Friday, February 24, 2017

February Birds

Our February birds were similar to January's visitors.  It is still winter, after all.  I'm posting pictures of the newbies.  The most frequent visitors continue to be gold-crowned sparrows.  There are a handful of house sparrows thrown in, as well.  One morning, I saw a bird that was similar in coloring to a house sparrow -- but not the same exactly.  Same colors, different markings.  I think this is what I saw.  But I'm not positive.  I have only seen it that one time which makes me think that maybe I didn't see it at all.  I'm learning that bird watching is not simple or straight forward.  It's darn difficult.
Chestnut-backed Chickadee
We have a few house finches that have joined the purple finches at the feeder.  They are definitely a brighter red than their cousins and they have a red spot on their tail.  I'm sure on this bird.
House finch
And then there was the mystery bird.  A beautiful bird, the size and shape of a sparrow, but a beautiful pale, warm, buff color -- uniformly colored -- started hanging out at the feeder.  I consulted both of my bird books; the quick and easy Sierra bird book and my comprehensive Sibley guide.  Nothing.  I scoured the Internet.  Nothing.  Finally, in desperation, I called our friend Steve who studied ornithology -- so he has a degree in birds.  If he didn't know, I was sunk.  Steve was able to identify the bird -- its a gold-crowned sparrow with a pigment mutation.  No wonder I couldn't find it.  And he told me not to stress about being unable to identify every bird I see.  "It happens to all of us," he said.  If it happens to Steve, then I'm good with letting it go.
Photo by Christian Dionne - posted on website
I put up two kinds of bird feeders in my garden.  I read that it is best to have feeders designated for specific birds.  If you put in an all purpose bird seed mix, the birds will pick through it and discard much of it on the ground.  So, I bought a big feeder and filled it with sunflower seeds.  It is very popular with the sparrows, finches and juncos.  The other is a cylinder of mesh, filled with teeny tiny Niger seed.  It took the goldfinches a few days to find it, but now it typically has five to ten little gold birds clinging to its sides.  I love the goldfinches and the way they light up the bare branches of the garden oak tree with their bright yellow bodies and cheerful chirping.
Lesser Goldfinch
In mid-February, a new bird showed up at the feeder.  It flew a few times to the feeder, but mostly walked upside down on the limbs of the garden oak tree.  That's how I knew what it was; that and its long skinny beak - perfect for sticking into the crevices of trees to get tasty bugs.

White Breasted Nuthatch

(all photos from the Audubon website unless otherwise noted)

Monday, February 20, 2017

Done with the Mud

Unfortunately, the mud isn't done with us.

We seem to only be getting a day, or a partial day, between storms.  A couple days of sunshine would be nice.

We are in the midst of another doozy storm today.  It started last night and will continue through tonight with very heavy rain, high winds, flooding, blah blah blah.  Tuesday and Wednesday the rain will reduce in intensity, but remain.

Thursday or Friday, the next storm will arrive.  It will be colder than this one, with the possibility of snow.

Princess Lucy sloshes through puddles without blinking.  Yesterday, we left the horses out in the rain for the first hour or so, after the system arrived, because the rain was showery and they've been in the barn so dang much.  The boys were fine, rolling in the mud, thundering through the muck and spraying Brett with mud...

Pistol didn't mind either.  She was busy sticking her head under the fence, trying to reach every last blade of grass.  Lucy, stood at the arena gate and screamed towards the house.  When I brought her in, she was a bit wet.  The first thing she did was roll in her shavings.  When she stood up, there were shavings stuck to her nose, her cheeks, her neck and her entire body.  She looked like a chocolate donut covered in coconut.