Tuesday, March 08, 2011

More signs of spring

It was a busy weekend here in Vegas. The Nascar races were held at the speedway last weekend. The town was booked fairly full with people out for the races, there were race drivers pretending to be cab drivers, the motor carriers held a parade down the Strip, and noise was heard everywhere. It was sunny and warm, and in my yard the birds were singing. Our neighborhood has lots of mocking birds – these are a variety of the American Jay birds, but plain grey in color. They know it’s spring, and mating season. The males have claimed their territory in a checkerboard across the valley, each one guarding their little patch, sitting on the high points of telephone poles or tall trees or chimneys and singing away, to tell the other males this is their spot and calling females. Stepping outside in the morning I can hear a dozen of them, scattered around, with one that sits on the power pole just behind our house, filling the yard with his songs.

They are called mockingbirds because it is one thing they do – mock whatever is going on around them. There is one now that sounds exactly like the cell phone chime when a message comes in. A few years ago one learned the bell sound from the school down the street, and we would hear the school bell go off every hour and the bird from a different direction answering back. We also have some hummingbird feeders around the house, and now I have to refill them often, as the weather is warming up and they are more active. Our hummers don’t have a full song like the mockingbirds, but they do sit on the branches close to the feeders guarding them and singing their songs to keep the other guys away. There are also a lot of finches and sparrows around, filling the bushes with their loud chirps.

When I get out of the car coming to work the small trees around our building are filled with sparrows chirping and flying around as well. The sound of a few dozen of them arguing is louder than the sound of my car radio, and can be heard even with the windows up. Started seeing the chipmunks (or small ground squirrels – not sure which) scurrying across the parking lot, a new crop of bunnies should soon appear to eat the grass out front. Finally got to see one of the coyotes that lives in the field behind the office, so that makes the menagerie viewing complete.

We also have a sapsucker that comes through our yard and hammers on the peach tree. It’s a type of woodpecker but instead of looking for bugs under the bark it punctures the bark then comes back a while later to eat the sap that has leaked out. Last year we had a big one, this year the one coming around is a lot smaller, probably a juvenile:

These are those chartreuse flowers I talked about, on a succulent that grows quite well around here.


Suzy said...

We had lots of mockingbirds where I grew up. We used to put raisins out for them on the window sills outside and then we'd watch them fly in and eat. If we had forgotten, the mockingbirds would strut back and forth in front of our large picture window, shrieking to get our attention.

My mother still talks about them and now obviously, so do I.

Loved the picture you sent me btw.

Froggy said...

I love spring with all the bird calls. Ours start early here. With the bedroom window open we can hear the birds start from 4.30am. What a lovely way to wake up.

The Blonde Duck said...

Spring is my favorite season!

Don said...

You've got quite the spring sprung thing going on. You make it sound fantastic. Nice job!

Jammie J. said...

The world is coming alive again. I never get over the miracle of leaves sprouting from what looks like a dead stick, or flowers growing up from the ground where it was invisible the day before.

Love your descriptions and pictures. They make me happy.

Rob said...

Always interesting to see other countries' birds.