Tag Archives: nature

Variations on a Theme: Beach Stones

 

 

Found art on Ediz Hook, Port Angeles, WA

 

News Years Day 2018 gathering stepping stones on Island Bar, Salmon River, near Riggins, Idaho

 

Stepping stone garden path in Cascade, Idaho. A small urban park for relaxing

I’ve been collecting beach rocks, as flat as I can find them, for years. Some already surround small gardens or make stepping places out of mud at the bottom of deck steps. Some are waiting to be placed in just the right spot or pathway in new gardens.

Weekly Photo Challenge:  Variations on a Theme

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Delila state of mind

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They always said DeLila daydreamed too much; she needed to pay attention to her work.

They always said DeLila was rather spacey . . . drifty . . . flighty . . .

Some said DeLila’s imagination was too fantastic; she wasn’t grounded in reality.

One said DeLila would never amount to much.

Another said she was likely to one day just flit away and never come back.

You know what, that’s just what she did.

 

Weekly Photo Challenge:  State of Mind and reposted today for Magic. I wish more people would, if just for a portion of their day, use a state of mind more like DeLila, who I invented here. We could just pop ourselves into a bubble and let the breeze carry us somewhere else. I have no doubt many bloggers practice this way nonetheless. I used this photo recently in another post but it felt appropriate for this week’s challenge. I love the weekly challenges, I ponder them all week and look at my world through a different lens because of the themes.

By the way, after I composed this flash fiction I made a quick internet search for the name Delila which I chose for no good reason. I found this story and songs of Delila, a Kurdish song writer, drummer, protester, warrior woman who was killed by a Turkish soldier. She was not at all like the character I invented here. Her music is delightful and mesmerizing, though I don’t understand the lanuage of her lyrics. 

 

Pollinator Partners

 

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Celebrate National Pollinator Week, June 20 – 26, 2016!

I registered my gardens in the Million Pollinator Gardens Challenge. I’m on the map now as “Syringa Hill Farm” at Glendale, Idaho. Registering my garden means simply that I am one in a million gardeners who grows one or more plants that attract pollinators like butterflies, honey bees, bumble bees, bats, humming birds, lizards or any of a number of animals that pollinate flowers. I have several gardens, each a little different from the others. What blooms at my place has to withstand serious summer heat, winter cold and snow, and attacks from rodents that live underground and above ground, and occasionally range cattle and deer when they can get over or through the fence. Wildflowers do well! Having 8 acres, I used to garden on the deck before we fenced out range cattle and deer. Deer tracks in wet soil beneath our new Autumn Blaze maple a few mornings ago warn me that I still need to put up deer net to extend my fence higher than they want to jump.

Just some of the stable plants that I can grow easily here, and on which I’ve seen pollinators include:

bright geraniums

verbena

herbs: comfrey, cat nip and cat mint, sweet marjoram, thyme, oregano, sage, borage

mustard

arugula

squash

any garden food that blooms when I let it go to seed

“Pinks” and Jacob’s Coat roses

lavender

sunflowers

elderberry

wild cherry

How wonderful! As I’m writing this two black chinned humming birds are exploring potted flowers on my deck. I didn’t bring out my camera and the cat is on her harness nearby so I have to keep my eye on the situation. One way I assure more birds in my gardens is to keep the cat tethered. She has a long enough lead but I have to find strategic places to let her enjoy the outdoors considering our predators, including her, and the food chain when we live with wildlife! Just perfect!

You can register your garden here or  here to join the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge, too. Do it! You get to display their enchanting logo on your blog and help spread the word about making pollinator friendly gardens and farms. Even one sole flower counts.

You can find out more about growing pollinator gardens and get lovely posters and wall paper and education materials at the websites below.

