Tag Archives: birds

Nature’s way to reach bird boxes

Spring equinox! Oh my gosh! The birds are here and looking for nesting sites.

I thoroughly agree with using the advantage offered by nature whenever I can. I will never use a ladder on show again! I climbed our snow loads to remove 10 bird houses for cleaning and repairing. Today I put 5 back up. The rest are in the studio for new paint and decoration. Fly Catchers and Western Blue Birds returned last week. Yesterday swallows, and cranes showed up.

I’m a phenologist! Phenology: the study of observable and measurable events that tend to occur annually.

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Winter Walk

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Walk with me on a sunny January day in the Rocky Mountains.

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Contemplate a place to meditate next to the creek. Think of spring when iris blooms over the grave on the slope. Think of summer when you sway in the hammock strung between the trees.

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Spy on unwary quail that live beneath snow and branches.

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Discover a chickadee’s pantry where it has stashed seeds from your feeder.

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Let it show you how it cracks a black sunflower seed open for lunch.

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Wonder if it was a fox or cat that left its tracks along the creek, up the hill,

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beneath the pine, across the field, over the show covered chair, under the Elderberry brush,

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across the puddle (those are my show shoe tracks next to the animal trail), between strands of barbed wire,

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into the forest.

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Breathe deeply along the creek.

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Feel like you are being watched.

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Take your time knowing a pair of Red Breasted Nut Hatches.

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Catch a bubble and float away.

 

Weekly Photo Challenge:  Optimistic

 

 

strike

Strike

Sudden blow     bundle of muscles and feathers

A swift  punch                   a severe and  unexpected calamity

How I wish to collide violently with myself

The shock of the strike                  the assault or unexpected injury

Impact with vehement feeling or expression

Shoved in my mouth

When an electric current passes through all or part of the body

a talon in the chest wall                 stammering heartbeat

to create strong internal stress

A claw in the heart          limp corpse in the hand

And what is myself without wings

A means or instrument of flight, travel, or progress

Will you collide violently with me

Will you inflict a harmful and obsessive influence on the mind

Shove my blood into your mouth

A bundle              unwrapped and uninvited

The shock            jar          impact                 

Collapse

Strong blow to the sense of decency

And I want to root for the Beast

For it must live by plunder

Taken by robbery, theft, or fraud

It knows no other way                   seized and devoured

 

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About this poem

This morning I heard a bird hit the window. I looked for it and saw this hawk tangled with its prey in the deer netting strung around my garden. My camera was upstairs in the loft. I got two quick shots, then ran downstairs to get closer. When it heard me on the deck it had recovered, was resting, and then alarmed by me it flew away into the pines with its prey. I can’t tell if it took a quail or jay until I snow shoe to the scene and look for feathers. A jay and a pair of nuthatches in the pine were telling me all about the excitement.

I opened my e-mail and read the Poem a Day sent from Poets.org. Today’s poem is a new format for me, it introduced me to invoking and intervening using dictionary definitions in the text. Definitions are set off in italics. The inspriration came to me from here.

The predator and the daily poem, they just seemed to belong together and so inspired me to create this composition.

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Look below the branch this nuthatch is on and left of the trunk. It’s mate is peeking out.

A mind of winter

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Nut Hatch Near Winter Nest, looking over its shoulder at mate in trunk

The Snow Man,

by Wallace Stevens

One must have a mind of winter to regard the frost and the boughs of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

and have been cold a long time to behold the junipers shagged with ice, the spruces rough in the distant glitter

of the January sun; and not to think of any misery in the sound of the wind, in the sound of a few leaves,

which is the sound of the land full of the same wind that is blowing in the same bare place

for the listener, who listens in the snow, and, nothing himself, beholds nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.

 

Emptiness; Not even nothing exists

When your spirit is not in the least clouded, then the clouds of bewilderment clear away, there is the true void. – (Masashi 1974, 95)

from Simple Zen, A Guide To Living Moment By Moment by C. Alexander Simpkins Ph. D. & Annellen Simpkins Ph. D.

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Grid

This was the first day out of the nest for this fledgling wren last June. The large grid keeps range cows outside my garden. The mesh raises the height, keeping deer from jumping over the fence or poking their noses through to get into the goods. Birds never ever get stuck in the net. They always find their way under or over it. Takes some a little longer than others.

