Wednesday, May 31, 2006

May 30, 2006

Tomorrow is the official beginning of "meteorological summer," which fortuitously coincides with the beginning of the year's first real hot spell. They are promising us 100 - 107 for at least the next seven days. And strangely, there will even be moisture in a couple of days, as if it were monsoon, though it isn't, and there won't be real rain but dry thunderstorms.

It's already hot--around 100--but doesn't feel bad at all in the shade. The cardinals and pyrrhuloxias have been eating a lot of seeds (and unfortunately so have the finches, so I have to get the feeder adjusted). All day today a male cardinal has been bringing seeds from the feeder, out in the sun, to his two children, in the shade of the porch. A male pyrrhuloxia is also feeding his one offspring just now. The baby looks very heat-stressed, with his bright-yellow bill open and panting.

Unfortunately I have no pictures to show, so am putting up my best male Anna's hummer, since I have several of these guys around.

The latest mama dove has hatched at least one egg from her precarious perch on the porch pillar (I guess her name is Allitera), but still no baby doves. The pond scum has become quite overwhelming and keeps clogging the filter. It's always something, but on the other hand, there's always something to look at out by the pond.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

May 17, 2006

It is currently very cloudy and dark--what my father used to refer to as "clobbering up." We have a slight chance of rain, bu I don't expect any, though I can see rain and virga [rain that doesn't make it to the ground because the air is too dry] falling all around the valley. It's been in the high nineties, though today probably stayed in the low nineties because of all the cloud cover.

The grapefruit tree is recovering nicely--has put out a bunch of new leaves. I will post a picture when I take it out of my camera. The tanager returned for a couple more days, but I haven't seen him lately.

There has been a LOT of dove sex. Besides the male's strutting and fanning his tail, I've also seen pairs "billing and cooing," where they tenderly entertwine their necks , flutter their tails, and peck each other's faces. It's really sweet.

No baby doves yet, but I've seen parents feeding immature finches and pyrrhuloxias. Also a thrasher, on the suet feeder.

Today a bronzed cowbird stopped by for a drink of water. I basically hate cowbirds because they lay their eggs in cardinals' nests and the cowbird babies then kill their siblings and wear the adult cardinals to a frazzle with their demands. But the adult cowbird is a quite handsome bird. The picture here is copyright by Robert Scanlon, who kindly gave me permission to post it. It's from the website The cowbird in the picture is from Colombia, but looks basically the same as the one I had here. Most notable are the ruff at the neck and the red eye, like Hal in 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Cinquo de Mayo, 2006

Oh my gosh! I just watched a beautiful male Western tanager drink from my pond. Those who think desert birds aren't colorful should check this guy out. (Although the desert is actually only part of its range.) I have seen them too seldom and too far away to photograph, but this link goes to one of the nicest pictures I've seen, which looks exactly like my visitor:

Not much else exciting going on. I have planted a few new things: a couple of roses (rose gardening is an addiction), and two cape honeysuckles to shade the western part of the patio so I can keep stuff alive on it during the summer.

What's blooming in the desert these days: Mexican Bird of Paradise (I will try to get a photo of one), some cholla, some prickly pear, and especially palo verde trees, glorious and golden. The picture is the biggest palo verde in our front yard.