I don't know why, but today new birds were showing up in my yard and in the yard of friends. In both cases the newcomers were at water features.This lovely photo taken by our friend Kathy shows the two western bluebirds (Stalia mexicana) drinking from her fountain. The male is at the top and the female is in the top tier of the fountain. (I love the house finch that is down at the right looking up at the new visitors. You can really see that the bluebirds are bigger than the house finch (Haemorhous mexicanius).
Bluebirds are cavity nesters. They would like to move into a nest in a tree trunk created by a woodpecker. Bluebirds can't create the cavity themselves, so they are dependent on older trees with abandoned cavities. That is hard real estate to find in a sprawling city like Los Angeles. Nest boxes, however, can make all the difference in the world for these birds. Across the U.S., bluebirds depend on nest boxes to raise their chicks.
Learn more about bluebird nest boxes, including plans for one you can build at Audubon: https://www.audubon.org/news/how-build-bluebird-nest-box
We also had new visitors; a pair of northern flickers (Colaptes auratus). Interestingly the female was a western red-shafted subspecies and the male was a yellow-shafted subspecies, typically seen more to the north and east. They came and sipped water from our fountain with their long tongues used for eating ants.You don't have to put out birdseed to attract birds. Especially in Southern California, water is an important resource for wildlife.
While we had December rain, the past few days have been dry and windy. Both the bluebirds and the flickers were attracted to flowing water in fountains. In the morning our fountain is frequently visited by hummingbirds, warblers, finches, and on occasion a Cooper's hawk (like the one pictured).
A water feature doesn't have to be big to be important to birdlife; it just has to be clean and reliable. Provide water in your yard or on a balcony and you might be surprised who comes to visit.