Yellow…But not Mellow

Everywhere you look, you will see pops of bright yellow frantically bouncing around the yard. The Orioles are back in full force this Spring! We get several different Oriole varieties in Todd’s Backyard. All slightly different, however they share the same shrill chatter, as shocking as their brilliant hue!

Their chatter reaches all time highs when they are playing their high-stakes game, we like to call, Who-Can-Get-The ‘Oriole Glory Hole’!

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In this game, there are 2 prizes!

1st, their ‘watering hole’. They constantly fight over position on the hummingbird feeders to quench their appetite for their favorite sugary treat! Not only are they competing amongst themselves (or similar versions of themselves), but they have to fend off the ferocious little hummers!

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And the 2nd prize….or maybe this is the 1st prize…

oriole2The female  ‘Glory Hole’ if you will….eeehhhhem.

Anyway, the Oriole fun and games, be it a bit noisy, are always fun to watch! You can’t help but be a little excited when these spectacular specimens of  fine feathered fellows come back to Todd’s Backyard every spring.

Here they will stay until fall in all their ‘Glory’!

oriole6This is a Scotts Oriole.

And below is a Bullocks Oriole.

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orioleThe Hooded Oriole

Oriole, Oriole, sprightly fellow. Flitter about all brightly yellow. Have your fun, but don’t harsh my mellow!!!

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Wood You Be Mine?….Or not…

It IS that time of year….a frantic buzz of excitement- the chirps , squawks and squeaks- the birds and the bees are stirring!  Spring mating time is noisy! One of the more raucous merry makers, are the quail. Their distinct “cacaaawww…cacaaaaaaawwwww!” is heard frequently. They have a funny little ritual of climbing trees to call out their potential tweet-hearts! Let’s say, they get high on love 😉

Late afternoon is when they particularly like to ‘get high’. It was at that time, last week, when we witnessed  a would be wooer going wacky!

Todd had installed an ironwood quail carving on the branch of one of our mesquite trees a while ago. I never noticed that it had ever drawn any attention from the local bird population. That is, until a lovelorn quail discovered it and was apparently enraptured.

He climbed to the limb above, that had been conveniently cut into the perfect perch. There, he would try to get his wooden maiden to notice him….When she ‘wooden’t’, he jumped down and climbed back up again….and again….and again…putting his male to the quail…to no avail.

The poor guy was so distraught that Todd had to take down the tree trapped temptress.  I had to set this sad love story to little music…..

And with that, my friends, we raise our glasses to this lonely quail’s attempt at romance- certainly a great ‘CaCaaaaaws’!

Let Me Tell You ‘Bout the Birds and the Bees and the Flowers and the Trees….

And the Clouds Up Above…. And a thing called Love….

I LOVE this Spring! The desert is bursting with blossoms and buzzing with activity. The unusually wet weather has made this month aMAYzing!! It usually doesn’t get this lush and green until mid July! And the Palo Verde Trees were spectacular with their brilliant canopies of yellow! I just love the Palo Verde Trees!

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 In fact, it’s been a monsoon-like this Spring…Just last week it built up in the afternoon. Big billowing clouds with distant rolls of thunder and a hint of rain wafting in the air. We love these kinds of days before the heat of summer has us in it’s grasp! Gotta Love it!!

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Yesterday, the temperature only got up to about 73! By this time of year it’s not unusual to hit the 100 degree mark. Needless to say, the flora and fauna are flourishing with the cooler, wetter weather!  In April the Cactus started to blossom and paint the desert with their brilliant shades of magentas, oranges and yellows…

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The Buckhorn Cholla. Love them prickles ‘n all!

 

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 The Pencil Cactus…Love!

 And the Prickly Pear  popped with a variety of  peaches and yellows…Love, Love Love!

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Some of the blossoms are bugged 🙂 Love…not so much!

The bounty of blossoms attract all kinds-

Even the beezzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…

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Um…..Love them????

A few weeks ago, we were shocked to discover the mesquite tree that sits right off of our porch, had been bee-dazzled by a huge swarm! We have never seen anything like this. I didn’t even notice them until my brother-in-law pointed it out! The dogs and I had been walking around the tree and sitting right next to them for some time.  These were, most likely, killer bees…or a killer bee hybrid which, I’ve been told most bees in this area, are now. I’ve also been told that they usually only get aggressive when they’re threatened by certain noises or smells. Luckily, we didn’t buzz them off!…We must smell and sound ok?  They disappeared as suddenly as they appeared, when it warmed up in the morning…Whewwww!

