Los Gatos Birdwatcher

What fun it was visiting Los Gatos Birdwatcher this afternoon.  I haven’t been in a while and I’ve missed it.

The store is named for the town of Los Gatos which is Spanish for ‘The Cats.’ You’ll find no evidence of any real cats there, though they have a beautiful statue on display (more on that later.)

Now privately owned by John and Freddy Howell, Los Gatos Birdwatcher offers an array of products and services. I’ve never asked a question they couldn’t answer. I asked for assistance today identifying my little backyard hummer, see below.
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This particular hummingbird had a green chest and shorter tail feathers, quite different from the usual feeder crowd. John identified it as a probable female Allen or a first-year male Allen.  Apparently the males acquire color as they get older.

I also learned about a phone app called iBird. It’s an interactive field guide to birds of North America. If you’re a serious birder, this app’s for you.

Los Gatos Birdwatcher has a huge selection of wild birdseed, bird feeders, nesting boxes and assorted tools. They sell gifts and books as well, including jewelry, t-shirts, puzzles and bird-themed cards. I always feel so at home. They even have a corner dedicated to the bird-feeder nemesis, the squirrel, with clever nesting boxes and feeders. If you’re a fan of the furry ones, you can buy 25 pound bags of peanuts in the shell. You’ll have backyard friends for life.

Cutest Bird Nest Ever

Cutest Bird Nest Ever

Gorgeous Nesting Box

Gorgeous Nesting Box

Nesting Boxes

Nesting Boxes

Birdseed Feeders Galore

Birdseed Feeders Galore

The store offers the following services:

  • Feeder Cleaning: No charge, but they ask for a donation to Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley, Wildlife Education and Rehabilitation Center, Nike Animal Rescue Foundation or Friends of San Martin Animal Shelter.
  • Frequent Buyer Program
  • Seed Delivery in the local area
  • Monthly children’s nature programs: For pre-school through grade 3.
  • Community outreach
  • Backyard Bird Consulting Program

If you’re local to the area, be sure to drop by. If not, you can subscribe to their bi-monthly newsletter following this link.

Los Gatos Birdwatcher
King’s Court Center
792 Blossom Hill Road, Los Gatos, CA  95032

cat sculpture

The only cat you’ll ever see at the Birdwatcher

Smile! You’re On Gardening Nirvana

Some days you get lucky.  Today was one of them.

Like the felines in the house, many of the garden visitors put on a show till the camera comes out. Then they’re off, lickety-split.  Today I was able to snap some cuties.

First up, this dark brown squirrel.  Most of our native squirrels are grey with a white belly.  This little fellow is dark brown with an amber belly, pressed up against the fence. He’s been busy stashing peanuts in a corner behind a rock. They nab the peanuts from our neighbor’s yard, then head over our fence to either bury them or eat them.

Dark squirrel with amber belly

A dark squirrel with amber belly hugs the fence

Stashing his peanuts behind the Daphne

Stashing his peanuts behind the Daphne

Peanut Wasteland

Peanut Wasteland

A more typical gray squirrel passed through with a peanut in his mouth.  Isn’t he adorable?  He jumped into one of the planters when he saw me, then ran back to the lawn to squirrel away his peanut.

Grey Squirrel with Peanut

Grey Squirrel with Peanut
I wanna hold your hand!

We enjoy frequent visitors at our hummingbird feeders.  Today I ‘searched’ the orange tree with my camera lens to see if I might spot a nest. In retrospect, given the number of squirrels and rats that visit each day, the tree is probably far to active for nesting. I followed the bird’s flight with my camera lens and captured a few shots of a hummingbird new to our area.  I’ve never seen one like it.  My research says there are a dozen hummingbird species in California, but none of them resemble this little one.  Take a look at this species list and let me know what you think.

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It’s been bitter cold for several days, down to freezing most nights.  I’m keeping the feeders topped off, especially after learning that the non-migratory birds are nesting from now until May or June.  I wonder where they go to stay warm?

I originally planned to hang bags of laundry lint for nesting material in the spring.  Since learning that hummingbirds are nesting now through May, I plan to hang lint tomorrow.

In my fantasy world, I have an invisible cloak like Harry Potter.  I would spy on all the wildlife up close without fear of detection. Would you like to join me?

Gifts for the Joyful Gardener

Gardeners are practical souls.  We don’t mind dirt under our nails, or bruises on tired knees.  We’ll get up early or stay out late, weeding, pruning, planting and generally enjoying our time in the garden.  We love sharing seeds and flowers fresh from the earth and enjoy swapping tips for keeping the garden pests at bay.

