Sunday, January 17, 2010

Sunday Morning in Sycamore Canyon

Gus and his coffee 1-17-10

It's a gorgeous and sunny morning here in Sycamore Canyon. Gus and I ate breakfast on the patio with birds busy all around us. A male Costa's came down and hovered behind Gus' back, apparently attracted by his red shirt. In the wash a covey of Gambel's quail made little chirping noises to each other as they climbed the rip rap up towards my yard. Lesser Goldfinches and house finches fly in and out of the trees or land on the feeders.

Meanwhile this Bewick's wren climbs boldly about in the flowerbed, then hops up on the wall right behind Gus.

I've been visited by this Rufous-crowned sparrow almost every day for the past few weeks. It hops up on the block wall, then dives for the flowerbeds where it hides beneath the foliage or searches secretively around the base of the bird feeder. I keep looking for rufous-winged sparrows, but I had not seen any anywhere until today. Then I found one in the Schoolyard at Sycamore Elementary School, along with a Lark Sparrow and some killdeer. However, when I came back home and was sitting on the patio again recording my bird counts...

...this little guy hopped up on the block wall and I was astonished. The rufous-crowned had just been here, and I had to look twice to be sure it wasn't the same bird, but the rufous-winged sparrow has 2 wisher marks while the rufous-crowned only has one. Also, the rufous-crowned has a prominent eye ring, and while this sparrow also seems to have an eyering it is more subtle. Also, note the shape and color of the beaks. Plus, if you look closely at this rufous-winged sparrow, you can actually see the rufous wing patch on its shoulder.

From this vantage point you can see the double whisker marks quite clearly as well as the rufous wing patch. The rufous-winged sparrow is smaller than the rufous-crowned and it also tends to raise its crest more often.

As I sit on the patio writing, the clouds start to roll in. By late afternoon it is overcast and cool at 60 degrees but still a lovely day. I finally have my computer back. It had over 80 viruses. Apparently Gus did not renew our McAfee subscription last year. We now have a different virus protection program recommended by the repairman. All my photos have been stored on another drive. This is my first day back on the repaired computer so hopefully I will start to get caught up. Meanwhile the guys are in the living room watching football and the baby is napping in the bedroom. I have been birding all over SE Arizona and snapping away with my camera and counting birds. I will submit my bird counts to ebird, then update the master list. Hopefully I will get a chance to come and visit all of you soon and then I will check my email! Perhaps this week I will finally be able to finish taking down my Christmas decorations!

These two Costa's hummingbirds were sitting in my mesquite tree this afternoon while I sat outside writing. The male was slightly above the female in the tree. The male looks so intense, but the female looked quite peaceful and sweet. I live in such a wonderful place!


Gaelyn said...

Kathie you have such a good eye for those subtle differences on the sparrows that once pointed out seem obvious. I've seen a couple of hummingbirds lately, I think Ruby throat, and the first Thrasher of the winter today.

Think we may have to batten down for rain, and maybe even snow, this week.

Kathryn said...

Kathie, just as Gaelyn said, you have sucn a good eye, it amazes me how you can pick up on the smallest details!

I see Gus has definitely acclimated to AZ (or should I say lost his Maine-iac blood for the cold), I was surprised to see him in long sleeves and long pants.

Warren and Lisa Strobel said...

Kathie! Warren and I are taking the plunge and doing SE Arizona in April! So excited to see some of your birds in the flesh and blood and not just on your site.

Kathie Brown said...

Gaelyn, if you are still up near Flagstaff I know you are getting pounded with snow!

Katnell, yes, Gus has become aclimated to AZ. I don't think he could move back to anywhere where it snows!

Warren and Lisa, how exciting! I would love to meet you when You come. Drop me a line!

Quiet Paths said...

Ah, I'd love to sit on your patio and watch the birds... I just so love the shots you get from just outside your door. Marvelous post. And, happy new year a bit late!

Celeste said...

Well Kathie, that sounds like the perfect Sunday morning to me! Yes I am a little envious as we are locked in with freezing fog and cannot see more than a few yards outside our window!
Glad to hear that your computer ills are all sorted out :)