Spring Birds of Johnson Canyon

Western Tanagers (Piranga ludoviciana)

Over the past couple of weeks, a huge number of new birds have been showing up in our yard. These are the migratory birds that spend the summer here, and avoid our cold winter nights by heading south when things here get chilly. Nancy has been watching her garden journal, and most of the birds have shown up on the same day that they appeared last year. The Western Tanagers were the latest arrivals, and they are one of our favorite birds. Their mix of bright colors makes them very easy to identify.

Black-chinned Hummingbird (Archilochus alexandri)

Our first Spring arrivals were the Black-chinned Hummingbirds. The first one showed up on the day of our last snow, and we now have a few dozen of his friends. Although they are called Black-chinned Hummingbirds, their throats flash a bright purple.

Bullock's Oriole (Icterus bullockii )

We put out oranges to attract many birds that are not seed eaters. The oranges also attract Rock Squirrels and Chipmunks, so we try to put them in places where only the birds can get to them. We started putting out fruit for the Bullock's Orioles, but found that quite a few other birds like oranges too.

Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater )

Our feeders attract seed-eaters, like these Brown-headed Cowbirds. They are pretty birds, but they parasitize the nests of other birds. They lay their eggs in another bird's nest, and let the other bird raise their young.

Black-headed Grosbeak (Pheucticus melanocephalus)

The seeds also attract Black-headed Grosbeaks, I counted fifteen of them on the day they first showed up. They have also been eating the thistle seeds from our finch seed socks, oranges, and I have even seen them trying to drink the nectar from our hummingbird feeders.

Lazuli Buntings (Passerina amoena)

With all of the reds, yellows, and oranges of the other birds, these bright blue Lazuli Buntings really stand out. A few Lazulis mixed in with the Tangers and Grosbeaks is quite a sight.

elenaames wrote on Tue, 07/15/2014 - 11:37:

Are Black-headed Grosbeaks related to Baltimore Orioles?

rkrampf wrote on Fri, 08/15/2014 - 17:00:

They are not very closely related. Our Bullock's Orioles are much more closely related to the Baltimore Oriole.

esther1 wrote on Wed, 06/11/2014 - 09:09:

I put up a hummingbird feeder and saw one humming bird on it for a short time. If one comes, do you think others will?

The Happy Scientist wrote on Sat, 06/14/2014 - 13:06:

Generally, once they find the feeder, they will keep coming back. As other hummingbirds wander through your neighborhood, they will find it too, so the number of hummingbirds you see often increases.

elenaames wrote on Thu, 05/22/2014 - 16:40:

I loved the picture of the hummingbird! My mom and I just set up our hummingbird feeder in our front yard yesterday. I can't wait to see hummingbirds feed from it. I saw on a website that its best to put your feeder in the shade. Is that true? What's the best spot to put your feeder? Should I put the feeder in the back or front yard or does it not matter? Also, how long does it take for a hummingbird to find your feeder? please get back to me. Thanks!

rkrampf wrote on Fri, 05/23/2014 - 13:12:

It usually helps if you put your feeder near some flowers, as they will help the hummingbirds find it for the first time. Put it someplace where it is not too easy for cats and other predators to catch the birds as they are eating. How long it will take depends on your area, and how many hummingbirds you have. The first time usually takes the longest. After they find it the first time, they will come back year after year. It also helps to put the feeder in a place where you will see it often. Otherwise, you might have hummingbirds visiting the feeder, and not know it, because you weren't looking at the right time. Our feeders are outside my office, so I see them all day long.

Be sure to keep the feeder clean, and replace the sugar water at least every 2-3 days.

elenaames wrote on Fri, 05/23/2014 - 15:59:

Ok, thanks for the advice! We don't have any flowers in our front or back yard I don't think. What types of flowers do they like? We hung our hummingbird feeder in the backyard(we changed our minds where to put it so it would be easier to see if any hummingbirds are coming to it) from a tall pole. Is that an ok spot away from predators? What time do hummingbirds feed? Please get back to me.


rkrampf wrote on Fri, 05/23/2014 - 19:38:

That should work fine. Hummingbirds feed all day long, usually moving through an area from one group of flowers to the next. Once they discover that you have a feeder, they will visit it frequently. Just be patient while waiting for them to find it the first time.

elenaames wrote on Sat, 05/24/2014 - 12:09:

Ok, thank you for all the help! I appreciate it!

elenaames wrote on Thu, 05/22/2014 - 15:08:

Great pictures of the birds!

cassie wrote on Fri, 05/16/2014 - 15:09:

Oh thats sooooooooooo cool

ilona.greeff wrote on Fri, 05/16/2014 - 10:16:

Awesome photos! How many times a day to you check your garden? Love, Henro, Mirique and Jannes

rkrampf wrote on Fri, 05/16/2014 - 14:56:

My office windows look out on the garden, so I get to watch it all day long.