Saturday, January 28, 2017

Sunny Morning at the Garden

The rain storm has passed and now we are enjoying the sunshine that Southern California is famous for. The sun is out but the weather is still quite chilly. To stay out of the cold wind from the east, I decided to return to the San Diego Botanic Garden.

My first stop was the tropical fruit area. The area was strangely quiet. I looked and walked the surrounding area for a while and the only bird that I found to photograph was a Cassin's Kingbird. 
A closer look at he head and beak.

Cassin's Kingbird, Tyrannus vociferans measures 9 inches long with a wingspan of 16 inches. 

I decided to walk to the south end of the garden to search for birds. You will always find a hummingbird that will sit and pose for you. Here is my first bird subject. A feisty female Allen's Hummingbird stretches as she takes a little rest from defending her territory. You can see the narrow outer tail feathers that identify her as an Allen's Hummingbird. 

A nice side profile of her head. 

An Orange-crowned Warbler spots something in the center of a large agave leaf. 
Jumps down into the center and finds himself a tasty treat.

The leaf has captured and retained rainwater. What a cool place for a personal bath for this warbler.

He takes a quick bath and hops to the edge of the leaf. 

Eve has been teaching me the value of knowing bird calls for better identifying birds. When I heard this single tone, a soft chirp, chirp. chirp, I remembered that it was a Hermit Thrush. Sure enough, I searched and searched and finally found the source of the call.

Hermit Thrush, Catharus guttatus measures 6.75 inches long with a wingspan of 11.5 inches.

A slight movement catches my attention near a pretty white flowered plant. It's another Allen's Hummingbird.

Looks like a female Allen's Hummingbird. She didn't stick around for long. Off she goes chasing after another hummer that intruded in her area.
Walking past the small lily pond, I found several Townsend's Warblers but they were much too high up in the tropical plant canopy with too much shade for any good photos. 

Arriving at the herb garden, I walked to the far east side and found a beautiful male Allen's Hummingbird feeding on Agave flowers.

Both Rufous and Allen's Hummingbirds look very much alike. The only difference that I have read about is that the tail feathers are slightly different. 

The tail feathers on a Rufous is said to have broader outer tail feathers. The broader, is notched at the tip. 
Here is a close-up of the tail of this little guy and I can't see any notches.

So for now, I will say this is an Allen's Hummingbird.

A female Allen's shows up to feed.

Oh no! She has a passenger... it looks like an ant has hitched a ride and is stuck on her eye.

It looks very uncomfortable. Lol, I would not like an ant stuck to my eye!

She stops eating.

As she beats her wings at an incredible speed to keep herself airborne, she brings her left leg up and flicks the ant off her eye.
The ant is off her eye and she goes back to feeding on the flowers. 

We get to see that her eye is free of the ant and she has now found a little perch to use as a resting place as she feeds on the flower of the agave plant.

Allen's Hummingbird, Selasphorus sasin measures 3.75 inches long with a wingspan of 4.25 inches.

The male flies back and fourth over the female but not in a combative way. The shallow flights appear to be more of a courtship display.

He chases after the female but soon returns to his perch. 

He looks in the direction that the female flew.
The female is back at the agave flowers. She stays low to the ground and out of the fly path of the male. 
Now I hear the female singing. She has the most beautiful soft calls. It sounds like a tiny high pitched wind chime. I have never heard anything like this from a hummingbird. Wow, it is just the most beautiful magical sound you will ever hear.

She hovers and faces the male hummer. All the while I hear a beautiful chirping song from the female hummer. 
She sings and sings. At least I would like to call it a song. Such a beautiful sound.

I capture her in mid-flight and my camera clicking distracts her from the male. 

The female approaches and feeds from the flower.

The male follows her into a thick green-leafed area where I could not follow with my camera and he soon returns to his agave plant. 

He is on constant look out for intruders. 

Taking a break from guard duty, the male feeds on the Agave flowers. 
A look at his back end.

The back of a male Allen's will almost always be solid green with some orange like this little guy's back.
A look at his profile.

You can see that the orange color is only on the chin area. The top of his head is green.

Another angle look. 

Puffing up slightly. 

A beautiful pose. 

What a wonderful bird this little guy is... He is being so very cooperative letting me take a few shots as he guards his territory.

Soon the female returns to feed on the agave flowers that the male Allen's Hummingbird has claimed as his territory.
She finds some nectar.
A good look at the female feeding on nectar and some close-up flight shots of the female hummingbird. 

One last shot of this beautiful hummingbird. The garden is one fantastic place for bird watching. Especially hummingbirds. Many of them are used to people and kids walking by. If you have a little patience, you can get up close and personal with these enchanting little birds at the San Diego Botanic Garden. 

Have a great week everyone!