Welcome to my world!

Backyard Birding in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas:
Surrounded by great birding destinations, our favorite patch is still the backyard (or the front), where we've seen more than 270 species of birds. Sit awhile, and watch the river and yard with us!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Back Yard Birding

It was another beautiful day on the Arroyo, less windy and about 85 degrees. The bird feeders were attracting all the colorful birds of the neighborhood, as you can see in this photo. That's a Green Jay, an Altamira Oriole, and a Kiskadee along with a drab House Sparrow. (I really don't mind the sparrows, though, especially since our trip to England when I saw them in their "native" habitat. The males I think are especially perky little birds.)
The Kiskadee is not actually eating seed from the feeder in that picture; it's gobbling up granjeno berries from the shrub just beyond the feeder. Of course, Mockingbirds were just out of sight, jealously guarding the berries, but the Kiskadees usually had them outnumbered. Some of the palms also have berries that the berry-warriors are fighting over.
I've seen Kiskadees eat cat food, fish, insects, and berries, but never seed. Altamira Orioles eat seed, citrus, and nectar. Green Jays eat seed, peanuts, berries, meal worms. ( The feeder the birds are on in the photo is one our son brought us more than 13 years ago, just after we moved into our house. He carried it on the airplane because it was too big for the suitcase. Though it holds a lot of seed, we put out only a handful at a time to keep the raccoons from climbing on it at night. )

New 2010 "yard birds" today were a Reddish Egret that flew by over the river and a Brown-headed Cowbird eating seed with the Red-winged Blackbirds. I wish the egret had stopped to "dance" in the shallow water at the edge of the Arroyo, but it didn't. We did have a Tricolored Heron and a Snowy Egret feeding, though--and Night Herons filling the trees that hang down from the banks.

The Baltimore Oriole was back again today, perched in the same ash tree as before, above the grapefruit feeder.

The busiest birds in the yard were a couple of Long-billed Thrashers. They were under the bougainvillea most of the time, scratching in the leaves that fell off in the freeze. One of them kept flying to the very top of an ash tree to sing. I love their song, so loud and cheerful, more musical than the Curve-billed Thrasher's. I kept trying to get a good photo but didn't succeed.

Here's one of a Curve-billed Thrasher on some palm fronds in the back of the pickup. Always curious, they are the first to check out any new brush piles or fallen branches.
These birds are among my favorites, the first "day" birds up and around in the morning and the last ones to go to bed! They keep busy digging little craters in the sandy soil. We usually have two pairs that nest in our yard and they usually raise three broods. The Long-billed Thrashers nest in the yard most summers, too. Occasionally, in the winter, we get the similar (but redder) Brown Thrasher. We were used to Brown Thrashers in Missouri and Oklahoma so I always enjoy seeing them in the winters that they show up.

Tomorrow I'm going to do some reading about hummingbirds in Texas.
I'm not sure how to distinguish among the female and immature Ruby-throated and Black-chinned hummers that are at our feeders these winter days. I think I've read that the RTH's have greener heads, with the BCH's having grayer. I don't know if you can actually use that field mark as distinctive, though. All the ones I'm seeing have green heads, but one is less green. I am also noticing that some of the birds have wing tips that are about even with the tip of the tail and some have slightly longer tails.

Today we had three or four different Ruby-throated/Black-chinned. The one pictured here has tail and wing tips about even.

1 comment:

KaHolly said...

Great shots! We only get ruby-throated hummers here, and only the brown thrasher. Did you manage to figure out the difference between the hummingbirds? ~karen