Saturday, June 15, 2013

Home in the Yard

Backyard, June 15, 2013
Today has been a lazy day of slowly getting caught up on house and yard work.  In the past several months, I seem to spend little time at home as birding has consumed most my free time since the beginning of this year.  Fortunately the yard  has somewhat taken care of itself due to my prior preparations.  I mulched the beds throughout last year and spring was late this year, so weeds have been kept at a minimum.  It is nice to see after years of planting trees and perennials, the yard is really starting to fill in, no longer looking like a sterile manicured wasteland.
Backyard, May 2005, pre-occupancy
Days like today allow some time to observe the wildlife and plants in our little semi-urban yard.  One of my favorite visitors, who has been more of a resident for several years is this Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrel.  He visits our feeders almost daily taking safflower from the ground.  Today we saw him getting a more balanced diet which included safflower seeds, broadleaf plantain leaves (I hate this weed, so eat up!) and earthworms.

Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrel enjoying an earthworm

Pondering what to eat next...

Being outside most the day also allows us to observe what birds visit or flyover the yard.  While I typically find our yard birds rather mundane, our proximity to the Bark River does provide some variety with raptors, geese, shorebirds and ducks making flights over the house.  We don't keep an official yard list.  However today we did have our first ever Osprey pass over.  Our house is also close to a sizable Chimney Swift roost and there appears to be a reliable small population of Common Nighthawks in the area. Both these species are usually present daily in the warmer months. I've even once come home to find a Common Nighthawk roosting on our dormer.

Common Nighthawk

An evening in the yard usually ends with Common Nighthawks heard or seen overhead.  Tonight was no exception with three Common Nighthawks performing aerial displays and calling over the house before I retired for the evening.

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