Spotting two new birds I've never seen in person... a great way to end 2012, in my opinion

When December rolls around, I begin to fill the bird feeders. I don't have to until then. The birds are busy feeding on bugs and seeds from the rest of the garden. But about December is when the bugs go into hiding and the seeds from the plants get sparse. So the sunflower seeds go into seed feeders and suet goes into the suet feeders.

It is about this time of year that I often see birds I'm not used to seeing here. Because our winters are milder than only just a few hundred miles north, we get visitors that we don't see the rest of the year.

Today, I got the treat of getting to see and photograph two new types of birds that I haven't seen in person before. It was a real treat to see these rare visitors.

Yesterday, when I was sitting on the deck getting sun and giving the garden kitty lots of affection and attention, I spotted a bird and couldn't figure out what it was. I didn't have my camera with me so I had to go off of memory when hunting through my Birds of Northern California book. I couldn't find anything that looked like what I had seen. I felt like one of those people that claims to have seen Bigfoot but didn't have their camera with them. It was maddening.

Today I went out to get my bit of sun for the day (and give attention to the garden kitty) and remembered that I should have my camera with me. So I went back inside, mounted the telephoto lens on my camera body, and headed back out. It wasn't any time at all before I was rewarded with a sighting of a white-breasted nuthatch climbing around on things in a gravity-defying way. I was so excited! On the packaging of the suet I buy, there's a picture of a nuthatch. But I've never seen a nuthatch in my garden... until today!

Then as if on cue, the same kind of mystery bird I saw yesterday flew down and landed not far from the nuthatch on the fence. They were both negotiating who would be eating next from the cylindrical suet feeder with the "peanut butter and jelly" flavored suet (the exact suet with the nuthatch on the packaging). I was so excited! I would finally have photographic evidence of this mystery bird. Hallelujah! I wasn't in the "Bigfoot camp" anymore!

After I uploaded the shots to my computer, I started hunting through my Birds of Northern California book again. It was maddening. Again, I couldn't find one like it. It's often hard to identify birds from my book because the pictures are artist renderings and not photos. Then I spotted one that might be a possibility. I googled the name "yellow-rumped warbler". Hazah! That was it! The photos on the internet look very different than the one artist rendering in the book. I'm surprised I figured it out. 

I read about the yellow-rumped warbler and my book says, "Although [they] do not breed in northern California, they are commonly seen along the Pacific coast in the migration and during winter." Okay! That explains my sighting perfectly.

What a great way to finish out the year, I say.

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  1. Wow, that's so neat! And I love your blog cover photo--it's been a while since I have been visiting blogs. Happy New Year, Cindy!~

  2. I have a pair of nuthatches! They are so much fun to watch! I always get ridiculously happy when I see a new bird at the feeders!

  3. Only birdwatchers can truly understand the excitement of finding a bird we haven't seen before. I remember the first time I saw a Yellow Rumped Warbler. I was sitting in the backyard with my binoculars, and I saw a flash of yellow in the tree in front of me. No camera, no book, so I was trying to remember the characteristics by saying them out loud to myself. I distinctly remember saying, "yellow on rump". Headed inside to get my book, and (ta da) Yellow-Rumped Warbler it was!

    Happy New Year!

  4. I understand totally the excitement you feel when a new to you bird comes to visit.

    Imagine the cheers from inside our living room when the brilliant red headed flash of a Pilliated Woodpecker flew by....we barely breathed while it was first here, in case it left for a nicer feeder.

    Now they are quite happily feeding here with great regularity, but the thrill, while quieter is still there.

    Congrats on seeing two new's a real accomplishment.


  5. The warbler could be an Audubon's. I don't think the Yellow-rumped has a yellow throat. They are very similar, the difference, shown in my bird book, being the throat color.

  6. Great captures. I love nuthatches and I don't think I've ever seen one in person either. As for the other one, I love the name! *grin*

  7. Beautiful! How exciting to take a closer look in the garden and find surprise visitors! Happy New Year!


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