Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Watching the sun set

Most afternoons my husband, Chloe and I walk to downtown Santa Rosa to visit our favorite coffee place. We chat and watch the people and dogs that always seem to be bustling about. If we're not in a hurry, I'll do some urban sketching, mostly of the other people drinking coffee outside.

There are often quite a few birds about, especially in the winter, eating pieces of muffin, bagel and cookies that end up on the ground. There's also someone who puts out handfuls of seed most days. We see Brewer's blackbirds (Euphagus cyanocephalus)and a few House sparrows (Passer domesticus). Last week,  a hawk dove from on high trying to capture one of the blackbirds but it missed and was gone so quickly that I wasn't even sure what I'd seen until I'd thought about it a while. Oddly, there aren't any pigeons, though there are some living near our house, a quarter of a mile away.

In winter the blackbirds begin to gather at around 4 p.m. on top of the building across the street, facing the sun as it rapidly sinks in the sky. Often, we'll see nearly 100 birds perched quietly at the edge of the roof, some of them preening themselves. Sometimes the whole group will suddenly lift off and wheel about over the small city of Santa Rosa before landing again, often when crows fly over, but usually for no reason that we can discern.


  1. Nice sketch! Your blackbirds remind me of the gang that hang out on the edge of our local Fred Meyer grocery store.

  2. That's quite a lineup! They do look like they're settling in for a afternoon's rest, and maybe a bit of quiet gossip. You caught that afternoon sun just right!