Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Christmas Bird Wreaths

Pomegranates and fig leaves

Tis the Season... to create wonderful edible wreaths for our birds!  So start gathering up some pine cones, dried sunflower seed heads, nuts, fruit, seeds, berries, and grapevines.

Its easy!  Just grab some floral wire or bakers twine, and slide on some fruit, popcorn (plain), and peanuts (raw unsalted).  When making bows try to use natural fibers such as raffia, corn husks, cotton, burlap or wool yarn.
Grapes, blueberries, dried cranberries, popcorn and cheerios
Try using fresh cranberries because many dried fruits have sugar or high-fructose corn syrup
added. I don't recommend using processed cereals like Cheerios because of GMOs.

Pine cone feeders are fun and easy for kids to make. The usual method is to slather on peanut butter, then roll in birdseed.  Since it's warm here in Phoenix you should mix cornmeal in with the peanut butter to thicken it up to keep it from melting.  Use  a bird seed containing several seed types so that you will attract a greater variety of birds.
Apples, pomegranates, pine cones can be secured with florists wire.
When assembling wreaths, try to incorporate sprigs of local native plants.

Garland made of fresh cranberries and  raw unsalted peanuts.

An old rake holds apples, pomegranates, and a big sunflower seed head.

You can get free pine tree trimmings at many of the Christmas tree
lots to make swags and wreaths.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Scottsdale Ranch Park 2nd Annual Thanksgiving Bird Count

Red-breasted Sapsucker at Scottsdale Ranch Park, Nov. 24, 2016
Photo by Peggy Thomas

  What a great way to start Thanksgiving day!  I thought the highlight of the Scottsdale Ranch Park 2nd Annual Thanksgiving Bird Count would be the Red-breasted Sapsucker and that the rest of the count would consist of the usual city park birds.  I was wrong.  There were a number of highlights on this count, starting with a Red-naped Sapsucker appearing in one of the mesquite trees near the tennis courts.

Red-naped Sapsucker at Scottsdale Ranch Park, Nov. 24, 2016

Greater Roadrunner at Scottsdale Ranch
Park, Nov. 24, 2016
Another Red-naped Sapsucker was seen later in a different area of the park.   A Greater Roadrunner made an appearance early in the morning, sunning himself in the parking lot.  A Bald Eagle was seen circling high above Lake Serena.  Another highlight of the count was running into a few great birders/photographers - Pete Moulton, and Mary and Jim Griffith, all hoping to get some shots of the Red-breasted Sapsucker, a continuing rarity. 

A gaggle of birders gathered at Scottsdale Ranch Park, Nov. 24, 2016

Says Phoebe at Scottsdale Ranch Park, Nov. 24, 2016

Scottsdale Ranch Park is very wheelchair friendly with sidewalks curving all around, and smooth grassy areas filled with a wide diversity of trees.  There were so many different tree types that I wished we had an arborist with us!  The Desert Garden area is a bit more challenging for someone using a wheelchair as the trail is sculpted to look like a long winding rattlesnake!  Very cool art but a bit bumpy.

Other surprises on the count included two Says Phoebe, a female Vermilion Flycatcher, two American Kestrels, and a creepy but cool tarantula hawk (a bug, not a bird).  The count was organized and led by Diana and Bill Herron.  To see the complete bird count go to eBird.

A far-away Yellow-rumped Warbler, 1 of 9 counted.

 A female Costas Hummingbird enjoying
the bottle-brush bush.

All photos by Peggy Thomas

Thank you Diana and Bill for a wonderful
Thanksgiving Bird Count full of surprises!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Desert Botanical Garden

 Yesterday's Monday Morning Bird Walk at Desert Botanical Garden was quite a hoot - with four Great Horned Owls!  One was actually in camera-range instead of being impossibly hidden high up in the cottonwood trees.

Several Verdin were clamoring over one berry-laden bush along the Wildflower Trail, not seeming to care at all that we were so close!  You can even see the berry juice on the beak of the Verdins pictured above and below. (Personally, I prefer to eat my berries without being surrounded by paparazzi!)

Of course at the end of the walk when we calculated the numbers of species seen, the Greater Roadrunner and the Harris Antelope Squirrel had to make an appearance so that they could be included in the final count.

There were a number of species of note that I was happy to see - American Kestrel, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Black-tailed Gnatcatcher, Pyrrhuloxia, and Yellow-rumped Warbler.

In recent weeks there have also been a Red-naped Sapsucker, two American Robins, a Loggerhead Shrike, and of course my favorite winter visitor, the White-crowned Sparrows!

To see  complete lists of what has been seen in the Garden, see the awesome website, updated weekly, by William and Diana Herron, DBG - Birdwalks Birdlists

Special thanks to the Desert Botanical Garden's docents who have faithfully held the Monday Morning Birdwalks for I don't know how many years - William and Diana Herron, Andree Tarby, Don Witter, Jackie Anderson, Joyce Goodman, Gay Christensen, Merle and Dee Long and many others.  We are so fortunate to have so much birding knowledge being generously shared on a beautiful weekly walk!

Friday, November 11, 2016

Tour de Bird 2016

  The Desert Rivers Audubon really rocked it this year with their Tour de Bird 2016.  I didn't make it to all the stops, but the ones I did see were spectacular.  The pics above and below are a great example of maximizing the use of a very small yard. 
This amazing habitat is in the narrow back patio / yard space of a townhouse!  It was a warm day, but as soon as we stepped into this mini-paradise it felt 10 degrees cooler.

Photo by Kimberly White-Knight
The waterfall and recirculating stream and the lush growth around it attract a variety of birds, even an occasional Green Heron!  This male Anna's Hummingbird thought it was a worthy habitat, flashing his colors in appreciation I am sure (birds are deep-thinkers).

The home-owners installed the stream originally, then later had it re-vamped by the Pond-Gnome.  The Pond-Gnome is a locally owned business in the valley specializing in design and installation of backyard ponds and recirculating streams and waterfalls.  They also convert old swimming pools into beautiful eco-friendly, water-conserving backyard ponds.

Photo by Kimberly White-Knight
Another backyard habitat on Tour de Bird 2016 also featured a recirculating stream installed by the Pond Gnome.  This home had a much larger backyard with a wide assortment of trees and shrubs native to the Sonoran Desert.  The large palo verdes and mesquite provide shade, and the dense shrubbery provides shelter for birds and other wildlife.

Photo by Kimberly White-Knight
I lingered far too long at my last stop on Tour de Bird, there were so many PLANTS!  Even plants for sale - cholla, prickly pear, milkweed, agave, aloes and more.  It was like a mini-Desert Botanical Garden!  Butterflies were fluttering around everywhere, enjoying a variety of milkweed plants.

If you are bummed out that you missed out on this year's Tour de Bird, mark your calendars for next year, the event is usually held on the first Saturday in November.  Maybe MY yard will be on Tour de Bird 2017!
There was even Devil's Claw available for purchase, singly or in bundles called "hats".

See one of the larger projects the Pond Gnome has done, utilizing and recycling the rainwater runoff from the apartment complex parking lot!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Cooper's Hawk Carnage

Photos by Peggy Thomas, taken Jan. 25th, 2016 in Mesa, AZ.
Do you have an event, bird walk, meeting, or nature walk that belongs on this calendar? Please send info to birdbloglady@gmail.com

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