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The Holler’s Posh Summer Residents~


Just like all the best tony places, The Holler, while decidedly non-tony, has flashy summer residents, who live here only in the summer, and move on to their more expensively-agreeable tropical homes in the winter.
Grosbeak

But, unlike some snobby humans who move from their summer to winter homes, irregardless of whether the locals actually want them in either place, these summer residents are welcomed and appreciated by all The Holler locals….. meaning my small family.
(Please note the use of the word irregardless. My husband is adamant irregardless is not a word, but I, obviously, am disregarding this.)


The flashy-folks arrival at The Holler creates celebration, fascination, lots of, “What is this bird?” types of conversations. San Diego county and its rural environs, have more bird species than any other place in the continental US.
Hooded Oriole

I say, “Did you see? I think the first oriole has arrived?”
I was late in putting out the oriole feeders this season, due to being away on a trip, and I was worried the orioles would see this as irresponsibility on my part, which of course it was, and decide not to bless us with their summer presence. Thankfully they have decided to hang around!


My husband says, “I just saw another bird. It was big and black, has a mohawk and red eyes. What is this bird?”
Or, “I saw this new bird, it’s really yellow, not big, and has brown patches on it’s back and white spots. What is it?”


My son asks, “What is it with the hummingbirds? Why do they buzz around my face every time I walk outside? Don’t they know this could be dangerous for them with humans?”
This query is prompted because he hangs the oriole feeders for me which I can’t reach, but he can, because he’s very tall, and the hummers just surround his head while he does this. He repeats, while hanging the feeder, and trying to see through the buzzing hummer hordes surrounding his head, “Why are they doing this?”
I say, “It is because you are hanging the feeder a bit slowly, and the hummers really think you should hold it steady and straight for them NOW, so they can feed from the feeder directly, while you stand still and hold it there for them. They apparently think this is the sole purpose of your life.”
The hummers aren’t even supposed to be drinking from the oriole feeders since they have their own feeders, but hummers don’t listen to reason.
Western Scrub Jay


It is a bird summer resort here at The Holler. Birds sense, over time, who they need to fear, or can trust, much like like humans do, but birds, for good reason, are far better at this type of calculus then we humans are. Check out this little mowhawked finch-fledgling for example. He has a nest in a custom made bird box by our front door, where we come and go all the time. I have a visceral sense to not photograph wild bird nests because it can be terrifying and life disrupting for them if I get too close. But I gave in and decided to photograph this guy very carefully. And you can see the results. The fledgling, looked at me with pure baby-bird annoyance, but then, ignored me, and went back to sleep, while I took more photos.
Fledgling House Finch


I do think it is very nice of the wild birds to allow us to live in their Holler and be their personal servants and food and treat providers.
Cheers to you from The Holler wild birds who have learned that some humans are real suckers, but they can be trusted~

Egyptian Quackers in Germany~


Is there anything more winsome than newly hatched Egyptian goslings?

Mama is quite a beauty too!

Germany has a wonderful selection of exotic birds swimming in their lakes and rivers.

Egyptian Geese originated in the Nile Valley and Africa, and were considered sacred by the Ancient Egyptians who first domesticated them.

People bought these geese as ornamental birds and many escaped, establishing feral colonies all over Western Europe.

I saw these beauties swimming in The Neckar River in Heidelberg during my April trip.

Cheers to you from The Holler, and from the hopefully, still-happily paddling geese in Germany~

Hummer’s Mean Home: Part I (Perching)~


Coming home means hanging out with the hummers.

I don’t worry about them when I’m gone.

I just miss them.

My husband, the actual-factual, logical-biostatistician, said incredulously, “They fly up to me like they missed me.”

He’s not used to thinking like this,


but he can’t help noticing such obvious birdy behavior.

Speaking of birdy behavior, we are having a problem this year.

The snoozing little capitalist you see above is dominating two quart-sized feeders and relentlessly attacking and driving all hummers off who try to feed. He spends more time hoarding nectar than feeding and snoozes all the time because he’s exhausted from all his effort. Of course he can’t even begin to drink this much nectar!

You can see him perched on the wire above the feeder, waiting to attack any bird that dares to drink! We have three feeders now spaced far apart to control him, one in a bush that is impossible for him to monitor, but when I shut one of “his” feeders down, he goes to dominate another. We have never had such a greedy little guy and he reigns unchallenged. I hope he’s not learning this behavior from watching humans! 😉


Cheers to you from the harmonious Holler Hummers….(and the one little greedy guy)~

Hummer’s Mean Home: Part II (Flying)~


If you read Part I, you know about the greedy little capitalist. Above is one of his victims with a feather askew from a direct hit!

Here is another escaping his wrath.

The good news is, moving one of the greedy guy’s feeders into the bushes worked, and he is now under control.

Birds are feeding and flying freely once again at The Holler.


We now have three feeders up and about twenty birds actively feeding. This is less than prior years, probably because the persistent drought has ended, and The Holler and all the surrounding orchards are abloom with flowers, giving the hummers lots of dining options.

The orioles and Grosbeaks are here at the feeders too, also in smaller numbers for the same reason.

So once again, peace and harmony reigns at The Holler!


Cheers to you from The Holler’s Harmonious Hummers~

Drifting on Still Water~


“But now they drift on the still water,
Mysterious, beautiful,” WB Yeats

Swans swim,

in synchronized,


silhouettes.


Mama delicately rolls her precious eggs,


to keep them evenly warm,

and plucks her feathers to tuck them in.

Black swan,

slides in singular grace,


while Narcissus is bewitched by his own reflection.
Cheers to you from European swans in springtime~

Saker Falcon~


Saker Falcons live in Austria, Eastern Europe and Asia, including Russia.

They are considered an endangered bird due to rapid population declines in their Asian breeding grounds.

They are a large falcon species,
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that prey mostly on rodents and other birds.

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Sakers often hunt horizontally like Kestrels, not vertically like Peregrines.
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I watched a Saker swoop down on an unsuspecting pigeon, but my presence, in response to the pigeon cries, called off the hunt!
Cheers to you from the remarkable and endangered Saker Falcons~
(Note: These photos were taken in raptor reserves in Europe)

Curious Kestrels~


Are rare for me to find.


This pair was mating on the rooftops in Alsace France.


Kestrels are a type of falcon that live all over the world.


These were photographed in Canada and France.

Kestrels will hunt and nest in populated areas if prey is available.


They don’t bother building their own nests, preferring to steal other bird nests!


They often hover in mid-air over prey, before dropping to consume them.

Cheers to you from the quite handsome French & Canadian Kestrels~