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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

It's summer and the birding is easy ...

It's the second day of summer and the yard is full of juveniles and quite a few visitors. It appears that, as of this morning, all the violet-green swallow fledglings have left the nest box under our garden shed in the back yard. I don't know this for sure, of course, since this is not the nest with the nest cam in it. (Wouldn't you know?) That nest, in our front yard, was abandoned early on, half built. It had nests in it for the last two years but this year the parents built half a nest and left. I'm guessing it had to do with all the European starlings that were hanging around at that point, taking advantage of the suet. With their innate good sense, the swallows probably didn't want to risk nest predation. I mean, really, if you had a choice, would you painstaingly build a lovely wooden home next to a known arsonist? No disrespect to starlings intended - I know they're just being starlings. And I was actually pleased that they nested nearby and I got to watch the mother feed the babies our suet.

Juvenile European starling

Last evening and this morning a MacGillvary's warbler was snacking on the red hot poker in the front yard. This is the first of this species I've seen in our yard.

I didn't realize this rufous hummer was so young until I saw the photo!

Several people have mentioned (complained, really) that hummers are no longer flocking to their feeders like they were in the spring. Yes, April is wonderful - the feeders were buzzing like crazy ...

... but most of these guys were migrating from Central America, just passing through Gabriola, which is (delightfully) on the Pacific Flyway. So no, don't fret. Don't up the sugar content. Don't take it personally - it's as it's meant to be. As usual.

Here's a juvenile sparrow (song, I think) in the yard this morning. I wonder if it liked the "security" of the wire fencing? 

Remember, if you're hoping a pair of American goldfinches will nest nearby, be sure to leave some thistle in your garden because they use the down to line their nests. Since thistle doesn't bloom until late July or early August - and it's quite beautiful when it does - that's when the American golfinches begin breeding.

Male American goldfinch 

I'd love to know ... what are you seeing in your Gabriola yard and garden these days?


raymondo"o" said...

Hey i like the idea of a Gabriola bird blog.
Today, I saw a turkey-vulture drying out its wings on a close-by post.
What a show! Unfortunatyely, no camera . . .


thebetterhalf said...

Ah, turkey vultures. Such unsung heroes. Lucky you rt!

nick said...

We have a bunch of red hot pokers in the garden and every year when they are in bloom they are visited by Western Tanagers with the same red and yellow colouring. The eternal mystery for us is where on earth do they go and what do they eat when the pokers are not in flower?

Sharon said...

Hi Nick - Ah, let me solve the mystery! According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, western tanagers winter in Mexico and Central America. They are a 'complete migrant' - which means there are no truly resident populations. Tangers eat insects, both those they find in flowers and other foliage and those they catch in flight, flycatcher-like. I guess they're finding insects in the pokers. They also eat fruit, including, apparently, half oranges left out for them. I might try that.

nick said...

Thanks Sharon. The amazing thing for us is that we only see tanagers in our garden when the pokers are out, never at any other time of the year. And the colour match between flower and bird is extraordinary.