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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!




Sunday, January 1, 2012

and the Winner Is...

Drumroll, please:  . . . First Yard Bird of the Year Honors for 2012 go to . . .


a Rufous Hummingbird!

The weather was warm, humid, and overcast at 7:30 this morning when I stepped onto the front deck to snap a picture of this little guy, using a flash because the light was still dim.  It was making a racket, as Rufous hummers do, and fending off a Buff-bellied Hummingbird (last year's winner) from both the sugar-water and the first-bird accolades.

A challenge is possible from the neighborhood Great Horned Owls who WHO-WHOOed their way through the night starting at midnight as fireworks and gun shots (remember this is Texas) announced the new year. So I guess I'll qualify my announcement by saying this is the first bird SEEN in the yard this year.

A front has arrived in the last hour bringing north winds. Though temperatures are still near 70, they'll drop a bit before too long.  Even if the birds start hiding out from a blustery wind,  I've already marked 30 species for 2012 and my first day goal of 50 is possible.    I'll post the official 2011 list, as promised, later in the day--after I watch the yard awhile. I love new years and new beginnings when every bird can be ticked off the list.  It's not that I'm only interested in the tick, of course.  I'm much more a backyard birdwatcher than a bird lister.  But games and competition with myself are still fun. 

214 Yard Birds in a year isn't bad, but I'm aiming higher and checking my list already. Who knows what a new day and new year might bring?

17 comments:

eileeninmd said...

Hi Kay, you are off to a great year of birding. I wish my first bird of the year was a hummer. That would mean it very warm outside and it is not. Love the post and photos. Happy New Year!

KaHolly said...

Yay!! And what a beauty!

john said...

As I read this post, 7:00 pm, I checked the outside temp here in Anchorage,0 degrees. My first bird of 2012 was Common Raven. It's also my only bird of 2012.

TexWisGirl said...

lucky you! still seeing hummers!

just love those black-bellies. can't wait to have them return here.

bob zeller said...

As I promised I checked out your blog. I think it will be fun to follow. Today, I got my first 32 of the year. My goal is 225 for the 2012. I am from San Angelo, by the way.

Good luck to both of us. :-)

Phil said...

That hummer's eyes looked like mine did on New Year's Day! Did you slip something in the nectar?

Suz said...

The first bird of my new year was a male cardinal. He and his mate have graced me, the last two years, with nesting in my honesuckle
I haven't kept a bird journal in a while...but I will from this day forward...though the birds around this suburban garden are a bit boring in as far as listing...but I am grateful for everyone of them
today I spotted a few juncos..ah the reason I love to garden...birds
Tell me...how did you make that hummer feeder...and how do you take care of it.....I have hummers at my flowers..but they zing around so much...maybe with a feeder they would stay put a bit..?

Kay Baughman said...

Suz, I agree that listing is generally pretty boring--but birdwatching is not. And I think watching them in our own gardens is the best because we can see them go about their daily lives, like your cardinals. Cardinals and juncos are certainly worth watching!Keep us posted on their lives.
The hummer feeders are the cheapest I could find. I buy them at our supermarket for less than 10dollars but you can probaby find them by mail order. If you look closely at the photo you can see the words "Happy Hummingbird Watching!" and the nectar recipe right on the jar.Look up "Best-1 32 oz." on the internet and you'll find out where to get them. Keep it safe and clean by cleaning and changing sugar water every week.Hang a red or yellow flower basket beside it to attract them at first . Soon they will know where the feeder is and return to it every migration.
I look forward to your journal!
Kay

Kay Baughman said...

Phil, Funny comment about the eyes! I agree. It was so early in the morning I used my flash and that was the result. The birds never seem to notice the flash but it does make their eyes look strange!

Kay Baughman said...

Bob, I look forward to reading about your progress during the year. I guess I'll up my yard goal to 225 to match yours. So far I have 52 but I haven't been looking much for the last two days. We have a 1/3 acre yard, more or less, but it has logs of native plants and good surrounding habitat as well.. I count anything that I can see or hear from my yard.
Kay

Kay Baughman said...

Eileen, Karen, and John--I am always so glad to hear comments from blogging friends! Welcome back.
Kay

Julie G. said...

Lucky you, having a Rufous Hummingbird as your first bird sighting of the year! Gosh, I will have to wait until the beginning of May before I see my first hummer (Ruby-throated). Looks like you are off to a great start! Sounds like your backyard (and front) it a glorious place for bird sightings. I hope 2012 is a great birding year for you.

Kay Baughman said...

Hi, Julie,
Yes we're lucky to have hummers all year. An Anna's just perched close to the window, its red crown (spotty since it's a juvenile)shining in the sun! Thanks for stopping by the blog!
Kay

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Hi Kay, I love hummingbirds---and we don't have the Rufous Hummers here... He is GORGEOUS.... So glad you saw him and got some great pictures...

I will do a Best of 2011 BIRDS on my blog on Fri, the 13th... Be sure and check it out.

Have a great weekend.
Hugs,
Betsy

Carole DeAngeli said...

What a great 'first' bird! I am curious if the rufous winters in your area. I have them here only during migration, but have Anna's and Costa's all year. Happy New Year!

Derek & Chris Thomas said...

Lovely pics!

Gene said...

A very nice blog and great photographs.

I wish I could see some of those western birds.

Gene

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