My favorite visitor

Simi Valley, CA(Zone 10a)

This here is a little buddy of mine who always comes to visit at sunset and whenever I start the mower. He comes and perches on the fence where he has a good vantage point. As soon as the mower spooks a bug he'll come swooping in catching the bug in mid air. This is the clearest shot I have gotten yet as he seems to be camera shy. He is called a Black Phoebe. We call him Alfalfa. He just recently brought his sweetheart by along with their little youngster. We were so happy to meet them. The little one was the cutest little thing. He would flap his wings so hard while accomplishing what his parents made look effortless. They are quite the little acrobats. I'll post better pics as soon as I get them.

Thumbnail by TheRedlines

I'd like to see the whole family. Probably a tall order but if you can get more photos, it would be really great.

I've never had songbirds that actually hung around when I was outside. We had a pair of Turkey Vultures that used to pay no mind to my presence and I could get pretty darn close to them but then they knew I was a food source for them so they put up with me. I never attempted to get closer than about 20' to them because I was always afraid they might become too acclimated to humans and would be looking at all people as a food source. Turns out my fears were unwarranted as they evidently could tell the difference between me and my husband and the kids. They took off when anyone else tried to approach them other than me. I did always have nutritious snacks for them. I think I'd like it if at least a few of the songbirds around here hung around when I was outside like your Alfalfa does. TVs are magnificent birds but they're not exactly song birds.

Hendersonville, NC(Zone 7a)

Really, turkey vultures got accustomed to you? I'm so jealous! They're ugly as sin compared to songbirds, but simply awesome birds. A lot of the songbirds (titmice, nuthatches, even an occasional goldfinch, will approach and eat at the hanging feeders on our porch while we're sitting there as long as we remain sitting; if we stand up, they're gone fast. Let's not discuss the squirrels who stop eating only long enough to look at you like, "Do you mind? I'm eating here."

Wheatfield, NY(Zone 6a)

How nice that they seem to have adopted you. Enjoy! Such a pretty bird.

Simi Valley, CA(Zone 10a)

I just feel lucky to have them around. They usually hang out around water so I'm kind of surprized to find them around here. The first time we encountered this type of bird was about 4 years ago in the early spring. We had sailed to Santa Cruz Island off of the coast of Santa Barbara, CA. As we got close to the anchorage, we started to encounter kelp flies. By the thousands! Apparently they are a huge problem during the spring time. These are no normal flies. They are like super flies. You can bat them to the ground as hard as you can and they'd get right back up and fly. There wasn't a time during the entire weekend that you weren't covered with at least twenty of them. They were everywhere. We were all miserable. Including Teddy, our English Cocker. He started the weekend eating all that were within his muzzles reach. It wasn't long before he'd just lay there with a frown and twitch when one would get really annoying. We decided we had better just get used to it and we all just sat around trying to keep them off our faces and out of our beer. When the time came to leave we were happy to get out of there. We got everything stowed, pulled up the anchor and set sail for home. We had hoped that the flies would want to stay close to their home but no such luck. We dreaded the thought of bring all of these home and having to live with them for the next few weeks. It wasn't long before a cute little black bird with a grey belly showed up landing on the lifeline. Sunni and I were sitting opposite from each other in the cockpit with teddy at the stern. The little bird starting swooping down in the middle of us pulling off these crazy little acrobatic moves right in front of us. It was like we had our own personal air show right on the back of our boat. Every time he landed he'd throw out a couple of chirps. His tail feathers would move in sync with his voice, similar to a squirel. We soon realized that these crazy little manuevers were to catch these pestering flies that we had been dealing with all weekend. After enjoying the show for a little while I got on the marine radio to tell our friend bill of our little show. Bill was about a quarter of a mile behind us, buddy boating back to port. He seem kind of unexcited about our friend but made sure to let us know to send him over to his boat when he's finished with our flies. It only took maybe an hour to rid our boat of all the pests. He stuck around for a while flying from perch to perch sometimes even landing on our arms, shoulders and heads. We were really hoping to have him for the entire trip home but he soon decided that there was nothing to stick around for and took off for more plentyfull digs. Sunni and I sat there talking about all of the cool tricks and neat sounds the little one would make. We were all happy again, including teddy who seemed so full of energy that he was running from bow to stern trying to find our little friend. It wasn't long before we got a call on the radio from our friend Bill to say that our little exterminator had shown up to rid him of his pests. You could clearly here the change in bill's voice as he was now as happy as we were to meet our little friend.

Citra, FL(Zone 9a)

Wow, what a great experience!

(Zone 10b)

I appreciate your photo of Alfalfa. Sometimes a photo doesn't need to be close-up to capture a great photo. Just seeing him perched against the sunset is enough. He looks like he's wearing a little cloak.

I am really fond of Black Phoebes. They really have their own rhythm. There was one who, like Alfalfa, used to visit the garden every sunset to catch flies. I thought something was wrong with his wing because he'd keep flying erratically. Turns out he was chasing bugs. I haven't caught sight of any Black Phoebes lately but I'm hoping I'll see one soon.

Las Cruces, NM(Zone 8a)

That's a wonderful story. It's amazing that one bird could make such a difference in such a short amount of time, and that he would actually land on you while doing so! I'd never forget an experience like that.

Simi Valley, CA(Zone 10a)

Equilibrium-I'll do my best but I haven't been able to even get a good pic of one let alone the family ;) I'd love to see Turkey Vultures in person. That must be really cool!
Green Life-I'll do my best to get the message across that Alfalfa needs to send a friend of his your way.
OldMudHouse-I felt like a little kid in a petting zoo. God couldn't have sent him at a better time!

I have to say, since we started gardening a few weeks ago, we have been having so much fun. Whether it's running down to the nursery and looking for what were going to plant next, checking out the really neat birds of Australia or finding a new critter in the yard and sharing it with you guys. I just have to say thanks to Dave and to all of you who help make DG what it is.

Yes, the TVs were magnificent. There's no describing how insignificant you feel when you stand and watch them up on a stump with their wings out to their sides being bleached by the sun to cleanse them of the bacteria of being so good to us to keep our neighborhoods free of carion. Do you realize how big these birds are? I didn't quite understand until they began visiting and hanging out. Prior to that I didn't really have a concept of their size as I had only seen them on tv or flying aroudn overhead in the sky. We're talking they look like a baby Pteranodon or something when the sun is out and they are all stretched out. I miss them very much. I religiously put out offerings for them but this is now the second season I haven't seen them come back. So sad. I do see a pair about 3 miles north of here that circles in the air. Their silhouette is unmistakable. I hope they are mine and that they are fine and have just moved on to the house of someone who has better offerings.

Lumberton, TX(Zone 8b)

It's kind of sad, and very human, that people tend to cringe at these guys. They're the most optimistic of creatures -- they'll ALWAYS have a meal. The unfeathered areas, which look so ugly if you're going by cute and cuddly terms, are unfeathered so they can stay that much cleaner. It would be a scary world without them. And a stinky one, too.

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