I’m thinking of getting a NannyCam for my backyard

I found it very difficult to leave my home and head off to work this morning. Spring has brought some very colorful visitors, and it’s hard for me to miss out on the only time of year they may come for a little stay.


I’ve never seen these beautiful birds before.  They don’t appear in any of my California or Los Angeles area Audubon books. Can you help me out? The photos are a little blurry because I rather hurriedly took them through my kitchen window. I wonder if I’ll see them again?

Most of our backyard birds aren’t nearly this colorful.  I presume that the plumage on the majority of my little bird friends serves to camouflage a bit in our particular landscape.

Of course some of our regular visitors never do blend into the landscape. I love watching the Jays weigh the peanuts to find the ones that seem to offer the best reward.



I don’t know who this guy is either! I have seen him before, but not often.

Who do you think he is?



But these guys were my weekend favorite guests. At one point there were six of them in the feeder, but I’m afraid my enthusiasm frightened them off.

I had to scour my books, but based on observation and listening to a recording of their song, I am quite sure these playful fellows are Black-Headed Grosbeaks. Do you agree?

I have never seen them in my yard before this past weekend, and I’m just sure they were playing at my home all day today while I was staring at a computer screen. I don’t suspect they are going to be staying very long, and I am enthralled.

By the way, the Cardinal on the bird feeder is as close to a Cardinal as I’m going to get in my Southern California garden.

I am glad I didn’t miss bath time!

Unfortunately someone else came along to disrupt! I think she  wasn’t too happy to see her favorite drinking fountain used as a bath tub!

It’s a good idea I was home to supervise Darwin or I might have been unhappy to see he’d helped himself AGAIN to my succulents. I caught him just in time to grab some aloe from his secret stash. 


Darwin does take liberties. We keep the sliding door to a back guest cottage open for Zena to come and go as she pleases. She is a very gracious and careful houseguest.

Not so Darwin!

I guess Darwin is feeling a little jealous! I had to pick him up and move him back outdoors. TWICE!


So now I KNOW I need a NannyCam–to catch him in his mischief!

The garden is alive with lots of lovely visitors. Even the cactus is beginning to bloom, but some of the blossoms only last about 24 hours. If I’m not alert, I miss them entirely.


Spring is glorious isn’t it? I do wonder what I miss while I’m at work. The hawk that comes sweeping through? The Phoebe’s making a nest under the eaves? The woodpecker in the neighbor’s tree?

Listening to the Mourning Doves and pretending they are owls?

Yes, we do that.

Who is playing in your backyard?

Be sure to take notice! Spring can be a very short season!

75 thoughts on “I’m thinking of getting a NannyCam for my backyard

  1. What a lovely post. I love Spring too – it’s always lovely to see everything renewing and new birth. The birds are all gorgeous and I can understand why you’d rather watch them than head off to work. And that Darwin has a cheeky side – fancy eating your succulents – I thought he preferred broccoli! xx

    1. The funny thing about the birds visiting this weekend is that earlier in the week I saw a flash or two of color, and commented, “I wonder if I’ll see any Lorikeets.” Of course I was completely kidding. It is rare that I see birds nearly as colorful as these little visitors. But I think I got about as close to approximating a Lorikeet as I’ll ever have grace our backyard! And yes, dear Darwin, you can’t really tell in this photo how large he is getting, but he is heavy! And can be quite stubborn. When I fed him the broccoli he left the garden alone. Now I have serious tortoise damage. Oh what we go through with our pets…I know you KNOW all about that!

