Monday, February 23, 2015

To the Heart of the Matter

Lovebirds galore at Encanto Park!

Twiddling my thumbs until the next great journey arrives, I joined AZFO and Magill Weber this past Saturday to find the exotic Rosy-faced Lovebirds up in Phoenix.  Their expansion continues across this great metropolitan area.  Our task?  To find as many of these lovebirds as we could.  

Guardian Rosy-faced Lovebirds
I've been finding that I need to "spice" up my birding life a bit by doing different types of birding.  This lovebird quest was right up my alley!

a new ebird hotspot!  Margaret T. Hance Park!
Over the past 30 years, these lovebirds seem to have taken over the Phoenix metro by storm.  Their numbers have been increasing and today, these African migrants are now considered an established resident within the greater Phoenix area.  We do not have them in Tucson....or at least not yet. Back in 1987, the Rosy-faced Lovebird was first reported breeding in the East Valley near the Apache Junction and Mesa city border. Today, these colorful little birds can be counted on the ABA list.....but ONLY in Maricopa county.

Fledgling Rosy-faced Lovebird.  One of possibly 4 in this nest!
So I had an absolute blast hanging out with Magill as we explored all the urban parks within our count area.  It wasn't too hot as we visited places like Encanto and Steele Indian School Parks.  We even created a new Ebird Hotspot!!!  We're proud to welcome Margaret T. Hance Park to the Ebird map. If you live in Arizona, it's right next door to the Phoenix Japanese Tea Garden above the freeway tunnel. 

We went to each of the parks covering many of the palm trees looking for nesting birds.  Often times, lovebirds will fly as a flock into the various desert trees near water sites.  All of the parks we visited had plenty of urban water and grass.  And homeless people.  Skater people. Blood drive people.  People selling their religion. Balloon releasing birthday people. Needle using people. And I could go on and on.  Arizona city parks.  Definitely not the same type of park I remember from my childhood in Wisconsin:)

Magill narrowly escapes an urban water disaster! We had to get a closer view of possible nesting lovebirds around this tricky gate.
But we were a team and stood together in some of the sketchiest areas as we counted oh SO MANY lovebirds!  Our final tally was around 113 lovebirds within our count area.  There were lots more we didn't see. 

I think one of the biggest things, for me anyway, is having a sense of humor.  It's important to laugh and have a good time between the bird observations.  I've been with some birders in the past who don't have a sense of humor. OR!  Have completely lost their sense of wonder.  Part of this lovebird count was to get into the "nitty gritty" places often overlooked by so many people.

We discover a forest in the middle of our area
Magill is great and I really wish she lived closer so we could bird more often together.  Both of our spouses would probably kill us because we are addicts to the birds. Fix up the house or go find the bird?  Hmmmmm, easy! Let's go find the birds! Every time we explore a new location, we learn something different. Each offers the birder a new experience.  Every experience is like a new episode from our favorite TV show each week.

Eurasian-collared Dove
So yeah.  There are those common birds that LOVE to hang out at the parks as well, but they're still cool to me.

Great-tailed Grackle
Each one beautiful in their own unique way.  

Ring-necked Duck
So what's a birder to do?  I had to count them all! 

Snowy Egret
And while the lovebirds are not native to Arizona, they are welcomed by many of the locals for their color and personality. The "cute" factor wins people over right away. 

Note the yellow mutation of the Rosy-faced Lovebird to the right.  We found only one of these birds in our count. It's called a "Lutino".  Fascinating!
So take a look at the common birds found around the same areas as the Rosy-faced Lovebirds.  Several are exotics as well which include the Rock Pigeons, Eurasian-collared Doves and European Starlings.  One can see why the lovebirds stand out among the brown and black birds. 

Luna is wondering why there are holiday decorations to go with Valentine's dinner
And since we're speaking of love, blood, lovebirds, etc, I thought I'd include this pic of my version of Valentine's dinner.  I hate all Hallmark holidays but I'm still expected to celebrate them or get in big trouble.  So I made a holiday dinner in protest of these blasted human made events.  I had holiday music in the background with all the decorations to boot!  Dinner was delish and I made it through another one of these silly days.  Of course our cat Luna was a bit confused:)

Finally, I'd like to do a brief public service announcement.  While we were out on this day, I photographed 3 of the 4 things that kill birds out in the wild.  1.  Feral cats.  I love them.  But I love my birds as well.  They are the number one killer of all birds.  2. Sending balloons into the heavens.  The Almighty doesn't want them and will send them back down to us causing large amounts of trash around our cities. In some places, it's illegal to release balloons. 3. Power lines.  Lots of birds are electrified by touching two wires(think big birds with big wingspans!). There isn't much we can do about this one other than notify city officials if hawks, etc continue getting fried.  They can usually do some preventative work regarding this issue and just need to be notified. And 4.  Fishing line. Usually, if I can reach it and pull it off a tree branch, etc, I will.  Water birds can really get tangled up in that mess!  

