Backyard birdwatching

The best thing about where we live is that all we have to do is walk to the edge of the back deck and we’re looking down into wild-ish nature.  I say “wild-ish” because while it is one of the natural arroyos common on the central California coast, there is a utilities access road at the bottom of it that is used by lots of pedestrians, cyclists, dogs, and the occasional municipal employees in a city truck.  But in the early mornings I feel that I have the entire canyon to myself, since most sensible people aren’t awake at the crack of dawn on a regular basis.

This morning I was playing with some little birds when I remembered that the first spring we lived here I was able to “catch” a chickadee and a juvenile finch.  By “catch” I mean “persuade to come feed from my hand,” not actually put into a cage or anything.  Chestnut-backed chickadees and both purple and house finches are year-round residents that readily come to our seed feeders.  We have a core group of 3-5 chickadees that visit us daily; the number varies from season to season.  Chickadees are vocal and friendly.  For little birds, they’re surprisingly tame.

Back to our first spring here.  The chickadees are easy to watch.  They aren’t afraid of people and come right up to us as they flit between feeders and bushes.  I started hanging out on the deck with some seeds in my hand and, sure enough, soon one little guy was brave enough to trust me:

My little chickadee!

Yep, that’s a wild bird perched on my hand.  This is the only picture we managed to catch, although he was a repeat visitor through the summer.

Sometimes we are lucky enough to see a new (to us) bird at a feeder.  Our neighbor also has seed feeders and a hummingbird feeder, and two years ago we saw this handsome fellow:

A very studly male rose-breasted grosbeak

Plus, we get to look down on birds in flight.  How cool is that?  More on our avian neighbors in another post.

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