Thursday, August 11, 2016

Birds at Chickadee Gardens

At the former Chickadee Gardens, chickadees were, of course, regular visitors. You can see many of them in this post from last year. We had a lot of birds for an urban garden for several reasons: One was that we had a lot of native plants that in turn attract native insects that parent birds feed their young. Another is simply that we fed them black oil sunflower seed and suet. Also, we were fairly close to Mt. Tabor Park, several acres of woodland and open areas right in the heart of the city.

Now that we live an hour outside of Portland in a wilder setting, it is likely no surprise that we have regular visitors here, too. We see many of the same familiar characters, but in exponentially larger numbers. I think there must be 30 chickadees that actually live on our property. Well, their property, really. We have been trying to photograph a variety of birds but have not captured all of them yet. What follows is a partial list of the not-so-timid feathered friends that share this property with us.

Anna's hummingbirds make daily appearances. There are males, females and juveniles. All are feisty and very territorial. They live here year-round so we keep the hummingbird nectar going regularly.


This male's crown feathers shift in color from a cherry red to magenta depending on the angle of the lighting.


Very curious birds, they are not intimidated by our presence in the least.


We also have Rufous hummingbirds. They are migratory birds, only visiting in the warmer months. Here a male watches over his feeder earlier this spring.


His orange crown and brownish body are quite attractive.


This is either a female or juvenile Anna's hummingbird, shown here to illustrate the coloration differences.


We have an abundance of grosbeaks. We have seen evening grosbeaks but were not able to photograph them. Shown here is a black-headed grosbeak, a female, I believe.


They park themselves at a feeder for hours on end, cracking away at black oil sunflower seeds. They are prone to sharing, however, so other birds will visit the same feeders while they are binge-ing.


The male grosbeak. 



We usually see grosbeaks in pairs, as seen here.


Next, a downy woodpecker. There was a period when we would see one or two of these cute little guys every day for a couple of months parked at the suet cages. We did have a mated pair, but I was not able to capture a photograph of them together.


Very clever climbers, they have no trouble with these squirrel-proof suet feeders.





OK, apologies for the terrible photo. This was taken through a window screen, but I had to show the only photo I have of the pileated woodpecker. A pair, which we have seen on occasion, flew into this tree and rambled up and down its trunk for a few minutes. If you have never seen one in person, it's quite alarming how large they are. This is the quintessential Woody the Woodpecker bird, ever on the hunt for insects.


We have a pair of doves, apparently these are of the ring-necked variety.


Nearly always together, they are also very jumpy and fly away at the slightest movement. We love seeing them and watching them take dirt baths in open patches of soil.



Goldfinches are abundant. There must be many nests nearby for they come by the dozens - mom, dad, junior and cousins all popping around on the ground foraging for food and at the feeders. Their yellow-ness stands out in a sea of green.


I am proud to be a gold finch!

I particularly like this photo of a male because he looks like he's wearing a toupee. 



Regular house finches also stop by on occasion although we don't have as many here as we did at the former garden.


DEE DEE DEE
Here, a chestnut-backed chickadee makes his escape with a single black-oil sunflower seed.


For being the namesake bird of our garden, we don't have a lot of great photographs of these little clowns. We get both the chestnut-backed and black-capped varieties and yes, they are definitely calling this property home. We are thrilled. Shown here is a black-capped chickadee.


Little miss chickadee here fancies a bath, something I never saw at the old garden - the chickadees in the birdbath.


Oh, the dark eyed juncos. They were everywhere this winter. Their numbers have dwindled as they do in the summer months. I'm sure we'll see many again in a few months. They did build a nest in one of my planters earlier this year, so they must feel at home around here.


They are also a little mean when it comes to sharing a feeder with other species. They even shoo away members of their own group.



To our absolute delight, we have a pair of Western tanagers around. Here, the female is dipping into water spilling out of the birdbath. The male is a bit more elusive, we have not been able to capture a good photo of him yet.


Here she is again, exploring the possibility of seeds from a feeder.





Occasionally different species hang out together.  Here, a robin and a grosbeak share a bath on a particularly hot afternoon.


Did I mention the red-breasted nuthatches? They are the swoopers. They swoop in, grab their seed regardless of whomever is at the feeder, then swoop out all in about 2.3 seconds. They make those fun "meep meep" calls.


Can you spot the birds? I thought this a funny photograph. We have our crow buddies, yes indeed. On the edge of this photo, parents feed their very noisy baby. We love the crows; they are still getting used to us. At the old garden, they really were our friends and watched out for us and we fed them regularly. Two babies fledged on our front porch, so we protected them from danger for a couple of days. From then on we've been family. These guys here don't know that about us yet, but they are the recipients of many interesting scraps of food that they happily devour.



Here, although difficult to make out, a female Western tanager and two grosbeaks are waiting in line for the birdbath. There is also water trickling down the hose they are standing on so I think they're taking a cool break from the sun and cooling their tootsies.