I’m pretty sure that the birds that frequent that particular tree were happy to see them go as well! I noticed while the bees were there, the birds, especially the humming birds were chased away by the buzzy bee guardians.  But after their abrupt departure, the usuals came back to their favorite hangout….

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The Orioles

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The Cardinals

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And the Humming Birds. Love them all!

But unfortunately…

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The dreaded Wood Pecker resumed his perch! Can’t say I love you dude!

Of course we have a huge variety of other feathered residents, but they tend to frequent some of the other trees in the yard.

We did have a different feathered visitor which we had not seen before in Todd’s Backyard….

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The Grackle.

But evidently, he was not impressed with the accommodations and left…haven’t seen him again. Hey…you’re mission’ the love! Oh, well!

So, life goes on in Todd’s Backyard and we are relishing this incredible Spring with the birds and the bees and the flowers and the trees, and the clouds up above…And a thing called love 😉

Happily Heron After

Last Summer Todd got a blazing hot deal on a couple of Koi fish for our pond. We had originally stocked it with gold fish, which were all sadly snatched by the hawk. So, when Todd decided to restock, he added more plants and rocks for additional camouflage and went to the local Petco to purchase a few more fish. Not only are the fish fun to watch in the pond, but keep the algae down in the hot summer. When he returned from the store, Todd was stoked to have found  some 4″ Koi there, mismarked for $1.99! They usually sell for about $25 at the size!!  He picked out 2 (he should have snagged a few more)…Damn! And I wish I had taken some better pictures!…Damn!

Anyway…

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 The Koi grew and thrived in their new environment and all was well…

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Until one day last January when Todd was cleaning out the pond. To his horror, he discovered they were gone! The pond had been de-koied :0

We spent the next days speculating about what could have eaten them! A fine meal indeed, for any desert predator during the lean winter months! Of course, the hawk was at the top of the suspect list, but our neighbor has insisted that he’s seen a raccoon about at night! (We simply have to get a night camera set up at some point!)  But, we thought there would never be any way to prove who dun it!

Until about 2 days after the fish-a-disappearance, it all became quite clear.

I walked out onto the porch and almost had a heart attack when a massive winged creature took flight from the top of our roof, overlooking the pond. And with a slow and powerful woosh….woooooosh of it’s 6+ foot wingspan, it was gone.

It was a rare sight,  A Great Blue Heron!!! A wetland bird in the desert! We see them quite a bit on the beaches down in Rocky Point Mexico. The only place you might see them occasionally, here locally, is on the golf courses. I got a snapshot of this one last time I went golfing….

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Here’s a picture I got of a Great Blue Heron on the beach in Mexico…

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I didn’t get a picture of our backyard visitor until the next day, when we caught him hanging out on our neighbor’s rooftop.

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It was spectacular sitting there, just hanging out. I guess he was hoping to find a few more ponds in the area, having depleted ours!

He stayed there for a good 15 minutes while I got some shots…

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So, I guess we won’t be getting anymore Koi, but we are thinking about restocking it with some 99 cent goldfish with which we could afford to occasionally feed our five foot feathered friend! Although, now that he has a taste for Koi, Todd’s Backyard may be beneath his culinary expectations!  I guess we will see!!

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Chirp Wars

Chirping…Buzzing, crowing, hooting, ka-cooing, whistling, screeching, trilling, tooting, whoot-whoot- woooing, tweeting (not the on-line kind ;)) This cacophony of sound emanates from the yard, bursting through every open window of the house! ‘Tis the mating calls and loud bird brawls that dominate the atmosphere in Todd’s Backyard this time of year. You may think this a serene and peaceful environment, and perhaps it is for some, or most. But, if one requires supreme concentration (like me, with my A.D.D.) or one who would appreciate a nap (like me, with my insomnia), you may get a little irritated with all the HOO HOO HOOpla! There are a few brash birds in particular that dominate that top the high decibel charts with their loud  and abrupt conversation tactics…..

