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Confessions of a Backyard Birder

Updated on February 22, 2016
Nanciajohnson profile image

I enjoy painting fantasy art, art shows, creating delicious dishes, spending time with my grandkids, taking walks and reading a good book.

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

National Geographic Backyard Guide to the Birds of North America (National Geographic Backyard Guides)
National Geographic Backyard Guide to the Birds of North America (National Geographic Backyard Guides)

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

Perky-Pet Pinch-Waist Glass Hummingbird Feeder 203CP (8oz)
Perky-Pet Pinch-Waist Glass Hummingbird Feeder 203CP (8oz)

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.

Prep time: 2 min
Cook time: 3 min
Ready in: 5 min
Yields: 1-4 bottles


  • 1 part refined sugar
  • 4 parts water


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Refill and clean the feeders each week.
5 stars from 1 rating of Sugar Water Recipe
Gambels Quail
Gambels Quail

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
  • Woodpeckers
  • 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
Whitetail Dove Nesting
Whitetail Dove Nesting

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

Heath Outdoor Products W-2 Wren House
Heath Outdoor Products W-2 Wren House

Our wrens like this place too.

Bird Bath
Bird Bath

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

Rufus Hummer Sketch
Rufus Hummer Sketch

Bird Sketching

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.

What Types of Birds Do You See in Your Backyard?

See results

Do You Enjoy Watching Birds Too?

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    • kenneth avery profile image

      Kenneth Avery 3 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama


      Love this hub. It hit home with me for I used to feed all of the birds in my area of Northwest Alabama. I had at one time, 11 feeders, but this Fibromyalgia and Neurothopy I am dealing with, got worse, and I just had to stop.

      Anyway. As for your writing . . .

      I love this hub. And here are the reasons why:

      1. This is an excellent piece of writing. Honestly, it is amazing.

      2, I loved every word.

      3. Graphics, superb.

      4. This hub was helpful, informative and very interesting.

      5. Voted Up and all of the choices.

      You are certainly a gifted writer. Keep the great hubs coming.


      Kenneth Avery, Hamilton, Alabama

    • KamalaEmbroidery profile image

      KamalaEmbroidery 4 years ago

      Sometime I've seen hummingbirds -- fascinating to watch, but mostly I have robins and sparrows. We do have a hawk family. Imagine! I live in an apartment complex in a very built up urban area. And a hawk built a nest in a tree in the courtyard in front of my apartment. Amazing.

    • BarbRad profile image

      Barbara Radisavljevic 5 years ago from Templeton, CA

      I've been paying more attention to the birds at my house during the past few years. We see hawks, owls, jays, bluebirds, red-winged blackbirds, hummingbirds, cedar waxwings, and some I can't identify yet. At the lake I see waterfowl and larger birds. At the beach I see the gulls, pelicans, and sometimes other waterbirds. I love to watch the seagulls surf.

    • profile image

      kayla_harris 5 years ago

      Beautiful birds pictures! I like birds very much!

    • rallo-smith profile image

      rallo-smith 5 years ago

      Nice lens!

    • Aster56 profile image

      Aster56 5 years ago

      Nice lens. Thank you.

    • Lynda Makara profile image

      Lynda Makara 5 years ago from California

      Nice hummingbird sketch. Good job on this!

    • ourearthland profile image

      ourearthland 5 years ago

      Birds are awesome! Some common birds I see on my daily walks through the park are the red winged black bird, male and female northern cardinal, downy woodpecker, common grackle, black-capped chickadee and American robin. I love photographing them and sharing the photos on my blog. Great lens!

    • profile image

      julia007 5 years ago

      The birds are so cute! Thanks for sharing!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Thanks a great lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      This is such an interesting lens. I love bird watching too, here in England. Thanks!

    • Teapixie LM profile image

      Tea Pixie 5 years ago

      I love hummers. Oh boy - just can't get enough. Thank you so much for such a great little resource.

    • KathyMcGraw2 profile image

      Kathy McGraw 5 years ago from California

      I sit every morning watching blue jays, mockingbirds, and hummingbirds. I love to listen to the mockingbirds. I am glad someone sent me to this page as I need a new hummingbird feeder and will surely use your recipe for the sugar water. Oh, and I enjoyed reading about your birds :)

    • profile image

      soaringsis 5 years ago

      I love watching the birds interact with each other, they are quite busy.Congratulation on your LotD. Great pictures.