More fledgling photos of sibling wren and barred owl.

Weekly photo challenge:  GRID.

Mullein Meal

Landscaping to attract nature is not particularly challenging when you live in an ecotone where forest meets field in rural Idaho. Ecotones, the spaces where two environments transition into each other, are rich in diversity. These areas provide for more wild life than either zone on its own. Native Mullein grows readily in disturbed ground here and when this set planted themselves in my new vegetable garden I wanted to see how they would flourish. The fence is about 5 feeet tall so you can see how large these mulleins grew in top soil we brought up from the riverside. I didn’t expect to see this White-headed Woodpecker searching for insects that inhabit the flower stems. It worked over these plants for several days, as well as a stand of them along our gravel road.

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Designing my yard and garden to attract interesting birds and pollinators in the Rockies means promoting plants that attract these animals while resisting damage from deer, ground rodents, range cattle, and drought. Mullein is a sound choice that does all that and it’s a intriguing flower to watch develop. It’s super easy to grow and you’ll see it spring up in dry fields like a weed. These pictured grew as volunteers, but I have dug up the first year plants, the leaf sets, and successfully transplanted them. They build flower stalks their second year. This a fabulous plant for children’s gardens where they can feel the soft fuzzy leaves. Plus mullein is a wonder plant for respiratory problems and many other health issues. I dry the leaves in fall and make tea when my allergies attack.

If you don’t have access to the plant where you live, contact me and I’ll send you some seeds free. If you can find the plant try getting seeds from the flower stem and planting them in fall or transplant a first year root.

Pecking Order

Crowded out of the nest, the usual sibling pecking order of fledglings, this little house wren found it’s first perch in the garden below. It surveyed its world outside the nest and later with a parent’s coaching, flew to refuge beneath a set of 4 large mullein, and then into the Elderberry bush to its new home. Three more fledglings left the nest a couple of days later. Or did this little birdy run away from the nest? Children have a way of knowing when to leave home whether by their own push or that of another. Hovering around Summer Solstice days, I just lost count of the new fledglings of many kinds of birds at our feeder. But I took all the new baby photos I could and you can see them in a future post.

wren 2 wren 3 wren 4

wren 1

Downy Phantom

owl fledgeling

Perched on splintered stump of silvery tree,

downy phantom

always, always watching me.

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Barred Owl feldgling, first day out of its nest. It was still there 2 hours later. Barred owls are often out in day time. I was hunting morel mushrooms, walking along with my head down, looking at the ground. I smelled a cougar and got the clue I should look up once in a while. Directly in front of me at a distance this fledgling had been watching me. I never saw the cougar, or the parent owls or the nest. Only 1 morel in the bag and that’s OK, for this day.

With great respect for baby wildlife I put my 2 German Shepherds in the van, made my photos in a little time, and left. I got pretty close but I didn’t want to scare the fledgling. Never take one home. They don’t need rescue and they are not intended to be pets. Fledglings seem pretty stupid, or extremely inexperienced. I hope it lived through the night. Great Horned Owls at my home spend months feeding and training their young in the art of hunting so I hope this one has a parent looking after it, too.

owl sweet face

Nuthatch houses

As I walked to the back of the house to get a wheelbarrow today I heard a familiar yank-yank call from one of three birdhouses attached to the east wall. A tiny Red-breasted Nuthatch was examining the little house made from a small tree trunk. I went back into the house for my point & shoot and it flew to another birdhouse on the side of the garage.

nuthatch at birdhouse

My Olympus FE-20 is conveniently small and flat, fits neatly in a pocket. But it has no view finder. It’s nearly impossible to see the image on the screen so I maximized the telephoto and pointed and shot, hoping for the best.

nuthatch on bird house roof

The Nuthatch checked out each of the 5 bird houses on the garage wall but I wasn’t able to get pictures of it at each one. See the towering Ponderosa Pine on the north side behind our home? That’s where the Nuthatch spends most of its time. It’s been pecking all around our house to get at bugs for more than a month.

