Thursday, September 6, 2012

Birding in my Tucson Backyard

1. MODOs-kab Pigeons on a roof in my neighborhood 9-5-12

As you can imagine, it has been a busy week. I still have so many boxes to unpack and I am trying to think of creative ways to put all this “stuff” away. I sure miss having a basement or an extra storage room. On Monday I had a meltdown mostly because I miss my family back east. After years of “running away from home,” I finally have come to like being around my family. I enjoyed my two years in the east and the short drive to family. Now they are so far away and I am feeling it. Things are getting better though and I have started counting my backyard birds. Being in the city sure has changed the birds that I see. It is a much more sterile environment with few native plants in this neighborhood. I am seeing pigeons every day, so I already know I cannot put out my regular bird feeders. I will have to restrict my feeders to thistle seed and nectar. I bought a thistle seed sock within the first two days to give it a try, then started counting birds!

2. tea-kab  Our new home is a two story house, with a balcony off the master bedroom. Part of moving to a new house is figuring out how to live in it. In Andover I had my back porch or front porch to sit on, now I have this balcony for when I am upstairs and the covered patio below when I am downstairs. As a result, I set myself up a little tea station in my bedroom so I can get up in the morning and make tea, then go sit on the balcony and watch birds.

3. balcony-kab As you can see, I already have a place set up!


4. breezy-kab Breezy Boy makes himself at home.


5. bonnie-kab Bonnie takes her morning bath outside.


6. Tucson mts-kab This is my view of the Tucson Mountains to the west.


7. mesquite tree-kab And I love the feathery foliage of this mesquite tree in my neighbor’s yard.


7a. mesquite tree-kab This is how the mesquite tree looks from down in the yard. The bushes in front are Oleander, which is really pretty but very poisonous. It is over-used in the landscapes around Tucson and usually overgrows its space.

8. roses-kab I have lovely roses in my yard!


9. tabacco-kab At the back of the yard is this “tree” which my landlord says is wild tobacco. It grew here all by itself and the birds seem to love it!

10. LEGOs-kab It was also the only place I could find to hang the thistle seed sock!


11. black-backed male-kab I have at least one, if not two Black-back male Lesser Goldfinches! From what I read in my bird guides, the black-backed males are usually seen in Texas!


12. lizard-kab I am seeing lots of lizards in my yard and was able to capture a shot of this little guy on the pillar of my patio this afternoon. It is only about 2 to 3” long! I am also seeing lots of butterflies and will try to get some shots of them as well. I have had a Giant Swallowtail hanging around my orange tree which Doug Taron identified for me on my Facebook page.

13. legos-kab In the afternoon the Lesser Goldfinches came back.


14. LEGO-kab 

15. tabacco blossoms-kab Close-up of Wild Tobacco Blossoms


16. clouds-kab Cumulous clouds building over the Catalina Mountains this afternoon.


17. rooftop-kab Birds frequently like to perch in the top of this partially dead tree to the west.

I finally unpacked my hummingbird feeders this afternoon and quickly made some nectar. I hung one feeder out on the tobacco tree and one under the covered patio. I saw one Anna's hummingbird feeding from the feeder out back this evening. We will see who shows up tomorrow.

18. ballerina-kab The Ballerina is back on duty!

(For those of you who know me from my Sycamore Canyon blog, I always had a hummingbird feeder suspended from her hand when I lived there. I did not get many hummingbirds in Andover, MA, so I did not set up a feeder there. I am excited to have year-round hummingbirds again! And now that my computer is up and running I intend to finally post photos of our trip across the country in the next few days, so please come back! And, on September 7th my monthly article at Birding is Fun will post!)

Tucson Yard Birds:

  1. Turkey Vulture 8-30-12
  2. Mourning dove
  3. Rock Pigeon
  4. White-winged dove
  5. Lesser goldfinch
  6. House Finch
  7. Black-chinned hummingbird 8-31-12
  8. Common raven
  9. Gila woodpecker 9-1-12
  10. Warbling Vireo
  11. Verdin
  12. House sparrow
  13. Curve-billed thrasher 9-3-12 (heard only)

These are the species I have seen up to this date. I hope to add more, but we will see. I am still waiting to take my first trip to Sweetwater Wetlands! Thank you everyone who has been commenting on my blogpost! I hope to get around to visit everyone very soon!


  1. Glad you are settled in after your move. Your place and view is gorgeous. And of course I love your tea nook.

    1. Ruth, I had that little coffee pot from a trip with my sister. It was just sitting in the closet and when I unpacked it I got inspired! Now it's part of my daily routine! Birds and tea before breakfast on the balcony!

