By Dan Weisz
Here are some photos from my backyard and Foothills neighborhood, all taken within the past few weeks.
This is an immature White-winged Dove. It seems to be wearing a bill and feet that are several sizes too large for it at this time. It is young and may not realize that sitting out in the open like this may look very inviting to a predator like our neighborhood Cooper’s Hawks.
This male Broad-billed Hummingbird is taking a rest. This is likely an immature male as its breast feathers are not yet completely brilliant blue and the green feathers on its back are still growing in.
Another photo of one of my regular male Costa’s Hummingbirds.
There are Creosote Bushes all around the neighborhood. I’ve seen brown leaf clusters shaped like this before but never a living green ball. This is a “gall” produced by a small fly known as the Creosote Gall Midge. The fly lays an egg in the plant and the stunted leaf and twig growth is the plant’s response. It looks pretty at this stage and this does not impact the rest of the plant.
The Brown-crested Flycatchers continue to fly through the neighborhood. They often swing by my house shortly after sunrise. Look at that massive beak on this one.
Often they will stop for a drink of water in the back. Here is an adult Brown-crested Flycatcher on the left and an immature one on the right. Besides behavior that I witnessed, you can tell that the bird on the right is young because there is a spot of pink flesh at the base of the beak. This spot is called the gape.
Here is a close-up of the young bird and you can clearly see the pink base (the gape) of its bill. These birds, like many, cannot sip water so they dip their beaks in water and then tip their heads back to let the water flow down their throat.
I have nyjer seed feeders in the front yard and in the back and if you want to attract Lesser Goldfinches, nyjer seeds are magical. Lesser Goldfinches are regular visitors. This one still has a few new tail feathers growing in.
One of the plants I grow is called Firebush. Each clump of flowers looks like an explosion of fireworks. The flowers bloom throughout our hot summer, providing food for hummingbirds. In the fall, the green leaves turn a burnt red before the plant freezes back in winter.
Another look at the gorgeous gorget of the Costa’s Hummingbird. He is sitting on the end of a mesquite twig.
During an early morning walk weeks ago, there were two Lesser Nighthawks still hunting low over the desert. They might have been hunting for hungry youngsters waiting for food on the ground below.
On another morning walk in the neighborhood, I came across a pair of Pyrrhuloxia. The ocotillo had leafed out just a few days after our one good rain and the contrast of the red on the Pyrrhuloxia with the green leaves of the ocotillo against the blue morning sky was a sight to see.
One of several male Northern Cardinals came in to the feeders in my back yard. I don’t know whether this is a molting male or an immature bird still coming into adult plumage, but his face looks pretty splotchy now. He won’t use this photo for his driver’s license, I’m sure.
Although we’ve had little rain, there are still clouds in the evening sky periodically making sunsets more colorful.
The Foothills is a nice neighborhood to be in.