Eat, Drink, Be Merry…and Some Other Shit

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The heat is starting to prickle here in the desert. This week promises temps between 100 and 110…. aaauuugggghhh! So, it’s not surprising that the feeders, water dishes and pond are popular hangouts for the local wildlife. Every morning and late afternoon we see it all! Birds, rabbits, squirrels, javelina, lizards, bobcat, coyote, and just the other day our ‘creature from the desert hollows’ (the toad), crawled out of his hole to find refreshment. When it’s just too hot to do anything else, just eat, drink and be merry!…

Eat…

Five finches find food at the fully filled feeder.

A quail couple chow down on the ‘Peckasso’ block seeder.

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Baby buns have fun nibbling in the cool grassy place.

A red winged black bird gets photo-bombed while stuffing his face!

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Hummingbirds flirt and hover around their honey hole hangout.

This Baltimore oriel takes a sip stop on his way-back-home Northern route.

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Drink…

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This starling likes to take a sip and a dip.

The bunny takes a drink to put the hop  in his hip!

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 The hawk  takes a water break and claims his domain.

 Mr . Toad  took a sip and a dip now just waits for the rain.

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The coyote gets a cool drink, soothing and calm.

A closer look reveals…yes it is…another photo bomb!  (Silly quail!)

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And be Merry…

 

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 The javelina , you would think, might want some water to swallow. But, they would rather tip over their drink and make a nice mud wallow!

Eat, drink and be merry, then what do we do?

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Guess the only thing left…. you just gotta poo!     (Pictured above, a lovely specimen of javelina shit 😉 )

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

Hummazzzzzzzing!

The other morning, my neighbor, Eileen, came to my back door holding a tiny hummingbird in her hands. She was afraid it might have hit her window and broken it’s wing, because she found it on the ground and it couldn’t fly. We were both at a loss as to what to do! We tried setting him in a warm spot on one of our patio chairs, but he just toppled over. So, I got some hummingbird food out of our fridge (we keep a gallon on hand), and tried to get him to drink out of an eye dropper . We were relieved when he put his little beak in and drank up! That was a good sign 🙂

So I grabbed a box, a towel and one of the feeders off of a tree and stuck him in the sun sitting next to the feeder, hoping he would have enough energy to get on it. But he just sat awkwardly on the towel, tipping over because he couldn’t move his wing…

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He preferred to sit on my finger…

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So I put him next the feeder and he drank…

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We had spent a better part of the morning with him, Eileen had to go back home and I had to get back to work, so we left him on the towel in the box, next to the feeder. I set the box inside a big cage so a cat or road runner wouldn’t come and snatch him. As I went back to work, I kept wondering what I should do. If his wing was broken, I would have to call the wildlife rescue and see if he could be rehabilitated.

After about 20 minutes I went back out to check on him…

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He was facing the sun, wings outstretched. his colors blazing. It appeared that he was soaking in the rays, recharging his batteries! He looked up and in one fast zzzzzip ascended to the nearest tree. Needless to say, I was elated! I watched as he flew to a feeder, got his fill and sat back on a branch.

 I proceeded to dismantle his recovery station, and hung the feeder back on the tree. As I did so, the little hummingbird came buzzing over and just hovered inches in front of my face, chirping! I believe this is what he said ” Thankzzzzzz for defrezzzzzzzzzing me!”

Relax…It’s All Good!…

Especially when your a dog! Or, at least when you’re one of Todd’s Dogs! Having a nice wet and mild winter has given us all hope for a spectacular spring and I think Baily, Cooper and Lulu can smell it!

There is an atmosphere of relaxed anticipation in Todd’s Backyard…

In his favorite porch spot, sits Baily. Taking in the landscape, daily….

Watching the pond full of bathing birdies, getting rid of all their desert dirties!

Then he spots a humming bird, resting on a branch, undisturbed….

So much to see, so much to smell! Baily’s in heaven and all is well!