    1. Thank you so much for the bird identification! I am so appreciative. The Western Tanager really surprised me! I plan to spend a little more time reading about its migrating patterns and typical habitat, because I loved that the link you provided was for birds I’d see in Yosemite! Los Angeles is a long way from Yosemite. This is so interesting. I hope they linger a bit longer and don’t “go home” too soon. And I will try to learn more about the red-whiskered bulbul, too. I do see them from time to time, but they are not common–at least not in my backyard! I am so glad you stopped by to help me out! I hope you’ll stop by again sometime. From time to time I really do need others to steer me in the right direction! 🙂

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed the photos from my backyard, mudpie. I was so excited to share a few unusual, at least untypical for suburban Los Angeles, beautiful birds. I literally “ooh and ahh” at the birds I admire in photos shared on other blogs, and like you mentioned, enjoy learning more about birds and wildlife that make their homes in other regions, here in the United States as well as internationally. I have learned so much from other bloggers! Thank you for the lovely visit. I hope you’ll “come again” some time. 🙂

  2. I wish I had a backyard to see all the critters frolicking about…as for Darwin he is something else. Sorry, I’m not familiar with birds, I do enjoy humming birds and a few other little birds here and there around my nest. Enjoy your oasis with all your guest.

    1. I have trouble remembering the names and differentiating some of the characteristics among birds, Cristine, but I think that’s because we so rarely have “visitors” this distinctive! I was really captivated by how much variety we had in one small backyard. It is early spring, and I think that accounts for it, but we also added a new birdseed with some fruit! Now I’m torn…that seed is expensive. LOL! We’ll have to see if providing the change in seed brings more visitors year-round, or at least through the summer. And Darwin…oh my gosh! I didn’t want to get too graphic, but the idea of him moving indoors is just horrible. LOL! We have our work cut out for us. 🙂

  3. Your first bird is a western tanager. Everybody I know but me has seen one. 😦

    The crested bird stumped me – glad to see another commenter ID’d it.

    That is indeed a black headed grosbeak.

    Your jay is a scrub jay. I always know I’m headed south when I hear one… usually around Portland. We get Stellars and gray jays here.

    1. Hi Lori! Would you agree the western tanager is not at all common for suburban Los Angeles? I have NEVER seen one anywhere. I was just enthralled! We did add a birdseed with some fruit this past week, and I think that’s been responsible for some of the new visitors, but I would sure like to know more about migrating patterns and habitat changes. I think because so many natural habitats are under continual threat the poor birds are probably moving around quite a bit, too. I do enjoy seeing the different Jays when we travel, too. They are similar to each other, yet distinctively different! And thank you for confirming the black headed grosbeak. They were so plentiful this weekend, and once again, a first for me! 🙂

      1. Debra, according to Wikipedia the western tanager is a summer resident all along the west coast and sometimes stays through the winter in southern California. It’s also listed as a species of “least concern” population-wise. I really can’t understand why I’ve never seen one. I’ve probably heard them a bunch of times without realizing it — they sound very much like a robin. One of these days I’ll look in the right direction at the right time. One of these days I’ll see a unicorn too!

        1. There was some kind of a bird that reminded me of a robin, Lori. But I don’t think it was the American Robin as I know from books. I really need to do some studying. I think it’s entirely possible that with climate change and compromised habitats maybe some of the birds are shifting their flight plans! 🙂 Thanks for helping me figure some of this out. ox

  4. Those birds are so pretty! We don’t have anything as colourful as that here so I can’t help with identification. The cactus blooms are lovely too. You need an app for your mobile phone that tells you when something moves in the garden… you’d never get any work done though! LOL! A webcam may be a really good idea… 😀

    1. Cathy, my husband liked the idea and started talking about how we could get one of those web cams. I said what you also noted, “I would never get anything done!” I surely wouldn’t want to be checking in from work, or I’d be so torn. 🙂 I’m just grateful that I had these little sightings, and it proves to me that there is much more going on in those trees and bushes than I have previously noted. I’m even more excited about adding in some bushes with berries, and creating an even more hospitable habitat. The birds I shared in this post are really quite unusual for me to see. Most of our little birds are a little drab…but very sweet! LOL! I feel disloyal. 🙂

  5. You have your own Wonder Land in your yard. We have a baby rabbit who has taken roost under a small and low sitting chair. There are deer. But we don’t usually get to see who lives in our yard. When we do it’s exciting. 🙂 I like the idea of your nanny cam. I bet you see visitors you never knew you had!

