Autumn and Birds

It’s Autumn now so I need to get the bird feeders setup for the colder months soon.

I have both mixed seeds and black oil sunflower seeds, so I need to see if I have enough useful feeders to keep them both going on the porch this autumn season and winter too.

Over last winter there were Northern Cardinals, Tufted Titmice, Carolina Chickadees, Savannah Sparrows, Carolina Wrens … I love all those birds!

New Bird(s) for us

Yesterday we were looking out the windows in the kitchen. Russell & Victoria were talking about seeing lots of birds in the tree there earlier. Blackbirds of some kind.

Then one appeared through the branches of the tree, and hopped down sort of and then flew away. It was a Gray Catbird. First Sighting of one!

I know what they are, but had never witnessed one anywhere, least here. So that was a nice thing for yesterday.

Otherwise my daughter had said she saw a bird with a crest and a black “mask” but nothing seems to exist in that description with the other parameters she gave me. I hope to see whatever it is she saw, one of these days.

Mockingbird, Mockingbird

Yesterday evening I went outside to see what there was to see. The temperature had gone down and it was rather lovely in the backyard. Our outdoor cats followed me from the front steps to the side and backyard.

I sat on the picnic table and noticed a pair of Norther Mockingbirds actively doing something. For awhile they would fly to the back of the fence, sit there, fly to the front of the fence, near where I was, chirp, fly to the roof of the house next door, back to my fence, to that tree, to another tree, to the fence, flying to the ground here and there to peck, on and on. Early on the one Mockingbird was holding something in it’s beak, grub like. Fat. Didn’t keep it from chirping away, it was funny watching it, never eating it, never dropping it, never going into a tree to a nest to feed young, just flying around with it.

My children streamed out eventually and I was sharing my watchings with my daughter mostly. We dubbed the grub Mockingbird the female, and the other one the Male. The male Mockingbird would root around on the ground and find something small, fly around with it, then go over that routine again and again, seemingly he lost it, or ate it, as he was never out of full view, never went to a nest.

After a bit it was obvious that they wanted something to change. We were sitting there, many feet away from where ever their desire was. Eventually though, the male Mockingbird lived up to his name and started chastising a cat nearby. Chatter, scolding, then every so oven, swooping down … fly by’s, really close. Really close.

Different cats were around, and they mostly all got into the fun. (well, not fun, more for us that them) One cat was happy to partake in the affair. Spooky, the cat that showed up last year, tried to make him a house cat. He’s so cool, calm, big, handsome, truly a panther at heart. House living wasn’t his thing, so we let him back out to his preference. So he would sit over where the Mockingbird was patrolling, get the Mockingbird really upset. Time and again it’d swoop down, nipping the cat on the tail, back, etc.

Sometimes the cat, in fine form, would spring up swipe a paw at the bird, always catching just air. Most of the time he was cool and collected. His swiping moves, were more of the same.

He was under some old dead brush for awhile, depending on where in that stuff he was, he got Mockingbird attention or not. Other cats walked around and got the Mockingbird overexited and when they got the fly-by’s they ran for the hills. Only Spooky stayed firm.

It’s a mystery if he ever catches any. Somebody does, every once in a while. We have a great mass of Mockingbirds here. I don’t want our cats to eat them all, a few is ok, I’ve learned to live with it.

They get mice and rats too. THAT is awesome. So some Mockingbird fun. Just that, fun, training. Enjoyable to the audience.

For the Birds

I haven’t written much of anything lately, mostly because of my baby/toddler (16 mo. old) keeping me busy and away from my laptop, or him away from my laptop (that’s rather the real thing) and also the desktop being a problem now that the baby/toddler is so much more toddler oriented and picking up anything he can get his hands on. We lost a mouse because of him. Bought a new one, and he got hold of it and broke it. In this process of mouse elimination the mouse pad got eliminated somehow, and now we have two other old wireless mice from other use-age, that are in different states of derelictness and sans mousepad, it’s a nightmare to work on the desktop, plus having little hands reach up constantly to pull on what you are doing … I’m in bed right now, with my laptop, and baby is asleep. Usually, as soon as I pull out my laptop in bed, baby wakes up. I’m fortunate today.

I wanted to write about birds this week, and now that I’m actually writing, I’ll make this post about it, briefly.

A few days ago I looked out on the front porch area through the sidelight to see the temperature on the thermometer and saw something moving out of the corner of my eye. I turned and looked and there was a pretty Carolina Wren with a piece of tissue-looking paper in it’s beak. It hopped around and then suddenly another Carolina Wren hopped onto the porch and immediately a male Northern Cardinal flew into the brush right in front of the porch, so I had these three birds super visible right there, where I usually don’t get such a treat of even one bird in view. It had a special quality about it, that event did.

A couple of days ago I was in the kitchen, me and the children were eating and I was actually standing up at the table and saw something out on the Bluebird box, and looked and there was a diminutive woodpecker hanging out.

I got a good look at him to memorize his features, then ran to get my Sibley guide and found that it was a Downy Woodpecker. I had never seen one in my life, and it was really cool to spot one so close in range. Of course I didn’t get any really good photos, my camera wasn’t around, and the other one that was around is a newer little Fuji digital that just doesn’t have the ommph in the bird photo taking department that my old canon digital rebel does. I’ve yet to download the pictures, so we’ll see what I get.

The Downy Woodpecker pecked around the Bluebird box, then got into the box and stayed inside for several minutes, then started peeking out, then finally came out, walked around the box again for a short time, then flew up into the maple tree that’s nearby and was near the top pecking on a branch then suddenly flew away towards the distant line of trees on the other side of the subdivision.

