Final week, Peter Penning regaled us with tales of death-defying birding exploits. Virtually being bitten by a Black Mamba? Geez, dude!
However there may be one other excessive to birding, one for which I’ve been slowly getting ready over the previous years. I’m, you see, at the moment 65 years previous. I can, I’m pleased to say, nonetheless climb hills and go just about wherever I select. I simply do it extra rigorously now. Nonetheless, I’m conscious that sometime my mobility will develop into progressively extra restricted.
Fortuitously, I’ve a backup plan.
Our residence has a small (some would say tiny) backyard, which I ensured could be on the south facet, after we had it constructed. The eating room, proven within the photograph under, has a straight view to this backyard, with a birdbath at lifeless heart. On days once I’m not out climbing hills, I sit with my bowl of cereal and cup of espresso and watch the present at that birdbath. And I’ve made certain that the backyard is filled with low-care crops, a lot of them natives, so I will proceed having fun with it even when intense gardening turns into too troublesome for me sometime.
After I began, what’s now this backyard was a brushy, vacant lot with no bushes.
As a result of Morelia has a relatively excessive wet-dry local weather, the birdbath doesn’t get a variety of motion throughout our moist summers. However in the course of the winter, when our territory is inundated with wintering northern birds, it turns into our neighborhood’s avian social heart. Simply when northerners are storing their binoculars for the winter, I’m having breakfast with them by my facet.
Additionally, as our dry, temperate winter morphs into our even drier, scorching spring, a few of our extra fascinating residents overcome their standard reticence to discover suburban gardens. My birdbath, you see, is the one dependable supply of water on this facet of the neighborhood.
So, what number of birds may I hope to see, with out leaving my central Mexican backyard? Nicely, my eBird data give me a complete of 86 species, thus far. Greater than half of those might be thought of backyard regulars for the duration of the yr, together with a number of that by no means come into the backyard itself, however might be seen frequently from the backyard, hovering across the ridge a number of blocks away. On the peak of our wet season, I’m prone to see solely a dozen or so species right here. However in late spring, I may simply see two or three dozen in a single day, if I paid sufficient consideration.
In January, the showiest birds are typically our migratory warblers. On any given day I can rely on seeing Wilson’s, Yellow-rumped (Audubon’s), Nashville, and Orange-crowned Warblers. Simply final week, a Black-throated Grey Warbler began visiting, accompanied by a shock Black-and-White Warbler. And up to now few years, a Virginia’s Warbler has additionally develop into a daily. (Our European readers could also be unaware that [wood] warblers within the Americas are normally fairly colourful, in contrast to the birds that bear the “warbler” moniker within the Outdated World.)
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audubon’s)
Black-throated Grey Warbler
Black-and-White Warbler, exhibiting its love of hanging head-down
Winter can also be the season for lovely Orioles and Tanagers, though resident Black-vented Orioles can seem year-round. I can count on to see Hooded and Bullock’s Orioles, in addition to Western and Summer season Tanagers, throughout peak season. Blue Grosbeaks, Indigo and Lazuli Buntings are dependable, although occasional, clients. And a beautiful male Different Bunting has proven up on daily basis this week, to remind me that these are additionally spring regulars. Warbling Vireos are nearly a trash fowl in my winter backyard. Their colours are muted, however the odd expression their open-mouthed water consuming produces makes them an amusing customer.
Black-vented Oriole, at my birdbath
A Different Bunting, elsewhere
A number of birds go to the backyard, however by no means the birdbath. Hummingbirds come for the native salvias I’ve established there through the years: Broad-billed Hummingbirds year-round, Berylline Hummingbirds a lot of the yr, and of late, a stunning Violet-crowned Hummingbird has been a daily presence. All of them go loopy when my Jacaranda tree is in bloom. Golden-fronted Woodpeckers want the Jacaranda trunk. Northern Beardless Tyrannulets by no means strategy the bottom, however I usually hear their piercing “wheek!” name in winter.
A Violet-crowned Hummingbird, feeding on a tree that I sadly don’t have in my backyard.
Northern Beardless Tyrannulet
As for Mexican endemics, the Blue Mockingbird is actually a dominant presence right here from January by way of August. (They arrive for the water, and keep for the fruits the backyard produces.) Bronzed Cowbirds and Rufous-backed Robins, in addition to Groove-billed Anis, additionally are available in spring for the fruit, with a drink of water on the facet. However in a dry yr like this one, even probably the most shy natives may seem. I’m hoping for Orange-billed Nightingale-thrushes and Noticed Wrens, on the very least.
A Blue Mockingbird visiting my backyard
A Rufous-backed Robin, elsewhere
An Orange-billed Nightingale-Thrush got here for a drink
In order that’s my “birding retirement plan”. It could be fascinating to learn within the feedback under if any of you might have completed the identical. If you happen to haven’t but, you can even take into account doing so in a hotter, birdier local weather, like mine.