Backyard Visitors This Summer

Things have been busy in the animal department for the past couple of weeks. It’s full summer now and we’re getting a lovely variety of birds coming in to the feeders and flowering plants. There have also been some mammal sightings- a pocket gopher was visible in the middle of the day today and we have 2 or 3 skunks that we have seen a number of times.

I keep the cameras handy whether I’m in the house or the studio and it’s definitely paid off:

Allen's Hummingbird
Red Crossbil (male)
Black-headed grosbeak (male)
American goldfinch (male) and Black-headed grosbeak (female)
Steller's jay
Purple finch (male)
California quail (male)
Pocket gopher
Striped skunk

Friday Features


Red Crossbills showed up at the sunflower seed feeder yesterday and made a serious dent in it. A group came through last fall, but moved on after a couple of days. We’ll see how long these stay.

The goldfinches and sparrows are emptying out two thistle seed bags in less than 48 hours. They’re back within seconds of the refill. We live but to serve. We must have the fattest finches in the neighborhood.

Bonus photo with my new lens- an osprey diving toward the pond, at what we’re not sure since the goldfish pretty much stay under the branches we’ve laid around part of the edge.

All photos taken with my new Nikon D80 with the equally new AF-VR-Nikkor 80-400. I’m stoked, to say the least.


Anyone with even a small yard can make it bird-friendly. Food, water and shelter are the requirements. We have the big pond, feeders, food plants, trees and brush piles. But a town backyard could have a bird bath (be sure to keep it clean), bird feeders and some small shrubs. If you can stand it and feel you have room, let a corner go “wild”. And consider not obsessively cleaning up in the fall. Leave some seed heads on the flowers and grass. Then sit back and see who shows up.


“There’ll be moments when you get a spark, a gleam of light and BOOM!, you’re gone. It seems easy. But then it goes away, and it gets so incredibly hard. It’s like having sex in a wind tunnel.”

Robin Williams (who else?)