For Baily’s brother, Cooper, he’s just not into birds.

His daily nap, is much preferred!

Until, his nappy is disturbed, by the pungent odor of the local herd…

And where o where is sister Lulu?

A friend just flew in to say  “Heyyouwhoo”!

But Lulu is not much of a yard dog like her big brothers.

When it comes to relaxing, she has her druthers!

Princess of the house is her M.O.! Like….what would you expect….Hellooo!

What the F?

Frozen, Frantic, and Fierce!  Never in the history of our desert region (supposedly since 1913) has it been 15 degrees! We woke up this morning to a frozen desert.Which meant frozen solid hummingbird feeders…which turned our local hummingbirds into some fired up, frantically fighting food fighters!  In other words…they were pissed! We could hear them before we opened the door to a blast of frigid air. Todd rushed out to collect all of the feeders to defrost under hot water…pronto. I went out to help, and could not believe it!  I had not felt this kind of bitter cold since I last visited Michigan last year at this time. And the poor little hummers, in their frenzy for food, were whizzing about. Probably the only way they could stay unfrozen. One little guy buzzed by my head so close I felt his wings on my cheek. The hummingbird  ‘chatter’ was deafening…..We quickly concluded there is nothing as frightening as a huffy heat-deprived hummingbird!

Happy Hummers!

Hummingbirds can always make you happy! Unless, of course they dart into you and poke your eye out! But, luckily, that’s never happened in Todd’s Backyard!….Yet!

We have at least 6 varieties of hummingbirds through out the year. Sometimes there’s a few others that migrate through in the fall and spring. But, on any given day, there are a least 25-30 hummers. During migration season, it’s Hummingbird wars!  You have to be on your toes and literally dodge out of their way, as they chase each other around the yard, fighting for feeder time!

This is a  ‘Costa’s’ Hummer…It’s  too bad we didn’t capture this shot in better light. The dark areas on his neck are deep purple. Amazing!

This is one of our favorite little jewels…..a Broad-billed hummingbird.  A dazzling blue-green, these guys are the most easily recognizable. Some species look very similar, so we keep our hum-dentifier handbook handy!

In the spring and the fall, our hummingbird feeders look like this…all 6 of them!

Todds’ hummingbird food recipe: 1 part sugar, 4 parts water. Bring to a boil, then cool.

An ‘Anna’s’  Hummingbird- A gorgeous redhead for sure!

This is one of my favorite shots!

Violet-crowned Hummer

We still haven’ t got a great shot of a Rufus hummingbird- They are gorgeous- A fiery orange-red! They are vicious!

This is a special little hummer! She was imported from Tucson.

Trapped in a warehouse where Todd works, she spent hours of panicked frenzy trying to find the way out. Todd’s only solution, was to wet her down, so she would land. Todd could then catch her and release her back outside. The plan worked, except wetting her down put her into a hibernation mode- she was too cold! Because it was the end of the day, and the sun would soon set, Todd had no choice but to bundle her up and bring her home!

When Todd got her home, we put her on the porch in the waning sun. I kept trying to force a dropper of life-saving sugar food into her beak. Finally. her little tongue started to flicker. It took about 15 minutes of feeding and sunbathing to revive her. Suddenly, she flew up onto the nearest branch and took in her new surroundings. Immediately, several other hummingbirds swarmed around her. The little buzzing bullies tried to chase her away. But still too weak, she stood her ground. As the sun was setting, we saw her buzz off into the dusky desert.

The next morning, we were delighted to see, she was the first one on the feeder! She hung around for several days, made some friends, and possibly made here home around here. I don’t actually know if  she’s a she or a young he.  We think that it is a Broad-tailed Hummer. Slightly different than many of the other hummingbirds that frequent Todd’s Backyard.

All-in-all, it was a happy ending!

The hummingbirds in Todd’s Backyard are very willing models! We’ll have lots of shots to share in posts to come….hopefully the elusive Rufus will be featured soon!