Although this photo is from this winter, it's very typical when we look out our kitchen window (which is where this was taken from). A chickadee, a hummingbird and I think finch are all in view at once. There are times we can count seven species of birds at once, no kidding. It's such a joy - we stop whatever we are doing to look at the birds.



Last but certainly not least, a jay. Since we live on Blue Jay Lane, we welcome these guys. Here a Steller's blue jay helps herself to some seed. We have these guys as well as scrub jays.

We have other backyard birds visiting us such as red-tailed hawks, ruby-crowned kinglets, bushtits, cedar waxwings, towhees, owls, sparrows, northern flickers, swallows, warblers, wrens. We have had flocks of cranes flying overhead this spring, what a sight and sound. We hope to observe other species and will continue to try to capture some kind of photographic evidence.

 That's it for this week at Chickadee Gardens.  As always, thank you for reading, for your comments and for caring about gardening. As I've said before, I garden the way I do for a number of reasons, one very important one is for the birds.

Until next time, happy gardening

20 comments :

  1. We have the ring necked dove. That is the only bird we share with you. How wonderful to have such an array of birds visiting the garden. I would love to see the humming birds. Such beautiful colours.

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    1. The hummingbirds are a special treat, we are lucky to have them year-round. The doves are new to us, we really enjoy them and their soft coo-ing. Thanks for commenting!

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  2. Great post, Tamara! I loved seeing your pictures of all the birds! I was wondering if you would manage to capture one of the elusive western thrush. I get a lot of them at certain times of the year, but they are so flighty, they fly off as soon as they spot movement at the window. Very colorful plumage, though. You're so lucky to see the tanager. They're colorful too, they look like they belong in Mexico.

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    1. Thank you Alison! Oh, we have had the varied thrushes - MASSES of them in winter. I have not captured a photo but I am on the lookout!

      The tanagers are about the most special bird we have visiting, we literally stop everything and try to take a photo. Someday we'll get that elusive male!

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  3. Great post! Seeing a pileated woodpecker in person up close (or fairly so) is indeed an event -- huge! What about owls?

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    1. Thanks, Alan. The pileated woodpeckers are jaw-dropping. Very cool and yes, HUGE. Owls, we have them but I only hear them at night. I'm keeping an eye out for them, though!

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  4. Such a good job of chronicling your feathered visitors...not easy to get them to pose for the camera.

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    1. Ha ha...so true, Ricki. I bribe them with treats and sweet talk yet they usually get the best of me by flying away before the shutter snaps. Oh well, it's more fun to watch them anyhow.

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  5. How wonderful! What's your trick for catching them on camera? In my own case, getting a half-way decent photo is usually pure luck.

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    1. Aah, the trick is we photograph many from inside. We took the screen out of our kitchen window which looks out on to the main feeding area, so see a LOT of daily activity. If the window is clean we can usually get a decent shot or two. Plus I often have my camera with me when I'm out inspecting the gardens, so sometimes I just get lucky. Luck is the biggest element. Plus it's a numbers game. I have many blurry photos of birds on the go that are quickly deleted.

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  6. I even did not know that there were different hummingbirds, they are fascinating. So interesting to see so many different birds as we have here on the other side of the ocean.

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    1. Oh, yes - many species. A lot live in South and Central America but we are fortunate enough to have these beauties year-round (the Anna's).

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  7. Great post and photos! I don't usually try to photograph the birds around here. I prefer stationary targets. Unfortunately, the Anna's hummingbirds don't hang around my area, but we had a bumper crop of rufous hummingbirds this year. We usually have a pair of tanagers, too, but I've only seen them once this year. Cedar waxwings have started showing up more here, which I really love. The other day I saw almost 20 mourning doves in the yard, and the robins and juncos are plentiful. Keep an eye out for rufous-sided towhees in the brush. They're fun to watch.

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    1. Thank you Evan! You know I've never seen so many Rufous hummingbirds before...this must be the "it" place for them! Cedars are sooo pretty, I think I saw a few the other day eating the cascara tree berries. I'll look up the rufous-sided towhee...fun!

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  8. i love these sightings so much. Do you think there are pileated woodpeckers in the city, or do they need more forest like where you guys are? I love seeing those doves too. Super cute!

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    1. Oh, they might be in the city, I'm not sure. My mom has had them before and she lives in Tigard. I never saw any when we lived in Portland, but you have the perfect back garden for them! You never know....

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  9. Fabulous photos, T! I once saw a pileated woodpecker in my own garden. Yes, totally unbelievable, but true!) Only once, though, and I wish he'd come back. The only other time I've seen one was during a camping trip to Timothy Lake. So cool that you have not one, but two! Love it!

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    1. OK - Fifi, Anna answered your question. They ARE in the city! You are very lucky, Miss Anna Bean! :)

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  10. Nice, Tamara! What length telephoto do you use? Fun post about the birds (& namesakes) of your garden. Appreciate all your knowledge about the same birds I see here in Scappoose.

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    1. Thanks, Alyse! I just use my Canon Powershot, actually. I think I need to upgrade to a better camera, though. We do have a lot of fabulous feathered friends out here, glad you like the post!!

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