similar pattern on their head with much more subdued gray and brown colors. I see these birds everyday in my yard, but I have never seen one fly up to one of my feeders. They prefer to wait below!




House finches, house finches, house finches. They are everywhere in my yard!



That’s it! I was a little disappointed that the two Mourning Doves that live in my yard didn’t show up on the BirdCam. I have seen them ground feeding several times, but I have yet to capture a picture of them. They have a spot they like to perch in on my tree, but when I approach to take a picture they always fly away.

And now, for the number one ground feeder in my yard!


Hummingbird Feeder Watch

February 3rd, 2008

I haven’t had my hummingbird feeder out for a couple of days. So, when I put out my nectar feeder I wanted to see my hummers again! I set up my BirdCam (More on this product in a later blog post, stay tuned!) and when I picked up the pictures I had a beautiful one of a hummingbird in flight.

Here’s the same picture without zooming in.


What a stunning little bird. :) I saw him several times the next day feeding. It’s good to have my hummingbirds back!

I think the hummingbirds in my yard were getting annoyed while I had their feeder down. I caught them peeking their head into my sunflower seed feeder a few times. They sure were brave to fly right up to a feeder with twenty house finches fighting for position. — I can hear them fighting right now. House finches don’t like to share. :)

As stunning as this picture was, it was not the most interesting one my BirdCam took. I was shocked to find this little guy at my hummingbird feeder.

I was shocked! What kind of bird was this, and why was it at my feeder? I had to go to the message boards for help identifying this one. The conclusion…..orange-crowned warbler! It looked a little dull to be a yellow warbler. Apparently there are four types of orange-crowned warblers. It looks like this might be the sordida orange-crowned warbler. Taken from All About Birds — The form sordida is the darkest green and is found only on the Channel Islands and locally along the coast of southern California and northern Baja California.

Here’s a shot of this warbler feeding on nectar.

I saw this bird several more times today at my hummingbird feeder. It’s been fun to watch this little guy. I keep wondering what my hummingbirds think of all this. :)

Finches in the Window

January 28th, 2008

The finches discovered my window feeder today! They weren’t too keen on its previous location as my cat would jump at the window. So, I placed it a little higher, and today I had some success. Ironically, my cat was sitting right below the feeder. All it took was raising the feeder two feet above where my cat stands, and some gutsy finches were willing to feed. I should have cleaned the window better, but here are some shots that I got.


This was a great shot…I wish I had cleaned my window. :( House finches are very common, but the male’s red coloring always amazes me.

Finches can get pretty aggressive at my feeders. Sometimes I worry that this will scare off other birds.

While I was taking pictures, my cat suddenly leaped into the air. No more birds. :( I cleaned off the windowpane and put more food in the feeder. A few birds came back, but my cat had scared most of them off. Check out this last shot with a clean window.


Much nicer. :) I hope the birds will continue to visit my window feeder. It sure is fun to see them this close. I literally got within two feet of the feeder!

Finally, a bird I hadn’t seen in my yard caught the corner of my eye. It didn’t go to any of my feeders. It just sat there, and then flew off. I snapped a few blurry photos, but I was too far away and too hurried to get anything good. It looks like it might have been a Black Phoebe.