Tag Archives: crows

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!

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Spring Continues (while I lose my mind)

May has been a crazy month. (I don’t even have my May Box out yet!)  Saver of Bugs graduated from college last weekend (and all that entails).  In addition, for the past three years she has been taking stuff to school without bringing anything back (she spent the summers at school doing research).  Weekend before last, I went up and brought a van load back (turns out it was cheaper for me to make multiple trips rather than rent a truck).  And after graduation, we loaded our van AND my mother’s smallish van/SUV/sport vehicle(?).  Now it’s time for sort, sort, sort, pack, pack, pack.  She’ll be moving to Philly the first week of June (pretty sure).  And she’s disappearing for 5 days to meet up with schoolmates for a last group LARP (small GRRRR).  Someone just shoot me, K?

My poor garden is now a garden of knee-high weeds.  But there were some survivors of the harsh winter.  So I’m taking my pleasure where I can get it.

I had my son cut down the Butterfly Bushes to 18 inches.  Knowing my passion for Preying Mantis's, he collected all the egg cases he found.  I put them in various pots in the driveway near the garden so they wouldn't get crushed underfoot during my weed raids on the garden.

I had my son cut down the Butterfly Bushes to 18 inches. Knowing my passion for Preying Mantis’s, he collected all the egg cases he found. I put them in various pots in the driveway near the garden so they wouldn’t get crushed underfoot during my weed raids on the garden.

My Snow-in-Summer survived the winter and apparently some of the Mantis's have hatched.  There is a wee exoskeleton on one of the flowers.  The flowers are roughly the size of a dime.

My Snow-in-Summer survived the winter and apparently some of the Mantis’s have hatched. There is a wee exoskeleton on one of the flowers. The flowers are roughly the size of a dime.

Pink Catchfly!  This will be a new addition to my garden.  Wilted and partially dead on the clearance rack, I paid $1 for it.  It has bounced back quite nicely!

Pink Catchfly! This will be a new addition to my garden. Wilted and partially dead on the clearance rack, I paid $1 for it. It has bounced back quite nicely!

Star-of-Bethlehem.  You never stop learning with plants. This tough little bulb came with the house and self sows itself around the yard from time to time.  In all the years we have lived here, I never knew it closed up at night.  I'm digging beds for tomatoes on the side of the house and as the sun set behind the trees, the little flowers closed right up!

Star-of-Bethlehem. You never stop learning with plants. This tough little bulb came with the house and self sows itself around the yard from time to time. In all the years we have lived here, I never knew it closed up at night. I’m digging beds for tomatoes on the side of the house, and as the sun set behind the trees, the little flowers closed right up!

Like my Snow-in-Summer, this beautiful Columbine was a bird poop volunteer.  It has self-sowed itself all over my garden in gorgeous clumps of blue.  I look forward to this flower every year and I'm soo glad it survived the winter!

Like my Snow-in-Summer, this beautiful Columbine was a bird poop volunteer. It has self-sowed itself all over my garden in gorgeous clumps of blue. I look forward to this flower every year and I’m soo glad it survived the winter!

My first Iris of the season!  It was difficult to take this guy's photo with the wind blowing it every which way!  I was thrilled to see how well these survived the winter. They were a gift from my next door neighbor.  She was diagnosed with Alzheimers and after the death of her husband, her health declined rapidly and she is now in a facility rarely recognizing anyone and spending most of her days in bed.  It's heart breaking.  But she loved her flowers and I'll always remember her sitting in the grass pulling weeds and snipping spent flowers.

My first Iris of the season! It was difficult to take this guy’s photo with the wind blowing it every which way! I was thrilled to see how well these survived the winter. They were a gift from my next door neighbor. She was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and after the death of her husband, her health declined rapidly. She is now in a facility, rarely recognizing anyone and spending most of her days in bed. It’s heart breaking. But she loved her flowers and I’ll always remember her sitting in the grass pulling weeds and snipping spent flowers.

