Tag Archives: American Goldfinch

A Wee Glimmer of Spring

It was zero degrees this morning.  There is constant snow on the ground.  And by Thursday night it will go down to -5 degrees.  For those of us with light issues and circulation problems, winter sucks.  Make it snowy with unrelenting cold and it seems that winter will never ever end.

But today, after another reminder to be mindful of where we are right now, to appreciate the small things, I took a few moments while eating to just sit and watch out the window. When was the last time you just sat and observed what was going on right outside your window? Hmmm?

Anyway, while sitting there watching the birds, I saw something that brought a smile to my face and actually brought forth a deep sigh of pleasure. Click on the pictures to get a better look!

Say hello to our harbingers of spring.  The American Goldfinch.  Notice the lightning and yellow sheen around their necks.  They are moulting into their summer coats!

Say hello to our harbingers of spring – the American Goldfinch. Notice the lightening and yellow sheen around their necks. They are moulting into their summer coats!

Oh, how welcome is this hint of spring to come!

Oh, how welcome is this hint of spring to come!

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Critters in the Yard

I was looking through my Blog Photo Folder shaking my head at all the photos I have collected and not used.  Yeah, I  know.  I haven’t been posting.  So today I’m going to share some of my favorite yard-critter photos.

One of my favorite denizens of the yard.  I am very fortunate to have a thriving community of these bug eaters.  Every spring I look forward to finding baby Preying Mantis's hopping about in my grass and shrubs.

One of my favorite denizens of the yard. I am very fortunate to have a thriving community of these bug eaters. Every spring I look forward to finding baby Preying Mantis’s hopping about in my grass and shrubs.

Here is a baby Blue Jay not yet fully molted.  He's trying to decide if I'm a big bad monster or not.

Here is a baby Blue Jay not yet fully molted. He’s trying to decide if I’m a big bad monster or not.

How do they eat hanging upside down like that?

How do they eat hanging upside down like that?

This could possibly be an adult Ant Lion!

This could possibly be an adult Antlion!

These are two of the crows that spend time in my yard.  We lost one of the adults last year, but three crows came back this spring.  There appeared to be four babies being raised this summer.  NOISY little buggers begging for food.  These are two of the adults in a quiet moment under the tree.

We have a family of crows that spend time in our yard. We lost one of the adults last year, but three crows came back this spring. There appeared to be four babies being raised this summer. NOISY little buggers begging for food. These are two of the adults in a quiet moment under the tree.

Yep, those cute little buggers ripped the lid off the bird feeder.  What was really hilarious was watching them "fight" each other through the plastic.  Eventually they realized they could each have "their" territory without the other one being able to touch them and they settled down to eat side by side.  I am happy to report that we scavenged the hinge from the old feeder (it goes clear across the back) and the lid is now intact once again.

Yep, those cute little buggers ripped the lid off the bird feeder. What was really hilarious was watching them “fight” each other through the plastic. Eventually they realized they could each have “their” territory without the other one being able to touch them and they settled down to eat side by side. I am happy to report that we scavenged the hinge from the old feeder (it goes clear across the back) and the lid is now intact once again.

Ahhh, Bumble Bees!  I love these guys.  I know spring has sprung and the soil is warming when I see the new Queens out and about having dug their way out of the dirt, their winter hibernation over.

Ahhh, Bumble Bees! I love these guys. I know spring has sprung and the soil is warming when I see the new Queens out and about having dug their way out of the ground, their winter hibernation over.

My son grabbed this photo for me one day.  We usually have about 5 pair of American Goldfinches running around.  But they aren't much for sitting still.  They will be molting into their olive green winter clothes soon.

My son grabbed this photo for me one day. (See all the squirrel pee on the lid?) We usually have about 5 pair of American Goldfinches running around. But they aren’t much for sitting still. Soon they will be molting into their olive-green winter clothes.

