My interest in bird watching started just about 6 years ago. It was springtime and it was my habit to take walks to search out wildflowers in the scrub desert not far from my new home. Every day as I was returning from these wildflower hunts I would notice some very brightly colored orange birds flying away from the honey locust tree in my yard. After seeing this several times my curiosity got the better of me and I just had to know the name of these orange birds. Some research revealed these birds to be Bullock's Orioles, and the research also revealed that Orioles love oranges so I put an orange half in the honey locust tree in my yard and before long I was catching sight of the Orioles enjoying them. At first the Orioles were wary and would fly off if they caught sight of me even if through a window. It took awhile, but by the next year the orioles became used to me and would stay and eat as long as I stayed about 8 to 10 feet away.
Not long after learning about the Orioles I was standing on the deck just a couple of feet from the tree when a very small bird landed on the orange. Its back was to me and it looked rather plain grey and I thought it was a little sparrow. When it turned to look at me I was surprised to see a bright yellow face with black eye-line and a deep red shoulder patch. After some more research I learned this little bird is called a Verdin. That was it; the Verdin had me hooked on bird watching. I was utterly amazed that such a beautiful little creature came to my yard and I never even had a clue they existed. I have since learned this tiny bird, just a little larger than a hummingbird, has the heart of a lion. It is one of the bravest to visit my yard and always gets its fair share of the treats that are put out.
I bought several books about birds to learn which species might visit my yard and, determined to lure them, provided their favorite foods. It wasn’t long before the honey locust tree was looking like some crazy Christmas tree all decked out in nuts and fruit and several kinds of feeders. After stepping back and really getting a good look at the hodge-podge in the branches I decided to scale it back a bit. As I wrote that last sentence I realized I haven’t really scaled back, rather the food is offered in a more discreet fashion. To satisfy the different species of birds that visit, the Honey Locust tree always has an orange half and an apple or pear half skewered directly to a branch and usually a few peanuts in the crook of the tree, birdseed is scattered on the ground and placed in feeders, sometimes I make homemade suet with various goodies that I have on hand. In addition, spring through fall the birds will find a nectar feeder and a small feeder with grape jelly. There are two fresh water areas for drinking; one a pedestal birdbath and the other a ground level dish fed by a dripping pipe. The ground level dish is visited by an amazing variety of local and migrating birds and other creatures including snakes, lizards, rabbits, coyotes and insects of all kinds. At left is a Northern Flicker at odds with a frozen water pipe.
Last night as I was climbing into bed I heard two owls hootie-whoing to each other right outside the window. The sound was a first for me and I climbed into bed and listened with a smile & joy I could feel in my heart. I don't plan on enticing the owls to hang around but it was so neat to hear them.
I hope you have enjoyed this story. I plan on telling you about how I made friends with a roadrunner next.