Monday, October 6, 2008

Breakfast With the Birds

Curved-billed thrasher 10-6-08 by Kathiesbirds

I roll over in bed this morning cuddling the thick comforter up under my chin. A cool autumn breeze waltzes through my open window playfully reminding me of this weekend's temperature drop. How refreshing this breath of cool air feels after the dry heat of summer and the muggy heat of Monsoon. Just last night I pulled my comforter out from the closet and smoothed it over the bed. Now I snuggle deeper into the blankets wanting to savor every minute of this experience. A glance at the clock reminds me that I had promised my friend, Sherri I would join her for tea on the patio at her house this morning. So, I throw back the covers and roll out of bed.

Sherri recently bought herself some hummingbird feeders after visiting my house and watching all the hummingbirds fly about the yard. They captured her heart and she went out that day and bought feeders and nectar for herself. Now she wants me to come see for myself how many hummingbirds are visiting her yard. At home I am getting so many more varieties and numbers of hummingbirds than I did last year. I can only assume this is due to all the development and the presence of more and more landscaping with flowering plants and people putting out hummingbird feeders. Last year I predominately saw Costa's Hummingbirds. This year I have recorded at least 6 species. I am anxious to see who is showing up at Sherri's house!

I hear a rock wren's trill as soon as I walk up the driveway. Shortly after the tea is made and we are sitting outside in the golden light of the new day a curved-billed thrasher lands on the view fence that borders her yard. Sherri's house looks out over one of the undeveloped green areas where native vegetation flourishes along a desert wash. The gray-green of velvet mesquite is interspersed with the dark green of creosote bush. Desert hack berry abounds along with a variety of cacti, native grasses, wildflowers, and other trees and scrub. In this lush foliage of the Sonoran Desert the birds thrive. I focus on a little female Anna's out in the wash. I can barely get the camera to focus on her between the bars of the fencing. Then, a bedraggled rufous hummingbird flies over to one of her feeders to lap up some nectar before perching on the chicken wire stretched along the bottom of the fence to keep the rabbits out of the yard and the garden. You can just see the rufous-colored feathers developing along his head and back. On his throat a tiny orange gorget is growing, reflecting copper-colored light.

As we sit and drink our tea and nibble on the fresh danishes Sherri made the birds become more active in the warmth of the sun. Out in the wash I spot an orange-crowned warbler. It flies off before I can get a photo of it. The hummingbird feeders are constantly busy with tiny green thieves fighting for every drop. I see Costa's, Anna's, Rufous and to my surprise, a broad-tailed female with peachy sides and rufous at the base of her tail. I tell Sherri I have had broad-billed hummingbirds at my feeders this year, but they are all gone for now. She glances at the picture in Stoke's Beginner's Guide to Hummingbirds which I have brought along.

We hear a couple of Cactus Wrens squabbling in the wash. A pair of house finches jumps up on the fence and the female plops into the birdbath for her morning wash while the male stands guard above her. Then the house sparrows come to see if there are any morsels for them. Finding none, they move on. As Sherri shows me around her garden pointing out her favorite flowers I am appalled to see a pigeon land on her rooftop! It watches us warily from the height of her 2 story rooftop, then flies off. Where are all the Cooper's hawks when you need them!

We've had a wonderfully birdy morning. As the light and shadow plays across the desert, so, too, does the temperature. The bright sunlight warms you up, then a cool autumn breeze cools you down. It is late morning as I prepare to leave and Sherri walks me out the front door. I have my birding hat on my head, my binoculars on my chest, and my camera slung over my shoulder for the 3/4 of a mile walk home. As we round the corner of her garage I notice a dark and thick shape in the tree of her front yard. I quickly raise my binoculars to discover a mourning dove nest with the mother dove and two nestlings all crammed in together! I drop my bag, give my bins to Sherri, and raise my camera to capture this truly peaceful moment. I use to say capture "on film," but with all this digital technology, I suppose I shall have to say, "in pixels"! Well, what peaceful pixels they are today. And I thought nesting season was over!

Mother Mourning Dove and fledglings in nest 10-6-08 by Kathiesbirds

Click on photo to enlarge for the most peaceful view

Photographer's Note: All of today's photography is by Kathie Adams Brown with the Nikon D80 and the 70-300mm lens set in sports mode.


Anonymous said...

Nice one of the thrasher, and of course all us easterners are jealous of your multiple species of hummingbirds

Kathie Brown said...

Thanks Wren! I am going nuts trying to ID them all. The males aren't so hard but the females and immatures are giving me fits!

Pappy said...

Those little hummers are a cantankerous lot. They spend most of their day fighting with each other. Must have been watching us too much. Pappy

Shelley said...

Your hummingbird was a treat to see - all great shots!

Bonnie Story said...

I adore this blog because I feel that I'm there with you. I love all the details about the place, time and space that you include. The picture of the dove and her babies gives me so much hope. Thanks for another fantastic blog post. Your is one of the best out there for me. I'm grateful for "Skywatch Friday" for leading me to you. Have a wonderful day!!!

Celeste said...

Great Thrasher shot and the Mourning Doves look beautiful. Does Sherri have bats coming to her hummingbird feeders yet? ;)

Kathie Brown said...

Texican, that is funny, but I think hummingbirds were fighting over food long before we were on their radar screens! It's so amusing to watch the hummingbird wars. They are a pugnacious lot!

Thanks Shellmo! Watch for more hummingbird shots coming soon to this blog!

Bonnie, I'm glad you found my blog because it's so nice to see you and because I get to visit yours and see the progress on your house. In many ways you are living part of my dream and I love the homesteading values you espouse. Thank you once again for stopping by. I try really hard to give people a feeling of this place. It is what I like to read about when I go to other blogs or read books. I think the place we live in defines our life experience and affect who we become and how we see the world.

Celeste, the bats are gone for now. I saw my last ones last weekend. It will be interesting to see if they stop by on their northward migration in the spring. I should do an update on them. Thanks for asking.