Great Backyard Birdcount

Happy New Year Everyone!

Hard to believe it is already February.  It has been a very busy month.  For many of you in the U.S., this is a holiday weekend due to President’s Day.  If you have some extra time on your hands due to the holiday, consider signing up for the Great Backyard Bird Count.

Sponsored by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the Audubon Society and Bird Studies Canada, this event invites people worldwide to take 15 minutes to count birds from wherever they are.  Whether you are in your backyard, at a park or just taking a stroll, consider entering your observations this weekend.  This event helps scientists and bird enthusiasts track bird populations from across the globe.

It takes about 5 minutes to sign up for a free account. After that, you just sign back in and enter your checklist of birds. The site gives you a ready made list of possible birds in your area with links to information about the various bird species in your area to help make positive identifications on birds.

There’s no need to photograph your observations, but to post photos to accompany your observations, you’ll need to upload them to a site, such as your WordPress blog.

For example, this particular sighting of this raptor has me stumped, so I’m posting it here to upload with my checklist.

P1040047 P1040055The count continues through tomorrow, 2/17/14, so there is still plenty of time to participate. Just visit http://gbbc.birdcount.org/ to get started.

Happy Bird Watching!

Quail Run

This week, I have yet another post highlighting some of the wildlife that crosses through my backyard.  I do have many different types of birds that cross through the neighborhood. One of my favorite birds to observe is the Gambel’s Quail. Gambel’s Quails, named after 19th century naturalist William Gambel, are primarily found in the Southwestern United States. They are ground foragers and eat mostly plant matter (i.e. seeds, leaves, etc…) though juveniles tend to eat insects as well. 

The first two photos below are of a male quail.  Males have a mask-like appearance on their faces and copper colored feathers on the tops of their heads.

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Typically, these quails will travel in packs as a family unit.  At the beginning of summer, many new quails were spotted running around the yard with their parents.  Below, I was able to snap a photo of a female Gamble’s Quail with her two chicks.

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Bird Seed Bandit

Continuing with my latest hobby of sharing things I see in my backyard, I’ve discovered yet another visitor who stops by to eat and drink before going on his/her merry way.

Following in the footsteps of the woodpecker who likes to drink out of the hummingbird feeder, I caught this furry one feasting on the bird seed cake I have hanging from the lemon tree.

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I actually saw one squirrel running around my yard last year about this time, but after two weeks it seemed to disappear.  Then four weeks ago I saw this one feeding on bird food. It came around for another two weeks, but I haven’t had any sightings for days now.

The birds get agitated when the squirrel comes around.  The doves and lovebirds are especially vocal about displaying their displeasure of his/her company, yet the larger grackles (the large bird in the background sitting in the birdbath) are subdued in the squirrels presence.   Knowing there are several sets of eyes on him/her, the few times he/she has visited, he/she mainly eats for about five minutes then dashes right out of my yard.

Parrot Party

Hello there!  Yes I know it has been nearly two months since my last post. I had not logged into WordPress in weeks, so I was a bit surprised to see that some of my posts from last year were still driving visitors to the blog.  So I figured I should post something new.

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this on the blog before, but one of my newer hobbies is bird watching.  I gradually added a few feeding stations around my backyard and have been graced by the presence of several types of birds, many of which I never really noticed before.

One species that has made itself known in my backyard is the rosy faced lovebird (sometimes referred to as the peach faced lovebird).  Typically see flying together in flocks of at least 5-6, I’ve had as many as 20 hanging around my backyard at the same time.

These birds are actually native to southwest Africa.  However, a local aviary let go a flock of these birds approximately 13-14 years ago.  The desert climate apparently agreed with these birds as they have thrived in the Phoenix metropolitan area.

From my observations, they love to hang on things and splash around in water.

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For more information about the Phoenix peach faced lovebirds, feel free to check out the articles below.

http://www.azfo.org/pfLoveBird/pfloMain.html

http://www.birdchannel.com/bird-magazines/bird-talk/2009-february/peach-faced-lovebirds.aspx

http://www.azcentral.com/travel/articles/20130206lovebirds-stir-passion-phoenix.html

Photo Friday: Gilbert Riparian Preserve Part II

Last week I introduced the Gilbert Riparian Preserve, complete with photos of the surrounding plants and wildlife.  This week, I’d like to share a few more photos, taken just last month on a very humid July morning.

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With the overcast sky, temperature hovering just above 70 degrees Fahrenheit, and 60% humidity, the preserve had a very sub-tropical ambiance.

The ducks in the pond near the entrance of the preserve were up and about.

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As I began my hike into the preserve, I noticed a few signs around the preserve that contained random facts about the universe in general.  Here is one such sign about Jupiter.

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I suppose these help entertain those of us here for a morning walk.

As I moved further into the preserve, I came across a neat little babbling brook, which I had  somehow missed on previous visits.

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At another pond was a completely different flock of birds than the ones found at the entrance.

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I also came across a dragonfly and a hummingbird.

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The egrets and herons were also in abundance during this visit.

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Thankfully, I didn’t see any snakes on this visit.  I did however catch more than just a glimpse of the numerous jackrabbits running around the preserve.

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This was definitely a great way to wake up and start my morning.

Photo Friday: Gilbert Riparian Preserve Part I

Over the past year, I’ve discovered a hidden gem among a primarily developed area known as the Gilbert Riparian Preserve.  The preserve is 110 acres big, contains 8 ponds and claims to have over 200 species of birds residing in the preserve.  The best part is, it is free and open to the public.

This week’s post is a brief introduction to the preserve with photos from my initial visit last spring.  Next week, I’ll post photos from my most recent visit.

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1 of 8 ponds located in the preserve. 

Towards the north end of the preserve is an observatory and a small lake for urban fishing.

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Small lake at north entrance.

The plant life is mostly native desert plants, including cotton, cacti and succulents.  

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There are numerous walking trails making the Gilbert Riparian Preserve a great option for peaceful walks. But watch out, there are a few ground dwellers running around the preserve, including this rattlesnake who was making his own path through the preserve. 

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There are maps available, as well as plenty of signs displaying the latitude and longitude- in case you get lost.

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There are many areas within the preserve that mimic a wetland.  Some of the larger birds, like egrets and herons, congregate in these areas.

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Photo Friday: Imposter

During the winter months, I hung a hummingbird feeder on my back porch to help the little guys get by until the wildflowers start to bloom. The syrup seemed to be disappearing quickly to the point where I was filling it up about every 2-3 days.  Then one morning I got up early enough to find the biggest hummingbird I had ever seen.

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Mr. Woody Woodpecker had figured out how to drink from the feeder and was chugging down the syrup.  I thought the sound of his beak pecking against the wood seemed perkier somehow.

Photo Friday: Out for a Swim

Though it doesn’t have the clarity I’d prefer, this was the best I could do without scaring off this pair of quails in my backyard, who were checking out the pool.  They didn’t actually get in, but I think they were contemplating it.  I just thought it was a great visual to kick off the weekend. 🙂