    1. Oh, baby rabbits! That would be delightful, Colleen. And although some of my friends who harbor deer are always telling me about the tremendous damage to their garden, I still think it would be glorious to look out my window and see them. I was just taken with the color this past weekend, and felt it was such a privilege to witness. I would love to have more time just to sit and enjoy, but for now, I’ll take it when I can, and set that as a really excellent goal, to learn to slow down and just enjoy! If I really did have a NannyCam and tied into work, I can imagine I would get absolutely nothing done! LOL!

      1. Ha! True, no work would get done. And I’m sure others would sit and enjoy as well.

        The learning to slow down and enjoy….I think it should be taught at a much younger age than when we are starting to discover it. 🙂

    1. I found these little flying visitors absolutely thrilling. And each had such a sweet little trill or song. It’s amazing how just watching birds can soothe the soul. 🙂 I’m glad I could share them, Nancy.

  6. dandyknife

    Ooo, a treasure hunt! I recognized the Western Tanagers right away — I was lucky enough to glimpse some in a tree along the Columbia Gorge, and their colouring is both unmistakable and mind-blowing. Lucky you to watch them in your backyard!

    Not sure about the finch, but its red crown and plain wings distinguish it from the grosbeaks. The bulbul is an escaped cage bird; the first established population was noted in Florida in the 60s.

    Anyway, here are my guesses, in order of the photos:
    1, 2, 3: Western Tanager. 4: Mourning Dove. 5, 14, 15, 16, 17: Black-headed Grosbeak. 6, 8, 10, 11:House Sparrow. 7, 9, 18: Male House Finch (?). 12: Scrub-Jay. 13: Red-whiskered Bulbul.

    Seven species of birds while sipping your morning cuppa? If it were me, I would call in sick!

    PS Love the goodies in your treat bowl, everything from papaya to macaroni! Our birds have to content themselves with sunflower seeds.

    1. Thank you for providing so much additional information, my friend. You know your birds! I am trying to learn, so this is helpful. I have always enjoyed bird watching and I am quick to pick up on a “new song” I may hear or see that occasional flash of color, but I don’t experience enough consistency with new species to learn habits or discern the differences in a young versus mature bird–then when I go to the books, I’m just lost, so thank you!

      That was anew bird seed! And I think it has made all the difference. Now my interest will widen to see if I have more new visitors through the summer, or was this just a spring fling! Stay tuned! We have other bird feeders with sunflower seeds and a much less “gourmet” blend. This was an experiment, that paid off, however. 🙂 Thank you for sharing your keen eye!

  7. Love seeing all the different birds that visit your yard that don’t make an appearance on the east coast. They are all so very colorful.

    1. I was thrilled I could share something out of “my” ordinary, Karen. I have been so fascinated with the colorful, beautiful birds that others share from regions all over the world, and didn’t anticipate I’d have such lovely visitors this past weekend. It brings to mind how many other “sightings” I probably do miss, but when I slow down a bit and stay home…LOL! That’s the trick, I think. 🙂

  8. ruthrawls

    Great photos! I have used a motion-activated wildlife camera with both still and video capabilities. You then transfer the chip to your computer or device for viewing.

    1. Oh thank you for mentioning your wildlife camera, Ruth! I just might have to think about something like that if I can manage it. We have other bird feeders that don’t seem to attract these colorful species, but this one, right in the sunshine and with a good fruit and seed blend, seems to be very interesting to these little guys. It would be so interesting to me to see what “happens” when I’m not there to distract. I will have to see what I can find out about a camera. Thank you for sharing your experience. Do you watch birds, or other wildlife? Interesting!

      1. ruthrawls

        The wildlife camera might not satisfy you. I have a feral cat feeding station in my woods, and I was curious to see who visited there at night.
        The smaller animals don’t seem to consistently trigger the mechanism that makes the recording begin. Mine would only record video for 30 seconds, so I pieced segments together and added music to make a movie.
        The wildlife camera was a good solution for me, even though the results are grainy.

