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Birds in Winter (and a squirrel)

In autumn and winter the birds arrive from the north to keep us company. This typically means a lot of White-crowned and Golden-crowned Sparrows around the yard, but my flagship migrator is the Yellow-rumped Warbler. Or, as Simon and I call them, Yellow-butts. For their 2007 arrival, I first noticed them on the (easily remembered) first of October. The older boys (males have a yellow spot on their heads) sport sharper plumage nowadays, so perhaps they’ll head back north soon for more dating and feasting. To my recollection, they’ve headed north around March or thereabouts, so I wonder if they’ll be hanging about less this year.

Yellow-rumped Warbler & avocadoYellow-rumped Warbler and the Avocado of Gluttony (February 2008).

At the end of January, Simon cleaned out the house previously occupied by the Chestnut-backed Chickadees. They came to feast on seeds from volunteer sunflowers in October, but I haven’t seen them again until recently.

nest of Chestnut-backed Chickadee from 2007Nest of former chickadee tenants. (February 2008).

Mockingbirds tentatively started singing around the end of January. Now they’re singing frequently, flying around chak-chakking at anyone threatening their favorite trees.

This past week, though, everyone has gone nutso! The Bushtit mafia flies from bush to tree to hedge and back again. Gangs of House Finches, Lesser Goldfinches, American Robins and Cedar Waxwings argue and take baths. Pairs of chickadees and Oak Titmice vie (possibly) for the birdhouse. Bewick’s Wrens belie their surreptitious nature with loud BWEEE-chivi-chivi-chivi’ing. Black-eyed Juncos forage for snacks. And another reminder that young Cooper’s Hawks use our backyard for hunting practice and…make pit-stops at birdbaths? 🙂

Juvenile Cooper's Hawk“Bathe or hunt?” Cooper’s hawk on arbor, seemingly considering the birdbath below. (Photo by Simon, February 2008)

There’s a squirrel who made the mistake of tucking away an avocado (from a tree a couple houses away) in the apricot tree. Which has no leaves or big enough holes for cover. Which is also a big meeting place for birds. Suffice to say, after too many bites stolen (stolen? who took the fruit from where and when?) by Mr. Yellow-butt, Ms. (or Mr.) Squirrel decided to store the rich stash elsewhere.

squirrel & avocadoHyup! The squirrel with the Avocado of Gluttony. Observe its kyoot belly. (February 2008)

More bird pictures in the avian gallery.

A brief chronicle of The Squirrel and the Avocado.

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