I wish I were better at identifying the multitude of mature trees that populate my neighborhood. I do know that some of them have been growing for a very long time. The tallest I would estimate at sixty feet or higher. I’m thankful for the shade they provide and the protection they give to the many and various birds that visit our backyard.

I have three bird feeders out back. There’s a platform feeder, a little house that holds birdseed, and a finch feeder. There are two bird baths and plenty of nectarous flowers to attract hummingbirds, butterflies and bees.

My backyard is quite busy most of the time!

Here is what I have learned about the birds that frequent our community:

The Woodpecker is noisy… tap, tap, tapping on his preferred canvas, the tall palms that tower over the street. His call makes me think of what a witch would sound like were she to laugh loud enough for the whole neighborhood to hear.

The tiny Finch loves a crowd. Sometimes nine or more of them cling to their feeder hanging every which way and stuffing themselves with Nyjer Seed. For such petite little birds, they sure do have a voracious appetite!

The ace flyer of the neighborhood is the Mockingbird. Fast and with a flash of white, he swoops and slides through the air. He’s fun to watch and seems quite intelligent. Once, I heard a mockingbird mimic a crow.

The Hummingbird wins the agility contest. He’s a bit of a show-off, hovering and flitting among the honeysuckle blooms. He also fearlessly defends his territory and won’t hesitate to dive-bomb a grown man!

We have a pair of Mourning Doves who like to rest on the block wall in our backyard. I’ve read they mate for life and this must be so, for I hardly ever see one dove without the other. Their cooing is quite soothing and I don’t find it mournful at all.

We have a couple of high-flying Red Tailed Hawks in the neighborhood as well. The hawks are most welcome because the gophers certainly are not.

The California Towhee seems to be on clean-up detail. He likes to hop around underneath the feeders and eat the seeds the other birds have dropped.

Whether perched upon the back of a lawn chair or atop the outdoor water spigot, the Black Phoebe patiently scans the lawn and waits for just the right moment to swoop down and feast upon unsuspecting insects going about their business in the backyard grass.

The Bluebird is beautiful to behold, but he is something of a neighborhood bully. He aggressively chases the other birds away from the feeders, and I can get quite close to him before he is scared enough to fly away.

Sometimes, late at night or very early in the morning, I hear the soft call of our resident Owl. I’ve only seen him a couple of times, and it’s a mystery to me how such a great bird can glide so silently through the night sky.

The Orioles prefer to eat halved oranges placed here and there around the garden. Recently, we observed as a Mama and Papa Oriole patiently watched over their fledgling until the little one finally took off for his first solo flight. An Oriole in the bird bath is simply a delight to watch. Flashes of bright yellow plumage and water splashing everywhere prove the Oriole enjoys his bath as much as I enjoy watching him.

And finally, the humble Sparrow. If you ever have the chance, look closely at the pattern and color of his feathers. He really is quite exquisite if you take the time to appreciate him.

So, whether you live in the city, the suburbs, or out in the country; next time you are outside be sure to consider the birds.

“If I had to choose, I would rather have birds than airplanes.”   -Charles Lindbergh