Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Finches of the Stormageddon

The biggest storm of the last three or four years arrived today with heavy winds and buckets of rain. There is flooding in the Bay Area already, and later on there was flooding at work. I didn't have any good reasons to go out into the mess, so there were no birdwalks or the like. Instead, I spent some time in the shelter of the back porch watching the birds that were awaiting their turns at the bird feeder.
By far the most common visitor was the Lesser Goldfinch (Spinus psaltria), a beautiful small yellow colored bird. The males have a black head, the females an olive-yellow.
The Goldfinches love the nyger seed, and I'm going through something like a whole sock each day. There are always two dozen or more finches hanging around in the Myrtle tree, waiting for me to refill the thistle sock.
In contrast, the House Finches (Haemorhous mexicanus) go nuts over sunflower seeds. I haven't seen a large number, but somehow the sunflower feeder empties out every day or two. There was one brave one this afternoon that ate even though I was on the porch and all the other birds were keeping their distance. The House Finches are one of the most common birds in the country.
Our third visitor was an Anna's Hummingbird (Calypte anna). Of all the birds that visit our yard, the hummingbirds are the most fearless. I've had them buzz my face on occasion. Look carefully and you can see the raindrops on the hummingbird's beak.
It's been an important storm, probably providing more rain in one day that we got in any whole month during the worst of the drought. It also reminds us that sometimes the birds will come to you if you give them a reason.

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