New Birds in the ‘Hood

House Wren moving in. Click for more pix.

With so much sadness darkening our wonderful planet, it was with gratitude that the morning’s gloomy news was offset with a healthy dose of brightness and joy. Our birdy yard is the perfect antidote. Sooney predicted the eminent arrival of the Wilson Warbler and, from our bedroom window, we first heard and then spotted two directly across the street, munching on insects in the budding White Oaks. Oh yea, with Sooney’s broken leg and limited mobility for the next couple months, we’ve relocated downstairs and our morning light is the reflected sunrise on the Oaks— more than perfect with tiny yellow birds, resplendent with black caps, skittering about.

Moving outside with coffee and camera, the warbler’s beauty was embellished with audio, although it was the chattery call of a House Wren that filled our yard. They’re rather small, and it took some searching to locate the critter. Turned out to be two, both collecting nesting material for the birdhouse beneath the Madrone tree. Twigs from the Mimosa littered the ground, and those ambitious birds repeatedly dropped down, grabbed a twig, and challenged themselves getting it into the nest’s small hole while its partner sang repeated stanzas of their house-building call.

A scant 10′ above the wren house is our (eagerly-anticipated) Screech Own house. Its larger dimensions are equally interesting to woodpeckers, it turns out, and we’ve previously seen Red-shafted Flickers visit the box. This morning, a pair of Acorn Woodpeckers dropped by for an open house. While one surveyed the area from the nearby Mimosa, the other gave a scrutinizing look, both inside and out, for a potential nesting location.

Bushtit nest up Sampson Creek.

We settled into chairs providing us a good look at the homemaking, but from our vantage point we were unable to see another recent discovery—the Bushtit nest hidden in the Silk Tassel Bush fronting our home on Paradise Lane. The occupants, however, were busy collecting morsels from the emerging dogwood buds and scurrying back to the privacy of their nest. We’d recently spotted a couple other Bushtit nests locally, and photographed the one displayed here a week earlier on that ominous outing when Sooney fell into Sampson creek, damaging a few rocks on her way down.

With the Wrens continuing their duet, the Stellar’s and California Scrub Jays yakking at each other, and the cheerful Goldfinches, Purple Finches, and Black-headed Grosbeaks gorging at our feeder, it was almost embarrassing to have such a lovely place to personally distance while others continue to live in virtual hell. With stay-at-home restrictions in place for the time being, perhaps others will isolate the joy of learning more about the world within their confinement and revel in the wonder and mystery of local plants and wildlife.

Pine Siskins at the feeder.

Coffee finished and photos ready for transfer to my laptop for inclusion into this post, we ended our morning observing a flock of Pine Siskins that descended on our feeders with aplomb. The energy of their arrival frightened off the Mourning Doves, Eurasian-collared Doves, and ubiquitous Gray Squirrels that grovel about in the bark beneath the feeders. Leaving early were the Band-tailed Pigeons that are early feeders. While our forays into our back yard do nothing to alleviate the scourge of the pandemic, they provide us with enormous pleasure and continue to challenge my cognitive skills trying to keep up with Sooney’s remarkable birding knowledge.