        1. Oh thank you, Ruth! This was a delight to watch, and I don’t think it’s too grainy for me. I already know I can’t purchase something of too high a quality It’s great. I’m going to really think about how we’d set something up and then I may just go for it. Thank you so much for sharing your little video. I really enjoyed it. 🙂

    1. Thank you, Mary. I wish I could sit down with you and learn more about the birds you have followed so very closely! I love it when a “new” bird comes into our garden and often long before I see him, I hear an unfamiliar trill. I then do all I can to locate it! I would love to know more, though, and really need to do a little study, I think. I’m grateful that so many bloggers are willing to help me out. 🙂

  9. I recognised the House Sparrow enjoying his bath Debra – could probably have worked out the others but I’m pleased to see some of your other friends have already solved them for you 🙂 We have Sparrows nesting in the roof at the moment and we’re hoping they are successful as they are a Red-List species in the UK currently. The other once common species is the Starling and I’m pleased to report that there is a small group of youngsters visiting the garden already this year 🙂

    1. How nice to see the nests, Martin. I have seen enough nest building behaviors to believe we have some babies-in-waiting, but I haven’t actually seen the nest. I’m watching a Phoebe nest at work, though, and hoping no one comes around to disturb it! I really don’t know my birds as well as I’d like. I’m very grateful to fellow bloggers who are willing to share with me. Thank you!

  10. Wow! What lovely visitors, Debra. Glad that your bird watching friends have been able to identify them for you. I love the idea of getting a nanny cam for your backyard. It can capture Darwin foraging in your succulents and birds eating and bathing. Enjoy your Spring!

    1. I’m going to do some research into a webcam. I’m sure my family will think I’ve gone over the bend, but I know I’d find it fun! In truth, I really worry about Darwin a little bit. He’s getting so large I fear at times he’ll get himself stuck somewhere or knock down the gate! I am certain if I’d known how large he was going to be I would have decided against inviting him to stay! LOL! But we do love him, as I’m sure you can tell. 🙂

  11. What fabulous colors. You lucky, lucky girl! Good on you, Darwin – time to upgrade your home. I hear our latest resident here in the South of France. He comes back every year, and sings 24/7: Luis the Nightingale. True to his name, he pumps up the volume all night. It’s beautiful to listen to, though.

    1. Oh a Nightingale! How wonderful! They aren’t natural to the U.S. and even if there’s a species that comes close, I don’t think they are here in the west. A nightingale is bird we all know from poetry and song, and I think I’d be enthralled. I love that yours has a first name! 🙂

      1. Wow, a country where I could sleep in May. I’m interested. We call him Luis after Luis Mariano, a popular singer in France who wrote a song called “Rossignol de mes amours” – “Nightingale of my loves”. Hang on a minute, let me find it for you…. here’s a bit of French to lighten up your day!

        1. Thank you so much, my friend How nice. I enjoyed the introduction to Luis Marino. I googled him, too, to get a sense of his range and how he fits into popular French culture. I think it’s too bad that often these talents don’t get introduced around the world, so you did your part. 🙂 And the little nightingale is pretty darned sweet, too! 🙂

  12. Those first bright birds remind me of the scarlet tannangers that we sometimes see here, Debra. How fortunate that you were able to capture them. What a wide variety of visitors you are having.
    We are awakened each morning by the cardinals’ songs. With the windows open, 4 am is none-to-early to be greeted by these red beauties as well as the American robins. Our blue jays seem a bit larger, with a crest, and we are actually quite happy to see and hear them, even though they can be bullies. For a few years, they disappeared from West Nile Virus.
    Ah, Darwin. He needs a nanny cam to keep his activities “in check”.
    I hope you had a delightful Mother’s Day, Debra. Wish it wasn’t taking me so long to read and comment on posts, but, it is what it is. Just know I will eventually stop by, for I simply love all of your postings.

