A charming flock of chipping sparrows stopped by! I don’t remember seeing them before, but I suspect that is merely a reflection on my lack of recognition.
Their name comes from the “chip! chip!” sound they make, which is the entirety of their song.
Imagine a dozen of these little guys bobbing around in our rather dandelion-infested back yard, looking for food. I couldn’t get a good group shot because they were so far down in the grass, except when they’d hop up for a moment. It was like avian popcorn!
Chipping sparrows eat mostly seeds, but will take insects, especially in breeding season or when feeding their chicks. My husband has vowed never to dig up another dandelion so that these little chippies always have plenty to eat. He is always looking out for wildlife.
They are migrating to the mountains, where they’ll nest and raise their families in open grassy forests from the ponderosa pine to the tundra.
Once the little ones have fledged, they’ll feed up on seeds before heading back to southern Texas and Mexico.
They are welcome in our yard to eat dandelion seeds anytime.
It’s a cool May day, and that has made animals cold and hungry.
My husband and I found a white-lined sphinx moth on the sidewalk as we were out walking the dogs this morning, slowly beating its wings as it tried to warm up. Once he gets airborne, he’ll be looking for nectar.
And we saw our first hummingbirds! As usual, we heard their ringing zip first. Only the males make this sound. It is produced by special tail feathers. The males are heading into the high country to stake out territory before the females arrive.Spring storm brings cold, wet; hummers come to feeder
The problem for both these animals is that the very hard freeze we had a month ago killed a lot of early flowers.
We’ll have more flowers soon, but they need food NOW. I’m doing what I can to help by putting out my hummingbird feeders — 1 part sugar to 4 parts water, NO red food coloring — poured into hummingbird feeders that have been cleaned with boiling water. Hummers in Snowstorm
Hang in there nectar eaters! More flowers are on the way!
Turkey vultures are big birds — the biggest you are likely to see, with the exception of an eagle or an American white pelican.
You’re not going to mistake a vulture for a pelican. The others are a little more problematic.
I have the most trouble telling a turkey vulture from bald or golden eagles. Although golden eagles may hold their wings in a slight “V”, most often they hold their wings flat.
Turkey vultures are also “tippy” when they fly — they are so light that air drafts bounce them around. Eagles are not “tippy”. It’s beneath their dignity.
And neither a bald or nor golden eagle have the translucent trailing wing feathers.
Swainson’s hawks, or a broad-winged hawks are both tippy and fly in a V. But both these hawks have shorter, broader wings, and are smaller. They also often brownish-red and have white markings on their wings or bodies.
You might confuse it with a black vulture, but black vultures just seem smaller overall — shorter wings, much shorter tail, with a dark grey head. Plus, black vultures are limited to the southern US down into South America. I have to travel south if I want to see a black vulture.
It’s been a long, hard winter. I hope you enjoy your first signs of spring, whatever they are!
It has been a long cold hard winter along the Front Range of Colorado. We have gotten enough snow in February to wipe out the incipient drought we were headed into, which is a good thing. But it came at the cost of a snowstorm every couple of days. That was hard.
We’re not out of winter yet — March and April are typically our snowiest months in Colorado.
But as the dogs and I went for our morning walk, we also found the first signs that spring is on the way.
As we walked, we heard the “eh-eh-eh-eh-eh” call of a male Northern Flicker trying out his mating call.
Further on, we found a Spotted Towhee by his “cha-cha-chaaa” call. Like the flicker, his calls right now are just warm-ups. He quickly dropped down to the snow to hunt for seeds.
Hearing these guys practice their mating calls cheered me up. And as we walked home through the cold, the sun broke through the clouds, promising a sunny day.
As we were cooking Thanksgiving dinner this noon, my husband happened to look out our kitchen window at the bird feeders in our back yard. “We have bushtits!”
These gregarious little birds move around the neighborhood in a small flock. You know they are passing by their flitting flight, and their cheeping “contact” calls.
Bushtits normally eat insects — scale bug, mostly, but spiders, caterpillars, wasps, ants, beetles — anything that crawls. After the 18 inches of snow dumped on the Front Range, though, insects were in short supply.
And so they resorted to our feeders.
In the summertime, bushtits need to eat 80% of their body weight to keep from losing weight. That adds up to a lot of scale bugs.
But in winter they have to eat more. They are probably less choosy about how they get their calories. And are thankful for whatever they find.
I think I’ll make sure I’ve got plenty of mealworm suet for them, in any case.
My life has been busy, hectic and stressful for the last few months. One of my problems has been that I haven’t had time to go find interesting things in nature to share.
But a wonderful thing about nature is that if you are patient, and observant, sometimes it comes to you.
The dogs were going berserk at something in the backyard yesterday morning. Usually, this is just a person next door. We try to quiet the dogs down and bring them in, because nobody likes to be the subject of a barking frenzy.
But when I looked out the back door, I saw what they were barking at.
It was a small family of mule deer who have been living in the neighborhood this fall. We’ve had deer in the backyards before, but it surprises me that they are in backyards this early in the season.
As the dogs continued their mad barking, I saw that there were a doe and a yearling in the next-door yard, as well.
The dogs refused to quiet down. I was going to go shoo them inside, but at this point, the buck turned to look at the dogs, his head lowered a little.
Very deliberately, the young buck walked up to the fence to consider the dogs. This concerned me, because I know that deer can be aggressive when they feel threatened. What puzzled me was that the buck shouldn’t feel threatened, because he could walk away at any time, and the dogs couldn’t follow. And he knew it.
At this point, the dogs barking changed a little, and I noticed Tegan doing play bows. This was predictable. Tegan loves to play. She does play bows to the vacuum sweeper. Because she was bouncing around behind lots of yard stuff, I wasn’t able to get a shot of her doing this.
With the fence safely between them, the buck watched the dogs, unsure of what to make of them.
Three young animals of two different species that are normally antagonistic to each other considered each other for a few minutes.
But the buck decided he had seen enough, and ambled back to the doe and yearling.
And then, he effortlessly jumped the chest-high fence and moved on.
Nature redeems, once again.
I can go back to dealing with my problems, a little less frustrated.