We’ve had a cardinal family dropping by every morning. The male is very bold, coming close to the house and waiting for me to toss out some sunflower seeds. Then the female and the young male join him. I’m glad to see them raising an actual cardinal for their second round; they started the summer by raising a cowbird.
The other day I was home in the middle of the day and was surprised to see an adult rabbit in the yard. This was the first rabbit we’ve seen all year.
From time to time the female hummingbird has come back to visit the butterfly bush. I’m realizing we don’t have very many suitable flowers for her right now. I’ll try to do better next year.
Earlier this week I spotted two Northern Flickers facing each other in the middle of the lawn. From time to time they moved their heads from side to side and pointed their beaks upward. I gather this is called a “fencing duel” (Cornell’s All About Birds site has a good description) but this seems to be the wrong time of year.
This morning I watched two mourning doves on the walk behind the house. One (female?) was standing still, close to the second one (male?) who was completing a thorough grooming. Feathers settled, the second one then began to peck at the first one’s neck and head. A quick search lead me to this blog post at poweredbybirds.com, where I learned the term “allopreening” for this behavior.
Slowed down by a cold, I’ve ventured out just to stand in the sun a bit. That’s when I noticed the broken robin’s egg on the walk near the back steps. And I’m left with a puzzle: how did it get there? It was lying in an open area with no overhanging branches, a good 30 feet from the forsythia where I’ve seen robins nesting. Obviously it didn’t simply fall out of a nest. Who carried it there and dropped it? I’ve heard that crows sometimes eat the eggs of smaller birds, so that might be a possibility. But how far could a crow carry an egg in its beak? Or is there other nest-robbing wildlife perhaps at night? At different times over the years I’ve seen a rat, a possum, and once, in a nearby yard, a fox.
I was happy to be distracted by a butterfly–one of the sulphurs, the first I’ve seen this year. Possibly the Clouded Sulphur, but I’m not certain. Clover is one of its larval food plants, so it should be happy with our lawn!
Another interesting moment was provided by a tiny green bee on the deciduous azalea, which has just started to bloom. So many representations of bees in action show them deep in the throat of a flower. This one, however, was out on the end of the anther, and as far as I could tell was diligently gathering pollen. I had never seen this before so will watch for it again.
Last week I gave the forsythia a bit of a trim. I remembered that robins had nested several times in the first one of the group along the back fence, and I was hoping to get the trimming done in case they were planning to return.
This morning I saw two robins flying to this bush from different directions, each with a strand of nesting material. A scraggly beginning of a nest is barely visible inside the bush. They are definitely back, reminding me of more things I don’t know. Why this bush, when there are four others? Are the same robins returning every year? Or do robins in general view this as a particularly desirable location?
The birds visiting the yard have varied with the weather. Today’s snow brought juncos to join the cardinals, chickadees, and mourning doves, while the house finches are absent. We are running low on sunflower seeds and the feeder is almost ready for a refill. I scattered seeds out on the increasingly snowy back walk in hopes of attracting the ground feeders, but so far they are staying further from the house, foraging in the flower bed under the feeder.
Later, seeing that the snow had buried the scattered seeds, I ventured out to fill the feeder and scatter a few seeds in an adjacent flower pot. After a while the juncos returned.