5 birdhouses on garage

Three more bird houses are attached beneath the balcony at the back of our house, facing north. Maybe the Nuthatch pecked at the opening to get at insects inside, or maybe to get a better entrance for caching its food supply within. Maybe it was another animal, though. Red-breasted Nuthatches would rather burrow up to 8 inches into a dead tree than inhabit a birdhouse. We’ll see about this one.

pecked hole in bird house

The bird flitted to the big Elderberry bush east of the garage ocassionally. It kept calling its yank-yank and another echoed its call from the woods at the creek. I slipped my little camera into the chest pocket of my overalls and went about my business in the sunny garden on the south of the house, spreading a bale of damp decaying straw over strawberries, grapes, herbs, and bare ground to prevent early growth and inhibit weeds.

nuthatch in elderberry

More about the bird

You can find out more about the Red-breasted Nuthatch from http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/red-breasted_nuthatch/lifehistory.

About the bird houses

The birdhouses were made by a man who lives on the Sol Duc River near Forks, Washington on the North Olympic Peninsula. He builds them, his sister paints them, and they set them in an unattended kiosk by the highway with a lock box to drop in your $5. I’ve collected them and given many as gifts over the years.

Stream stroll and scale

I saw frog eggs in our creek about 10 – 14 days ago but doubted my observation. It seemed too early, snow still on the ground. Big rains came and the creek rushed and flooded. Today I took a stream walk to see if I could find those eggs. I guess they’ve washed down stream in the runoff. But look what I found along side the stream! I used my walking poles, old ski poles, to scale the wildlife for you. I wasn’t planning to participate in this week’s photo challenge: scale https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_photo_challenge/scale/ but it just became obvious as I walked along.

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I think I saw a toad, but it sort of looks like a frog. What do you think? Anyone know what kind of mold that is growing inside the entrance to a large rodent burrow? It’s about the size of a tennis ball. I think it’s growing on a chunk of scat. I put the small camera inside the hole to make the picture. Click on any picture in the slide show to get a closer look.

Winter sunflowers

If I had to choose a religion, the sun as the universal giver of life would be my god.- Napoleon Bonaparte 

Many world cultures have recognized the power of the sun. I don’t claim the sun as my religion but I choose to live where I can see the sun and blue skies more than grey clouds. It’s my blog name, Sky Blue Daze. On this winter day, shadowed by snow clouds and fog, oily black seeds grown from last summer’s sun feed American Gold Finches.

I dried sunflowers at the end of summer and today I attached some to a wild cherry branch near my bird feeder. Even while I was twisting a pipe cleaner around a twig to secure a stem, an early bird began eating from a seed head I had placed above me! The cherry branch attached to the deck rail provides a perch, attracting and keeping birds longer at the feeder. Evening Gross Beaks have dominated the feeder for about a week and I wanted to provide the finches and Oregon Juncos another chance to get some seeds. The Juncos prefer seeds on the ground so I cleared snow off the deck and scatter seeds there. They fluttered to the branches of sunflower heads anyway, checked them out, then left them for the finches.

I know the birds get wild seeds. I like that I grew the sunflowers from the sun, the universal giver of life, and now I can share them with animals this winter. It’s a way I can participate in nature.

More about the cherry branch with Buddha is in this post. https://skybluedaze.wordpress.com/2015/01/05/no-mistake/

This post uses the Weekly Photo Challenge: Shadowed. It’s not my best idea for the theme, but while we live shadowed from seeing the sun, it’s my shot for the week. Once I had the sunflowers on the branch the response from the birds urged me to sit calmly on a wet deck chair and photography them. The birds don’t stick around for much movement from the photographer. I hope to get better at getting close to wildlife and making some interesting images. For more about this week’s theme and to see how other bloggers used “shadowed” click here. https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_photo_challenge/shadowed/

No mistake

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New snow falls atop the old. If there is nothing new in the universe, how come each individual snow flake is unique in it’s shape? I am not certain there is nothing new in the universe but I feel quite sure there are no mistakes. I contemplated the idea of “new” in https://skybluedaze.wordpress.com/2015/01/03/new-roots/.

Pretty poor light for photography but the dull winter day prompts me to explore my old Adobe Photoshop CS4 again. I saved a copy of each change I made as I reviewed the Adjustments menu. I’m looking for a happy accident. I’m looking for a mistake made into art. I’m looking for opportunities to experience my 2015 goal: make mistakes.

“Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made
before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it
isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.” Neil Gaiman

Here’s a link to the complete quote. It’s in my sidebar under “Quotes”, too.  https://skybluedaze.wordpress.com/type/quote/

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “New.”