    • Sher Ritchie profile image

      Sher Ritchie 5 years ago

      This is an amazing lens - thankyou for sharing all these beautiful birdwatching moments with us and here's hoping those wrens finally get around to nesting (rather than just building).

    • microfarmproject profile image

      microfarmproject 5 years ago

      Congratulations on LOTD! I enjoyed reading your lens.

    • Rosaquid profile image

      Rosaquid 5 years ago

      I see Orioles, finches, sparrows and hummingbirds. I love birds! Congrats on LOTD!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I love birds and bird watching, I have humming birds, cardinals, blue jays, quail, sparrows and many other very lovely birds. Great lens thanks.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I enjoyed reading your lens. Thank you for sharing your love of birds!

    • Nanciajohnson profile image

      Nancy Johnson 5 years ago from Mesa, Arizona

      @anonymous: Thank you!

    • PuttinUpWithSuzy profile image

      PuttinUpWithSuzy 5 years ago

      Congrats on LOTD! Love the info on birds. We recently moved to the mountains and so we see a lot more birds than we used to. We actually have a nest under our deck (above one of the exterior doors underneath). I'd love to see more birds come around and have been working in the yard to plant stuff that they'll like.

    • Nanciajohnson profile image

      Nancy Johnson 5 years ago from Mesa, Arizona

      @agoofyidea: What a wonderful way to start the day! Thank you for the compliment.

    • Nanciajohnson profile image

      Nancy Johnson 5 years ago from Mesa, Arizona

      @JoshK47: Thank you so much for the lovely compliment and blessing!

    • KeyboardNinja profile image

      KeyboardNinja 5 years ago

      You have created a beautiful lens. I love birds.

    • Nanciajohnson profile image

      Nancy Johnson 5 years ago from Mesa, Arizona

      @anonymous: Thank you for the compliment on my lens and photos. One experience I can share is not to move! I have to sit real still for awhile to even get a fair photo of a hummer. That is where the stress release comes in.

    • Nanciajohnson profile image

      Nancy Johnson 5 years ago from Mesa, Arizona

      @hntrssthmpsn: I agree, some of the "dances" I have seen performed in my backyard by friends in feathers are hysterical. Such a stress reliever! Thank you for the compliment on my sketch.

    • Nanciajohnson profile image

      Nancy Johnson 5 years ago from Mesa, Arizona

      @SteveKaye: Thank you so much Steve! :)

    • Nanciajohnson profile image

      Nancy Johnson 5 years ago from Mesa, Arizona

      @hartworks lm: Thank you for sharing this very important tip.

    • Nanciajohnson profile image

      Nancy Johnson 5 years ago from Mesa, Arizona

      @suzy-t: Thank you for the compliment, blessing and pinning this lens to your SquidAngel board. That means so much to me. I agree with you that the birds make the garden complete. So sweet.

    • Nanciajohnson profile image

      Nancy Johnson 5 years ago from Mesa, Arizona

      @PaulWinter: Thank you so much! I bet your garden is lovely for your bird friends.

    • Nanciajohnson profile image

      Nancy Johnson 5 years ago from Mesa, Arizona

      @anonymous: I know what you mean, I think our hummer "chitters" louder when the feeder needs refilling. It has me trained! Thank you for the compliments; they are so appreciated.

    • Nanciajohnson profile image

      Nancy Johnson 5 years ago from Mesa, Arizona

      @darciefrench lm: Oh my gosh, eagles! How wonderful! I have only seen an eagle in the wild twice; once in northern Idaho and another time in Utah.

    • Nanciajohnson profile image

      Nancy Johnson 5 years ago from Mesa, Arizona

      @jazziyarbrough: You are so welcome! The birds do love the bread crumbs!

    • Nanciajohnson profile image

      Nancy Johnson 5 years ago from Mesa, Arizona

      @anonymous: My parents lived in Florida for over 11 years. It is a beautiful state with beautiful birds. The flamingos and pelicans are some of my favorites.

