Saturday, January 31, 2015

For the Birds, Part I (My wild kingdom)

(Editor's note: I wrote this series of 5 posts 3 years ago and I have reposted it here on my blog)

We live in the city, but our backyard is a jungle.

It is very welcoming to birds, and we have lots of visitors. From hummingbirds on the small side, to owls and hawks on the large end.

I'don't often photograph owls, but the hawks are very prominent in the garden. And often fighting with crows.

There are lots of songbirds this year. Most are very bright and very noisy. And they must be very fast, or they become lunch for the hawks.

And we have a few dozen wild parrots in the neighborhood, escaped about 30 years ago and have been roaming ever since.

Because we are near the coastline, we see aquatic birds too. Seagulls are always flying overhead (usually very high - going from bay to bay)

Pelicans are now common again in our area, though not in our yard.

(I really must get down in the garden and clean up the debris)

In fact, there are more species sighted in this area than in most regions of the world. Local turkeys shown here.

OK, the swans aren't in my yard - this is the River Thames. I was just checking to see if you were awake.

Now perhaps I am exaggerating too much. Let's go onto Part ii and see some hummingbirds.

For the Birds, Part II (my wild kingdom)

I have been lucky to actually hold a few birds who have lost their way, hit a window, or been rescued from a cat:

This bird flew into our sliding glass door. I found him on the ground after I heard the little thump. Mr.  hummer was pretty bedraggled, but we comforted, warmed, fed and cared for him. After a couple hours, he stood up, stretched his wings, and flew off. I was very happy about that.

A couple weeks ago I was taking a shower and looked out the window. Much to my amazement, there is a hummingbird nest just outside. With momma.

Looking the next few days, I finally saw the nest without the momma. A baby beak was sticking up.

We checked several times every day to make sure things were ok, as this is in a very windy place alongside our house (and picture taken through a screen). The mom was often on the nest, but last Saturday she disappeared. No sign of her - eaten, exhausted, lost?

For 48 hours I didn't see her. How could a baby survive? I called Hummingbird Rescue. A very nice 82-yr old lady came out, walked right up to the nest,

pulled our little chick up by the nose, and proclaimed him healthy and full of insects. She explained that during this phase of hatching the mom fills the baby's crop with bugs, then has a day or more to rest while he slowly digests. It's when they live on nectar that feeding regularly is critical.

As if to reassure me, the mom came back an hour later and got back in the saddle. Sitting on his head.

With my newly-found confidence I was able to walk right over to the nest and point a camera in his face. "Don't worry, be happy." he said.

He's getting a bit tight in the nest now.

Here he is today, saying "Hi www"

For the Birds, Part III (My wild kingdom)

Here are some recent photos of my baby hummingbird, from Wednesday


and Friday (today) he is turned around facing the world and taking an interest in things

Here's more alert, looks more like a real hummingbird, and I expect will soon be learning to fly.
I see the mother in the yard foraging but have not seen her with this baby - as it's a bit too tight in the nest now.

(How do they ever raise two at a time? which is the normal situation)

To be continued

For the Birds, Part IV (My wild kingdom)

We left off with my baby hummingbird becoming interested in the great outdoors

Today I peeked out and he was there, but standing on the edge of his nest. I ducked into the house to get the camera, and he was gone!

I got up and sat on the roof for a half-hour before I finally spotted him in a tree 20 feet above the nest

I also spotted our hungry hawk, but I'm sure he didn't see the baby

This photo gives you the big picture. The hawk is in the eucalyptus on  the far left, the hummer is in the tree on the far right

He flew around a little bit but I found him again (I need some sunscreen but can't be bothered to go down)

He's enjoying himself, I think, as he takes a little stretch of wings and tail

Looking a bit like Richard Simmons "swing your hiney to the left and swing it to the right"

Chunky little fellow, isn't he?

We both heard his momma calling, and off he flew.

To be continued ...

For the Birds, Part V (My wild kingdom)

I thought I would try to keep the "National Geographic" and "Wild Kingdom"-loving readers up-to-date on my hummingbird's progress.

He's been very hard to capture on camera, now that he's flying around.

I sat out in back yesterday and today for several hours, as I heard him peeping - after lots of scanning about, I saw him chattering away on a branch.

I saw the big hawk in the same tree

I was appalled to see they were on THE SAME BRANCH! Honestly, you try to get your kids to hang out with the right crowd ...

Honest, I am not making this up. Here's a shot to show you the distance. You can see the hawk. I was sitting in the chair most of the time.

Notice the cat is looking elsewhere... why is he so interested in the side yard? I wondered.

Aha! An Alligator lizard, trapped by Bandit, the cat next door

The Lizard is furious, of course. I've never seen a trapped lizard smile and laugh

But I like lizards, so I rescued him and let him go down the hill, far from the cats

Stopping on the way to watch the busy bees filling my neighbor's garage ceiling with honey and wax.

and to talk with Jack, the smartest dog in the whole world.

and to see if any birds were on the feeders in the other house nearby.

No birds here.

PS I thought the story would end when my hummingbird baby hatched out, but no, he or his momma have become best friends with the big hawk in the eucalyptus tree. I have decided this means I need a new camera, but here are the latest photos...

I heard the hummer chirping, up in the vicinity of the hawk. After some searching through the camera viewfinder, I shot blindly and caught this:

then an even more incredible stop action capture of the hummer. Sorry, I was out at 20X and couldn't get closer

And finally, here's a classic profile of an Anna's hummingbird, in far right corner

I hope you are enjoying this as much as I am.  

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

More Birds to See

Today I saw three. They posed for me, these birds of the sea. 

Then I saw a bunch more and the poem fell apart.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Birds by the Sea

Since we live near the ocean, we get the chance to see sea birds. Or at least birds that live by the shoreline. Here are a few I've photographed. As I am not a bird-spotter, I don't know what they are (except the seagulls and pelicans).