    1. I so completely understand your remark about it taking so log to reply and comment…and all that comes with keeping on top of blogging. You certainly never need to say any more to me about that. LOL! I’m really finding it difficult right now. I have had to just tell myself that it’s not like I even keep up with friends right here under my nose. Occasionally I’ll hear from someone asking if I’m “ok” because I guess I disappear from time to time. LOL! When the West Nile Virus swept through here we lost hundreds of crows! It was really like something out of a Hitchcock movie because they were so large, and literally dropped out of the sky! The population never returned to what it once was. Now I do love my birds but I think 4 a.m. might be a little early for me. I think you probably do have an earlier sunrise than we do…but 4? LOL! I did have a nice Mother’s Day, Penny, thank you. I hope you did, too. ox

  13. Wouldn’t a nannycam be fun! Your backyard is so full of interesting things. I would get the camera to watch Darwin for sure. I just love that little guy’s adventures. That colorful bird is just gorgeous! What an amazing sighting. I agree, spring is glorious. In our backyard, our ducks have returned (mom and dad). The come back every spring, but never have any ducklings. Just the two of them. We also have cardinals, a woodpecker and rabbits and squirrels a plenty! No sign of my coyote friend yet though. 🙂 Enjoy your spring day Debra!

    1. Oh dear…the coyote and rabbit and ducks doesn’t sound like a very good mix! I would suspect that after a harsh winter is is a bit reassuring to see the animals return. I wonder where your particular ducks go for the winter. I find migrating instinct and patterns utterly fascinating! I fantasize that some year a wayward Cardinal will come my way! I’d be in heaven. 🙂

  14. Wow, you have some pretty amazing birds in your yard! We have an unusual number of hummingbirds around here, and some of them are huge. Guess, that’s the Andes for you. Hope your week is going well, my friend.

    Hugs from Ecuador,

    1. Huge hummingbirds? That’s fascinating! I would imagine you have a lot of unusual birds in Ecuador. I actually assume the whole country is more colorful! It must be fun to note indigenous birds and animals that wouldn’t be found anywhere else. 🙂 We are in the middle of quite a heatwave…all birds have gone into hiding. 🙂 Hope you are doing well, too!

  15. I love your photos, Debra. Such beautiful, brightly-coloured birds really cheer the place up. 🙂 We have some birds with bright colours, but not as gorgeous as yours.

    1. I have really enjoyed these particular birds, Perpetua, and it has been delightful to “show them off” a bit! They are far from typical, and I feel so privileged. I do think I should offer to write a recommendation for the new birdseed we started using. I have to believe that had something to do with it! 🙂

  16. You must be able to sit out there for hours, Debra. I’m determined to join you someday. I wish I could send you a real cardinal. I bought my mother another one today, and I fear I will cram them all into my house someday, much to the chagrin of MTM. Birds are almost more relaxing to watch than fish.

    1. Sadly I have never seen a real cardinal, Andra. I’ve never seen a red bird–not outside of a cage! I would love to have you come and just sit a spell, my friend. I think I am most comfortable in my backyard, and my guests tend to say the same thing. I do think birds are very graceful, and I know that I feel very relaxed when they are happily moving about. We are in the middle of a really uncomfortable heat wave…I think all the birds have gone into hiding. I don’t blame them. 🙂

  17. Such beautiful photos! The colors on those yellow/red birds is amazing. It’s interesting that our blue jays are different looking from yours; ours have some white and black in them. I do love watching the birds in the yard all year round, especially when new and colorful ones come through. This year we plan to put up a hummingbird feeder, so I’m hoping to see some and get some photos. 🙂

    1. I thoroughly enjoy noting how birds differ from region to region. The scrub jays in our garden are very different from the jays in our coal mountains not far away at all! But they are so different. I am already looking forward to next weekend to see if I can find any other rare visitors. We have been in the middle of a rare and really nasty heatwave…the poor birds have all gone into hiding. 🙂

  18. So very nice.
    Where I live is mostly the grey normal ones and little bigger crow alike ones, some grey doves at a nearby park too, and sometimes you can see colibries (small very fast ones).
    Once I saw a group of pericos flying high over my house (the green ones that repeat what you say), and the best time was when a perico was standing at one of the top branches of a tall aguacate tree at the corner of my block, screaming to the people who passed by, of course it screamed at me and I went back a couple of times before the rain started and flew away.
    I would have gladly made a post about it, but it was like a year before I started, and I didnt take photos.
    I have a webcam I barely use, so one day I went out and left it running to see what could happen. Nothing did but its very easy to do, if you have a large enough hard drive. Sadly about webcams (at least the ones Ive tried), they dont have that much picture quality.