Please excuse the blurriness.  I was in a hurry to grab a picture before they all flew away or saw me and then flew away!  Oh, and not laugh too loudly either!  Because this was hysterical!  All of the birds you see in this picture are baby Robin's.  Some are fresh from the nest and others are getting their colors, but they are all youngsters. Plus a few that weren't in the frame.  It looked like all the parents just dumped their kids at the "pool" and left.  And those kids yelled and pushed and flapped; all of them wanting their fair share of "pool" time. The bird bath had no water left by the time they were done. :D

Please excuse the blurriness. I was in a hurry to grab a picture before they all flew away or saw me and then flew away! Oh, and not laugh too loudly either! Because this was hysterical! All of the birds you see in this picture are baby Robin’s. Some are fresh from the nest and others are getting their colors, but they are all youngsters. Plus a few that weren’t in the frame. It looked like all the parents just dumped their kids at the “pool” and left. And those kids yelled and pushed and flapped; all of them wanting their fair share of “pool” time. And in an amazingly short amount of time all the water was gone! 😀

YAY!  We have Chipmunks again!  Our elderly neighbors had become crazy cat people.  They and the cats are gone and small critters are coming back.  I saw a rabbit run through the yard the other day, too!

YAY! We have Chipmunks again! Our elderly neighbors had become crazy cat people. They and the cats are gone and small critters are coming back. I saw a rabbit run through the yard the other day, too!

Well, I'm thrilled for the moment.  I'm guessing it won't be too much longer and they'll figure out there are feeders in the tree and then I'll be bitching about all the seed they're stealing!

Well, I’m thrilled for the moment. I’m guessing it won’t be too much longer and they’ll figure out there are feeders in the tree and then I’ll be bitching about all the seed they’re stealing!  Look at those bulging cheeks!

Hope you enjoyed the critter pics!  Night!

Spring Has Sprung!

I was out hanging my bed on the line, enjoying the sunshine, listening to bird song and I looked around and realized, “This is it! Spring has arrived!” It brought a smile to my face.  Below are some of the things that assure me Spring has settled in.

The American Goldfinch's mottled molt has gone from this...

The American Goldfinch’s mottled molt has gone from this…

to this, a bright, brilliant yellow.

to this, a bright, brilliant yellow.

The earthworms are up in the top layer of soil, churning away.

The earthworms are up in the top layer of soil, churning away.

My Grape Hyacinths have burst into bloom.

My Grape Hyacinths have burst into bloom.  (Those little round lumps on the dead Hyacinth stalks are young seed pods!)

My late Daffys are blooming too.

My late Daffys are blooming too.

My Lilac bush has begun to bloom, but this year there are only a small hand full of blooms.  Did the late freeze kill them off?

My Lilac bush has begun to bloom, but this year there are only a small hand full of blooms. Did the late freeze kill them off?

Not to be out done, the yard is full of wild violets giving the grass a purple haze.

Not to be out done, the yard is full of wild violets giving the grass a purple haze.

And where would spring be without the ubiquitous dandelion!

And where would spring be without the ubiquitous dandelion!

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But you know what really nailed it for me today?  The bold and sassy song of the male House Wren calling the ladies to come investigate his awesome abode.  My son painted a small birdhouse many years ago and we hung it on our front porch.  Every year since we have raised at least one, but often two, broods of baby wrens.  A bold and curious bird, it has no problem setting up house next to us humans.  The babies when they fledge will get into and all over anything we have on the porch.  My houseplants have taken a beating some years when the babies decided they were ‘toys’ for their amusement.  Say ‘Hello!’ to Mr. Wren:

Look carefully!  You can see the a stick he is bringing to build the nest.  But can you also see the sticks on the left sticking out from under the eves?  He will push and shove some very long twigs until they snap or slide out of the sides of the birdhouse.  When he's done there will twigs sticking out of both sides of the birdhouse.  Male wrens will build a couple of nesting sites to offer the ladies.  The female wren will decide which she prefers and will put the finishing touches on the nest.

Look carefully! You can see the a stick he is bringing to build the nest. But can you also see the sticks on the left sticking out from under the eves? He will push and shove some very long twigs until they snap or slide out of the sides of the birdhouse. When he’s done there will twigs sticking out of both sides. Male wrens will build a couple of nesting sites to offer the ladies. The female wren will decide which she prefers and will put the finishing touches on the nest.

