Five for Friyay: Birds in my Backyard

I've taken up bird-watching in the new year. My husband and I bought a house which came with a backyard, which in turn came with a few feeders that our sellers left behind for us. I mentioned to him in December wanting to learn more about the birds our yard plays host to, so I was gifted with Peterson Field Guide to Birds of Western North America (reminder: I live in Oregon) and The Audobon Society Guide to Attracting Birds. Based on the recommendations in the latter, I learned to make hummingbird nectar (so easy-- 1/4 cup sugar dissolved in 1 cup hot water and let it cool), bought a birdseed mix with lots of cracked corn and sunflower seeds, and bought some suet. 

I noticed that the cage that holds the suet was zip-tied closed, so I had to cut the zip-tie to open it. But I didn't have another tie and the cage does snap shut, so I didn't think anything of it. I vaguely wondered why the prior owners had tied the cage shut like that, but oh well, right? The suet lasted about a week before I watched a squirrel work it open and steal the whole suet cake! So now the birds have no suet, which they mourn, until I find a solution (probably more zip ties TBH). And I learned that every weird thing about this house and yard is like that for a reason. 

Photo by  K evin Cole

Photo by Kevin Cole

Anna's Hummingbird

Anna's Hummingbird is a year-round hummingbird pretty common in Oregon. I have a small feeder that holds about eight ounces of nectar, and the two or three hummingbirds that frequent my yard can get through that in about a week and a half. 

In my yard, the hummingbirds tend to flit between one pretty bare tree toward the back of the yard and one larger evergreen tree closer to the feeder. Even though the feeder is pretty close to the porch door, I haven't been able to get a photo. They're just too fast! 

Varied Thrush

Photo by  Minette Layne

Photo by Minette Layne

The varied thrush really loves my yard. Last week when the rain paused for an hour, about half a dozen of these little orange darlings hopped on the grass, pulling up earthworms. They also like the seed in the feeders. In the bird identification book I have, they're on the same page as the robin, and truthfully the first time I saw one I thought I was seeing a robin. 

I don't see the varied thrush every day, but once or twice a week several of them visit my yard to see what goodies I have for them. 

Western Scrub-Jay

Photo by  Rick Leinen

Photo by Rick Leinen

Or rather, the California Scrub-Jay. Apparently, three separate varieties of jay were once all lumped together (and were when my book was published) but have since been split off into their own separate definitions. I see the scrub-jay almost daily in my backyard, usually two or three of them. The jay is larger than the thrush or robin and the little birds tend to scatter when this big guy gets near the feeder. This bird doesn't seem greedy, though, and will make several small trips to the feeder to let the little birds have a turn. I like to imagine that this cute blue bird really wants to make friends with the smaller songbirds and thus is trying to prove how nice he is. "See! I'l share the seed with you!" But the little birds are clique-ish and having none of it.  

Oregon Junco

Photo by  Walter Siegmund

Juncos are small, gray members of the sparrow family. The family of Oregon juncos (so denoted because they are common to Oregon and have gray heads, brown backs, and reddish sides) in my backyard is the clique-ish crew I mentioned above. They want nothing to do with the larger birds who come to the feeder and flit away as soon as they see a jay approaching. There are at least six in the yard if there are any at all. They also like to hop on the ground and hide in the bushes. 

Photo by  ADJ82

Photo by ADJ82

Spotted Towhee

Spotted Towhees are adorable and they taught me the term "rufous," which is the name of the shade of reddish-orange their sides are. Their wings are stripey. I've only seen them in the yard once or twice, but they seem to like the area under the bushes. I think they like teasing the cats, because they're the birds that have come closest to the glass door where my kitties are crouched low, pretending they're about to pounce.