Saturday, April 11, 2009

Skywatch Friday: Stormy Skys

Storm Clouds in Sycamore Canyon 4-11-09

I wake this morning to stormy skys in Sycamore Canyon. Tattered clouds drift over rooftops and mountain peaks driving hungry birds to my backyard feeders. The rain scented air is fresh and cool and I breathe deeply of its scent. I treasure each cool day now, knowing full well that summer heat is on its way. Once it arrives it will be a long time until I feel this coolness again.

Hungry birds mob my feeders (view out my den window) 4-11-09

Whenever a storm blows through like this the birds mob my feeders. My seed supply is a bit low right now. Time for a trip to the store for more. The Gambel's Quail, House Finches, House Sparrows and Mourning doves are regulars, but I have been seeing a White-crowned Sparrow or two here in the past week.

In the Backyard the thistle feeder swings violently in the wind as it is suspended from the mesquite tree. The Goldfinches and House Finches do their best to cling and feed but sometimes the wind is too much even for them.
Gila woodpecker drinking from the nectar feeder 4-11-09

Though I still see a few female Costa's hummingbirds once or twice a day, it is the Gila Woodpeckers who drink up most of the nectar I put out. I have three nectar feeders in the yard, but this is my "sacrificial feeder," which means I let the Gila Woodpeckers drink from this one so the other two will be free for the hummingbirds. The woodpeckers are so acrobatic in their antics. You can see this little guy has propped himself up with his stiff tail feathers called rectrices. From this angle you can also see the blush of yellow on his tender belly. I often wonder why God or Nature decided to paint them yellow in this spot. What purpose does it serve? Who sees it? Obviously I do, and I think it is sweet, but I can't help but wonder why.

View more amazing Skywatch photos by clicking the button above.

(For the best views click to enlarge photos.)

Photographer's Note: All of today's photography is by Kathie Brown with the Nikon D80 and the 70 to 300mm lens.

Birds seen in my yard today:
  1. Turkey Vulture-1
  2. Gambel's Quail-3
  3. Mourning doves-15
  4. White-winged doves-1
  5. Costa's hummingbird (females only)-2
  6. Gilded Flicker-1
  7. Gila woodpecker-5
  8. Cactus Wren-1
  9. Curve-billed thrasher (Western)-3
  10. White-crowned sparrow-1
  11. House finch-26
  12. Lesser Goldfinch-10
  13. House sparrow-9


Arija said...

Kathie, I love the way you care for the birds. You are one amazing lady. How are the owlets gettin on?
Have a very Happy and cool Easter.

Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

Maybe God paints the color there just to delight Himself and anyone elso who might notice!

Happy Easter to you and Gus.

Diane AZ said...

I'm enjoying the cool rainy weather too, but there are no birds at my feeder. Looks like they're all at your place! I didn't know that woodpeckers could use their tail feathers in that way... interesting!

Celeste said...

Kathie, You always have such a wonderful variety of birds visiting your yard, it is always a pleasure to visit your blog. The woodpecker hanging on the nectar feeder is fabulous!

Gaelyn said...

Enjoy those cool temps. Rain and sleet here today. That woodpecker is quite the acrobat.

As always, a great post Kathie. Your blog is a delight.

bobbie said...

Beautiful storm clouds. Enjoy your temporarily cool weather.

A Scattering said...

We find the same type of scene at our feeders when a storm (rain or snow) is blowing in. It's like our feathered friends are topping up just in case.

Kelly said...

...I've never seen a woodpecker drinking nectar from a hummingbird feeder. Very cool...I'd like to see that at my feeders! (love the storm clouds...)

Kim said...

Great photos Kathie. I had no idea that woodpeckers were drawn to nectar.

Happy Easter.

DeniseinVA said...

Hi Kathie, a wonderful post. I remember the bats drinking from your hummingbird feeders but didn't realize that woodpeckers liked them too. What an interesting little fella he is. I enjoyed all your photos very much. Thanks!

Aunt "B's" Backyard said...

Gosh, I looked at that Gila and thought, "Wow, that Redbelly is so thin." Then I realized it wasn't a Redbellied Woodpecker. Great Shots!!

Deborah Godin said...

That shot of the woodpecker at the nectar feeder is unforgettable!!

Quiet Paths said...

I can feel the cool air being carried on by those clouds. We have quite a few of those right now. Lovely shot of the sky and I love the birds, as always you are gifted in finding that good birding photo.

Allison said...

Oh my gosh, I have House Finches on the brain ever since I saw my first one on Easter Sunday, and by the time I grabbed my camera it was gone. Now, I stumble on your blog and see them again! Too funny. That Woodpecker is lovely.

storyteller said...

Seeing all your amazing bird photos makes me think about getting 'feeders' of my own, but I doubt I'd get the variety YOU do where I live. The hummingbirds and sparrows DO love my citrus trees. Other than that we see seagulls, pigeons, and crows for the most part here at the beach in So Cal.
Hugs and blessings,