Will this be The One?  A female wren checking his work.

Will this be The One? A female wren checking his work.

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I hope where ever you are in the northern hemisphere, Spring is finally showing her face to you as well!

Spring Is ‘Working On It”

Spring is having a hard time here.  Cold, cold, cold!  I tried to remove all the leaves and dead things from the planters outside three days ago (54 degrees out) and found out that while there is mud in the yard, the planters are still frozen solid. *sigh*  But there are a few bits of spring struggling forward.

While we still have no Red-Winged Blackbirds and the Juncos haven’t left, the crows have returned.  Last year we lost one of the parents that comes here every year to have their babies.   Just one parent was left raising 4 little ones.  I don’t know how to tell the males from females, so I don’t know who survived.  But one arrived here with a larger, obviously younger bird.  Jet black and full-bodied, he/she is full of life.  The question?  Is this a new mate or one of the children who survived the winter?

This is the older bird.  I have not been able to get a picture of the younger bird.  He/she is very observent.  The least little movement is noticed. Like me sneaking to a window to try to get a picture.  Even though my windows on the back of the house are second story.

This is the older bird. I have not been able to get a picture of the younger bird. He/she is very observant. The least little movement is noticed. Like me sneaking to a window to try to get a picture. Even though my windows on the back of the house are second story.

While I was doing some yard work, I was thrilled to find that the spring flowers are coming up.  Sort of.

One lone crocus.  Hopefully the warm weather will inspire more.

One lone crocus. Hopefully the warm weather will inspire more.

Look what I found when I cut down my Japanese Blood Grass!  A wee columbine of a type I thought had died.  Evidently a seed took root!  This columbine is short with red flowers.  Can't wait!

Look what I found when I cut down my Japanese Blood Grass! A wee columbine of a type I thought had died. Evidently a seed took root! This columbine is short with red flowers. Can’t wait!  (OOOOooooo, can you see the hyacinth peeking next to the columbine?)

And in looking out my kitchen window I finally saw a sure sign that spring truly is on the way.

The American Goldfinches are finally turning yellow!

The American Goldfinches are finally turning yellow!

But then the day before yesterday…

Surprise!  I woke up to snow again!

Surprise! I woke up to snow again!

And I leave you with a very spring like mug that I’m drinking tea from while dreaming of flowers!

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Some Hints of Spring

I heard the crows yesterday afternoon.  We usually have 2 or 3 take up residence in our yard every summer.  A mated pair sometimes with one of last year’s babies still in tow.  Last year one of the parents came up missing, leaving one adult with 4 kids to look after.  I looked out of the window to see several crows flying in big swooping patterns and yelling quite loudly.  One of them flew right down to the bird bath and began helping himself/herself to the birdseed that had been knocked into the water.  A large handsome bird.  Perhaps one of the offspring from last year?  They didn’t stick around long enough for me to grab my camera. *sigh*  It did get me started thinking about spring, however.  How close are we?

At the Winter Solstice (the shortest day of the year), our days were only 9 hours and 17 minutes long.  Today our day was 11 hours and 4 minutes long.  An increase of 2 hours and 13 minutes!  Only 56 more minutes to go till the Spring Equinox!  That’s the ‘official’ start of spring.  On the Equinox, our day and night are of equal length.  The Spring Equinox is usually celebrated on March 21st, but this year the actual Equinox takes place on March 20, at 12:57 EDT.

The crows calling and swooping lifted my spirits, but I wanted more.  So I grabbed my camera and went looking for whatever ‘spring crumbs’ I could find.

I found that despite several days of 40 to 50 degree weather, there is still some snow on the ground.

I found that despite several days of 40 to 50 degree weather, there is still some snow on the ground. *sigh*

 

While I couldn't find any signs of spring on the ground, I was cheered to see that the maple trees are getting ready to flower.  That's why the branches look 'fuzzy' in the photo.  The thick branches out of focus in the forground with leaf buds belong to my lilac bush.

