Sunday, December 16, 2012

A Mere Mortal

Broad bill Hummingbird(male)
Hello everyone!  Well we have been "in training" working on the Tucson Christmas Bird Count.  Kathie and I both have been busy and exhausted from the holidays.  But we're also trying to allow for some birding time as well.  Two weeks ago, we'd go to a local Tucson park and see just how many birds we could pull out of the bushes. 
Hutton's Vireo
It's amazing the levels of birding.  Kathie can ID and document quickly.  I get the photo for ID verification.  Both of our eyes are working all at once. 
Sharp-shinned Hawk
We began our training class with Rich Hoyer.  I then realized that I have a ways more to go:)  Kathie and I don't like to disturb the peace.  We see them as we see them and rarely ever call out to them.  But part of this Christmas Bird Count is getting accurate numbers of bird species found in a specific area.  And that requires me to get out of my comfort zone a little.  We can employ bird calls from devices etc to call the birds out.  And it does work.  We pished and pished and PISSSSHED!  Rich even had an owl call down.  Don't ask me how but he could replicate the sound.  Incredible. 
European Starlings
On this day, we both learned a lot.  Kathie asked lots of questions about the process.  I listened and watched the various interactions of the group training.  The best part of our team is that we each bring something to the table in terms of skill.  And it makes a great combo for power birding.
When I first began my EBIRD and Listing exercises, I had a lot of questions.  Today, they are small ones and so much fun to do.  After our field observations, both of us will go over our counts at lunch or breakfast to make sure we didn't miss a bird on the list.  But watching people incredibly skilled in birding makes it look easy! And it's not:)  Part of the fun is finding the bird yourself, but I have to admit, there are times when it's nice to have someone leading a group pointing things out.  Not often...just sometimes:)  It's what I call "lazy birding".  We were specifically looking for 4 or 5 birds on the list.  I had NO idea that they could be found there and yet....they were present.  And in plain sight!  Hutton's Vireo's, Warblers, and even a Broad bill Hummingbird!!!  Who knew?!  Rich did.
American Pipits
Rich also spoke a lot about native plants that attract birds.  I found his discussion extremely helpful.  Trees that don't attract birds are what I call "junk" trees.  The African Sumac is one of them!  Sure it provides shade but little else.  Placing native plants into your garden is not only water friendly.....but wildlife friendly!  El Presidio is very active today thanks to some research and proper planning.
Our big count begins today.  I hope we can find them all:)  The above pic was taken with my IPHONE.  This is what we call an "arroyo"(ah-roy-oh) or dry creek bed.  Thank you Rich for the fun morning.  Can't wait for today's count and potluck!


  1. Hola!!!. Que bonitas imágenes.. La foto del segundo pajarillo me encanta es para comérselo. Que preciosidad!!!..

  2. the African sumac? One of our Searsia/Rhus species? Has berries which our birds eat.

    Tell me about that hummingbird feeder? Never seen one like that, but I presume that's what is is?

    1. This tree, which obviously isn't native here:), isn't popular with the birds. I've found that many trees that aren't native and grown out of the natural habitat sometimes won't fully develop and berry. Or that wildlife will just avoid the plant altogether. It's really interesting the interaction and connection between native vs. non-native.

  3. Chris, it sounds like a fun time doing the count. I have tried phishing and it does not work for me. Maybe I am not a good phishing caller. I did not know you could use birding devices to call birds out for the count. Love the hummer shots! Happy Birding and a have a great day!

  4. the tiny little vireo is so beautiful.

  5. I really do enjoy watching the birds at my feeders but haven't gotten into the counting part. Good luck!

  6. Very creative shots Chris. Love the little bird and the bug.

  7. That Hutton's video is so stinkin cute! :)

  8. And people just THINK that 'real' birding is SIMPLE... Sounds like you all work really hard... That's how you --and others--get such accurate counts...


  9. The bird in the 2nd photo - Huttons Vireo is SO cute :) Good luck with the Christmas Bird Count.

  10. It sounds like a wonderful adventure. I'm sure your counting will help and how fun to see such different birds.


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