One reason I love spending time in my garden is just to be outdoors. Gardening is a great excuse to be in the yard and watch birds at the same time. If I had not been checking the fruit trees the morning of August 31, I would not have seen the dark bird in the lower field sallying out from the bird boxes and flying back to perch, catching insects. It gradually made its way from box to box, up toward my garden area. I grabbed the binoculars (I keep them nearby) and saw it was a Black Phoebe! This was the first sighting for the species on our property, and it made my morning! Its plumage was not the bright black of an adult, so I assume it was a first-year bird exploring the area. It spent about 15 minutes in my view, then flew up and over some trees to the north.
Summer birding at our house revolves around keeping the hummingbird feeders full, monitoring the nest boxes, and watching the various species of hatchlings beg for food from their frenzied parents. The juveniles are so vulnerable as they learn to fly, watch for predators, and fend for themselves. They are usually loud and rather conspicuous. Watching them is entertaining but at times nerve-wracking.
Each time I travel away from Oregon, I’m happy when I return to the Willamette Valley. We live in a beautiful, green location surrounded by awesome scenery, clean air (relatively) and in an area where we can easily find a respite from cars and people.