Tag Archives: birds

Snow, Ice, Snow, Mist, Snow…

The weather here was crazy today.  But my four-legged energizer bunny (Ryder) insisted he needed his daily chase, so out into the mess I went. It was late afternoon and I was surprised to find an entire yard with no obvious new track marks.  Really? Really!

It was icy enough to weigh tree branches down to the earth.  And notice – no fresh tracks!

Each individual needle coated in ice.

I began scouting around trees and brush piles and by carefully looking, I found some small tracks of adventurous wild things.

Birdy tracks next to a brush pile.  A good place to stay out of the wind and weather.

I was VERY surprised to find a short squirrel trail from the base of one tree to the next. Why would she leave the safety of the trees to go about 15 feet across open ground to another tree when their branches intertwined?

And what on earth did this?  I couldn’t find any prints!  (Update:  I found the same pattern a couple of days later under another tree.  But with tracks.  SQUIRREL tracks.  They are apparently digging for seeds and such under the pine and hemlock trees.)

And that was it!  Apparently everyone was tucked in somewhere waiting for better weather!

I hope all of you hit by this storm are safe and sound!

A Treat With A Sadness


What the? That’s what I woke up to a few mornings back. Waaay too early. I sat up to figure out what I heard and there was MORE crashing and banging. I lunged out of bed to see the back of my son turning the corner to the kitchen.  YIKES! It must be bad if it woke him up! BANG AND SCRAPE! And then I was in the kitchen looking at my son holding a punched out window screen.

“What’s going on?” I asked. “Rose had her head stuck in the screen and was fighting to get it out,” he replied.  “She went through the screen???” “Yep.” (Thank heavens I had the windows cranked almost closed or there would have been a one story drop for her to the ground.) “Do you know why?” “Nope, maybe it has to do with that moth or something that just flew by.” My son wears glasses and without them everything is fuzzy.

We put the screen back in its frame and then back in the window.  “Well, aren’t you going to go see what it is?” he asked.  “What do you mean?” “It’s over by the kitchen window.”  I had “ass-sumed” that flying by meant the window so I walked over to look out the window and promptly got smacked in the face. By a BIRD flying around IN the house.  Not outside. CRAP. I immediately started blocking and attempting to catch the bird.  The last thing I needed was to get into a smack down with my three cats and my dog over that bird. I was successful, but that poor bird was panting and stressed to the max.  Poor thing! But I confess I was thrilled to be able to hold it.  I adore birds and it was a treat to have it nestled in my hand.

See how tiny? It’s a wren. So what happened was that the wren was scoping out the window frame for bugs and spiders. They do this all the time.  It must have come inside between the screen and window.  I have a cat perch in the window and it was evidently too much for Rose and she launched her tubby self straight at the bird and ripped the screen from its frame. What we didn’t know until later was that Rose had actually caught that poor bird and run off with it. It had managed to escape. How did I find out? Three cats and a dog sniffing the crap out of a spot in the hall. Here’s what I found:

Tiny tail feathers. They’re about two inches long. I was crushed beyond belief. I had “ass-sumed” the bird had been scared into the house when the screen went.  I didn’t look very closely at it because it was flying around and no blood was dripping. I wanted to get it out of the house as quickly as possible. Stress can literally cause a bird to have a heart attack and die. I can only hope there was no fatal damage. 😦

My son grabbed the camera as I took the bird outside. He was able to get the following shot because the wren didn’t fly away immediately when I opened my hand.

Notice how few tail feathers are hanging down from my hand. After seeing this picture it amazes me that it could fly at all. Poor, poor wren! 😦

This incident solved one problem for me.  I have been sorely missing my feathered friends in the morning since my old lady maple fell. I have been trying to figure out a way to put a feeder off the window sill (like a window flower box) that would still enable me to open the windows (crank-outs suck). But I will just have to do without. I don’t want my cat launching herself through a window one story up nor do I want her attacking the birds.  *Sigh*

And on a side note – it wasn’t the cat that woke me and my son up initially.  It was his phone falling, scraping and rattling down between the wall and the headboard of his bed. I’d have been on my own otherwise, I’m sure. 🙂


Good-bye To An Old Friend – “My” Old Maple

Those of you that have spent time here on a regular basis know that I love to take pictures of the wildlife feasting and visiting in the grand old maple just feet off the back of my house.  With my kitchen a story up at the back of the house, I got to spend time up in the tree with all the critters.  It was wonderful and relaxing.

