Friday, June 05, 2009

For the Birds!

For the last week or so, a few of the ladies from my favorite blogs have been posting about their avian (bird) guests and I have been jealous. Candace of has been hosting Cedar Waxwings. Kaaren of has entertained Tree Swallows and Wanda of has enjoyed Cardinals.

The jealousy has made me think. While we don't have the grand Cardinals, Cedar Waxwings and Tree Swallows, we do have a lot of wonderful birds in our area. Living in the Southern Idaho desert has its perks. I get to see birds of prey on a regular basis. Turkey Vultures live on our Snake River Canyon rim. On any given day, I get to see Red-Tailed Hawks, smaller hawks, various falcons and Barn Owls.

On Easter Sunday, we went out to our daughter-in-law Becky's parents' house and we were privileged to see a young Bald Eagle learning to soar. It was the second one Rick had seen this year! A little over two weeks ago, I saw a Golden Eagle fly up over the pine tree in our pasture. Then about 5 days ago, we saw a pair of Goldens circling. They caught a thermal, shot miles up and then out of sight.

We have an abundance of Robins, and this year is no exception. We have Red-wing Blackbirds. Their call is hauntingly beautiful. We have red-headed House Finches, Chickadees, Sparrows, Pigeons, and Morning Doves. I see a pair of Quail crossing the country road I take to work each morning. We have a Killdeer nesting in or near our pasture. They lay their eggs on the ground. The eggs look like rocks. She chases us when we mow it. We have Meadowlarks on our canal banks. They are one of my favorites. There is nothing like the male's song.

This year we have a Starling that chastises Rick because she wants to nest in his BBQ grill and he won't let her. Her song is shrill and unpleasant. We have to leave the lid up or the BBQ is filled with nesting materials and an occasional egg. We have tried plugging the holes and she just pushes her way in. At least she isn't stealing someone else's nest. Starlings are famous for that.

Last year, we had a pair of Bullock Orioles. They are nectar feeders. It is comical to see such a big bird hanging upside down on a hummingbird feeder. They are Giants compared to hummingbirds. We have around 5 or so species of hummingbirds that migrate through our area at any given time. We have a fairly aggressive species that calls our desert home during the summer. I think it is the Calliope Hummingbird. This leads me to why I am blogging today.

We have an extra special guest at our house this summer. Wednesday, while I was at work, Rick and Hannah decided to take down the Christmas lights. (Hello, Christmas lights in June ????)They were pulling them down when Rick came to a plug-in. Rick sees what he thinks is a Cat Spider nest. After consulting Hannah, they decide that is exactly what it is.

All of a sudden a mama hummingbird shows up. She is VERY AGITATED to say the least. She starts dive-bombing them. Have you ever been buzzed by a hummingbird? Their wings sound like hornets buzzing. Hummingbirds also scold you while they are coming at you; a high-pitched fast chatter.

Rick and Hannah figured out that they had found a hummingbird nest! Right by our front door! Rick sent Hannah to find the wire cutters and the staple gun. They cut the excess wires and stapled the loose wires to the eaves of the house to stabilize the nest. After the trauma of almost having her nest pulled down, mama hummer settled down. She is still with us. She tolerates me checking on her from time to time. She also tolerates me watering my flowers. If I get too close, she will buzz me and scold me!

Hummingbirds make a golf ball-sized nest out of natural materials and spider webs. They lay between 1 and 3 jellybean-sized eggs. It eggs take about 16 days to hatch. After about 40 days the babies are on their own. I think ours are still eggs because I have yet to see her do anything but set on them.

I was wondering why we didn't have as many hummers this year as we have had in the past. It makes sense now that I know she is on the porch and protecting her territory. Hannah chose a name for her. She wants to call her Gloria (because she is glorious)!

Have a great day.



  1. Well it sounds to me like you have us all beat with the variety of birds you have. Since I live in town I don't see many of the large birds but we do have a hawk in the area. He ate at least one bird in my yard in the early spring. I would love to see Quail. That hummingbird nest is really neat. I had never seen one before.

  2. What a wonderful post, Donnelly! Mr. Squash and I think it's fantastic that you sacrificed a string of lights for the sake of the hummingbird! Heck - we woulnd't have minded if you left them up the rest of the year - LOL!
    I love hearing about the Snake River Canyon -we've fished it in a drift boat - wildlife is so abundant - I especially like the Chukars in the Fall

  3. The photos of the hummingbird and the story that went along with it just makes my heart flutter. Imagine capturing those photos. I could never have inagined to see a hummingbird nest. Thanks so much for sharing, Donnelly.

  4. Hey there Kaaren sent me here. I just posted a picture of a male hummingbird on my blog. We have two feeders and they are amazing birds to watch. I have tried many times to get pictures but you know how fast they are. I have seen some nests way up in some of our trees when the leaves were off.
    That is so cool you have one near that you can watch. Maybe you will be able to get pictures of the babies.