With all of the information we process every day, much of it negative and/or involving individuals or organizations working against freedom and rights, we always appreciate reading something uplifting such as the essays you post from ZS Livingstone. Of course Ken, you also post positive and uplifting pieces that we love. A recent favorite is "Went Fishing, Caught 4 Deer."
We wanted to share something with you that we truly enjoy every day and that is watching the birds in our neighborhood. We have had a bird bath for years and decided to buy a bird feeder several months ago and it has turned our backyard into a constant hub of activity. We regularly see the House Finch and House Sparrow in groups at the feeder and the bird bath. These common birds may seem boring to some, but they often show up in small flocks, are very active, extremely social and really fun to watch. Other backyard regulars are the California Towhee (surprisingly tame), Black Phoebe, Western Scrub-Jay and Northern Mockingbird. The Yellow Warbler also shows up every now and then. One of our long time favorites is a Costas Hummingbird who has staked out territory just beyond the backyard. He is very active defending his territory and frequently executes high speed dives straight down from 30'-40' in the air. This is also done to impress the females.
Next month we will be looking for the Hooded Orioles to return from Central/South America. These are the most colorful birds seen in our area of San Diego. The male is Bright yellow or yellow/orange with a black face and neck and black wings with white stripes. The female is slender and beautiful, usually appearing yellow to yellow/green with light black/grey wings with white stripes. They migrate to Southern California to breed every year, building sock nests which hang from the inner fronds of palm trees. Some years they will have two broods of chicks, with the older siblings helping the parents to raise the younger. Hooded Orioles are lots of fun to watch. They are skilled and agile flyers and it is amazing to watch the parents teach this to their chicks. We are so fortunate to have sat in the back yard and watched the parents demonstrate flying maneuvers which the young then emulate. The parents also show the young where to find water, food and even where to hide if necessary (we are guessing about this last one but based on what we witnessed, it appeared this is exactly what the parents were doing). For three years in a row we have been part of the Hooded Orioles lives, watching them raise their young before migrating back to the jungles of Central/South America.
The area we live in has always had birds of prey, the most common being the Red Tailed Hawk. Last year we found a breeding pair in a canyon a little over a mile away. The most exciting new species to our area showed up in December, 2013 and is now frequently seen in the sky above our house as well as in the neighborhood. A Red Shouldered Hawk, which is a light cinnamon color and looks to be about the same size as a Red Tail, lives somewhere nearby. We had never seen this bird before so it has been interesting to watch it hunt as well as ride the wind comming off of the ocean. Then last month we couldn't believe it, there was our Red-Shouldered Hawk affectionately flying and cirlcling with another. We have seen this three times now so it seems our friend has found a mate. We will be looking for babies at the end of February.
Owls are the other common birds or prey in our area and we hear (and sometimes see) them several times a week after dark. We know there is a Western Screech Owl in the neighborhood because we hear it almost every night. I have been told we have barn owls in the area as well. We have seen owls fly over over/near us in the dark with wing spans of about 2' so these would have to be a Western Screech Owl or Barn Owl. We have also seen an owl flying at night with a much larger wing span. Our guess is a Great Horned Owl which is described as having a 3 1/2' wing span, although I have seen an owl, or something flying silently at night, with a wing span that looked more like 5' or more. We just finished building two owl houses for my neighbors which are being mounted on 13' posts and being placed at opposite edges of their yard. We are hoping to have Barn or Screech Owls move in and start breeding. Owls seem to love these owl houses and once they move in, they love eating the local rats, mice and gophers. We do something nice for them and they reciprocate. Now that's what I call a healthy, sustainable environment.
Bird watching is enjoyable on so many levels. Taking time sit quietly and watch birds is very relaxing and for some is quite meditative. I love knowing that all of these healthy, happy birds thrive in my neighborhood. Putting a bird bath and/or feeder in the yard is not expensive and bird seed is fairly inexpensive as well, especially if you buy the larger bags. Birds are cool.
All information posted on this web site is
the opinion of the author and is provided for educational purposes only.
It is not to be construed as medical advice. Only a licensed medical doctor
can legally offer medical advice in the United States. Consult the healer
of your choice for medical care and advice.