Sunday, October 3, 2010

Calypte anna

Yes! I finally have half-way decent pictures of Anna's. Haha! You can't see the brilliant red head of the male, but how often does the light shine just right? These two were at the farm stand on Carmel Valley Road and I suspect they are fairly accustomed to people; considering my impatience of taking photos, this is saying something that I could easily get within 10 feet. At home I'm still enjoying watching the high-speed chases and dives of the Anna's, although the weather is starting to turn towards cooler and potentially stormy. They apparently live here in Monterey year-round. I wonder what these tiny birds do during the fierce coastal winter storms.

So, I started looking up which other hummingbirds I might see in our local area at this time of year and gave it up for a headache. No one seems to agree as to species or timing. Stating something is a "migrant" doesn't provide much information other than, hey, you won't see it all year. Doh! Plus, I've found many seasonal generalities to be unreliable for the local area compared to my actual observations; what does "spring" mean when we have blooms in January and birds from June to August that shouldn't be here in the "summer"? I think the best site for Monterey County is still Don Roberson's Creagrus (hummingbirds are shown around the middle of the page). Interesting to note, for the many, many birding organizations and sites out there, very few offer identifying pictures of birds online in any kind of findable manner. Most sites list checklists, tables, links to other equally uninformative sites, and/or (groan) how to pay them money in the form of membership, support, or guided field trips. I'm a little turned off to birding and bird people right now. I suspect the hobby of birding is an extremly lucrative business. Maybe I should rename this blog "The Grumpy Katie, listen to me rant"?

ps 10/05/10 - I should clarify that I was looking for online sites that had specific, local information (at least within this county), updated (not merely repeating outdated, published information that's been around for 30 years or more), and with actual photographs. There are a handful of "good" bird sites for all of North America or for areas not local to coastal, central California - see my online ID resources page at the top of Nature ID for the best birding links I've found.

Perhaps it's my arrogance and/or ignorance, but we have an incredible amount of diversity here in Monterey County that seems to be often overlooked. Even if I go to the ocean side of the peninsula (literally the other side of town) or 5 miles inland (where it can be 20 degrees warmer), I'll see a whole slew of life that I don't see at home half a block from the bay shore. I've had expectations to find a plethora of information specific to our unique area and have been very disappointed. I wonder if other people find this to be true where they live, too?

ps 01/22/11 - I found The Biology Refugia's recent blog post to be particularly interesting and relevant as I figure out how I feel about birding and birders.


texwisgirl said...

Dear Grumpy Katie: :)

I know it's not specific to your locale, but one of my favorite bird websites is

I especially like the 'search by shape' to narrow down the type of bird without having to scroll through gobs of lists and click on each link to see a photo, etc. I also love their 'typical voice' feature which often helps me feel certain I've got the right one.

Also, really like the shots of the Anna hummers. Here in NE Texas, most of our black-chinned and ruby-throats have moved off as of last week but we still have 2 left here at the ranch which continue to chase each other around the feeders.

Thanks for the website about the butterflies too! I've added it to my favorites for future reference!

Nature ID said...

I love Cornell's site and reference it almost all my bird posts. It's an embedded link in the last of the 4 highlighted names under my 2 pictures. For more of my recommended links, see the "online ID resources" tab at the top of my blog.

I was looking for additional hummingbirds, because I think we have 2 fall migrants and wanted to keep an eye out for them... but then that's when my headache started.

Glad you liked the link I provided you. I always like to help.

Joe said...

Love the hummingbirds. My wife keeps a feeder on our porch and we enjoy them all summer.

texwisgirl said...

Ahhh. I see the links. Thanks! I'll catch on. :)

Anonymous said...

I can't speak to Monterey but in San Francisco we would get Allens and rufous - the Allens would be gone all winter but come in the early spring and breed, later than the Annas. Not sure about the breeding status of rufous. Here in Mendo County, I believe the Allen's are seen inland where I am, and the rufous along the coast - so I'm guessing you also get some rufous down your way.
You know who I suggest you google and then email? Joe Morlan - he's on teaching staff at San Francisco City College and teaches birding there. Or else look up your local Audobon chapter and call or email an officer!

Nature ID said...

Joe, I've considered getting a feeder, but I heard you have to be very consistent in keeping them clean and our schedules just aren't consistent. Hummers are fun to watch!

texwisgirl, no worries. Glad you like my blog enough to stop by. I try to keep links as local as possible, but they're not always available or 'good'. I'm still not sure how the black witch MOTH is on NABAST, but I liked their information.

Janet, according to Don, we have 6 rare-common hummingbirds here throughout the year. I think my main confusion is over birding terminology, versus say for plants - how rare is rare? does restricted to a specific location help define rare? when exactly is fall, Jul-Aug, Sept-Oct, Sept-Dec? I think my questions would be best discussed by phone or in person. Good idea about contacting Monterey's Audubon. Sheesh, they meet just down the street from us at the natural history museum, but I haven't been into birds much until recently.