TODD’S BACKYARD TOP 3 AUDITORY AGITATORS:

#1. MR. PETER PECKER The sweet sing-song of the finch and gentle rustle of leaves will suddenly be drowned out by the raucous cackle of the WOODPECKER…or even worse, his pecking on the chimney or front door which will unleash the spontaneous outburst of barking and howling dogs, deceived into thinking we have guests.

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#2 THE CARDINAL’S CLAN- Oh yes, he is strikingly gorgeous in his brilliant red suit, but his piecing screech is as loud as his appearance!  When he’s in love, watch out! And his screaming babies are just as bad…When they want to be fed it’s worse than any child’s tantrum. Witnessing the scene below, I believe , Mr. Cardinal is trying to teach his little screechling how to eat from the bird feeder.

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#3 CAN-NOT-IGNORE ORIOLE- A summer resident, the orioles have just recently arrived along with their piercing call. They sit in the mesquite tree off the porch clacking and whistling, making their presence known.  Oh, oriole, we see you in all your brilliant yellow glory! So put a sock in it and shut the F*&# up!

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Don’t get me wrong, I love all the birds, and we are so lucky to live smack dab in the middle of a  migration route! After all the migratory birds have traveled through, the ones that remain for the summer will soon be drowned out by the buzzing of the cicadas (locust-like bugs)  when the heat starts to crank! So, sing birds, sing! And I will rejoice with you in this lovely pre-Summer Spring!

A sad casualty…

A couple of weeks ago, we heard the most lovely and unusual bird call. And we found it coming from a most lovely and unusual bird! We think it may have been a pet, not a native bird to this area, because it looked rather exotic. As a consequence, we were worried that it may not be suited for the chirp ‘n’ turf wars in Todd’s Backyard desert bird habitat. And we were unfortunately correct….

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Todd found him on the ground, outside the chicken coop 😦 Not sure the cause of death, but appears to have been pierced in the stomach….and possibly his ear drums.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bobcat that Ate the Owl

Based on a true story….

There once was a bobcat that ate an owl. You might ask why….or you might ask how?

It was nine o’clock this fateful night, when all was quiet and dark. The stars were bright. Nothing was stirring, the landscape serene, except for the darting eyes watching and waiting, unseen.

Finally, a small noise broke the silent surveillance.The watcher’s gaze zeroed in, hungry and intense. A shuffle came from the porch where humans sit by day. But tonight, it was where little mice came to play!

Another night stalker’s ears perked as well,  perched by the pond where his thirst, he would quell. Mice would be nice, perhaps for a snack.  But, would it really be worth his time to attack?

As he pondered at the pond, a drink?… or a swim?… His revery was cut short, when a silent swoosh flew past him.  Oh my! What’s this? A bird out at night? And it landed right by him, to his feline delight!

The mouse, by the house had eaten a crumb. The owl ate the mouse, but this move was quite dumb. The cat ate the owl…Dumb luck may say some. Nay, I cry foul!!…Or fowl?, this should not be! If you are an owl, please, stay in the tree 😉

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Happy Hummer Days!

It’s Christmas morning….for us, with out kids, all is calm and all is quiet. We celebrated with our family and gift giving the previous night, but it was this morning we got a most wonderful, and unexpected gift!

The weather was sunny and mild, so we took our coffee out on the porch to enjoy the beauty of Arizona this time of year! As we watched the morning sun streaming through the yard, we could catch glimpses of sparkling color among the branches of the trees and shrubs. Just like little Christmas ornaments, the hummingbirds were decorating the desert landscape, as they woke up, preening and warming in the rising sun. Perfect timing for getting some great new photos!

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We wandered through the yard, as if on a treasure hunt, looking for all the little jewels among the branches.

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We are so lucky to be able to spend Christmas with our little hummer friends, as folks in colder climates don’t get this opportunity!

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And, this Christmas morning, the hummingbirds were out in their full glory, chirping, buzzing and trilling!

We were having such a great time! And it got even better when this little broad bill posed for me…

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And gave me my best Christmas present!…Photos of a lifetime…

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Hummmazing!!! A glorious day to celebrate all of God’s blessings 🙂

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Wishing everyone a very Happy Holiday season from Todd’s Backyard!