Another Iris from my neighbor.  This poor thing got bent down to the ground somehow and was curling up to the sun to bloom.  Both this stem and the previous one are now in a vase in my kitchen perfuming my air with their lovely scent.

Another Iris from my neighbor. This poor thing got bent down to the ground somehow and was curling up to the sun to bloom. Both this stem and the previous one are now in a vase in my kitchen perfuming my air with their lovely scent.

Another garden denizen going about her duties.

Another garden denizen going about her duties.

A gift from crow friends.  A message is winging its way here.

A gift from crow friends. A message is winging its way here.

A lucky shot of our crow friends all together.  We have had a pair making their home here for years.  Late last summer one of the adults went MIA leaving a lone parent to raise 4 young.  I'm not trained enough to be able to tell who's who, so I don't know if this is the parent with a new mate and one of her young from last summer, a parent and two young, or just three of last year's kids.  They are very interesting and intelligent birds.  They are also quite skittish this year so I've been having trouble getting a shot of them together.

A lucky shot of our crow friends all together. We have had a pair making their home here for years. Late last summer one of the adults went MIA leaving a lone parent to raise 4 young. I’m not trained enough to be able to tell who’s who, so I don’t know if this is the parent with a new mate and one of her young from last summer, a parent and two young, or just three of last year’s kids. They are very interesting and intelligent birds. I love watching them work together.  They are also quite skittish this year, so I’ve been having trouble getting a shot of them together.  I will be keeping an eye out to see if any young are brought to the yard this year.

Wish me luck on keeping my sanity over the next couple of weeks.  If life would just pause long enough for me to handle moving crap only!

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!

Here We Go Again and I Want To Run Again

Random Thoughts

Start early, get everything in the blog, go to bed at a reasonable hour.  Uh huh.  It’s 11:16 pm.  Sigh.  I could blame the thunder storms that surprised us, but they were gone by dinner time.  I have got to get my shit together.  But there are a couple of things I wanted to get up today.  (Here you go, Saver of Bugs.  My finish time for this blog was 1:30 am)

Life At Our House

Okay, Saver of Bugs, here is the bag on wheels I told you about.  I put the little green bag on top so you could see what size it is folded up.  Let me know if this is to be shipped to you.  (I swear I’ll get some recipes up tomorrow.)

Fur Babies and Other Friends

Isn’t he cute when he’s waking up?  I turned on the light and he stayed put long enough for me to go get my camera.  I think it’s hilarious that he goes to bed whenever I turn the light out; even though there is a 15 watt light still on in the room to give everyone a twilight.

Here’s a momma squirrel who didn’t want to share with her baby.  Look up in the right hand corner of the picture.

Out in the Yard

Our header today is an Amaryllis that I found in the garage.  It survived the winter in there!

Movement

 So if you’ve been following along you know how much “not fun” I had when I moved my daughter into her new room.  However, I survived the ordeal and fully expected to wind up laid up for a long time.  But here it’s been a weekish and I’m fine.  Even the small tear I had in my biceps has gone quiet.  The only thing that is still complaining is, of course, my back.  However, I did slip on the bank down back with a load of wet laundry in my arms.  And while I didn’t fall, I did wrench things a bit.

We spent some time trying to figure out what is different this year.  I really haven’t done anything different except to make sure I get sleep.  Even if it means totally losing a day.  This is also the first year in 15 years that I have not gotten bronchitis and May marked a year without any sinus infections.  Usually I spend 3 to 6 months every year fighting and recovering from these two illnesses.  Sometimes I have both at the same time.  I think our unusually mild winter helped.  Whatever the reason, this sudden burst of good health has me all excited.  I would love to be able to run again.

I found my old, old running folder a bit back while looking for something I had put in the pit of ‘somewhere safe’.  I went and got it out and started pawing through it.  Wow.  Lots of stuff.  And I know there is more somewhere in this house ‘somewhere safe’.  Here’s a view of the mess that needs to be organized and I seriously need a new folder.

