Tuesday, August 1, 2017


You may recall the news I broke to you at the beginning of June...the news that I Am Yardbirder. What has happened at Rancho Del Bastardos since then? A little and a lot. I'm here every day, I would know.

To be truthful, it's been a mixed bag. Some chocolate, some yogurt-covered almonds, and far too many disgusting Brazil nuts. Who likes Brazil nuts anyway? Talk about an unnecessary food. It doesn't matter, because by the end of July there was not a Brazil nut in sight.

Lesser Goldfinches love the thistle feeder to the point that they don't care if you are standing next to them, crushing them without respect or restraint.

If you're reading this, you are a birder, and you are intimately familiar with the phrase "summer doldrums", which plagues almost the entire state of California under 5,000 feet in elevation. If you think birding your favorite places in summer is uninspiring, you know that your backyard is not exactly going to be "going off".

In the first half of June I added two new species to the yard total - Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers. However, after HAWO, I was solidly shut out until the middle of July, when I got a heard-only Barn Owl with an assist from Annabelle, who had kindly woken me up in the middle of the night in order to get the bird. Apreesh. That brought me to 83 species for the yard, which is a pretty nice number if you ask me. Fall migration is underway, so I expect to do better in August than I did in July. The Los Capitancillos Ponds are full to the brim though, so my chances for adding some shorebirds other than what I have already (Killdeer and Spotted Sandpiper) are dishearteningly low at best.

Hooded Oriole/Black-headed Grosbeak yard combo! Sure this may be a normal combo in some southeast Arizona yards, but it is novel for me. Hooded Orioles are fairly common in the neighborhood, but grosbeaks have only put in a handful of appearances so far. The late spring Rose-breasted I wanted to visit so badly never materialized, so I am now waiting for a fall Rose-breasted.

In May, you will remember that Rancho Del Bastardos had the highest species list of any yard in the state of California (ranked by eBird), an honor bestowed upon me that I did not accept with nonchalance. Who knew that my little bastard-filled ranchito would be so dominant? Well, I am happy to report that not only did Rancho Del Bastardos take top honors in May, we took it in June!

Incredible! Back-to-back big months!

In July, things were different though...by checking California yard lists in eBird, I could tell that other yardbirders were getting pretty fucking pissed off by Rancho Del Bastardo's dominance of California yards for two months in a row. But I birded, and birded, and birded the shit out of my yard. By the final days of the month, I was tied for first place, and the rest of the competition had been outbirded (sorry Brian, we can't all be #7....oh and please don't kick me off eBird).

While I can see Acorn Woodpeckers distantly every day, they have only come to the feeder a couple times. On this occasion, the bird enthusiastically tried to impale House Sparrows with its bill, a gesture I appreciated.

Bewick's Wrens are constantly in the yard. When will the scolding cease?

Finally, I decided to take decisive action. I could not tolerate this yardbirding stalemate any longer. I spent some time outside one evening, to see if anything different from the morning scene would fly by...and I did not have to wait for long. BANG Barn Swallow. BOOM White-throated Swift. KAPLOOEEYYYYYYY Common Raven!!! Ok, none of these are rare birds or anything, or new to the yard list, but they were all new for the month! And with these final additions, Madison Bumgarner and Buster Posey joyously embraced...a triple crown for Rancho Del Bastardos!

Like the San Francisco Giants once had, I am now in the midst of a yardbirding DYNASTY here at Rancho Del Bastardos. More species have been recorded from my yard than any other California yards for three consecutive months...I am waiting for eBird to send me my championship yardbirding rings.

Some of the local mockingbirds are constantly doing this wing-flashing thing when they are foraging, it's pretty funny. This recently-fledged juvenile also embraced the technique.

It's a very deliberate and conspicuous habit, not just a quick wing flick. More mockingbirds should do this, it is very becoming.

Caspian Terns are foraging behind my house constantly. I haven't had a whole lot of luck crushing waterbirds from my backyard, but the terns do give some good opportunities. Also, it is really weird to be accustomed to hearing the guttural, violent calls of these these things from your own suburban living room.

I want to thank all of you, because we have the greatest fans in the world! This is for you! And don't worry, we won't be resting on our laurels over here...a fourth month of yardbirding glory sounds even better than three.

See you at the victory parade.


  1. An Acorn Woodpecker on your seed feeder? Next to a House Sparrow? A Hooded Oriole and a grosbeak HANGING OUT? PLUS yard terns? What is this nonsense?


    1. It's a weird scene sometimes. I finally put up a feeder that the orioles can successfully feed from, so that has been pretty chill. At the edge of my seat waiting for new waterbirds.

  2. You are inspiring me to step-up my yard birding a few notches. Perhaps I should get my shit together and put out some feeders other than hummingbird feeders now that I am well into month three in my new digs.

    1. You don't have feeders out yet??? Get on it!

      Three new yard birds this week, September is bringing it.