Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Winter Texans

This morning we opened the door to a rare-fog dawn.  Perfect for a quiet walk instead of the clamor of the gym.
About a third of the way around our circle a flock of American Widgeons (ducks) passed overhead, possibly newly arrived from Canada, just in front of the Arctic cold front coming this weekend.  Temperatures in the 30's are considered spring weather in Canada, the birds will feel right at home.

Another half-mile and a covey of Northern Bobwhite (quail) flushed beside the lane, our first sighting in the seven years we've lived in this old ranch territory. Looked like a family.  They must be skilled woodsmen to have survived in a country of coyotes, raccoons, foxes and other predators.  Female bobwhite photo from Wikipedia.

We didn't see any wild turkeys today.  They're fairly common here--uncomfortably so during mating season when the toms will attack anything moving in the vicinity of their hens, including people, strollers and cars. The flocks are probably keeping a low profile during a season when they star on the table.

A young Rufous Hummingbird welcomed us home. He's been hanging around since late September. Guess he didn't get the message that his kind migrates to Mexico. 

He's following in the wingbeats of past rufous hummingbirds who wintered here. For the last two winters, starting in September or October, a subadult male rufous has hung out near our feeders, leaving in mid-March as the spring migrants arrive from the south.

It may not be a bad survival choice for the birds.

We'll be colder here than Mexico but if the bird is from northern Canada or Alaska, our winter cold will be warmer than some nights on his summering grounds. There are thickets here with tree sap and  insects for dinner plus protection from elements.  Not to mention the bonus of feeders for fast energy.  

He might be safer here than flying hundreds of miles over strange territory in capricious weather finding who-knows-what for food and shelter along the way.

A 'For Sale' sign is still out in front of our house.  I'm thinking if we get an offer anytime soon we might have to add a hummingbird feeder clause to the contract. 

Copyright 2009-2013 Kathleen Scott, for Hill Country Mysteries. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.


  1. Your photos of the hummingbirds are really good. I've yet to get a good photo of one. I have also seen hummingbirds year round here and it definitely gets really cold so it is odd they don't migrate. Good luck on the sale of your home. Merry Christmas.

  2. Do you know that every time I see a hummingbird out here in Los Angeles, I think of you? And we have a LOT of hummingbirds, year-round, so I think of you, a LOT!

  3. I absolutely agree whoever becomes the (lucky!) new owner simply must be willing to support your hummingbirds. A tradition well worth preserving!

  4. I've sometimes wondered what would happen to "my" birds and other varmints if we should ever move - not that we're likely to. I like your idea of the hummingbird feeder clause. If we did decide to move, I might have to steal and expand it!

  5. Hello Kathleen, I haven't been able to tell what kind of hummingbirds I have seen here in the winter. It always takes me by surprise and then the sighting is over before I know it. Oregon has pretty mild winters but it can still get really cold. We had a low of 19 last night. I don't know how those little birds can make it through a night like that.

    One of my blogging friends Karen lives in the mountains and she has overwintering hummingbirds that you might be interested in. She sets out her feeders every morning and she takes good photos too! Here is a link to her post ~

    I hope you have a wonderful weekend planned!

  6. Hi Kathleen,
    I hope you'll be able to sell your house soon. Have you already found a new place? We're in the middle of moving. Our new place has plenty of deer: wonderful! We'll have to see about the birds still. But the previous owners told us there are plenty around.
    Take care, and have a wonderful holiday season,


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