Friday, March 28, 2014

Welcome and Unwelcome Visitors

With the advent of spring, the number of feathered and furry visitors has increased.  Some visitors are welcome, others not so much.  Hummingbird activity at the feeder outside the kitchen window has intensified, as has the number of hummingbirds swooping about to feed among the flowers.  I've never caught the hummingbirds in flight - they move too quickly - but they take their time at the feeder.




Birds at the fountain pay leisurely visits - as long as I don't get too close with the camera.

I'm not good at bird IDs - my guess is that the 2 birds on the top tier are American Robins and the fellow on the lower tier is a Cedar Waxwing


There are a lot of birds at the feeders too, at least when the local squirrel isn't raiding the storehouse.  My husband built a cage around our largest feeder to keep the squirrels out.  It worked for a few years; however, one squirrel kept poking and prodding until he managed to bend the wires at the base and finally wiggled his way inside.

That seed is very tempting!

Perseverance pays off

Caught in the act with me standing a foot away, he froze as if hoping I wouldn't notice him sitting inside the feeder's cage

When he realized his frozen statue trick didn't work, he made a panicky exit, then paused to look at me as if to say "what's your problem, anyway?" before scooting back under the Ceanothus hedge



My husband fortified the wire enclosure at the base, which is once more keeping the squirrel at bay (while also making it harder for me to remove and refill the feeder).

Repaired feeder

Access denied

Contemplating Plan B

Executing Plan B



The raccoons have also been paying regular nightly visits, even though I've made my planting beds as inhospitable as possible with repellent and broken clay shards.  They've dug up some smaller plants but haven't shredded anything to pieces as they're usually inclined to do so my diversion program appears to be working (sort of).

The crows have also reappeared.   I previously described the activities of one pair that selected our California pepper trees (Schinus molle) to provide the soft inner layer of their nest.  According to a crow expert at Cornell, breeding pairs usually take about 2 weeks to complete their nest and those 2 did disappear within a period of about 2 weeks.  However, another crow, possibly part of a different breeding pair, has recently appeared.  This one was caught in the act of pulling twigs off the Mimosa tree (Albizia julibrissin).

He spent about 10 minutes selecting the perfect twig and yanking it free (leaving less attractive twigs strewn about at the base of the tree)



Twigs and sticks make up the base of the crow's nest.  After the base is done, I suppose he and his lady friend will return to start stripping the pepper trees...

16 comments:

  1. Ugh, you have my sympathy over your raccoon problems, I have similar destructive visits from them in the night. They are my most reviled wildlife.

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    1. The raccoons certainly cause me those most heartbreak, Alison. I've had to reinstate my daily morning walk through the garden to replant what they pull up.

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  2. Kris, I loved this post. I've got the same assortment of wildlife here with the same wire around the bird bath/fountain. How one squirrel can eat all the almonds or all the avocados on a tree, I don't know. Here we are in the midst of a huge metropolis and we have such wildlife problems! What you have no rats or possums eating the oranges? Possums I'll keep, though, they eat snails. Crunch, Crunch, I can hear them at night. Friends tell me that the motion activated sprinklers work very well against raccoons.

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    1. It's odd, Jane, but I think I've seen only 1 possum in the 3 years we've been in this house - they were regular visitors at our former house. Maybe the racccoons, more prevalent here, keep them away. I may try the motion-activated sprinklers yet but, having failed to turn away a raccoon even when I aimed a hose at it, I'm afraid I have doubts as the the efficacy of the automated sprinklers.

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  3. Great post Kris, I'm lucky not to have squirrels visiting the feeders. I can just imagine him cursing your husband as he tried to work a way around his latest efforts to keep him out.
    How wonderful to have caught a picture of the humming bird - they are exquisite wee creatures aren't they?

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    1. I love the hummingbirds, Angie, even when they're engaged in their seemingly endless territorial squabbles. The one in the picture seems to prefer the feeding station nearest to the window, which has improved my luck in getting photos. Now I just need a camera that facilitates close-ups...

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  4. Naughty squirrel! Nice birds at least :)

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    1. It just shows that you can't keep a driven squirrel from his goal!

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  5. I laughed at your squirrel, and I confess that I can never get angry at squirrels for outsmarting us. We once raised a squirrel from earliest infancy after my son found him at the base of a tall tree after a storm. His eyes were still closed, and when he opened them a few days later, he saw me. He thought I was his mamma! No surprise to you, but I can affirm that squirrels are intelligent. Whiskers was smarter than most dogs I have known.

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    1. I have to admit that the squirrels are cute, Deb. I just wish they were a little less greedy - the birds seem to stay away from the feeders when the squirrel is active there. I don't begrudge them the guava but I do wish they'd leave my blueberries alone and leave me at least some of the grapes...

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  6. Squirrels are very intelligent, you won't keep him out of the feeder for long. But Racoons! Wow! I wish I could see one, do they only come at night? I love your birds, so unlike any we have here. How wonderful to have humming birds.

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    1. I've only seen the raccoons out at night here, Chloris, although, in my former neighborhood, I did encounter one once during an early morning walk. (It ducked into a storm drain.) The adults can be quite brazen - we had one staring in through our living room window one evening - but they generally come around after the house quiets down for the night. At our old house, a mother used to troop through with her young each year, almost as if the visit was part of an annual training exercise.

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  7. I can only dream of humming birds; they are so special. We have foxes and badgers that have come into the garden and there are also porcupines but so far they haven't found a way in, they would do as much damage (maybe more) as your raccoons.

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    1. I guess I should count myself lucky that all I have to worry about is the squirrels, raccoons and an occasional skunk! We have coyotes in the immediate area too but I've yet to see them venture onto our property.

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  8. Squirrels are too clever and acrobatic by half. Great capture of the robins and cedar waxwing!

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    1. Thanks, SweetBay. The only way I can get a picture of the birds in the fountain is by shooting through the window from inside the house and, even then, they notice me more often than not and fly off.

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