Do you see the woman on the right?  At the time of that article (2003, I think), Helen Klein was 80 years old and running ultra-marathons.  She did not start running until she was 55 years old.  I  admire her.  I would love for that to me some day.  I googled her and she was still running as of 2008 and I didn’t see anything that said she has died since then.  When I get some time, I’m going to do some more searches.  I would love to find out where she is right now and if she’s still running.

I dug through a drawer and found my safety vest for night running and my old wallet watch.  The battery is dead, but I will replace it.  I can’t wear battery watches as a rule.  I kill the battery dead in about 2 weeks of constant wearing.  However, I think the padding between me and the watch plus the stuff I put in the wallet section helps keep me from zapping the battery dead.  Here’s a picture of them followed by a picture of my favorite running shoes.

I started running in the Saucony Jazz back in the 80’s and have been in some version of it ever since.  These are the Original Jazz from the 80’s, retro if you will, and they only cost $55.  Awesome.

Today I saw the clock ticking away and decided to just throw my shoes on and go for a 20 minute walk before I procrastinated my way out of daylight.  As I was putting my shoes on I decided to see if I could touch my toes.  Ugh.  Nope.  So I guess one of the first charts to put together will be for stretching.  And out the door I went.

It was beautiful out if a bit windy.  But I got to watch some crows playing in the wind.  One in particular liked to shoot straight up and then spread his wings as far as they would go and let the wind flip him over.  He would then swoop and spin through the same batch of trees like a ski racer on a slalom course.  Over and over again as fast as he could.  It was so much fun to watch.

I re-learned a few things on my walk.

  • Even small boobies need support.  Definitely need to rummage around and find my sports bras (and running shorts).
  • Gotta find a hat I can live with.  The sun was killing my eyes and I can’t run with glasses on my face.  Visors are out.  They land on my nose.  I used to have this really, really light hat that was barely there, but I have no idea what happened to it.  Sigh.
  • Keep your head and eyes up!  That way you’ll have plenty of time to scramble for safety when some dumb asshole looking and leaning down to the right between the front seats steers right on a left hand bend.  (We don’t have sidewalks where I live.)

Twenty-one minutes later I was back.  That is not good.  Went out too fast.  I jumped in the car to see where I was in mileage.  Curiosity got the cat and all.  Yikes!!!  1.2 miles!  That meant I did a mile in 17.5 minutes my first time out.  I don’t know yet if I should be thrilled or not.  I’ll let you know how much trouble I have getting out of bed tomorrow.  I did have some complaining parts while I was out.  My hips weren’t happy, muscularly, but no joint complaints.  I slipped off a loose section of the pavement and had my right knee bend left.  It has grumbled a wee bit.  But so far nothing that is totally pissed.

My recovery wasn’t real good.  My start out heart rate was 84.  I was slightly jacked about going out.  My finishing heart rate was 162.  It would have been better around 140 or 150.  After 10 minutes post workout it was 102 – okay.  But at 30 minutes post workout I was still up at 96.  It should have been normal by then.  Which is a sign of overtraining for present condition.  So I can’t push any more than what I did today.   However, I’m still thrilled.  It felt so good to go out there and do this.  That crazy moving day with my daughter was good for my mind.  From George Sheehan:

“For every runner who tours the world running marathons, there are thousands who run to hear the leaves and listen to the rain, and look to the day when it is suddenly as easy as a bird in flight.”

Mug of the Day

The Gift of Grace (I Need It)

Random Thoughts

I’ve ranted my way through several versions of this post and then walked away to try to get perspective.  This weekend was frustrating and aggravating along several different lines, but this is a blog – not a book.  So I’m just going to hit the personal headlines.