While I couldn’t find any signs of spring on the ground, I was cheered to see that the maple trees are getting ready to flower. That’s why the branches look ‘fuzzy’ in the photo. The thick branches out of focus in the foreground with leaf buds belong to my lilac bush.  Squee!

I got really lucky and spotted this handsome fellow.  And he sat still long enough for me to grab my camera!  This is an American Goldfish in his winter clothes.  But can you see the yellow sheen under his chin?  Soon he will be an eye popping yellow!

I got really lucky and spotted this handsome fellow. And he sat still long enough for me to grab my camera! This is an American Goldfish in his winter clothes. But can you see the yellow sheen under his chin? Soon he will be an eye-popping yellow!

So while Spring seems to be creeping reluctantly our way, it IS coming!  I can’t wait till I can start planting my garden!

New Oracle Deck “Wisdom of the Hidden Realms”

“Wisdom of the Hidden Realms” by Colette Baron-Reid 

I have looked at this deck off and on after seeing it over at JulieLand (http://urthalun.com/).  Not long ago I was hunting unsuccessfully at Half Price Books for a book on Permaculture when this deck popped out at me.  Just one copy only.  After wandering away and coming back I caved and brought it home.

It then sat there on the floor by the couch, untouched,  nagging me on a regular basis about the fact that I had gotten away from Tarot and my cards with all the ‘not fun’ I’d been having.  It was time to get myself centered again.  So I gave in to the urge to ‘clear the decks’ so to speak.  I washed all my card bags and cloths and took some time one evening to sit quietly and put all my decks in order.

All in order and put away in clean bags.

All in order and put away in clean bags.

I then began exploring my new deck.  It is an Oracle deck with 44 cards and a small, easily portable 123 page guidebook.  The meanings are listed under ‘Ally’ (upright) or ‘Challenger’ (reversed).  The deck is based on the idea that magical beings at one time walked beside us, helping to bridge the gap between the realm of Spirit and us here on Earth.  Over time we set them aside and lost our ability to connect with these friends.  ‘Wisdom of the Hidden Realms’ was created to help us reconnect with them.  “They guide us to create a life of peace, purpose, prosperity, and love and to restore balance and healing to our world.”

Here are some pictures from the deck:

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My only complaint so far is the back of the cards.  You can easily see who is reversed.  I don't want to see ahead of time.

My only complaint so far is the back of the cards. You can easily see who is reversed. I don’t want to see ahead of time.

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I do love the art work of this deck.

Crystals

Along with cleaning and ordering my decks, I washed and set all the crystals and stones that I could find out for some sun to recharge.  I think I’m going to get my books out and make a list of all the crystals just to see what all I have.

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Out In The Yard

It has been in the 30’s at night here recently and only 40’s in the daytime.  This necessitated an emergency move of plants into the garage. *sigh*  But what really surprised me is Mr. Toad has shown up again spending a couple of hours a day, in the cold!, soaking in the dog dish.  Go figure.

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Our header today is a new mum I bought (cheap!) to replace one I killed.

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Mugs

This is another favorite.  Sadly our actual American Goldfinches have exchanged their bright yellow coats for their drab olive winter coat.  Winter is here. *sigh*

This is another favorite. Sadly our actual American Goldfinches have exchanged their bright yellow coats for their drab olive winter coat. Winter is here. *sigh*

Well, it’s 10:30.  Not too bad.  Now to edit and post.  Night all!

Well, Darn, It Really Is Winter Now and My Kids Are Trying To Quit Me From Cussing

Random Thoughts and Life At Our House

Well, darn.  This is what I woke up to this morning:

The view out my bedroom window.  Why, yes, I turn my Christmas lights on on dreary days when I'm home.  The Dec/Jan electric bill always hurts.  The price of doing Christmas lights.

The view out my bedroom window. Why, yes, I turn my Christmas lights on on dreary days when I’m home. The Dec/Jan electric bill always hurts. The price of doing Christmas lights.

The middle bedroom.  Yeah, the rhododendron needs cut down.  It's at least 15 ft high.

