I know backyard birding can be full of surprises, but I never thought I’d see the above species in my suburban Tucson backyard. I was busy blogging last Friday and sitting by the dining room window when I looked out to see a bunch of pigeons on my neighbor's rooftop. I usually don’t see the pigeons in the late afternoon, so I grabbed my bins for a better look and so I could get an accurate count for my eBird list. As I looked through the bins, I noticed there was one pigeon down on the feeder pole and it looked a bit strange. As I focused in I saw the yellow beak and yellow feet of this large pigeon. Suddenly my mind and heart were racing! What? Yellow feet? Yellow beak with a black tip? OH MY GOODNESS! I have a Band-tailed Pigeon in my back yard! Fortunately my camera was within reach and I stood up and started snapping away through the double-paned window. I was hoping to work my way over to the slider and poke the camera out for an unobstructed shot, but the pigeon saw me and took off over the wall. I have not seen it since! I have only seen this species one time before in Madera Canyon and then it was a single young bird resting underneath a bush at the Madera Picnic area. Band-tailed pigeons are woodland birds that feed on acorns, so it was highly surprising to me to find one in my own backyard!
This was a new yard bird for me and made species #58 on my yard list. A few days later when I was sitting outside eating breakfast and talking on the phone with my sister I was shocked to see an Osprey flying west to east over my back yard. I tried to stand up and grab my camera to take a shot, but my mistake was I did not drop the phone. Before I could get focused the Osprey was gone! I berated myself for the rest of the day for not dropping the phone. I know my sister would have understood! The Osprey was species #59!
On August 30th this hawk flew in for a look. I eBirded it as a Cooper’s but am wondering if it is a Sharp-shinned. Look how sharp and skinny those legs look! However, the bird seemed large and it seemed to have that more capped rather than hooded appearance. It’s rusty barred breast indicates that this is an adult bird. There is much overlap in size between Cooper’s and Sharp-shinned Hawks and even the experts have trouble sometimes identifying the birds in the field. What species do you think it is?
Towards the end of August we had a violent monsoon storm which flooded my yard and blew over the dead tobacco tree. For awhile the birds still used it for a perch in its horizontal position but I finally had the landlord remove it. I think the birds miss it. I know I do because I use to hang bird feeders off of it!
I was standing at the sink washing dishes when I noticed the movement in the grass. Without my glasses on I couldn’t see detail but I could tell the bird was behaving differently from the finches. I always keep my binoculars nearby and when I saw what kind of bird species it was I grabbed my camera and took a few shots through the window. I did my best to focus, but the double panes do blur the image out some, no matter what I do.
(You can see the complete yard list in the sidebar.)