I took a lot of images of Lesser Goldfinches the month of August 2012. I used them as subjects to experiment with different photo techniques. These birds are my most numerous avian guests, so why not exploit the resource? At the time I was still feeding seeds to my bird neighbors, but I’d scaled back to only thistle, which these birds love. In fact, the only feeder I was still using was the “upside-down” tube feeder, which only the smallest finches can exploit. All my other bird guests were relegated to forage on those seeds that fell to the ground.
The best bird attraction my yard is the birdbath-waterfall over my small fishpond. It remains as the only attractor in my yard, since I’ve stopped providing seeds, but in 2012 I was providing both seeds and water. During these days I might have more than a dozen birds in view all day long and fifty more perched and singing in the trees above, waiting to cue up to the banquet or bar.
Until this time I’d never met a Pine Siskin. Had I not been experimenting with my Lesser Goldfinch captures, I might not have met this bird in my yard. I remember hearing the ‘zwee’ call from the oak canopy overhead first and recognizing it as different from the Lesser Goldfinch ‘zwee’. When the bird descended to the thistle feeder and hung upside-down to take the seed, I knew who it was. I took some ID photos of the bird and later reported my sighting to the local bird group. I remember the doubters. Guy McCaskie, who is the most respected bird authority in San Diego and all of California, sent me an email suggesting I was most likely mistaken. These birds are only rarely seen outside their high mountain homelands. I understood his doubts, but when I sent him the pictures, he agreed with my identification.
The birds I captured in my yard during the month of August 2012 were Pine Siskin, Acorn Woodpecker, White-Breasted Nuthatch, Lesser Goldfinch, Western Tanager, Anna’s Hummingbird, Allen’s Hummingbird, Mountain Chickadee.