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.