Sunday, May 8, 2011

Extreme Cuteness in the Hood

Golf balls with wings--that's what I call bushtits. They are round-bodied, petite birds with an unfortunate name (almost an erotic oxymoron, no?) and the most endearing manner. Flitting around neighborhoods en masse, gleaning tiny insects from trees and shrubs, they are remarkably unfazed by humans and are often happy to go about their business within a few feet of people.

This one, shot yesterday during a spontaneous evening walk, landed in my friend Paul's front yard on East 20th Street and wins bonus Cuteness Points for being fluffy and disheveled from a recent bath or collision with some very wet shrubbery.

An very occasional visitor to the hood is a yellow-rumped warbler. Probably a spring migrant, passing through, which  are more often seen in the Arboretum and the Fill. The spring weather has been so winter-ish, that it's hard to believe that brightly colored warblers and tanagers are passing through the city, spangling our tress and flowers with tropical oranges, reds and yellows.

That said, this house finch (right) is very much a residential bird in the hood through the year. His breast en-reddens (new word!) for the ladies in spring.  Male house finches can exhibit an interesting range of color variation--from red to yellow to gold--which is determined primarily by diet.  More and more research shows that in general, female birds are attracted to vividness of color more than size in male birds. Hmmmm.


  1. Yesterday I was wrangling ivy from the ancient Douglas fir in my front yard, prying the tenacious vines from the bark with my clippers, then I yanked and pulled each snipped vine down from the tree, unleashing a torrent of fir needles, cones, all the detritus of a winter's worth of weather-wear. And the bushtits? Beside me through it all, in and out of the rampant & generous climbing rose, with their tiny eek-eek-eek. Seemingly unconcerned with the havoc I was brashly wreaking in their Kingdom of Overgrown, their Kingdom of Wild.

  2. What colorful fun! We do have the tanagers over here in the Idaho rangeland, but not until the full summer. Some of the small birds are completely fearless--the kingbirds here dive bomb both humans & cats when the young are in the nests.

  3. Hi Clare-great blog! thanks for the help identifying the white barn owl and flicker woodpecker- Jason