*Pollinators Home Page: US Fish and Wildlife Service  https://www.fws.gov/pollinators/Index.html

*Million Pollinators Garden website      http://millionpollinatorgardens.org/

*U. S. Forest Service: posters, wall paper, and many resources about wildflowers, native plants, ethnobotany and much more. Gorgeous posters of wildflowers, ferns, bees, grasslands, forests, and other pollinator partners. You can get some free and others you can download the pdf. and print them yourself.           http://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/features/posters.shtml 

There are many more websites if you just google “pollinator partners”. Please send me a photo of a flower or garden you grow or find that attracts pollinators. Use the comments below to post them. And please register your garden in the challenge! I’d love to see it! You don’t have to garden in the US to register. My badge is way down at the bottom of my right sidebar. Scroll down to see it.

Weekly Photo Challenge:  Partners

 

Summer Solstice

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Watercolor printed on tiles by Lauren McCarter

Summer Solstice by Carrie Richards

This was when the whole world measured time
This is when the light would turn around

This is where the past would come undone
and the spinning earth will mark a new beginning
Let’s go back in time, to when it all began

To the breaking of new dawns
Where moments bright with fire, would light the chanting song
Where pagans worshipped sun, and danced among the trees Wore strange masks of covered straw, and blessed cold ash with awe Wreaths hung upon the door against all spirit’s, dire
and when the winter’s grasp let go, the sun reversed the pyre
This was when the whole world measured time
This is when the light would turn around So that spring arrives, and seeds will sprout and grow
Oh, radiant sun, stretch the day, shorten night
Return earth’s darkness into light
This is where the light will turn around
And this was where the past has comes undone

 

Lauren McCarter is a watercolor artist living in Boise, Idaho. She generously gifted this art piece to me at a time when I needed a boost. Thank you, Lauren!

 

Dear Spinning Planet

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Eastern Tiger Swallow Tail feeding on Comfrey

Dear Spinning Planet,

Thanks for turning me upside down these couple of weeks. All in all, it’s good to go topsy-turvy now and then and look at the  nature of life from the flip side. It gives me an angle to see that I am only a small part of nature. I’m not alone in going upside down to find my provisions. Misery and providence, isn’t that the point Mr. Hugo wanted to make?

So my kid’s in jail and I won’t go her bail and she gets herself out soon enough – yet again. And it’s the blame game – yet again.

So 4 friends die or have memorials in as many days and I can’t get to all of them. I feel like a refugee trying to keep my balance as they all fall down.

So my van gets clobbered by a hit and run driver after one of the memorials.

So my old rescue dog gets attacked by a pack of 3 pit bulls and when I give her permission she clobbers them well enough to give a slight window of time so their owner can pull the lead dog away with many bites to his arms. And the gang follows the leader. We make our get away escaping the unrealized massacre.

So he apologizes lavishly yet denies that more than one dog was attacking and we will let the judge hear us and decide. And that’s a big disruption in my schedule. And it’s what a multitude of residents and dog owners ask me to go through. And I will.

And I discover I belong with a local, national, and international community  that supports me in more abundance than I would have felt had I not tumbled over in this short avalanche of unfortunate events.

Now, tell me, Spinning Planet, that you will relax for a while and steady the current just for me so I can regain my harmony and shift my attention to the butterflies who have arrived in my gardens and the mule deer in my back yard who gave birth to twins just here and now. I still have strength to peer through disorder and flow with nature. And I remember that I am only a small thing, all in all.

Very sincerely yours,

me

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Central Bumble Bee on Comfrey
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Mama mule deer with twins to the right of the pine trees

 

About Eastern Tiger Swallow Tail

About comfrey here and here

About bumble bees and other pollinators here and  here 

About mule deer

 

 

 

 

