The Hermit Thrush is back! He showed up yesterday. I haven't seen him in a long time but he used to be a regular winter visitor to my backyard. And I saw a Townsend's Warbler briefly on Tuesday. Unusual birds tend to show up just before a storm and sure enough last night we had a slight rain followed by huge winds all night long. It is sort of perverse that here in L.A. a gentle rain is frequently followed by strong, dry winds which suck the much needed moisture out of everything.
I get excited by the birds that I see in my backyard because after all this is the city, and my backyard is the typical L.A. teeny, tiny yard surrounded by a 5-foot high cement wall. I try to make the yard bird-friendly by hanging a bird bath and hummingbird feeder from the patio cover and for years I have put peanuts out for the Scrub Jays every morning. I didn't think they would show up this morning because it is still cold and windy, but I had my camera ready for them when they did.
Currently, there are two of them and I can't tell if they are a pair or rivals. One is obviously the dominant bird and will take all the peanuts if he can, chasing away the other bird. So I put the peanuts in two different places and hope that the other bird will get at least one nut.
Winter is when we see the most variety of birds here. They migrate here because of the good weather much like the humans do. The birds that I see all year include the jays, hummingbirds (mostly Allen's and some Anna's), a Black Phoebe (my neighbor has a swimming pool), Bushtits (they clean my rose bushes of aphids for me), and one Northern Mockingbird (the bird that can sing all night long in the spring and summer). Crows come and go and an occasional Cooper's Hawk shows up, too.
In the winter, the White-Crowned Sparrows return like clockwork the first week of October and leave the last week of March (the time they leave is harder to discern because it takes awhile to realize that they are gone). I love the sound of their song. Another frequent visitor in the winter is the Ruby-Crowned Kinglet. There has been one Orange-Crowned Warbler appearing every winter for the last several years. I caught him trying to figure out how to get the sugar water out of the hummingbird feeder the other day but I don't think he was successful. The hummingbird was very upset. That's HIS feeder!