Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Birds of a Feather

Living in a nature sanctuary made up of birds, butterflies, the occasional black squirrel, and a few stray cats is a joy.  Add to that the occasional skunk passing by and the coatamundi who hasn't returned since I had the tree limb cut off the big chinaberry tree.  All are welcome.

Imagine my surprise last week when I noticed something different out of my "window on the world"in my living room.  It was early morning.  There it was.
I knew I had never seen one before. I slowly walked up to the window to look at closer range.  It had a red head and was at least 12 inches, if not more in length.  What a treat!

Quickly, out came the Audubon Mexico book written and photographed by the local San Miguel Chapter.
There it was on page 10.  A golden fronted woodpecker.

While taking time to look at all the other birds I see in the garden, it occurred to me that something has happened lately.  MORE birds.  It might be because of the time of the year.  However, I also wonder if it is because all those eucalyptus and other large trees were cut down in the school yard behind me.  Something is going on.

There are SO many birds that I can't even identify them all but here are a few more that I have within my walls.
Hummingbirds galore.  The two pictured here are here all year long.  Especially the white breasted one.

Vermillion flycatchers are prolific.  Everywhere.  So easy to see.  I think there is a nest somewhere in the garden as I see them darting around all the time.

My other favorite bird is Scott's Oriole.  Not sure of the scientific name, but here is a photo of the bird.
The first time I saw these birds years ago, an entire flock landed in the chinaberry tree all at once.  At first I thought they were small parrots since there coloring was a chartreuse kind of green, but on closer inspection, they are regular birds.  Seldom is it just one bird.  They usually travel in groups.

Now, I'm not a birder per se.  I don't go on hikes to see birds.  I don't log in a book when I see a certain or unusual one.  But, I sure do enjoy hearing them and seeing them.

In the garden, most of the trees and plants are there to attract birds and butterflies.  Add to that the many sources of fresh water that I have placed around for nourishment.  They definitely are attracted to water.  I've never had a hummingbird feeder.  Recently I received one.  I'm somewhat reluctant to hang it up as I like the fact that the hummingbirds have plenty of nectar naturally.

The butterflies are also attracted to the water.  When I was at Chinqua Sanctuary several years ago, I observed that as the butterflies began to fly out of the trees, they headed straight for the streams and any water they could find.  An "aha moment" for me.  Ever since then, I've had water spots in the garden for them.
The monarchs land on the bougainvillaea, the aloe vera blooms, the poinsettias and in the spring they cover the jacaranda trees when they are migrating back north.  There are so many kinds of butterflies in this area that the Audubon book, of just the area around here and the Botanical gardens contains twenty-four pages of five butterflies per page!  A veritable feast of flittering creatures.

Outside the walls of my sanctuary, closer to the lower canyon in the water are all kinds of ducks, ibis, egrets, stilts, and sandpipers.  Coots, pintails, shovelers and teals add to the beauty.  There there is the Eagle and swifts.   A plethora (as some would say) of winged creatures.

The melodic sound of their singing in the morning is what awakens me.  IF Velcro, the cat, is out there, there is such a racket that it isn't singing but alerting messages from one bird to the other and scolding.  Very, very seldom does she ever come home with a bird.  Usually it is small field mice.  THAT is another story.  YUK.

Recently there was an article in the Atencion newspaper, our local weekly paper, about setting up a butterfly sanctuary in San Miguel.  I was surprised at the article as it appears the writer is not aware that many people raise and provide food for migrating butterflies and newbies.  It started about 25 years ago in Houston and is ongoing there as well as all over the USA.  I'm sure it is ongoing  all over Mexico with certain planted material.  Luckily, when I moved here much of the plant material was already here.  I've just added to it with those plants that attract hummers, birds and butterflies.

I live in a natural paradise!  Thanks to the woodpecker,  I've taken time to think about that and to share this with you.

And, thanks to Audubon for their two small publications that were sold a few years ago with photos of all of these winged creatures so we can identify what we see.  It's a great resource of information.

By the way, the publications are not copyrighted or anything, so I felt it was all right to use the images from the pamphlets. 


Tancho said...

Mexico is a birders paradise. It is not uncommon for visiting guests to plunk down a lawn chain on our canyon lawn and stay glued to that chair with a pair of binoculars for hours. Then only to return and do it again the next day.
And we take it for granted as we enjoy the multitude of their emerald green breasted hummingbirds that dive bomb us everyday...

Babs said...

You are so right Tancho! I'll never forget the iridescent butterflies at the waterfalls in Xilitla at Edward James sculpture gardens, Las Pozas........and of course, there the huge parrots!

I should take the binoculars up on the roof some day and see if I could take my own photos....some day!

Peter Kouwenhoven said...

Wow! You do live in a nice place. Hopefully someday we can be there too.

Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy new year to you..

Babs said...

Thanks Peter. Same to you. LOVE meeting people who read the blog! Do come some day.

rozmazz said...


rozmazz said...

Hi Babs, I wrote you a few days ago asking about residency visas, we had emailed a couple of years ago, when you told me one didn't need a residency visa to live in SM, and I am wondering it possible to do that now as well?
I love SM, I visited there in 2007,
and I am wondering about how much it has changed in terms of how expensive it may have gotten with all of the people that have retired there since then? with all of the high end resturants seemed to have mushroomed and such, it seems to have become a wealthier city. Is that the case now?

Babs said...

Hi Rozmazz - You can live here on a tourist visa, BUT that visa is good for only 180 days and you must go back to the States and then reenter on a new tourist visa each time.

The new rules for a temporal visa require $2400 a month in income and I will tell you it takes every penny of that to live in SMA a month with utilities and expenses.

There are some high end restaurants but there are till plenty of places to eat a good meal for less then $10USD.

If you haven't been here in 7 years you should come back for a visit.

For all the people who move in here, an equal number leave for one reason or another. Although most articles say there are 10,000 expats, the number is much less then 5,000 according to an Immigration official I spoke with.

Hope this information helps.

rozmazz said...

Thanks Babs, your answers to my questions
were exactly what I was looking for.
It helps to know what is going on there.
I love SM, I love the hummingbirds you described.
I am now living in the mountains of upstate NY in the middle of the forest, and we get amazing birds and animals here also,but not as much butterflies.
However, I need to leave here because it is too cold and damp. But I guess I need to look elsewhere to find what I need. I'm sorry, because I think the weather and people like you in SM would be a perfect place for me to land.
I am a sculptor, for 35 years, and the art community there in SM seems to be very active.
If I get to SM to visit I will look you up.
Thanks again for your candide answers.
And thanks for your blog, I love reading it.
Happy New Year!

Babs said...

Good luck, wherever you end up. The Southern states are less expensive to live in, if that is what you are looking for.......

I traveled through North Carolina and was thrilled at the amount of outsider art, fiber artists and all kinds of other artistic endeavors everywhere.....

Rozmazz, my email address is babsofsanmiguel@yahoo.com. I would very much like to see your work........