I am sick to death of sleep being such a damn battle.  My mother only slept 4-5 hrs. a night and having children who needed 8-9 hrs. annoyed her to no end.  She also drops right off when she lies down and would constantly come to the door or stand over me in bed to demand why I wasn’t asleep yet.  So I grew up always afraid of not getting to sleep.  Knowing why I have trouble getting to sleep has not helped much.  I am also a light sleeper and if I wake up I have trouble getting back to sleep.  Because I am a light sleeper I have a very low threshold for sleep deprivation (didn’t find this out till I was in my 30’s).  I have a funky metabolic rate which might get me up in the a.m. to eat.  Now add a brain that just will not shut up and I’m screwed.  Routines help to a certain degree,  exhaustion sometimes helps, exercise helps to a certain degree, I’ve taken meds (but because of my metabolism they only last half the time listed so I may just pop awake in the middle of the night).  I can’t just set a schedule and keep it hell or high water because lack of sleep shoots my immune system down and I get sick.  So I have to make time to sleep even if it means sleeping into the afternoon.  Which, of course, just screws with my whole day.  I would love to find just one thing that would shut my brain down and always put me to sleep.  (Aside from a 2 x 4 upside the head.)

I really wanted to start and finish Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach this year.  It has helped in the past and the past couple of years have had a whole lot of not fun in them.  I’m now about 5 weeks behind (tomorrow, tomorrow) and am also not writing in my Gratitude Journal.  I need to do this.

I haven’t been getting out in the yard and into the dirt on a regular basis.  Which I know helps tremendously with my mental health.  I need to do this, too.

I got behind on the mail and bills.  Again.  I have got to stop doing this.

I’m fairly new to Tarot, but I have found it helpful and centering.  Now I’m not even doing a card a day draw.  Need to get back to this.

And somewhere in here I need to start exercising (walking) – again.  (Is there an award for # of starts?)

That’s enough whining for today.  I’m going to reach for a favorite little prayer of mine.  I need to get my calligraphy marker out and put this on one of my flowered papers and keep it visible.  For those of you who wish to, substitute your belief system where you will.

Just for Today – Marjorie Holmes

Oh, God, give me grace for this day.  Not for a lifetime, nor for next week, nor for tomorrow, just for this day.  Direct my thoughts and bless them.  Direct my work and bless it.  Direct the things I say and give them blessing too.  Direct and bless everything that I think and speak and do.  So that for this one day, just this one day, I have the gift of grace that comes from your presence.

Life at Our House

So here is that bread I made the other day:

Spider Bait had the Blue and Gold Banquet for Boy Scouts this Saturday and work at the greenhouse on Sunday.  I got gas that would scare elephants away and kept me up half the night from something I ate at the Banquet (getting ‘older’ sucks).

Fur Babies and Other Friends

The weather here was miserable this weekend.  But I did catch this guy down back:

The Blue Jays are coming back out, so the babies must be hatched (they are very secretive during nesting):

BAD KITTY!  (snort, giggle)

What’s this?

Tastes okay.

Mine!

Isn’t this face adorable?

Out in the Yard

Our header today is just a plain old pansy.

Crystals 

A lot of times if I’m upset and feel the need to hold a crystal, I reach for Rose Quartz.  But today I needed something more ‘substantial’, and reached for my Tiger Iron.  After the weekend I had mentally, I was not surprised when I read about its attributes.

Tiger Iron is a form of Jasper.  Jasper is common and found worldwide in a variety of colors.  Tiger Iron is found quite often in Australia.  Its astrological association is Leo and is identified with the Base Chakra.  I’m going give you the definition of Tiger Iron strictly from The Crystal Bible by Judy Hall.

“Tiger Iron is a combination of Jasper, Hematite, and Tiger’s Eye.  It promotes vitality and helps in passing through change, pointing to a place of refuge when danger threatens.  It is extremely helpful for people who are deeply exhausted at any level, especially those suffering from emotional or mental burn-out or family stress.  It promotes change by opening a space to contemplate what is needed and then supplying the energy necessary for action.  Tiger Iron’s solutions are usually pragmatic and simple.  Tiger Iron is a creative and artistic stone that brings out inherent talents.”

“Keep Tiger Iron in contact with the skin.”

The stone below is a massage stone.  It looks even better in the sun.

Mug of the Day

Onward Ho!