Yard Birds

Temperatures were a bit lower than the past couple of days, though still warm for the season in the upper 40s. Around the central part of town, the rain held off until late this evening (though there were some sprinkles). I did drive out the road this afternoon, and it was raining out towards Starrigavan.

My main outside time today was doing a couple of sits (5 minutes, followed by 10 minutes a while later). Since I hadn’t really observed sentinel behavior very well previously, I decided to keep that as my objective for today.

Shortly after I settled in for the longer sit on a bucket by the base of some stairs, I was startled slightly by the sudden and close buzz of a female Anna’s Hummingbird hovering just a couple of feet in front of me. She backed off and then I watched as she ducked under the stairs. I could see her through the gaps in the stairs, and it appeared she picked at something a couple of times before flying out. She did this two times before flying away. I don’t know what she was going for, but am guessing it was some sort of small insect to eat. Connor later told me he had seen this happening yesterday as well.

The juncos were more active in the yard today. I tried to watch for sentinel behavior, but wasn’t always sure if that’s what I was seeing. Sentinel behavior is when a bird flies up to a perch to keep an eye out for something that might be a potential threat. I noticed juncos appearing to do this fairly often, but I think it was probably part of the (loose) flock baseline behavior as they would just perch there for a short time (on the top of the brush pile, for example) before dropping down to feed, and all the while there would be other birds continuing to feed as normal. At one point I did sneeze, which startled the juncos feeding nearby. The nearer ones disappeared into the brush pile, while ones slightly farther away flew up to a perch and watched. In this case, it seemed like maybe they stayed there a little longer than they had been in the behavior I was taking to be kind of a flock-baseline. After a short time, they either flew away or went back to feeding, and the others came out of the brush pile and resumed feeding.

Another thing that I am curious about is that it often seems like the juncos will fly up to a perch and look around before flying away. They don’t always do it, but when they do, it seems like the higher they go, the farther they will tend to fly. This might just have something to do with getting over the house, but I wonder if maybe they also want to check out (visually) where they’re thinking about going, and so fly up to take a look first.

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