Confessions of a Backyard Birder
My Recent Experiences as a Backyard Birder
I discovered my love for bird watching from my backyard fairly recently in life. I dabbled as an amateur birder about 10 years ago while sitting outside of my apartment in southern Nevada and watching the baby quails stroll by following their mommy and daddy. How cute they were just over an inch tall. So tiny they could not even make it up on the curb after their parents.
I moved to northern Nevada and across from the most beautiful park I have ever seen. It had lots of large trees and two ponds that invited a huge variety of wild birds and ducks, especially those migrating from the frozen north. It was during these 3 years that I really became a "birder". The hours of film I have of ducks, Canadian geese and birds is proof enough. During the summer, the hummerbird "wars" over the hummingbird feeders were lots of fun to watch. Such a blur of colors.
Most recently I have found myself back in the southwest desert area. I have continued my backyard birding, sitting and watching a variety of birds who make the desert their home. I find birding so relaxing and a great way to relieve stress. I have landscaped my backyard with my wild bird friends in mind. The hummingbirds love the trumpet flowers and sugar-water feeders, the quail come to visit and look for treats, the wrens love to nest in the wisteria vine and the woodpecker drills holes in the Mesquite Tree. I take such pleasure in my backyard birds.
All photos are taken with my Canon PowerShot SX230 HS digital camera. An amateur photographer at work!
Bird Watching Books on Amazon - Guides to Identifying Birds
Where ever you live in North America there is a variety of birds to watch right in your own backyard. This guide will help you find the birds in your neighborhood!
My Favorite Bird to Watch - The Hummingbird
I really can't help it, but I love the Hummingbird. I have this hummingbird feeder right off the patio and in front of my kitchen window. When the hummingbird stops by for a drink, I just stop everything to watch him (or her). I also have desert plants and vines that they love also.
Trumpet flowers from plants such as an Aloe Vera, Crepe Myrtle, Bower Vine and Yellow Bells surround my front and back yards. This brings more than 1 hummer at a time, and they fly back and forth over the roof and around the fence line. I have found that they are more active in the early morning and evening time at dusk. I think this is because it is so hot here in the middle of the day. I have seen the hummingbird in the Chinese Elm Tree in the front yard getting out of the hot sun.
I make my own nectar to put in the feeders. They have their favorite one by the kitchen window, but I have seen a few hummers use the other feeders that are placed around the backyard. I put out a total of 4 feeders. Every week I cook up some more sugar water for the hummingbird feeders and clean each one of the bottles. It is important to keep the bottles clean and nectar fresh so your hummingbirds will visit you everyday.
photo by LilMonkey
Hummingbird Feeders on Amazon
The red and yellow flowers attract the hummingbirds.
How to Make Your Own Hummingbird Nectar
Make your own hummingbird nectar with this simple sugar water recipe. I like to make my own sugar water for the feeders since it does not have any of the red dye in it. The red dye is not really healthy for anyone including little birds. Hummers have such a high metabolism that the dye coursing through them is not that healthy for them. The bright red on the hummingbird feeder itself is enough to draw them to the feeders.
- 1 part refined sugar
- 4 parts water
- In saucepan, mix sugar and water together. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil 1 minute and remove from heat. Overheating can cause the water to evaporate and change the stability of the sugar. Cool completely.
- Pour mixture into a clean hummingbird feeder bottle. I hang my hummingbird feeder in the shade to keep the sugar water nectar from evaporating quickly, and it helps keep bacteria from growing too quickly.
- Refill and clean the feeders each week.
Desert Birds Who Visit Me
I started keeping track of all the birds who venture through my backyard. I love to sit in the evening just before sundown and quietly watch to see who comes by for a visit. It is such a relaxing way to end the work day. Watching the birds and their antics helps me release the stress of the day and tickles my soul.
Here is the list of birds I have seen so far in my southwestern backyard:
- Rufus Hummingbirds
- Ruby Throat Hummingbirds
- Anna Hummingbirds
- Whitetail Doves
- Gambels Quail
- Cactus Wrens
- Yellow-headed Finches
- Greater Roadrunner
- House Sparrows
- Chihuahuan Raven
I will add to my list as soon as I see a new species of a desert bird. I am sure I have missed a few but they just move so quickly!
Oh to soar high, like a bird!— Nancia
Springtime in my Backyard
Who is Nesting?
My desert backyard is not barren but surrounded by large Mesquite, Desert Locus, Acacia, Chinese Elm and Jacaranda Trees. As shown in the photo, a Whitetail Dove decided to nest in the crook of the Mesquite Tree. My grandchildren got the biggest kick out of this and couldn't wait for the egg to hatch. It did and we watched as the baby bird grew up and learned to fly.
We also have Cactus Wrens who decide they need to make a nest in the thin Wisteria vine that frames our back porch. Mr. and Mrs. Wren work and work to build a large and sturdy nest. They nest during the summer monsoon season here in the southwest. A monsoon will bring terrific wind and rain, so all the wrens work usually gets blown apart. They do come back and rebuild. I am still waiting to see them lay eggs. They spend too much time building nests and not building a family.
The Gambel's Quail nest in the bushes around our neighborhood and flocks of baby quail will hatch all at the same time. They are just the cutest things when the visit our yard. Usually we see the older youngsters when they can hop up and over the fence. It is cute to see how the parents watch out for their young even when they young are as big as they are. The quail family is fun to watch.
Photo by LilMonkey
Our wrens like this place too.
Water in the Desert for the Birds
And Other Things Birds Like
One of the things that brings so many "feathered friends" to visit me in my backyard is water. I have a small glass bird bath that I keep filled with fresh water everyday. I have lots of plants and flowers to water on a regular basis since it so hot, that I just fill up the bird bath while I am at it.
I get a kick out of seeing a dove taking a "bath" in the glass bowl. I placed it under the shade of the Mesquite Tree to keep the water from boiling in the desert sun. I am planning to add a second bird bath across the backyard since there are so many birds visiting.
I have mentioned the hummingbird feeders for the hummers, and the other birds have bird feeders that hold seeds. Birds also like to hide out in bird houses too. All of these items bring the birds back over and over again. A nice treat for a "backyard birder" such as myself.
My New Hobby - Sketching - Colored Pencil on Drawing Paper
Being motivated by the beauty I see in my backyard nature, I have picked up the pencil (and paint brush) to add art to my list of hobbies. This is my sketch of a Rufus Hummingbird similar to the Hummers who visit my backyard. I also have sketched quail, dove sitting on their eggs, a woodpecker and tiny finches.
In addition to birds, I have added painting flowers, butterflies and even my own fantasy world based on my backyard world.
Are you a Birder Too?
If you enjoy watching birds, and find yourself searching out what types of birds are in your backyard, you might be a backyard birder too. It's lots of fun to do.