The feeders in the old tree weren’t the only draw for the birds. The large spreading tree offered a great place to hang out as well.

Baby squirrels would hone their climbing and jumping skills on its broad limbs after pigging out at the ‘all you can eat’ buffet.

But the old tree had been dying off, bit by bit, over the past few years. Of course, the woodpeckers all loved the bug buffet. And the resident flickers decided to raise a brood of young in a top branch of the old tree last year.

Unfortunately, this spring it was clear the old tree wouldn’t stand on its own much longer.  Only about a quarter of the tree began greening up.  After several days of heavy rain and wind, I was out in the yard with the energizer bunny (Ryder) and noticed a distinct list in the tree.  I checked the ground and realized there was no mound next to the base of the tree.  Roots on a leaning tree will push up the dirt as the tree pulls them up.  There was nothing there. YIKES!  I informed my husband that the next storm would probably push the tree over, and, oh, by the way, there are some branches that need taken off the roof.

So my husband goes up to remove branches and I began vacuuming.  As I was in the middle bedroom, I heard noise, looked up, and saw all kinds of dust and pine needles go blowing by the window. I rolled my eyes figuring he was dragging the branches off the side of the house and kept vacuuming.  A few moments later he walks into the house looking white as a sheet.  Part of his commentary cannot be printed here.  Apparently, one of the branches on the roof was still partially connected to the old tree.  He was tugging and twisting the branch in an attempt to break it off.  Whilst he was holding that branch, the tree fell nearly taking him over the side of the roof with it.  Have I ever mentioned how much my husband dislikes heights? 🙂

This was my view as I walked into the kitchen.

The old maple fell into an old pine on the corner of the house. This gives you an idea of how close it was to the window.

Into the old pine. The large green part of the old tree is literally in the pine tree. As you can see, this dead side has lost almost all its branches.

One of the neighbor’s cats decided this was a great vantage point to view the world. (The mesh pattern is the window screen in the bathroom.)  You can see we moved the bird baths away from the tree.

As we pondered whether or not to assist the old tree to the ground, two days later Mother Nature took the matter out of our hands with some nasty storms that included high winds and tornado warnings.  It was a day that made me feel a little like Dorothy in ‘The Wizard of Oz’ as all kinds of crap went blowing by the windows.  A glance out the window showed the old pine swaying mightily and making the old tree move as well.  I stayed well away from the back of the house until I  heard all the snapping and popping and ‘KABOOM!’ that signalled the end of the old tree.

The old lady was down.

As you can see there was considerable rot throughout the tree. Only one large root was feeding the live part of the tree.

Perspective. I am 5’6″ tall and weigh 130 lbs.

In this shot you can see the destruction wrought on the old pine. A quarter of it stripped bare. And all the mess at the base of the pine is the smashed top of the old maple plus the pine branches ripped off by the old lady on her way down.

It was very interesting to watch as over the next couple of days everyone, feathered and furred, came to inspect the downed tree.  I began checking out the windows whenever I could to see who was next to inspect the old lady.  I was amazed at the activity AND the noise as they all spread the word, “Come here! Check this out!” Nothing goes unnoticed by the wild denizens of yard and forest.

While the critters have gone on with their lives, making adjustments to the new location of their free food, I have been bereft.  The view from the kitchen table is wide open and empty.  No more birds at breakfast.  No woodpeckers and loud squirrels for lunch.  And no more flying squirrels to peek at in the night.  All the activity and nature right outside my window – gone. I’ll live, I know. But for now I mourn my daily trysts with my old lady and the wildlife she nurtured.

