Monday, April 26, 2010

Ornithology 101

So Rule No. 1 of bird-watching is this:  ONE MUST BE PATIENT.

Rule No. 2:  One should always have binoculars and/or their camera AT HAND.

Rule No. 3:  One should always proceed S.L.O.W.L.Y. in areas where they usually see ... BIRDS.

So I'm following all the rules today.  I hit the big-time score.  First, I followed Rule No. 3 ... when I got home this afternoon from running all kinds of errands, I drove up our drive ... slowly.  I usually do.  There's either birds in the birdbath or bunnies in the open spaces, or at the very least, I can delay putting things away for just that much longer.

Second, I spy a ****load of birds splashing in our Misty Birdbath.  I slow the car even more.  I realize that I am now able to say that I followed Rule No. 2 -- my camera was right next to me ('cause I took Kristi and her friend Jen out to breakfast this morning, and wanted to take photos of them). 

And next:  Rule No. 1.  PATIENCE.  It's a virtue, you know. 

So.  I sit in the car, radio off and a/c turned way down, foot on the brake.  I put the camera on "sport" setting and I zoom in as much as I can, still unaware of what a goldmine I've just struck.   Still, I'm thinking to myself, "hmm, those birds look rather ... large ..." ???

Lo and behold -- it was a FLOCK of Cedar Waxwings.  OMG, I just scored big-time!  I begin very calmly freaking out.

I quickly called Mark on his cell to tell him to fly (get it? fly?!) down the driveway, but no answer.  Meanwhile, I'm snapping away and once I realized what I had, there wasn't any way I was taking time to call anyone else to come see.   

So look up Cedar Waxwing if you don't know what they are ... Bombycilla cedorum is their Latin name.  WAY cool birds.

you'll be re-directed to a site for Sibley's bird guides.

So while I'm snap snap snapping away -- click, click, click -- I try to inch the car a little closer.  They're SO on to me, though, that they flitter up into the nearby trees.  Trying to blend in.  Right, guys.   So I keep snapping.   I turn the car off.  {you can see how Rule No. 1 is really key here ...}

But wait.  It gets better.  OMG, a small crew of ... oh, they're just house finches.  Anyway, too cute, they fly in and bathe and the Waxwings - whether they didn't want to cross-pollinate with the other "lowly" birds, or if I was making them cautious -- the Waxwings just sat up above, PATIENTly waiting for an empty bath OR for me to leave.  You see, patience works both ways.

At left, a House Finch, a White-Crowned Sparrow, a lone Waxwing (all in the lower bath) and up above, one of these cute podgy baby birds and ... hmmm ... something rather brightly colored.

So as I sit there, super-duper PATIENTLY waiting for some more Waxwing action ... HOLY COW, some flash of brilliant color flits into view.  OMG, it's the first Western Tanager (Piranga ludoviciana) of the season.  RIGHT into the bath.  "Nobody's gonna believe this", I thought to myself.

PATIENCE pays off, my ornithological friends.  Get this:

The next flash of color that flies in ... a Hooded Oriole (Icterus cucullatus).  Yup, you got it ... the first sighting of them for the season, too. 

As if it could get any better ... in pops a hummingbird to the bath.  Yeah, sitting right there.  I'm going to guess that this was a Rufous Hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus), although I am not certain.  We have LOTS of hummingbirds on the property, and I know this is one of our year-round varieties, but I'm not so good at ID'ing the hummers. 

Whew.  What a day.

OH, but wait.  One of the most darling bathers this afternoon were these podgy baby birds - and I have no idea what they are, although I might guess they are baby House Sparrows (?) - if someone can enlighten me, I can go to sleep easily tonight.

Ah, now where are our elusive Western Bluebirds?  I ask you.  Is it too much to ask for them to come back and nest on our property this year?  We had them here, one year.  Too lovely for words.  Oh, and of course, that was the same year that a flock of Indigo Buntings flew on through for a weekend. 

Bliss for Birders, 101.

Yours in Ornithological Ecstasy ...

(oh, and by the way ... all photos in this post -
by Moi.  Yup, all my own shots.  Sigh.)

1 comment:

ann said...

you've increased my bird knowledge by at least 100%. I so admire your bird identification skills! One of your many gifts!