Saturday, June 29, 2013

Backyard birds

This year has been a wonderful year for bird watching in our yard.  We noticed a lot of wood chips on the patio and discovered a pair of Yellow-shafted Flickers (Colaptes auratus auratus) had decided to carve a nest cavity in the old Paper Mulberry tree outside the kitchen window.  The location gave us a great view of the Parent birds as they came and went, and later of the fast growing chicks being fed.  We were lucky enough to watch the chicks fledge, taking flight from a dead tree limb.  I took many photos but haven't done any paintings of them yet.

On the other side of the house a pair of Bluebirds had taken up residence in one of the 12 cubbies in our Martin house.  In 12 years, our Martin house had never even tempted a Purple Martin once, it had always been a condo for Purple Finches and House Sparrows.  But this year we are the proud landlords of two beautiful Bluebirds.  While we could watch the parent Bluebirds fly about the yard catching insects and eating berries, the Martin house is too high for us to easily view the interior.  We set up a spotting scope that allowed us to see dim shapes moving inside the Martin house.  I spent a morning working on a sketch of the parents feeding the chicks (upper part of the page).

We had cleaned out the Martin house once we were sure the Bluebird chicks had fledged and the parents were no longer visiting the house.  This was a bit of a task since the telescoping pole the house is on has rusted together and we couldn't lower it.  We ended up using a 12 foot ladder to climb up to the house to clean it.  But it was worth the effort, we were rewarded by having the Bluebirds build a second nest the very next day!

We have spotted the young Bluebirds from the first clutch in the yard.  They look like odd half sparrow half Bluebird birds, with blue wing and tail, but a brown stripped head and breast.  I added sketches of the parents and one of the first clutch immature Bluebirds to the lower part of the page.

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