If you have a joyful gardener in your life, here are a few gift ideas to tuck under the tree.

Practical

Your gardener will never lose their gloves in the garden again.  Floral Gardening Gloves allow you to pull weeds in style.

Floral Garden Gloves

Floral Garden Gloves

Seed Keeper or Seed Keeper Deluxe. I’ve been using mine for several months. It’s an easy and efficient way to store and retrieve the seeds you save or buy. They come packed with all sorts of garden goodies as well.

Seed Keeper Deluxe

Seed Keeper Deluxe

Fanciful

Slipcovers: They’re not just for sofas!  Dress up your pots with a Patio Art Planter Slipcovers. You can change with the seasons, or simply cover up an ugly pot. It’s a nice way to wrap up a potted plant to gift as well.

plant slipcover

Slipcover Your Plants

Fair trade birdhouses attract birds to the garden. Keep those baby birds toasty warm till it’s time to leave the nest.

Felted birdhouse

Fair Trade Birdhouses

What a clever idea! It’s a card and a desktop garden all in one. It’s edible too. It’s a postcarden!  Click on the photo below and check out the time-lapse video on their site.

Postcarden

Astronomical

For the gardener with the travel bug: “Botanically themed cruises and garden tours of Europe are designed for gardening and gourmet enthusiasts who enjoy taking in ancient castles, magnificent châteaux and stunning landscaped gardens with iconic sites.”

Let’s all go! Who’s with me?

Hummingbird Quandry

We’ve often wondered if the hummingbirds at our feeder are the same year round. It lead me to do a bit of research on the migratory habits of the hummers native to our area. Last week I saw this charmer at our feeder, unruffled by the cooler temps and the rain. Was this one passing through, staying for the winter or about to leave town?

Hummingbird October 22nd

Hummingbird October 22nd

According to World of Hummingbirds, Allen Hummingbirds like to winter in Northern California but spend the summer in Mexico. So who’s been visiting in the summer? I used to think we had Ruby-Throated Hummers at the feeders, with the flashy iridescent red chest, but I’ve since learned they migrate on the east coast of North America and Canada.  Then there are Anna Hummingbirds.  Anna’s are one of the few year-round residents of California.  They can handle temperature extremes, so no need to winter in Mexico.

Following are the hummers we’ve seen in our garden this year.  Descriptions from World of Hummingbirds are at the end.  Who do you think we have visiting our feeders?

Hummingbird February 25th

Hummingbird February 25th

Hummingbird August 4th

Hummingbird August 4th

Hummingbird August 24th

Hummingbird August 24th

Hummingbird October 22nd

Hummingbird October 22nd

North American Hummingbirds

Halloween Countdown

Lying pumpkin

Lying pumpkin

 

Squirrels: They’re back!

In early June I planted a row of sunflower seeds along the front deck. Within a week they were gone, consumed by our neighborhood squirrels. I planted a second batch, this time indoors, but the transplants were leggy. Refusing to give up, I came up with a barrier, heretofore known as the screen saver, and planted one last time. They took!  Within 90 days we had a beautiful row of six-foot sunflowers.

Last year the flowers went completely to seed on the plant. I saved a handful of seeds, then placed the flower heads along the garden wall for the squirrels. It was fun watching them nibble away.  I love watching those cute little “hands” busy at work. They polished off the sunflower seeds in a matter of days.

This year the squirrels took matters into their own hands. Not known for their manners, they simply bent (or broke) the stems till they reached the deck and helped themselves.

I’m always amazed at their ingenuity. Wild bird centers are full of gadgets to deter squirrels from bird feeders, but those clever squirrels figure it out. When it involves nuts or seeds, squirrels are up for the challenge.

I finally caught two of them in the flower-bending act this week. Did I shoo them away?  Of course not! I grabbed the camera instead.

squirrel eating sunflower seeds

Mmmm…not half bad.

squirrel eating sunflowers

Hey!  I want some too.

squirrel standing tall

This buffet line is taller than I remember it last year.

squirrel hide and seek

Shhhh! Pretend I’m not here.

squirrel with stem

Let me just…break off…this annoying stem.

squirrel with sunflower

That’s more like it!

running squirrel

I’m out of here. I’ll be back once you’ve cleaned up this mess.

California tree squirrels are either Gray or Fox. Here is a side by side comparison.