The middle bedroom. Yeah, the rhododendron needs cut down. It’s at least 15 ft high.

Out the front window.  Tried the butterfly bush for the summer.  It's gonna go.  It grew clear over the sidewalk.

Out the front window. Tried the butterfly bush for the summer. It’s gonna go. It grew clear over the sidewalk.

Out the kitchen window.

Out the kitchen window.

Out the bathroom window.

Out the bathroom window.

Big pine tree at the back of our lot.

Big pine tree at the back of our lot.

Another sign of winter are the birdies:

This is a Junco.  They arrive in the fall and leave in the spring.  They showed up at the beginning of the month.  They are camera shy so you can't see just how beautiful they are, charcoal grey with snow white tummies.  They are cheerful little birds that spend most of their time scratching on the ground for food.

This is a Junco. They arrive in the fall and leave in the spring. They showed up at the beginning of the month. They are camera-shy so you can’t see just how beautiful they are, charcoal grey with snow-white tummies. They are cheerful little birds that spend most of their time scratching on the ground for food.

And the American Goldfinch in his winter clothes.  In the summer these birds are a bright yellow.  They luuve sunflower seeds.

And the American Goldfinch in his winter clothes. In the summer these birds are a bright yellow with black wing bars. They luuve sunflower seeds.  (And that’s a Mourning Dove supervising on top the feeder.)

Sigh.  Winter is here.

*****

My kids are on a mission, darn it.  To stop me from cussing, particularly in public.  My daughter says I shouldn’t be corrupting youth.  Not sure they’re going to eradicate a habit I’ve had for over 2/3rds of my life.  And I like cussing!  It’s emotionally satisfying.  If I hadn’t been there for the birth and if my kids weren’t so much like me, I’d have to wonder if they were actually mine! 🙂

*****

We still have one more Christmas to go.  We celebrate with my in-laws on New Year’s Day.  We got the shopping done yesterday.  And husband went out today and bought a pork loin to make into pork roast and some chops, and sauerkraut, and a handful of poppers for New Year’s Eve.

Saver and I also hit the calendar kiosk for our 50% off calendar shopping.  I had to splurge on an extra desk calendar when I saw the “Believing In Ourselves” Daily Meditations for Women desk calendar.  The “Spirit of Place” and the “What Horses Teach Us” are Saver’s calendars.

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While I was rummaging around through some papers before Christmas I found a Toys R Us gift card that had belonged to Spider Bait.  According to him he gave me the card for cash and I should go get some Triops.  Um, okay.  So I made a trip to Toys R Us but they didn’t have Triops.  They did have Sea Monkeys.  So I grabbed some of them and a couple of puzzles.  I had to use some of my Christmas cash cause getting 2 puzzles instead of just one put me over the gift card.  And I’m not even sure the Sea Monkeys are any good cause the packets feel funny.  Like maybe they got wet at some point.  Oh, well.  Time will tell.

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I also had a JoAnn Fabric’s gift card from my birthday and I had to hit JoAnn’s to check out the sales.  I needed this stuff like I needed a hole in my head and I went over my card limit (seeing a pattern here?) and spent some of my Christmas cash because they were clearing out the paper and there were only a couple left.  I have nooo will power.  And, NO, I will not tell you how many WIP’s I have lying around here.

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And a $2 reusable bag to carry it in.

And a $2 reusable bag to carry it in.

Fur Babies and Other Friends

Before Christmas I finally got my Hermit Crab tanks cleaned back up.  I was a bad crab mommy.

Before.  Yuk.  Way toooo dry.

Before. Yuk. Way toooo dry.

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After

After

Happy Hermies!

Happy Hermies!

Out In The Yard

Attention plant lovers!  It’s time to start repotting plants house plants and starting your perennial seeds!  Once the Solstice has passed and the days begin to get longer you’re good to go.

And a heads up to you orchid lovers!  Ikea has Phalaenopsis orchids on sale for $4.99.  More Christmas cash gone.

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Mug of the Day

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Time for me to go.  Here’s me working on a post.  Usually, though, I’m in my PJ’s!

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