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Hummers and Orioles

The back yard has been very busy the last few days! We generally get tons of hummers at this time of year, but I’m not used to still seeing so many orioles this far into September. I’m so glad they’re back! They disappeared for a while and I was sure the neighborhood cats had run them off. The hummers are eating the jelly, too! They are most welcome!

Ruby-throated hummingbird at jelly feeder
ruby-throated hummingbird perched.
ruby-throated hummingbird in flight
Baltimore orioles on jelly feeder
Male Baltimore oriole perched on branch
Possible female or young Baltimore oriole
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Hummer Dome

It’s that time of the summer when all the hummers are bulking up for the trip south. There is a great deal of jostling around the feeders. This hummer has staked out a spot immediately to the right of the feeder where he launches at anyone who gets too close to the nectar.

Adult male ruby-throated hummingbird
Adult male ruby-throated hummingbird
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Kansas Summer

It’s been another one of those unbearably hot Kansas summers, so I haven’t been to the wetlands much. On top of that, we’re now experiencing some seriously icky air quality from wildfires to our west. My heart goes out to all the beings dealing with this right now. I think it’s a good time to revisit some of my favorite photos and reflect on how things have changed this summer.

While we are starting to see more hummers as they fuel up for the trip south, I have noticed a significant decrease in the numbers of visitors. Going by what I am seeing on birding lists in this area, that is across the board in Kansas.

Ruby-throated hummingbird

On the other hand, there has been a significant increase in juvenile Northern cardinals of various ages. Obviously, this is not scientific, but it seems the increase is due to a reduction in cowbirds. I have seen very few cowbirds, and very few cardinal parents feeding cowbird fledglings. On a typical morning, there are at least ten young cardinals visiting the feeders. Sadly, there are also a couple of free-roaming cats in the neighborhood who regularly catch and kill birds in the yard. I am concerned about the neighborhood wildlife, and the safety of the cats. I remain astounded by the level of selfishness and privilege these people have, these people who know better, but choose to make the rest of us responsible for their cats.

Update August 11: This morning one of the cats was heading home at 5 AM. I am quite sure he had been out all night in this horrible heat. It’s sad all around. I made the mistake on a neighborhood email list a few years ago of asking people to keep their cats inside and someone sent me a threatening email off list. Since most of those people knew where we lived, I was concerned. We have an ordinance in our city that makes free-roaming cats illegal, but most of these folks just ignore that. I’m pretty sure the people responsible for the cat who is raising so much hell on our block are the same hipsters doing some kind of backyard animal agriculture. Their cat is as disposable to them as the farm animals they raise.

Young cardinal

The orioles have not been around for a couple of weeks, but I continue to leave one jelly feeder and oranges up for the catbirds, robins, brown thrashers, finches, house sparrows, and of course, bees. Usually, we do have orioles around until they head south, but between the cats and the Cooper’s hawk, I think they have found a safer place for feeding.

Catbird
Young brown thrasher

To end on a more positive note, the house wrens successfully fledged!

house wren
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House Wrens are Fierce

I’m enjoying watching the house wrens coming and going from the nest box. I haven’t seen the chicks, but there must be a few in there because the wrens are very busy bringing food. I have learned just how tough these little birds are. Yesterday, one of the wrens was sitting on a power line just singing away. A squirrel was traveling along a power line below, nowhere near the wren or the nest box. All of sudden, the wren left their perch and repeatedly dive-bombed the squirrel until the squirrel fell off the line into some bushes below. The squirrel was fine. What struck me was how this little bird seemed to strike terror. Even though the squirrel was nowhere near the box, the wren seemed to be saying, “Don’t even think about it!”

House wren
House wren
House wren
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Blue Jay Fledglings

The blue jay kids were keeping the parents busy this morning. I throw peanuts out and the parents scoop them up and take off with the kids following close behind. I think sometimes if I had an infinite supply of peanuts, they would never stop coming. I would be sitting there throwing them out for eternity.

adult blue jay
blue jay fledglings
blue jay fledglings
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A Little After the Rain Grooming

I think we are friends now. A couple of weeks ago, I was out in the morning right before dawn and discovered this little guy sleeping on a small limb in a bush very close to where the feeder is hanging. I tip-toed around, but he woke up, buzzed around my head, and took off. Ever since then, whenever I am near the feeders, he just comes right over and starts drinking. I can be just a few feet away. I often think for some birds, all they need to know is you’re not going to mess with them. For many of our yard critters, I am just part of the baseline. I love that.

Adult male ruby-throated hummingbird.
Adult male ruby-throated hummingbird.
Adult male ruby-throated hummingbird.
Adult male ruby-throated hummingbird.
Adult male ruby-throated hummingbird.
Adult male ruby-throated hummingbird.
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