The Birds Will Save Us

I had no idea there was such an abundance of bird activity in my backyard until I purchased a camera last year and started looking out the window with intention. Like so many other people during the pandemic, I was seeing what I had been missing while away at work. The number of resident bird species that we had seemed to have no end. So much life!

It was summer in Arizona when I started photographing birds; too hot to go outside for very long after 9 a.m. (at least for me!), which meant many of my photos in those early days and weeks were taken through the dining room window. The blemishes in the glass made for less than perfect photos, but I didn’t mind. I wasn’t trying to win any awards and I managed to get some respectable photos anyway! At first, I was looking to the birds to save me from the madness; giving me something else to focus on besides the pandemic. I began capturing photos for the therapeutic value it offered, and this continues to motivate me most of the time. Artistic expression as therapy, but it also gave me a chance to learn the ins and outs of my new camera.  

Gila Woodpecker, male, on the Hummingbird feeder

As luck would have it, early fall is a time for migrating birds to start appearing in Arizona. As I sat at the dining room table day after day, I was entertained by our usual cast of characters, but also was rewarded with some beauties who were just passing through.  

I found myself falling in love with every single bird in my backyard — even, dare I say it, the pigeons! As I watched, I learned the personalities and rhythms of the different types of birds. I saw how birds of a feather really do stick together! They bickered with each other, and alerted each other to danger when there were predators in the vicinity. For the most part, different species of birds tolerated each other, but there was definitely a pecking order on the feeders. The Rosy Faced Love Birds won that battle every time.

Rock Pigeon

And I realized there were more predators around the yard than I knew!

Early on in this adventure I joined a birding group on social media and learned from the veterans about what I was seeing. They helped me identify birds, and I learned insider phrases like “lifer” for the first time I saw a bird, as in “That’s a lifer for me!” and “MBY” for seeing something in my backyard. Who knew? I picked up some bird watching location tips along the way, Gilbert Riparian Preserve being a local favorite with hundreds of species of birds on site.  When the weather relented (that is, below 110) I came out from behind the glass into the great outdoors. 

Black-throated Blue Warbler at Gilbert Riparian Preserve

Now, a year later, summer is finally on its way out again. In Arizona, it’s time for the migrating birds to return. While I haven’t seen much in the way of migrating activity in the yard yet except for one Yellow Warbler, word has it that all the wintering birds are on their way or already here. I’m still hoping some of those beauties come back to my yard again for a visit. I’ll keep putting out the seeds and water and the occasional grapes in case they stop by. Keep an eye on your yard, too. Maybe you’ll have some visitors of your own!

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