A Charming Visitor

A rare visitor to our yard, the Indigo Bunting is a welcome spot of color in the spring.

I surprised this little guy at our feeder. He flitted off into the weeds to look around for a bit.

I Was NOT Amused!

While I love cats and have three of my own, this situation is NOT amusing!

One of our neighbors’ cats sitting one story up in our tree next to the bird feeder. Yes, I went out and chased the cat out of the tree.  It’s bad enough they poop in my yard, keeping me from letting my dog loose by himself  in his own yard because he eats the poop.  Which also makes for a lovely surprise for my hands as I’m gardening.  But they also sit by the tree and bird baths scaring the birds away.  I do not need them UP in the tree as well!  And, OH!, did I mention the dead bird bodies lying in the yard? Not good for the bird populations!  And that also means I can never go bare foot in my own back yard. Cats should be kept at home!

Squee! Another Sign Of Spring!

I glanced out the window as darkness fell….

and spotted a Robin at one of my bird baths. Yay!  Welcome back, Mr. Robin!


Surprise! Turkeys!

So I glanced out the window in the early afternoon and saw big ‘somethings’ moving around in the brush behind my neighbor’s shed. Moving to a better vantage point allowed me to see that there were TURKEYS back there! I’ve not had turkeys in my backyard before.  I ran for the camera.

They had come around the shed by the time I got my camera.

There has been a lot of drilling and fracking in our area which means A LOT of lost habitat for the animals. Makes me wonder what will head our way next.

While I was wishing they were closer for better pictures, at the same time I did NOT want them to find my bird feeders! Turkeys make a lot of poo! Not to mention scratching and ripping up the grass.

They wandered away out of sight but not before stopping in front of the neighbor’s raspberry patch. It is amazing how well they blend in.


Brrrr… A Cold and Grey Day

It snowed last night.  But the worst was yet to come. Today brought a cold, cold wind. With wind chill it was 1 degree Farenheit (-17 celsius) outside. Not my favorite kind of day! I bird watched awhile before having to suck it up and take the energizer bunny (Ryder) out for his daily chase session.  Enjoy the pics!

A wee bit of snow.

A wee bit of snow.

A poor song sparrow poofed against the cold.

A poor song sparrow poofed against the cold.

A junco huddled against the wind and waiting out the blowing snow.

A junco huddled against the wind and waiting out the blowing snow.

A lone cardinal standing watch.

A lone cardinal standing watch.

The snow was so heavy it weighed down the tree branches. Without snow, you can walk under this tree no problem.

The snow was so heavy it dragged the tree branches down to the ground. Without snow, you can walk under this tree no problem.

While the wind blew away the bulk of the snow at the base of the tree, there was still enough that the birds had to dig for their supper.

After the worst of the windy weather, birds began showing up to eat.  While the wind blew away the bulk of the snow at the base of the tree where we have feeders, there was still enough that the birds had to dig for their supper.

And then it was time for me to bundle up, grit my teeth and get out the door.

Despite the frosty temps and being frosty of face and ears with icicles hanging off his chin, Ryder, of course, enjoyed himself thoroughly. Note the snow covered frisbee between his legs. And though the wind let up a little and the sun peaking out between the clouds, mom FROZE HER BUTT OFF!  (Have I mentioned I don't like the cold?)

Despite the frosty temps and being frosty of face and ears with icicles hanging off his chin, Ryder, of course, enjoyed himself thoroughly. Note the snow-covered frisbee between his legs. And though the wind let up a little and the sun peaked out between the clouds, mom FROZE HER BUTT OFF! (Have I mentioned I don’t like the cold?) The things we do for our pets!


Aviary 2016 (Part Three of Three)

My final pictures are of Bateleur Eagles.  Having a ‘near threatened’ status, this African eagle prefers open woodlands and tree savannas. They are a medium-sized eagle with a wingspan of 5 to 6 feet.  While viewing them, I watched them perform some type of ritual that was interesting and beautiful. While most of the pictures are of the eagle closest to me, both were involved.