    • Nanciajohnson profile image

      Nancy Johnson 5 years ago from Mesa, Arizona

      @Wayne Rasku: I remember seeing cardinals in the snow of Ohio on a winter visit to the northeast one year. They are so beautiful. Do you take photos of them?

    • Nanciajohnson profile image

      Nancy Johnson 5 years ago from Mesa, Arizona

      @JimNimmo: I bet the birds love your fresh berries in season! How wonderful to have a 3 acre garden!

    • alex89 lm profile image

      alex89 lm 5 years ago

      nice lens! I like your sketch too :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Lovely lens on birds. Congratulations on LotD.

    • profile image

      linda_P 5 years ago

      Really nice lens and interesting information. I'll have to try your recipe. I really like watching and photographing birds too.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Beautiful lens.

    • michiganmomof2 profile image

      michiganmomof2 5 years ago

      Great job on the lens! Lots of great information and pics :-) Love your hummingbird sketch too!

    • profile image

      mcampbell123 5 years ago

      me and my grandma use to bird watch all afternoon. great lens.

    • AcornOakForest profile image

      Monica Lobenstein 5 years ago from Western Wisconsin

      Great lens! I enjoy seeing who will show up in my Midwestern yard too. Next step... birding by ear. Nice job and congratulations on the LotD!

    • profile image

      dellgirl 5 years ago

      Very beautiful and interesting lens, and so well put together. I learned something new. Glad you shared this.

      Congratulations on making Popular Pages - Featured Lenses AND Lens of the Day!

    • JimNimmo profile image

      JimNimmo 5 years ago

      Im not a fanaticle bird watcher but I love having all sorts of birds in my 3acre garden. We have planted lots of trees and berry producing plants (including our raspberries and strawberries) to try and attract more of our native birds

    • Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 5 years ago from New Zealand

      Great lens. I love watching birds. In New Zealand we have different birds like fantails, wax-eyes, blackbirds, magpies are some of the birds I see everyday in my garden. Thanks for sharing. Congratulations for the LotD. Blessed

    • profile image

      Pete Schultz 5 years ago

      congrats on LOTD, I see a different variety of birds in northern Minnesota. I enjoy observing the birds, the deer, foxes, rabbits and other wildlife we can often spot around here.

    • Wayne Rasku profile image

      Wayne Rasku 5 years ago

      I actually live in the Atlanta area, but we get lots of cardinals, finches, and other song birds. I have become somewhat of a birdwatcher since moving here a few years ago.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Liked this article. Writing about backyard nature can be fun. I do it with the visitors I get. I'm in Florida so my visitors can be very different than yours.

    • CCTVwebmaster profile image

      CCTVwebmaster 5 years ago

      Great lens!!!

    • profile image

      jazziyarbrough 5 years ago

      Thank you for letting me reminisce a little bit! My cousin tried to shake a bird out of a tree when we were kids. The bird was injured. I learned what a nature lover my grandfather was! He beat the living daylights out of my cousin for messing with a helpless bird! Thanks for sharing, and I love the water dish for the birdies. I do throw bread out to the birds, I learned that from my grandma.

    • darciefrench lm profile image

      darciefrench lm 5 years ago

      Hummingbirds are native to my area, as are eagles, both a real treat to watch :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Sweet lens, and great background color. Lots of helpful info and super photos. Love your sketch too. When my husband brought the Oriole feeder in to clean and refill, the male perched right on the window feeder and seemed to be saying, "Hurry up with that grape jelly!". ;-)

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      Beautiful lens. Congrats on LOTD!

    • PaulWinter profile image

      PaulWinter 5 years ago

      I spend a lot of time at home due to disability, and often watch the birds in our garden. I live in the UK, so no Humming birds here unfortunately. I love your photos and drawings. Congratulations on getting LOTD.

    • suzy-t profile image

      suzy-t 5 years ago

      Wonderful lens. The birds in my garden make it complete. They are fascinating to watch and I love trying to attract different birds each year with different flowers.

      Blessed and pinned to my SquidAngel board.

    • hartworks lm profile image

      hartworks lm 5 years ago

      Just wanted to add, since I am not sure how many people know it, that honey isn't good for hummingbirds. Plain white sugar is the best!