  2. COSTCO has the thistle socks, 3 for $9.00...that's a good price. I need to stop and get one. I saw a Grosbeak here last week and the little Verdins are back. I heard them the other day, but didn't see them. I'm envious of your woodpecker sighting! I see them up in our local mountains, but not down here in the desert. Oh, and we have a scrub jay in our neighborhood. He's been with us now....3 years! He is VERY bossy and noisy!~

    1. trav4adventures, the woodpeckers are not hanging around my yard as of yet, just passing through. I hear them more than see them. I may put out suet in the fall when it cools off. I may try peanuts as well, but I don't want to attract the pigeons. I'm glad you are seeing verdins. We rarely see scrub jays around here.

  3. A new start, but you have done it before Kathie so not such a surprise to you.
    Lovely colourful birds that you have seen already.

    1. Roy, I am ready for the unpacking to be over so I can go out and see more birds. I will not have the variety in this small city yard that I did out at Sycamore Canyon but I know they are out there waiting for me! I will just have to go find them this time!

  4. Kathie, I love your new place. Having that second floor balcony gives you a marvelous view of the mountains. Those yellow finches look so vivid in the tobacco tree and love the flowers on it.

    Why is it that unpacking takes so much longer than packing? Does look like you are nesting. Yet even a return to previous territory takes time. Enjoy.

    1. Gaelyn, I am getting there. It has to get messier before it gets better. I hope I can finish this soon! Nesting...Yes!

  5. Welcome back! Looks like things are coming together. Such pretty bright shots around your place. Like your tea idea....I need a coffee drip ready for me in the morning. Love your kitty:)

    1. Rorerbot, thank you for this and all of your kind comments. They mean so much to me. I may be ready to go birding at Sweetwater soon. Are you interested?

    2. I am up for it! That would be fun. I've heard there's a Sabine Gull in the area courtesy of our rare bird alert.....but we should also be aware that bugs are terrible right now so bring plenty of bug spray. The Sweetwater is full of mosquitoes:) My email is if you're interested. I'm still in my pj's drinking coffee and reading:) It's going to be rainy and I'm wondering if we'll see some exotics around the recharge areas. Now remember, you're the expert....I'm just learning. I've spotted lots, know the spots, good with the camera....but by no means am I good at always spotting the birds:) Chris

  6. Beautiful photographs! Sounds like you are settling in to your new home. You really do have lovely views. So glad to hear the birds are already visiting your backyard. I'm always surprised at how quickly they can locate new feeders. The Lesser Goldfinches are so pretty. How lucky you are to have hummingbirds year round! I am very envious. The Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have begun their migration south and I will feel sad once they are all gone. Sweet kitties! They look very content.

    1. Julie, the hummingbirds will be my consolation as I cannot set out my bird feeders due to an over abundance of pigeons! Thanks for stopping by!

  7. I see that you've decided to be warm in the Winter; you can always travel in the summer (reverse snow-birds!)! I loved Tucson when we spent a few winter seasons there. Bill missed having water around though.

    Enjoy the AZ birds! I look forward to seeing them again through your eyes and camera!

    1. Sallie! Welcome back! It is nice to hear from you again! Yes, I will be a reverse "snow bird" and travel to New England in June when it is hottest here. I will miss having water also. I hope to get out and get some good AZ photos soon!

  8. OH it looks BEAUTIFUL there!!!!!!!
    unpacking...ugh. but it's more fun than packing...i get to find a NEW place for each thing you take out of a box!

    the little lizard looks very much like the Fence Lizard we have here...but the markings on his head are slightly different.

    i LOVE your kitties!! AND the ballerina hummer feeder holder!!

    1. Laura, unpacking wears me out with all the decisions I have to make! Trying to find a place to put everything is a challenge, but I am getting there. Sadly, my ballerina fell over in a gust of wind and shattered. Now I will have to find a new way to hang my hummingbird feeders up.

  9. What a view! I wish I had one just like that in my condo. Back here it’s just buildings by the balcony, buildings by the window, and guess what, even more buildings! How was Andover? Is there any particular reason why you moved back to Tucson? If you moved back for the birds, I totally understand :) I’m actually quite amazed by the number of birds that you’ve seen, or heard, in your backyard alone. It’s like a small avian wildlife preserve! I’m actually more curious about your oleander. Did you grow those on your own, or were they already there when you moved back?

    Avis Vanscyoc

  10. Avis, we came back for my husband's job. The oleander was here when we moved in. Since we are only renting, I cannot remove it. I would if I could!


Welcome to my nest! I hope you will enjoy spending time here with me and the birds. Thank you for your comments. I will try to get back to you as soon as I get back from counting more birds.