Welcome Vole Patrol

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A narrow fellow in the grass
Occasionally rides;
You may have met him—did you not
His notice sudden is,
The grass divides as with a comb,
A spotted shaft is seen,
And then it closes at your feet,
And opens further on.
He likes a boggy acre,
A floor too cool for corn,
But when a boy and barefoot,
I more than once at noon
Have passed, I thought, a whip lash,
Unbraiding in the sun,
When stooping to secure it,
It wrinkled and was gone.
Several of nature’s people
I know, and they know me;
I feel for them a transport
Of cordiality.
But never met this fellow,
Attended or alone,
Without a tighter breathing,
And zero at the bone.
“A Narrow Fellow in the Grass”  by Emily Dickinson
This poem hangs on my bathroom wall honoring our resident snakes who defend our land from voles and mice. This morning our cat hunted insects along side our house where grass grows taller in a shallow gulley shaped by snow melt and rain dripping off our roof. I chanced to catch her studying a sleek Yellow Bellied Brown Racer, the first snake we’ve seen on our property this year. True to it’s name, all I saw at first was a whip lash as it sped to a safe corner and tried to hide behind tall catnip. Such a beautiful light brown skin and soft yellow belly. We looked each other over, then I walked away. We also have Blue Racers, generally bigger, and I bet I’ll see one soon.
I tell the truth, I did not make these images. I found them in an image search. I was more interested in mowing down long grass this morning, for good reason.
Hey, WordPress bloggers, have you had this problem where the draft looks spaced nicely with extra lines between stanzas of paragraphs but it posts with no spaces between each? I think it’s a WordPress thing just for now. I hope I can edit it later to put in white space where I intended. Any ideas, I’d appreciate them.

Forest foraging

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Forest foraging today provided spicy watercress (Nasturtium officianale) and sweet yellow avalanche lily (Erythronium grandiflorum – Pursh) to lively up my salad. Though I was seeking illusive morel mushrooms, I found other delicious and nutritious plants to harvest on my spring trek. I grazed as I hiked and brought home a small harvest to embellish tonight’s salad.

5 things to know about Nasturtium officianale

  • It’s related to mustard greens, cabbage, and arugula and tastes spicy like them.
  • It keeps well a few days submerged in water and stored in the fridge.
  • Modern science has identified more than 15 essential vitamins and minerals contained in this one herb – more iron than spinach, more calcium than milk, and more vitamin C than oranges.
  • It is known for preventing or treating cancer.
  • Vitamin K is by far the most prominent nutrient in watercress, with 312% of the daily recommended value. It forms and strengthens the bones and limits neuronal damage in the brain, which is helpful in treating Alzheimer’s disease.

5 things to know about Erythronium grandiflorum – Pursh

  • Since it often appears at the edge of receding snow banks it is often called snow lily, glacier lily, yellow avalanche-lily,  and it’s known as dogtooth violet, trout lily, and fawn lily. People who live in my community call it deer tongue but that is more often used for a different wild flower.
  • It’s related to the Lily family and it’s stamens can be white, yellow, or red. Usually all the flowers in a patch have the same color stamens.
  • You can eat the flower, seeds, and bulbs. Leaves are edible, too, but only eaten in emergencies as bulbs need the leaves to provide nutrients to sustain the plant.
  • This edible wildflower grows in western Canada and U. S., especially in the Rocky Mountains.
  • Elk and deer relish the foliage. Grizzly bears and black bears use their claws to comb through the soil unearthing the nutritious bulbs.

More posts about edible wild foods are here and here.

Weekly Photo Challenge: dinnertime

 

Edible Incredible!

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avalanche lily, sweet flowers fresh or in salad
blue violas
wild viola flowers in salad
emerging morel
emerging morel, saute in butter
dig in morel
almost through the forest floor
Trilium parasol
Morels are often found beneath trillium parasols (blossoms are gone on this one).           Don’t eat trilliums
camus
Camus roots are extremely high in protein
emerging coral
coral fungus just pushing through forest duff, saute in butter or dry and grind for soup stock

I love spring forage in the Rocky Mountains!

Weekly Photo Challenge:  dinnertime!

Sky Rise

Today’s post features photographer Shane Felton who created all these photos. Shane keeps his eyes on the sunrises and skylines in the Rocky Mountains, especially Idaho and Montana where we say we have Big Sky.

