Critters: Bird Rewilding

If you are quiet and still the Wren Tit will poop on you.


When I go into the dining room in the morning, I see Allen’s Hummingbird feeding at the flowers of a Cape Honeysuckle in a large pot on the deck. Often it is chased by the larger Anna’s Hummingbird, but usually drives the Allen’s off. Occasionally I see an Orange-crowned Warbler gleaning flowers and foliage for insects.


Elsewhere in the yard there are Song Sparrows bathing in the plant saucer I’ve partly filled with water, and often there may be other birds nearby taking a sand bath in a sandy area. A pair of California Towhees that have lived in the yard for several years are scratching the ground near adjacent native plants. I’ve seen them carrying nesting material from the leaf litter, but haven’t located the nest. Often there is a Spotted Towhee foraging in the leaf litter beneath a manzanita by kicking back with both feet to uncover insects and other invertebrates, and seeds. The male sings from a nearby perch in spring. The Towhees feed in the leaf litter beneath the White Flowering Currant, and feast on its berries.


After breakfast I spread a handful of small bird seed in and around the leaf litter for the Dark-eyed Juncos. They are amazingly undisturbed by my presence, often allowing me to walk within a few feet of them. Lesser Goldfinch also eat small seeds and are often seen picking them from dried ovaries atop the flower stalks of Black Sage once the petals have fallen. Though rarely seen, I often hear Wrentits. They may nest in the yard. I hope so.

Spotted Towhee. Photo by Steve Brad.

An unexpected Hermit Thrush spent most of the winter foraging in the Toyon and Lemonadeberry for insects and berries. Earlier in winter, migrating Cedar Waxwings feed on the berries.


I pause and reflect on the beauty of nature. I’ve truly reaped the benefits of rewilding. By the way, the Wrentit pooped on my shoulder.


While you’re waiting for your native garden to mature, put up a hummingbird feeder and/or a seed feeder: See The Cornell Lab: Feeding Birds.


See the Plants & Animals Section of the San Dieguito Lagoon website ( for links to species mentioned and gardening help.

Photo by David Feeney-Mosier.