Smith and Bybee Lakes

Warblering is tough!

Even tougher than finding warblers is photographing warblers! It’s a miracle anyone pulls it off successfully. Which brings me to my latest trip to Smith and Bybee Lakes. I have good news and bad news. The good news: I saw the Yellow Warbler!!! (Thanks for the tip, Laura!) The bad news: this is the best of my blurry shots.

Yellow Warbler

Warm-yellow bird with reddish belly streaks and…a blurry face? Oops. I’ll have to spend more time practicing with this one. I’m okay with that. Funny thing though, the highlight of my trip was the Marsh Wren! This little fella was an adorable energetic ball of feathers proudly vocalizing from branch to branch. Actually, several of them were. They made quite the cute chorus. Here is a short video of one.

Marsh Wren

Other birds and critters I had the pleasure of encountering:

Smith and Bybee is a joy to visit! Hopefully the Yellow Warbler sticks around long enough to give me another chance.

Tweets and chirps,

Audrey

If you build it, they will bathe

I’m pretty proud of this one.

I’ve been meaning to purchase a bird bath for the yard, but winced at the average $100 price tag. How am I supposed to save for new mega camera lenses if I spend so much on yard accessories? So I went the DIY route instead. Inspired by this idea, I picked up a few items from the local hardware store and got to work.

Ingredients: chain, carabiner, 5 key rings, and a glazed planter saucer.

Nuts and bolts

I had to purchase cutting pliers, so the total cost was around $25, but those with the items on-hand could get away with an even cheaper lot. I cut the chain, re-connected in the appropriate places with key rings, and attached the four chain ends to a carabiner and chain-ring around the tree limb. Simple.

Ta-dah!

Birdbath!

I couldn’t beilive it. Within the first hour a female Lesser Golfinch took the bait.

Female Lesser Goldfinch

Female Lesser Goldfinch

Success!

And then…shortly after, a female Red Crossbill!!! A new bird! Unbelievable.

Female Red Crossbill

Pretty stoked. At the same time, birds at the feeders:

Lesser Goldfinch

Anna's Hummingbird

I love sharing my world with these cool creatures. I worried though…about the new set-up leaving the birds vulnerable to neighborhood cats. A neighbor brought to my attention they’d witnessed cats stalking the trees and the last thing I want to do is to put the birds at risk. So, today I stopped by the Backyard Bird Shop with the intention of getting squirrel baffles to somehow deter the cats. But, the sales associate had a better idea…wrap the tree limbs with blackberry vines! Ultra genius.

Cat repellent

The Game of Thorns

Cat repellent

Cat repellent

It looks a little funky now, but the green will die off, and the brown will blend in with the bark. But the thorns will remain. I hope it’s effective. What do you think, Miss Humbird?

Anna's Hummingbird

Mega ultra tweets and chirps,

Audrey

Shillapoo and Frenchman’s Bar

As soon as I typed “breakfast burrito” into the search bar, that’s when the magic happened.

Let me back up.

Some time passed since I last visited Shillapoo National Wildlife Refuge so I decided to give it another go. Part of what makes birding fun is visiting regular haunts and seeing different birds each time. Indeed, I saw some newbies this trip.

Like this Lazuli Bunting.

Lazuli Bunting

And from blue head to the Brown-headed Cowbird. A bizarre thing I read about these birds is they lay eggs in other bird’s nests instead of making their own. A strategy known as “brood parasitism.” Some birds, like the Yellow Warbler, evolved to recognize the imposter eggs, but because the bird is too small to remove the eggs it builds a new nest on top, hoping the cowbird doesn’t return. It’s a tough nesting world out there.

Brown-headed Cowbird

Another competitive nester and loud vocalist I saw this day, the House Wren.

House Wren

House Wren

I was entertained for while by this Anna’s Humbingbird. So much so, I took a video. I love that flashy face.

Anna's Hummingbird

Anna's Hummingbird

Also fun was watching the Common Yellowthroat twitter around in the cattails.

Common Yellowthroat

Common Yellowthroat

Common Yellowthroat

The park was alive with yellow birds, like these American Goldfinch.

American Goldfinch

How many do you see?

How many do you see?

I’ll be honest, there was one yellow bird I had hoped to find this day, the Yellow Warbler. There are lots of yellow warblers, but there is only one Yellow Warbler. I thought I might see one at Shillapoo, but no luck, so I headed to nearby Frenchman’s Bar Park since I saw a sighting posted on E-bird the day prior. I headed out.

I saw a couple of tricky birds I had to look up.

Orange-crowned Warbler

Broken eye ring, greyish head, drab-yellow underneath = Orange-crowned Warbler

Western Tanager

Drab olive head, dusky grey back, light wing bars = female Western Tanager

Also noteworthy at this sight is the Osprey nest visible from the beach.

Osprey

Osprey

Osprey

A few other birds I saw.

Spotted Towhee

Spotted Towhee

Pileated Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker

Warbling Vireo

Warbling Vireo

Hermit Thrush

Hermit Thrush

This brings me back to my burrito. By this point it was getting late in the morning and I was thinking of leaving. Though I’d seen so much, I was sort of bummed to miss out on the Yellow Warbler. While second-breakfast was on my mind, I glanced up from my phone, and this happened.

Bullock's Oriole

I did a double-take. It’s not yellow, but it’s a bright orange bird! I’ll take it! Squee! My heart raced as I watched and followed the Bullock’s Oriole pair around the park. It was such a great sighting I had trouble pulling myself away. What burrito?

Tweets and chirps,

Audrey