    1. Thank you for the feedback on the webcams. I spent a little time looking at some models on-line today, but when I read the reviews, the ones I can best afford weren’t all that reliable. I am not completely giving up on the idea, though. I wonder if the pericos you saw had at one time been someone’s pets. I know that once we very accidentally lost a cockatiel when the cage fell apart–outside! The same thing happened with some domesticated finches. I learned the hard way not to take bird cages outdoors! The birds who visited our garden this past weekend don’t come to visit very often, so be sure to keep alert! You never know who may stop by. 🙂

    1. Someone just compared me to a Disney Princess, Uru, for having all these little animals guests in our backyard. I have never once in my long life been compared to a Disney Princess so right now I’m really enjoying that label. LOL! maybe this weekend I will try singing to my birds. Now there’s a picture, right? 🙂 Thank you so much for your very kind comment, my friend.

  19. Love the pics of your backyard guests … including the surprise guests! Enjoyed reading to see the readers come through with identification. Meanwhile, cheers to Darwin and Zena for being gracious hosts.

    1. I think our blogging community is really wonderful and so helpful. I knew when I didn’t have answers that others would. Zena is really so eager to please us that she does her best to follow our “rules”–on the other hand, Darwin is downright defiant! They keep me on my toes. 🙂

    1. You have just given me the biggest smile, Aussa. I completely know what you’re saying about being a Disney Princess, and as a little girl I just never fit the “profile,” shall we say, and always wanted to be one. LOL! I’m going to claim that role from now on, and I have you to thank for it. Hahaha!

  20. Lovely images, Debbie. Bird bathing looks such fun! I was away less than 2 weeks and already Spring is walking out the door. Still some lovely irises about. Head on a swivel! 🙂

  21. A popular post ! I can’t help you with identification but I did want to shout out at one point “there’s a bird on the track” – enjoyed seeing your spring, I can see that sunshine in the photos and imagine the warmth. Happy days x

  22. Wow, what a stunning array of birds you’ve had visiting!! I’m a bird fancier myself but have barely learned the names of the birds that come to my feeder, so I’m glad others here have names for you. I’m luck in that there is a wordpress blogger who writes about the birds he sees in Calgary and that’s helped me identify some of mine. I’ve got a clear bird house that suctions to my window so I can watch them come and go and I’ve moved my bird bath to the balcony below the window. It’s a never ending source of entertainment for me.. I’m an easy to please kind of gal:D xx

    1. I completely relate to your comment that you’re and “easy to please kind of gal.” I fit into that category, too! I could watch the birds all day, and we do all we can to create multiple areas where they can be undisturbed. I know the clear bird houses with the suction cups, and I think I must have one! What a good idea! It was so lovely the way other bloggers came to my aid and gave me more information about these gorgeous backyard birds. Believe me, those sighting were rare. I didn’t see the beautifully plumaged ones this weekend–not once. I think it was just too hot and they moved on to a more hospitable environment. 🙂

  23. I am fascinated by the blue bird, I have never seen one in real life. Until now, a Blue Bird or Bluebird was associated with cars and boats used by Sir Malcolm Campbell, his son Donald and other family members to set land and water speed records.

    1. The trains require a lot of maintenance, and that seems to be the problem at the moment. We do need to do better with that! (We, meaning my husband.) I don’t know precisely what the issue is right now, but there are some wires that loosened and need work. I was disappointed that we couldn’t have the trains running for Andra’s visit, but we’ll get on it and post about them again soon–maintenance needs to be a priority. I think one of the things we didn’t calculate when we landscaped with so much water was how the pond itself is a big maintenance project. We may be getting too old for all this. LOL! I am delighted that you share the interest, however, and you encourage me to keep up with it. 🙂

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