This morning's coffee lasted two hours. Blame it on the birds. The cactus in front of our house has turned into a rookery or an open-to-the-world aviary, if there is such a thing. It is a combination of mating season, a giant garambullo cactus available for nesting, and the cactus fruit (much like pomegranate crossed with blackberries, juicy and very sweet inside, enclosed in a prickly, long spiked bulb). Like a cataclysmic "perfect storm", this combination of events has turned our cactus into a circus of birds.
The Golden-cheeked Woodpecker (or Golden-fronted, sometimes can’t tell difference, and is on an endangered species list) or is it just an ordinary flicker?, raised the alarm to the rest of the bird world that the fruit was ripe for eating. They, along with the Great Kiskadees, assorted flycatchers, White-throated Magpie Jays, Rufous-naped wrens, the glorious orange Altimira Orioles, Great Tailed Crackles and the Yellow-winged Caciques were already around the cactus, munching on the insects. But the woodpecker, with their wonderful long bills, hit the fruit first. It has been like Grand Central Station in NYC, during commute hours since.
The crackles had already started to build their yearly communal nest. Several crackles nest together in this species. Fortunately, they have a sweet song, and so the little guys are charming, not annoying. Last year we watched as they left the nest one at the time. It was touch and go for us, as well as for them. I wanted to run down and catch any that fell, because as the babies rocked back and forth, it didn't look like they could get those big bodies, with baby wings, up in the air, por nada.
Ground Doves found a spot to nest, as well as the kiskadees. The kiskadees have chased off the Black Bellied Whistling Ducks, but Larry says they sneak back at night to roost. Now they are a sight to behold. Large, lovely reddish brown color, pretty faces, they have a sweet, distinctive, whistling sound. Grooved Billed Ani hang around, reminding me of little all black penguins, and they tend to bother the Rufous-naped wrens, as they try to build a nest in the cactus. We have a Rufous couple building a nest in our patio/dinning room area now.
When did I learn all these names. I could barely recognize a blue jay in California, as some of you may remember. It started when we moved here, eating in front of the cactus, and watching life evolve as we enjoyed breakfast. The bird book is almost always on the table. As we spotted a new bird, we looked it up. But honestly, we noticed the obvious iguanas that roosted in the cactus first, doing their up and down dances, reflecting a variety of colors they happen to come in, before we noticed the birds. Birds would chase away each other, but never the iguanas. The cactus this year has a plethora of fruit (we haven't figured out why yet, as it doesn't seem to be connected to amount of rain or lack of rain). Thus, we have a bountiful harvest of birds.
Oaxaca is a world-famous bird watching mecca. The parrots come during the cooler months (80's), and this year we spotted a pair that should have been further south, lovely, large red-headed parrots. The parrots are talkative, we hear them coming and going. Yack, yack, yack. The pelicans have just finished their migration north for the most part, and I miss their diving beauty as they hit the ocean straight on, to catch their fish. A few are still hanging out though. The Magnificent Frigatebirds, and Great Frigatebirds have started to come in more. They are ocean birds that hug the coast, and look like ancient pterodactyls. The White-throated Magpie Jays have just arrived, beautiful with their top knots and long tails, so the rains must be coming. The Ground Doves have just hatched their young, and like the baby quail we have in California, they are running all over the place in the yard. The Ferruginous Pygmy owl is annoyingly hooting all day and night long right now, looking for that mate. And the Northern Cardinal has just shown up and we are treated to flashes of brilliant red in the sky and surrounding trees.
Our breakfasts tend to be long-lasting these days, as well as dinner. As the sun sets, the birds hit the cactus one more time, and then go off to settle for the night. One cannot help but notice birds here. There are so many beautiful, colorful, variety of birds, we have been drawn into the bird-watching world, reluctantly at first, and now enthusiastically. We have bird tours here, and many bird-watchers pass through Oaxaca to increase their counts dramatically in one trip. I see why. I look forward to breakfast everyday. Who cares what we eat, when, while sipping my cappuccino, we get a show that is incomparable.