Mostly Backyard Birds

by Dan Weisz

The White-Winged Dove on a neighbor’s chimney:  After the males choose a territory and general nesting site, they bring nesting materials to the female who selects the specific nest site and builds the nest.  White-winged doves are summer residents of the Southwest, but their range is expanding

Some people were introduced to white-winged doves through Stevie Nicks’ 1981 song “Edge of Darkness”.  The  doves’ familiar cooing is part of soundtrack of every Tucson summer.  That sound has been described as “who cooks for you” although recently a friend described the sound as the bird’s saying “Tupac Shakur”.  You tell me. 

Below is a Mourning Dove, one of the other very common Tucson birds.  This is a young bird as evidenced by the white tips of its feathers.  The mourning dove is smaller, browner and lacks the white of a White-winged dove.  It is interesting that both birds wear blue eye-liner.

One morning two coyotes crossed the road in my neighborhood. One stopped to stare from behind the tall grass before disappearing in the desert.

A torch cactus flower in Tohono Chul Park.

And one final look at one of the Great Horned Owl youngsters taken last Monday.  Over the past two weeks the owls presence in the patio has varied. Sometimes all three were there, but usually only one or two owls were present.  On this morning, only one owl was perched on the fan. It took one look at me…..

and then turned around, ready to take off.  After one last look, it flew off into the desert.  Now, one week later, none of the owls are returning to the patio.  They have grown up and are on their own. Hopefully, we’ll hear them at night and perhaps see them again next summer.

A Lesser Goldfinch perched on a palo verde branch.  The colors on the males’ back varies from mostly black to almost all green but they are always wearing a black cap with white patches in their wings.  Lesser Goldfinches are seedeaters and can be easily drawn to backyard feeders using thistle seed (nyger seed) in seed socks.  They are songbirds who sing constantly. 

This Costa’s Hummingbird is a resident in my back yard.  While I usually don’t share photos of birds on feeders, I thought this shot was a nice look at its features particularly the shape of it’s ‘fu-manchu’ looking gorget.  Hummingbirds can’t use their feet for walking.  They use them to perch and to scratch themselves with.

An adult Costa’s is only about 3 inches in length.  From this angle, there is no color in the bird’s gorget.  Here it looks like a very long beard.  Do you think it’s more Amish or more Chasidic?  

And finally he’s perched so the light shows off his purple gorget and some purple on his head.  He is a handsome little fellow.

Web presentation by Douglas Everett at Hummingbird Market