“What is the good of your stars and trees, your sunrise and the wind, if they do not enter into our daily lives?” E. M. Forster

Montana Sunset adjusted and cropped

“Yesterday and tomorrow cross and mix on the skyline. The two are lost in a purple haze. One forgets, one waits.”  Carl Sandburg

Boise skyline adjusted

“People are like cities: We all have alleys and gardens and secret rooftops and places where daisies sprout between the sidewalk cracks, but most of the time all we let each other see is is a postcard glimpse of a skyline or a polished square. Love lets you find those hidden places in another person, even the ones they didn’t know were there, even the ones they wouldn’t have thought to call beautiful themselves.”
Hilary T. Smith

 

sky texturebright sunrise on citystadium sunrise

“It agitates me that the skyline there is forever our limit, I long for the power of unlimited vision…If I could behold all I imagine.”
Charlotte Brontë

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“On the morrow the horizon was covered with clouds- a thick and impenetrable curtain between earth and sky, which unhappily extended as far as the Rocky Mountains. It was a fatality!” Jules Verne

blue shapes

“You cannot, in human experience, rush into the light. You have to go through the twilight into the broadening day before the noon comes and the full sun is upon the landscape.”  Woodrow Wilson

hello moon

“For most people, we often marvel at the beauty of a sunrise or the magnificence of a full moon, but it is impossible to fathom the magnitude of the universe that surrounds us.” Richard H. Baker

“Get outside. Watch the sunrise. Watch the sunset. How does that make you feel? Does it make you feel big or tiny? Because there’s something good about feeling both.” Amy Grant

A message from the artist, Shane Felton. “I first started taking photos on a self retreat north of Garden Valley. Just me and a store bought instant camera (remember those anyone?). I had realized after a couple hunting trips I loved the hunt of big game, however I was not capable of shooting any creature with my rifle. I decided to try with the lens. I had about the same luck either way. Now photography is almost easy. My “phone” takes as good a picture as the nice digital camera my kids gave me for Christmas 5 years ago! I tend now to picture things many would consider beautiful, (a sunrise), but also those that most take for granted, the rise of a $250 million building, or quail tracks in fresh snow. In one of these sunrise pictures I actually intended the reflection. I think I’m just beginning.”

Blogger’s Note. As I study Shane’s photos I am struck by his awareness of sky and skyline and emerging light at that time of day when the sky and natural or built landscapes transform from darkness to light of day; that twilight time in the cool early morning. He presents us with a palette of hues that sometimes look as if they have been glazed in pastels, warmth with sunlight rising and cools from night lingering. Thanks for sharing your photographs Shane!

Please leave comments for Shane! He will appreciate your feedback. 

Weekly Photo Challenges:  Landscape; Future; State or Mind; Time.

Dragon Season

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Dragon Rock emerges from winter rest
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Dragon Kite created by me

It’s February, a season for dragons. We dug up this rock last summer when we planted the maple tree. I think it looks like a dragon’s face. I’ve watched it in summer, fall, and then lost it in winter. It gradually reveals itself as snow melts. Is it a coincidence the props manager for this season’s children’s theater  asked me to make 5 kites, and one must be a Chinese dragon? I don’t think so! I must need dragons this season. They’re here.

Chinese dragons are useful and powerful. Most live in water. Our creek has been running nearly all winter, so unusual. I can hear it from the house though it flows through the culvert beneath our drive with room to spare. Did a dragon bring this on? (I don’t think so.) Dragons bring rain, and probably snow, that’s needed for irrigation and they can prevent floods or stop them. “It is said that the dragon is a large-scaled reptile, which can become dark or bright, large or small, long or short, and fly into the sky in the spring and live underwater in the fall.” Perhaps my rock, which was buried all these years, has lived under snow all winter, a frozen form of water. Maybe it wants us to move it to the creek. We can do that. Fabulous Husband is just waiting for another tractor landscaping project, no doubt.