Well that's my report for this week. Stay tuned for more as we journey with several of our favorite birder friends to new and old places alike.  Sometimes I feel like Mr. Rogers:)  I even wear the same dang vest!  Until next time friends!


  1. Te has echado d amigo al oso Yogui???.. Muy chulas las fotos. Un saludito. .

  2. the lovebirds are adorable, but i can imagine a large population of them might not be so welcomed. sorry about the state of the parks, there.

  3. I like your attitude about birding. It's true that some birders are WAY too serious!

  4. Hello Chris, The Rosy-faced Lovebirds are adorable.. I can see why everyone would love to see them, including me..

    I wish we could solve the problems with the feral cats, balloons and that damn fishing line.. Great post!

  5. Luna seems to be such a sweet one!
    I tried to find out when I exactly saw the lovebirds for the first time in Phoenix, at the Botanical Garden but I would have to go through the pictures to find out, it must have been 10 years ago or so. Since that time I saw them more and more especially in Phoenix either in public places or even at people's houses but none in Chandler till 2011 or so.

  6. A beautiful series. The love birds are so sweet!

  7. What a great outing to do something totally birding different. Those lovebirds are beautiful. The balloons are not.

  8. An interesting and worthwhile exploration Chris.

    Birding without humour .. definitely not!

  9. A very nice post with some great pictures too. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Birdwatching is your passion, but also fun, and caring for them. But it takes a lot of time. I hope that the family does not have anything against it, and maybe even admire your love for the birds. :)))

  11. a wonderful selection of wonderful bird shots. Cute Love birds

  12. Great images Chris. I love the Rosy-faced Lovebirds, fantastic.

  13. There is nothing wrong with promoting a little love. You don't have to do it "Hallmark's Way."
    Beautiful photos.

  14. Sounds like an interesting week! Love those lovebirds!

  15. Hello Chris!:) How I love to read about your outings, and all the birds you find and photograph. The Rosy-faced Love birds are so adorable. Lovely photos of all the birds.

    I hate it when I find a hook in a ducks mouth, left by a careless fisherman.
    Best Regards.

  16. Your common birds aren't my common birds - so nice to see yours - but they do share some of the same colour characteristics. I'm pleased you survived Valentine's day with credit and can look forward to your next birding adventure in one piece!!!

  17. A great post Chris - the lovebirds are just beautiful. I really adore the first photo - it looks like a painting :)

  18. Beautiful birds, and with 113 there is at least one left out! Keep on birding. Here plastic a problem for birds and animals.

  19. I enjoyed reading about the Lovebirds, Chris. It's a pity that, with these very attractive birds adopting the parks in Phoenix, there's so much 'dross' in the parks detracting from their beauty.

    Loved your Valentine's table setting!!!

    Best wishes - - - - Richard

  20. This was an outstanding read, thank you so much. I loved all your photographs but the one of the dove sitting on the branch (9th one down) was gorgeous, the background was magical, a magical photo.

  21. I live in a tropical area and something that my students from Japan usually point out is how colourful the native birds are. Those love birds certainly stand out. They are a gorgeous bird and I can imagine they have pretty full on personalities.

  22. Hey Friend, never loose that humor, it is a man's best friend in this world we got into. Anybody who has it is very privileged or gifted, i should say! I wish i had your birding lens when i was in NZ, i saw lots of them, but don't know any except the common seagull.

    BTW, when i first saw you in blogging, that moustache doesn't have any other color yet, haha!

  23. It would be hard to resist a bird as cute as a love bird. :o) Looks like a very fun day.

  24. Balloons are bad news, especially on the coasts where sea turtles mistake them for jellyfish. I always want to ask people releasing them if they want their daughter's/son's birthday legacy to be a dead sea turtle.

  25. No no...NOT Mr. Rogers! :-) You are more like an explorer! An explorer with a great sense of humor, and I love that. I also LOVE your Rosy-Faced Lovebirds! What a wonderful bird to get to find so close to home! Wouldn't it be great to be the first person to see one in Tucson.... :-) The mostly yellow one was fascinating. And the parks you explored look very interesting too. Glad you found a Phonenix-based birder friend, too. Oh, and I am sorry if I put any pressure on you because you missed my Pahinopeppla...I know how amazingly busy you are (explorers do NOT sit still for long!) and I do understand. I was just so excited about that pretty black bird, I could hardly sit still! :-)

  26. No, no pressure Marie:) I love seeing what you've found and I hope you continue finding more! I am excited you discovered the Phainopepla! Pretty cool looking-and might I add snazzy-bird to have around Tucson! Yeah, it's been crazy here. I am working on several projects over the next weekends including one down in Mexico and while I love it, I have to make sure I get my chores done around the house....or get in trouble:)

  27. Not to mention - Wind Turbines and Solar Panels

  28. How lovely it must be to see those lovebirds. I hope they live and prosper and continue to enliven the local birding scene.

  29. Wonderful photos today, Chris! I love all the pics and the public service announcement! I'm glad you did the count and had fun!


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