Saturday, December 22, 2007

Carolina Chickadee

Today when I went out to fill up the bird feeders, I heard the call of the chickadee and knew they were close by. I stopped in my tracks and gave a quick visual search through my neighbors shrubs. There were two of them right in front of me. I've spotted them at my feeders before but not very often. They are usually in and out so quick, I wasn't even 100% sure that I was really seeing a chickadee. I was so excited, I immediately went back inside to get my camera.
Carolina Chickadee
Chickadees are known for being very bold little birds and these two were no exception. I stood in place, raised my camera, and within a few minutes they came to the feeder, giving me an opportunity to photograph them. Of course, anyone who has seen chickadees eat, know this was no easy task. They are so fast! When using my camera flash there is a slight delay, which isn't a good thing when trying to photograph them. I had to erase quite a few pictures of my bird feeder without the bird.
Carolina Chickade

Female Downy Woodpecker
The woodpecker and goldfinch were also brave and continued to eat even though I was nearby.

Female Downy Woodpecker
I hope once the sparrows and starlings find another home that I'll get to see more of these little guys. I removed the feeder that the sparrows liked best; they tended to scatter and waste a lot of seed from that particular feeder. Now I only have the tube feeders and I've already noticed a difference.
Female Downy Woodpecker
I also noticed while I was out that I obviously had a larger creature visiting my yard, because I saw two large piles of pellets. I can't imagine a rabbit leaving that much poop, unless there were two very large rabbits . What other creature leaves large piles of pellet droppings like that? (Aren't you glad there isn't a picture? ) I'm a little concerned since I have a curious dog with strange taste buds. I actually did some internet searching on this to try and find some pictures of "scat" to identify what animal left it. I actually did find pictures, but I'm still stumped. Isn't it amazing what you can find on the internet?

Monday, December 17, 2007

Bird Watching

I have four windows across the back wall of my family room and I spent a lot of time yesterday sitting or standing in front of the windows birdwatching while the guys watched football. I've discovered that when it snows the birds flock to my feeders. My yard was covered in birds most of the day. I saw the blue jay only once and took this picture from the kitchen window.

The mourning doves were all fluffed out and trying to stay warm.

Out on a Limb
~Out on a Limb~

I was a little concerned about the mourning dove on the icy limb, I thought for sure a gust of wind would break the limb, or bounce the dove right off.

I love the way the feathers look when they do this.

The starlings have become a nuisance at my feeders. They keep multiplying in number, are taking over and running off the more mild mannered birds. They love to eat anything and everything and they are quite loud.

This one liked the suet feeder and when it wasn't eating it just sat there looking in the window.

Where is that Cooper when you need it?

On thin ice
It was quite funny at times watching the birds trying to maneuver on the icy limbs. This woodpecker was trying its best to hang on but.......

it just couldn't do it and slid all the way down the limb.

~Woodpecker in Action~

The suet was coated with a layer of ice and snow. The next time we're expecting overnight weather like this I'll take the feeders to the garage and hang them out in the morning.

I now have the male and female downy as regular visitors.


finch peeping Tom
It was quite amusing to watch the finches looking in the window. I was sitting right in front of the window too and I'm sure they could see me. We don't have a window ledge so it was no easy task for them to do this.


gold finch

My other two sock feeders were completely covered with a thick layer of ice, I had just bought this one a few days ago and was very glad I had it on hand. I put it right in front of the window and as you can see, it was a big hit with the goldfinches.

This funny finch went down the whole length of the window drinking the water droplets from the window. This was the only time I saw it doing this. The other times they would just sit in one spot, as if they were trying to look inside.

frozen food
~Frozen Food~

I brought the feeders inside and placed them in front of the heater to let them thaw.

Today there seemed to be even more starlings and sparrows at the feeders. Thankfully, they finished off the cheap seed, (which isn't really that cheap), and I will only buy sunflower seeds for the regular feeders from now on. No more cheap seeds for me. I've learned my lesson. Hopefully this will diminish the sparrow and starling population at Robin's Nesting Place.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Winter Storm

The freshly fallen snow was beautiful this morning, but the ice on the plants was even more beautiful to me during the brief time the sun came out. It was very windy though, with gusts of up to 40 mph. I don't think anything was damaged from the ice, but several times I held my breath as the ice covered branches crashed together. It actually sounds pretty hearing the iced branches and grass hitting together, very much like wind chimes.

There were so many differing snow accumulation predictions yesterday, it was difficult to know what to expect. Thankfully though, as I said before, we were on the low side of the predicted amounts.

View across the street.

icy sparkles
During a short period of time today the sun came out and I can't even describe with words the beauty I beheld. The pictures also don't capture the magnificent beauty. The wind was blowing so these pictures aren't clear, but you can see how the ice sparkles on the branches. The shiny spots on the pictures, were glistening with color reflected from the sun. It rivaled the beauty of the frozen fog.
icy sparkles

The Japanese Maple, covered in ice.

The birdbath was covered with snow and ice.

snow capped echinacea
Snow capped echinacea.

Japanese Maple in Ice
The only leaves left on the Japanese maple, now encased in ice.

I love the way grass looks in snow. These are directly across the street from me.

It was nice not having to get out in the snow and ice, and we enjoyed our day of rest together. I had so much fun birdwatching today and have quite a few of those pictures that I'll post tomorrow. I'm beginning to enjoy winter more, but hearing my parents talk about how warm it is back home in Alabama, makes me just a little homesick.