I welcome the strength of Chinese dragons this season as snow melts and spring appears. “The Chinese dragon symbolizes power and excellence, valiancy and boldness, heroism and perseverance, nobility and divinity. A dragon overcomes obstacles to achieve success. He is energetic, decisive, optimistic, intelligent and ambitious.

Unlike the evil energies associated with Western dragons, most Eastern dragons are beautiful, friendly and wise. They are the angels of the Orient. Instead of being hated, they are loved and worshipped.” Here is a fascinating site about Chinese dragons. For now, I’ll consider the dragons emerging in my life as donors of some powers I need now, or soon will.

 I will show the other 4 kites when I get their photos. I turned them into the props manager before I photographed them. One of the kites I painted after a Georgia O’Keeffe flower. It didn’t look like it fit with the rest. You can see that kite here before I painted over it.

I learned how to draw a dragon here and here. I cut a worn sheet and painted the kites with acrylics. I used wood dowels and string for the frame and then attached the kites to the frame with duct tape, the wonder tool. I found simple instructions for making a kite here. I hope they really will fly when I get them back after the play.

This is my response to the weekly photo challenge: seasons. Share an image evocative of the weather or represent the current “season of your life” in metaphor.

 

Tug the web

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“Stories are webs, interconnected strand to strand, and you follow each story to the center, because the center is the end. Each person (character) is a strand of story.”       Neil Gaiman in Anansi Boys

Deep inside Neil’s novel, I realize he’s writing about story making, he employs meta story technique. Meta story is one story embedded within another or a story about stories themselves, among other definitions. Anansi Boys is a story about stories. Remember its’ been said that all stories are Anansi’s, even though Tiger claims they were his first. It’s one thing I love about Neil’s writing, he’s telling a story and talking about telling the story, too. I’ve practiced metapoetry in this post and now I’m liking the idea of writing with meta story and using it in a braided essay.

“There is an old saying that a giant web, like a spider’s web, connects everything in life. We humans tend to forget about it and act out of ignorance of it. Yet, when a true storyteller begins, it is as if the web has been tugged on and we feel its presence again.”        Susan Strauss in The Passionate Fact:  Storytelling in Natural History and Cultural Interpretation.

 

I’ve been challenged by incahootswithmuddyboots to the 3 Day Quote Challenge. Check out her blog. Impressive photographs! Her image of a spider on its web is much more impactful than mine! It’s in her slide show low on the post.

The rules to this challenge are:

  • Post on 3 consecutive days
  • Post one to three quotes per day
  • Challenge three different bloggers each day

Today I nominate these bloggers for the 3 Day Quote challenge. Check out their blogs!

https://brucekthiesen.wordpress.com/     This should be a snap for you, Bruce. I see quotes in so many of your posts.

https://cybeleshineblog.wordpress.com/     Dune Mouse is one heck of a story teller and a darned good photographer.

https://bythebriny.wordpress.com/     I just can’t get enough of Salal Studio’s Gulf Islands photography.

 

Vibrant

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Full Image

This week’s photo challenge is VIBRANT:  (adjective) full of energy and enthusiasm; quivering; pulsating; (of color) bright and striking.

I made this photo last April at Palouse Falls, Washington near Washtucna and Pullman, and Moscow and  Lewiston in Idaho. Below I cropped the image two ways for different looks. I think I still like the full image best. What do you think?

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Cropped 1

I took out that glaring bright rock face on the right. I need to learn to dodge and burn in Creative Suite. I was just not able to bring out the texture I know is in the data.

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Cropped 2

In this crop I took off the left side to give more attention to the rainbow and the contrasts in the image.

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Palouse Falls is magnificent. This rainbow attracted me almost as much. For the close up photo I used for the challenge, I moved to another perspective, and of course zoomed in. You can see more bloggers’ vibrant photos and join the challenge here.

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.

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