Thursday, January 29, 2004

January 29, 2004
Day before yesterday the kestrel returned! I was working in the bedroom and happened to glance up to see him, perched on the edge of the roof, his glorious profile vivid against the sky. There is something so elemental and powerful in his bearing that there is no doubt that this very small hawk is a fierce predator. I ran for the camera, but by the time I had it set up he flew off. I’m keeping a close eye out, as he does seem to realize that my backyard is a snack bar.

Yesterday afternoon I saw either The Costa’s or another Costa’s in the front patio, alternating between hovering at the tube feeder and perching on the hanger of a hanging flower basket.

Yesterday on our walk I heard a thrasher singing, probably starting to set up territories. And this morning a beautiful mockingbird perched on the redwood planter to eat tangelo slices. (The pair of towhees came over and scared him away, so I guess they are dominant to mockers.) The peach tree seems to be budding. Spring is coming!

Saturday, January 24, 2004

January 24, 2004
There’s been a lot more hummer activity recently. A few days ago a beautiful male Costa’s showed up. His gorget was just the most gorgeous deep purple. He really did look like a flying, glittering jewel. I only saw him feeding at the two back feeders, and think he has already moved on. I suppose he’s headed north. I wanted to photograph him, but he didn’t feed at the office window, which is my main photo spot. While waiting for him, I did manage to get a couple of good pictures of the male verdin that lives in the yard.

I’m pretty sure I have two male broadbills, and this morning I saw a female in the office, drinking deeply with her delicate red/orange beak (tipped in black). She is quite gray otherwise.

The fox I saw in Sabino Canyon may be dead now; there have been two rabid fox carcasses found there, and two attacks on hikers (one was at Bear Canyon). It makes me nervous, and also sad for the animals.

Monday, January 05, 2004

January 5, 2004

Great excitement yesterday afternoon. I was sitting and working on the bed when I heard the sickening “thump” of a bird hitting the patio door glass. I looked out just as the cats arrived by the door, to see a mourning dove lying on the bricks. Before I could react in any way, the dove flew off, leaving me grateful that it had survived (at least for the moment) and wondering what had caused it to fly into the window so hard.

I got my answer a few minutes later when I went into the office and saw, on the gravel just outside the window, what I at first took to be a huge dove but then realized was a kestrel picking at the feathered remains of either another dove (or possibly a mockingbird—it was too far gone to be sure). While I began snapping away with my new digital camera the kestrel continued to calmly pull edible shards from the pile of feathers. He or she did not pose well, and I ended up with lots of great shots of his back and side, but none of his beautiful face or beak.

The kestrel finished lunch and flew off, leaving me very grateful to have gotten such a closeup view of “nature red in tooth and claw.”