    • psiloveyou1 profile image

      psiloveyou1 5 years ago

      Great lens! Congrats on LOTD! I love my backyard birds too.

    • profile image

      SteveKaye 5 years ago

      Birding is great fun because birds are so very interesting. Thank you for publishing this lens. I enjoyed reading about your adventures with birds.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Great lens! Congrats on Lens of the Day!

    • hntrssthmpsn profile image

      hntrssthmpsn 5 years ago

      Love your hummingbird sketch! We get a lot of hummingbirds here, as well as a wide variety of other birds who come to feed on our pineapple guava blossoms. Hours of entertainment in the back yard, and they don't even want a tip :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      awesome lense, how about including some bird watching photography tips too, you have got really nice snaps here. Share your experience with us.

    • ITWorksInc LM profile image

      ITWorksInc LM 5 years ago

      Great use of the newest theme. I bet seeing the dove in your backyard was very peaceful. Love the artwork... Thanks for the great lens!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I confess I'm a bit of a backyard birder as well! I'd love to see hummingbirds, but we don't get them here in the UK ;-(

    • GabStar profile image

      GabStar 5 years ago

      Wonderful page, congrats on LOTD

    • lbrummer profile image

      Loraine Brummer 5 years ago from Hartington, Nebraska

      Congratulations on your LOTD. Very nice lens with great pictures.

    • simoza01 lm profile image

      simoza01 lm 5 years ago

      Great lens .. i love nature ...

    • Erebos411 profile image

      Erebos411 5 years ago

      I live int the middle of a city and I'm always astounded as to the amount of bird life around me. I know spring has arrived when I begin to hear their song early in the morning. Thanks for a great read.

    • Faye Rutledge profile image

      Faye Rutledge 5 years ago from Concord VA

      I live in the woods of VA, so I see and hear a lot of birds. I can hear them now. Congratulations on LotD!!

    • mbgphoto profile image

      Mary Beth Granger 5 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA

      I love your sketch of the hummingbird! Congratulations on LOTD

    • profile image

      JoshK47 5 years ago

      Love this lens - well deserving of LotD! Blessed by this SquidAngel! :)

    • agoofyidea profile image

      agoofyidea 5 years ago

      Congratulations on LOTD! Birdwatching is fun. I have a violet green who visits me every morning on my balcony.

    • markadamdouglass profile image

      markadamdouglass 5 years ago

      Cute little lens :-)

    • profile image

      lessermortals 5 years ago

      I am not a birder but I am fascinated with birds, actually I have lovebirds in my home, which are adored by my kids. I admire how you take care of them :)

    • profile image

      Syahran 5 years ago

      I realy like this Lense,cool, like I was watching the birds directly, no more artificial cage because there has been a natural cage.

    • profile image

      Syahran 5 years ago

      I realy like this Lense,cool, like I was watching the birds directly, no more artificial cage because there has been a natural cage.

    • LadyFlashman profile image

      LadyFlashman 5 years ago from United Kingdom

      What wonderful lens, I love the hummingbirds too and Gambels Quails are so cute. Congrats on LOTD!

    • ItayaLightbourne profile image

      Itaya Lightbourne 5 years ago from Topeka, KS

      Congrats on making Lens of the Day! Wonderful article. :)

    • IMKZRNU2 profile image

      IMKZRNU2 5 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      Very nice lens. We just had our annual Shorebird Festival here and it is amazing how many people love to "watch" birds. Thanks for sharing!

    • biminibahamas profile image

      biminibahamas 5 years ago

      watching the birds is so relaxing ... lovely lens!

    • profile image

      YourFirstTime 5 years ago

      Great lens. I'm an informal birder, but this lens has got me inspired.

    • VeseliDan profile image

      VeseliDan 5 years ago

      I see all sorts of birds in my backyard, but not the birds that are listed here. *blessed*

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      WOW ! What a blow ! Congrats on LOTD ! I feel lucky to comment first in such a fantastic lens .

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      One of the best things about summer is all the beautiful birds that can be seen. Congrats on LoTD!

    • profile image

      cleanyoucar 5 years ago

      This a great hobby to get into, better get that camera on standby all the time...