Backyard Birds – May 2023 Report

Backyard Birds - May 2023 Report

So spring is coming, but it seems slow – the bird migration also seemed to start a bit late.

Polly Reetz reported from her Denver yard: “On May 11 we had a Yellow Warbler in our back yard – a first, as far as we know. The bird seemed to be gleaning (insects?) off the new leaves on our hackberry tree.”

“May 13, a hummingbird flew in, obviously searching for food – she investigated the lilac flowers and the few other flowers now blooming, then flew off.  I am assuming this was a Broad-tailed Hummingbird, the species we usually see in our yard.  This was the first one of this year.”

“Other than that, our feeders have been fairly quiet, with house finches making up most of our visitors.”

Urling and I have noticed the slow migration even though for our Birdathon we managed to find a credible 57 species in our Franktown patch. We have basked in the glow of four brightly colored birds: Western Tanagers (up to 5 at our feeders at one time), Black-headed Grosbeaks (ditto), Bullock’s Orioles (1-2), and Lazuli Buntings (1-2, irregularly). A few Lesser Goldfinches, one Rose-breasted Grosbeak (one day), and finally Western and Mountain Bluebirds.

Mountain Chickadees took over the nest box that House Wrens have used the last several years, and apparently didn’t let the wrens oust them – they took on a different box. On the side of the house, a White-breasted Nuthatch drilled a hole, and probably has a nest there, even though Western Bluebirds tried the hole as well. We’ll cover it after the breeding season. Tree Swallows abound, and we think maybe have two or three boxes down the driveway.

One to four Bushtits visit our suet feeders off and on – we think they must have a nest nearby but haven’t found it. (Or looked very hard to find it.).

The hummingbirds finally came back, with several Broad-tails and 1-2 Black-chinned vying for nectar at the sugar water feeders. (Use one part white cane sugar to 4 parts water.)

Turkeys continue to plague us with their greedy foraging, along with the ubiquitous squirrels.

From Littleton, Bea Weaver sent this note: “ I have had a small blue bird with white belly in my backyard for 2 days.  It looks like a Lazuli Bunting, but has no rufous band.  Is it molting or could it be a hybrid with an Indigo Bunting?  It has wing bars too.” Sibley shows this as a hybrid Indigo/Lazuli.

On May 26, Chauncey Walden reported from Parker” “For more than a week now a flock of 12 or more Red Crossbills has visited our backyard feeders from early morning to late afternoon. We have lived here for 22 years and don’t recall having seen any before. On the day they first arrived they were traveling with a pair of Evening Grosbeaks but they moved on.”

Stephanie Shulman sent pictures of a bird she couldn’t ID: “The beaks of the birds at my house sort of flatten out and become quite pointed at the end) I finally found the nest they’ve been building. It’s right outside our garage, by the temporary home of the all-you-can-eat miller moth buffet — a very strategic location, right? I attached a photo of the nest, which is on the ledge just above the fixture. And I also attached a couple more photos of the birds, though none of them are terribly useful for identifying.”

“I’m in the Green Mountain area of Lakewood. We’ve lived here for nearly 40 years. I have birdbaths in my yard, so I get quite a variety of birds stopping by, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen or heard this bird.”

I finally ID’d her birds as Say’s Phoebes, which typically build nests like the one she has.

Urling & I went out for our daily morning walk May 15; when we parked, she saw an Osprey sitting on the side of the road. It allowed very close approach, indicating that it had an injury. We called Heather Brown, who approached it with a couple of towels, grasped it by its feet, and put it in a large cardboard box. With the box sitting in my lap, we took the bird to the Rocky Mountain Wildlife Alliance Rehabilitation Center in Sedalia. By the time we got there the wing had gone cold, which doomed the bird, so they had to euthanize. Sad.

A non-bird excited Jill Holden (Roxborough): “I arrived home from work April 27 when a fox crossed the street to the neighbor’s yard. It headed towards the evergreen bush that runs across in front of the neighbor’s house. It didn’t seem to detect anything there and headed over to the close side of the house and disappeared towards the back.

I’m very excited to see a fox around again as it has been quite some time since I have seen one. We have more rabbits now than we ever have since living here. Seems like in the past the rabbit population had been kept way down by the predators. Looked like a healthy fox and I hope it will be able to do well in the area.  I’m always cheering for the foxes and hoping that we don’t end up with coyotes instead.”

Your contributions write this column. Thanks to all who send in these intriguing reports. Send a note or post card to P.O. Box 584, Franktown 80116, or Email Hugh Kingery at