These actions were repeated several times. Such beautiful birds!

And, of course, to end one’s trip to the Aviary, one must purchase souvenirs.

This is a postcard of the painting by Johno Prascak. It is one of my favorites.  I can't afford a wall sized version so this postcard will do.  I'm even going to frame it. :D

This is a postcard of the painting by Johno Prascak. It is one of my favorites. I can’t afford a wall sized version so this postcard will do. I’m even going to frame it. 😀

Ooooo, I've found a new artist to love.  Dean Crouser. This mug is just gorgeous.  And it's a good solid mug. And you should see his prints!  Guess what's going on my Christmas list!

Ooooo, I’ve found a new artist to love. Dean Crouser. This mug is just gorgeous. And it’s a good solid mug. And you should see his prints! Go here to view his art. Guess what’s going on my Christmas list!

That’s it!  Hope you enjoyed the pics!

Aviary 2016 (Part Two of Three)

Here are some more of the 72 pictures I took at the aviary.  😀

Northern Bobwhite Quail

Northern Bobwhite Quail.  Once a numerous bird in the eastern United States, its population is in sharp decline mostly due to habitat loss. This small quail, not hugely bigger than a soft ball, has a distinctive call that literally sounds like ‘bob-white’. And this call is SO loud it makes you think they are twice their actual size.  It is sad to say that I have only heard this call in the wild only once in the past twenty years.

Red Bishop Weaver

Could this be a young Red Bishop Weaver just coming into color?  I just had to take her picture as she sat there all sleepy and rumpled.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher. A bird of south-central U.S. and across to Louisiana, Arkansas, and Missouri.  These birds love open scrubby country and sometimes catch bugs by launching off a perch to catch them in mid-air. I was very fortunate to get a picture of these little guys as they were very busy flying around.

Black-naped Monarch

I have no idea what the black and blue bird is, but he was very aware of me and the camera, staring straight at me and slightly poofing his chest.

Wattled Curassow

Wattled Curassow.  Endangered. They are native to the rainforests of South America. In addition to habitat loss, they are hunted for meat much like we hunt for turkeys.  This particular bird was enjoying himself standing on the railing next to the door startling visitors as they came through.  😀

Brown Pelican

Brown Pelican. Yep, another of my favorites.  I wish I could find a decent small china figurine.  These birds dive headfirst into the ocean to catch fish, the pouch on the underside of their bill expanding to hold 2-3 gallons of water to help trap the fish.  Did you know they incubate their eggs with their feet? o_o

Hooded Vultures

I went to a free flight show!  One of the free flying birds were these adorable Hooded Vultures.  These birds are common across sub-Saharan Africa.  They live in a wide variety of habitats including villages!  They are carnivores and scavengers.  Unlike a lot of vultures who feed only on carcasses, these guys can be found feeding in refuse dumps and along shore lines.  Unfortunately, like most vultures, they do poop on their own legs to help cool themselves off.  Eww! (But they are so cute!)

Lanner Falcon

Another of the free flight birds, the Lanner Falcon.  A beautiful raptor found mainly in Africa with small populations in Europe and Asia, these birds have been used in falconry for over 1000 years.  Unlike the North American Peregrine who is known for their stunning high-speed dives, the Lanner Falcon hunts horizontally reaching speeds up to 90 mph from wing flaps alone.  Do you see the antennae attached to the bird’s leg?  There are actually two, one to gauge speed and one for GPS in case the bird decides to wander off.

Lanner Falcon

There he is high in the sky.

Lanner Falcon

A lucky shot of the Lanner Falcon having a go at the lure.

Lanner Falcon

Mantling (protecting) his ‘kill’.

Lanner Falcon

A wonderful shot of the Lanner Falcon as he gets ready to eat his treat.

I love watching the birds working with their trainers.

Next up will be the Bateleur Eagles and, of course, souvenirs!