Cardinal and the Cooper

Today we woke up to about six or seven inches of snow. Thankfully it was on the low side of what was predicted. I've had a wonderful time bird watching this morning and have quite a few pictures to share but I wanted to do these first. My feeders were all covered with solid sheets of ice, yet my yard was full of birds. Many of them were coming to the suet feeder which is right at my window, since it was less frozen than the rest. I couldn't believe it when this female cardinal landed right on the feeder. She was literally within a few feet of me. I wish my windows had been clear but they were splattered with snow and sleet. Shortly after this, I opened this window and cleaned it well.
Cooper's Hawk with Catch
I've sat at the windows most of the morning, drinking coffee and watching the birds trying to maneuver the frozen bird feeders and the ice on the branches. At times this has been quite funny to see. I was standing right in front of the window, when I saw this Cooper's hawk quickly swoop right by my feeder, it didn't even slow down. It flew out of my sight for a just few seconds and came right back with this starling in its talons, landing just a few feet from the feeder where it caught its prey.
Cooper's Hawk with Catch
I wanted to get a better picture and slowly began to open the window, it must have heard and quickly flew away. Well, at least I didn't have to watch it eat, and I'm sure you all are glad that I didn't have a chance to capture that event in pictures, which I surely would have done, despite the gross factor. It would have been so amazing to photograph a Cooper eating a starling in the snow only a few feet from my house. Yea, it probably is a good thing it flew away.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

December Garden Blogger Bloom Day

Gerbera Daisy
It is snowing as I prepare this Garden Blogger Bloom Day post for December. Some weather computer models are predicting that we may get up to 17 inches of snow before the system moves through.
Gerbera Daisy
While it is wintry outside with nothing but a few pitiful looking pansies in bloom, (now completely covered with snow), inside I still have delightful gerbera daisies with beautiful blooms.

African Daisy
The Osteospermum is covered with blooms, and the plant is healthy and green. Hopefully it will survive the winter, but if not, it was still worth it to bring inside, just to have something else blooming for December GBBD.

African Violet
One bloom on the African violet opened up just in time for the bloom day post.

I had never had an Orchid before and saw this one on clearance at Lowe's a couple of weeks ago.
The lighting in the house isn't that great, especially on cloudy days like today, so I made a light box using PVC, (here is where I got the idea). I draped the box with a white sheet and put several lights around the box. Anyway, it isn't an ideal set up because it looks messy with the sheet showing, but at least the pictures show up. I'll need to practice more using this lighting method.
Peace Lily
The Peace lily has several blooms, (which are difficult for me to photograph).

Early this morning I went out to get a picture of the pansies, which are the only things in bloom outside. As you can see the snow had already begun to fall.

The Christmas cactus dropped the rest of its blooms, so sadly there are none of those to share. I planted the amaryllis just a few days ago, so hopefully those will be in bloom for January GBBD.

I look forward to hopping over to Carol's to see what other garden bloggers have blooming for December.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Another Visit From the Cooper

Cooper's hawk in backyard

Yesterday, while sitting at the computer, I glanced out the window and saw a Cooper's hawk on my patio swing! I had been tossing bird seed on the patio so the birds would come closer and entertain the cat, the dog and the Robin ;) that resides here. We've had quite a few dark-eyed juncos, sparrows and mourning doves eating the seeds from the patio, I guess the Cooper's hawk saw an easy target.

Anyway, I grabbed my camera and before I could get to the window it flew to one of my maple trees. I was so disappointed to have it that close and not get a picture. At least I was able to get one picture through a screened window before it quickly took off.

I spotted the woodpecker at a distance a couple of times today. Now that the snow has melted, the mourning doves and dark-eyed juncos are not as plentiful.

I checked out a few, (eight to be exact), bird books from the library and I've enjoyed reading and learning more about the birds of the Midwest, their dietary habits and the plants to add that will attract them to my backyard.

I bought some cheap peanut butter and spread a little on one of the trees the downy is frequenting. I also made a mixture of peanut butter, Crisco, corn meal, raisins, millet, sunflower seed butter, and shelled safflower seeds. I didn't follow a recipe, I just mixed up what I had on hand and kept adding things to get the consistency I wanted. Hopefully, it will attract a few more birds.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007



It is a nasty rainy day, you know, the kind that zaps your energy and makes you not want to move. So, I'm taking advantage of the low energy and just sitting here playing with Blogger and Adobe Photoshop Elements. I'm trying to figure out how to do the copyright thingy, I've never been very good with using layers on Photoshop.

I'm also contemplating some changes on my blog. I loved the pink template, it was me, and I didn't think I'd ever change it. However, now that I'm using Flickr to upload pictures, they can't be enlarged and with the useless wide pink stripes on the sides of the blog I was limited in the size of pictures I could actually put on the blog. I think with this new look, I can add larger pictures if I want. Anyway, I'll try it for a while and see how I like it.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Cooper's Hawk

Cooper's Hawk

I glanced out the window this afternoon, while I was on the phone with my husband, and didn't see any birds at the feeders. I quickly scanned my yard and my neighbors yard and I spotted the Cooper's Hawk in the neighbor's tree. I asked my husband if I could call him right back because I wanted to try and get a picture of the hawk. Thankfully he is a good sport and understanding of my current blog/photography/birding obsession.
I took a few pictures from the landing window, which didn't turn out well. I was concerned that it would fly away when I opened the patio door but it didn't. I kept taking pictures as I stepped closer and closer to the back of my yard. I didn't get very far before the Cooper's hawk flew away but at least I got a better picture than the ones from inside the house.

I was freezing when I went back inside since there was no time to grab a coat. I made a cup of hot chocolate and promptly called my sweet hubby back.