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Readers’ corner 5/18/07

Dixie Redfearn

Are the birds gone? Or not? This comes from Ingrid Cattaneo (who invites fellow bird lovers/feeders to write her at sewingrid@comcast.net).

“In response to your lonely birder, we live on lower Morgan Ranch Drive, where we are lucky to have lots of birds. This year I’ve witnessed, for the first time in five years, the early arrival of an ash-throated fly catcher on March 12. (Last year was April 18). Also, very early nest building by the purple house finch, oak tree titmouse and blue birds. According to my journal, all the chicks fledged four to five weeks earlier than last year.

“Especially interesting is the bluebird pair this year; they hatched seven chicks; as of May 17 all seven are healthy and ready to fledge any hour now. Seven is the largest brood I’ve had. Last year, five chicks fledged on June 14. The grosbeaks are early as well. There are many American yellow finches, hummers, titmice, acorn woodpeckers, purple house finches, California towhees, doves, rufous-sided towhees, juncos, golden-crowned sparrows, one pair northern orioles, one turkey hen and one band-tailed pigeon. These are all the birds I’ve been able to I.D.; I don’t know who else drops by when I’m not home.”

Comic relief on birds: This is from Kevin F. Glover of LOP. “In regards to the vanishing bird conspiracy, I don’t think it’s BirdMart that is behind it. I believe it is Starbeaks.”

Lots of birds here: Susie Bavo says, “We’ve had tons of birds all winter. The grosbeaks started showing up about one and a half weeks ago (up Highway 20 about 3,500 elevation).”

No grosbeaks here: Barbara Brown says, “We live nine miles up Highway 20 out of Nevada City, and my husband just mentioned the other day that we have no grosbeaks yet this year. Probably not the small birds mentioned in your column today, either. We do have band-tailed pigeons, junkos and robins.”

Is it weather patterns? Jackie Gunn-Smith thinks so. “I think it may be the weather patterns. We, too, feed the backyard birds and enjoy the black-headed grosbeaks at this time of the year. Last year, we had quite the family! But not to worry – they showed up about a week ago (although not as many), in addition to the nuthatches and brown-headed cow birds. I trust that she has water available, trees to perch and hide in and a good blend of seed. Grosbeaks are fond of the “wild bird supreme blend” at Wild Birds Unlimited and black oil sunflower seed. The purple finches also are back – at least in Rough and Ready. Nice to know there are other amateur backyard birders!”


Dixie Redfearn can be reached at 477-4238 or by e-mail at dixier@theunion.com, or by fax at 477-4292.


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