The next day I saw my supposed Eastern Bluebird couple checking out the box. Mr. Bluebird got in for a couple of minutes, while Mrs. Bluebird waited on a branch of the tree. The usual spring/summer sight, as they get ready to build a nest, except right now it’s November. I guess they are keeping tabs on their nest box and knew they’d had a visitor.

It’s noteworthy also that we see Blue Jays around frequently enough, in the front and even in the back more and more. (So many folks say they don’t like Blue Jays, but I think them beautiful and useful birds, feisty sure, but worth having around, and really, really handsome.)

I hadn’t had a decent birding day at home for so long, and I must say, it was a very decent birding week this past week. 🙂

I need to get a big bird feeder, like we used to have in the backyard, until it fell down in a thunderstorm and fell apart in a not worth fixing state. I love seeing the birds come to the feeder in the Winter, and also like supplying them with the food they seek/need. It’s been a few years since I have done so. Birding became a great passion of mine when we moved to this house in 1997. I hadn’t lived anywhere with much bird watching ability in my adult years.

It’s going, but blah

I’m not feeling so swell. All night I felt miserable while I was “supposed” to be asleep, but often am not. I was more miserable than normal. When daylight came and I got out of bed (I ususally, during such nights do sleep a bit right before and after dawn, also sometime earlier in the evening for an hour or two or more, often having waking anywhere between 1 and 5 am or before even.) Not that this should alarm anyone reading, I am officially “a nightowl”, have been since I was more aware of myself. I have memories to when I was Two, and they are vivid, but fuller awareness of self came when I began reading voraciously at age 8. I was a nightowl before that, but became super-aware at that time and know for certain of my nightactivitybrainness from that point on.

Anyhow, I’ve had a scratchy throat the last few days off and on, with it getting moreso persistent the last day or so. I’ve been really stuffy headed too, since when the children exibited illness symptoms. I also equate that with around when the A/C window units were fired up. Not that they are what made us sick, but it’s all co-incidental as well as tied together. The A/C conditions exasperate my allergic or their virus and my allergic/virus symptoms. A/C never has totally alleviated any allergies I get. I’m mostly allergic to molds and dust-ish things, not really cats, they only bother me with fur in my face if I’m already over-the-top symptomatic from something else.

So I’m trying to understand myself with what’s going on, like right now, I felt worse the last hour or so, gratingly scratchy throat, nearly rubbed raw feeling, occassional sneezes, nothing too big. My main allergy is usually sinuses clogging up hard-ish feeling. It’s that pressure behind the eyes, in the forehead, and eventually feeling like you can barely breathe through your nose though there is nothing to blow out with normal nose blowing. Gross, yeah, but that’s the nature of this post, about how I am feeling 🙂

My throat thing is connected to my upper chest area. Yesterday I felt that getting itchy and my voice got rougher for awhile, then it lightened up. Today I felt it begin again. It COULD be connected with virus or allergy AND what’s going on in the weather. Yesterday I felt like that, and then we went out to Costco. On the way down the road, just a few miles, we hit a thunderstorm and a few miles later there was hail in the rain. So that’s a pre-weather event sort of illness from yesterday. Today I feel like this the last hour or so, and Frank just came in all wet. He was mowing the backyard and said upon entering the house “it’s pouring, I mowed for 10 minutes longer once it started to rain.” So there, that’s another tale about weather when I am feeling icky like this. The sky was a bit cloudy earlier, but not looking like rain. I was outside a few times this morning. Since feeling worse I did go outside and noted the heavy dark clouds forming, and so I can say for certain that it SEEMS to be a connection.

I’ve often noted that I love rain and thunderstorms, and feel icky when storms are coming in. I love them emotionally for how they are, but physically they do not make me well. It’s the pressure, no doubt. Low pressure systems do a job on me. My allergies get worse, and I connect that with mold spores. I’ve read that mold spores do burst when low pressure systems go through, at some point. I don’t know the first thing about it past that, but can understand that I have physical evidence in my own life to say there’s something to it for sure.

On a side note here: I love being in the mountains, like when we go to the Smoky Mountains every so often. I always feel better there overall. I still get allergies, sure, but overall I feel better and the allergies aren’t so bad.

It’s not the lack of cats. I feel worse when I go shopping that when I am home. Shopping in stores gets me scratch throated. It fades as I am away from it longer. We did go to stores last night, but only Costco and Harry’s (grocery market), neither of them are the worst offenders to how I feel bad when I go shopping. It’s malls and clothing and furniture stores. It’s enclosed chemical overage I am guessing.

Some hotels are like that for me too. So getting away from home isn’t relief from allergies and sensitivities.

I do have high-sensitivities that I am aware of, and figure into that chemical sensitivities as well. I am a “canary” as in “canary in a coal mine”.

The main point of this post is that I’m not sure what it is with me though, this high scratchy throat and congesting chest feeling that comes and goes. I have gotten like this a couple of other times since we got the A/C, and I thought I was getting sick when the children were, that it was that, but it wasn’t. Odd other times during my life I’ve felt allergies like this, but sometimes it’s not an allergy, viruses do start like this. So I wonder every time it starts, is it a virus or just allergies.

I used to take anti-histamines, but stopped doing that. I’ve had prescriptions before a few times, but don’t do that either. I have over-the-counter Sudafed’ed my stuffy-symptoms with 1/2-doses when it’s bad, not all the time, just when it gets bad.

This leads to the next thing I want to mainly point out: Sudafed gets a bad rap because Meth producers use it to make meth. The last few years have caused Sudafed to be under a microscope in sales departments, and it has gone down the road to be “you can only buy X amount at a time” to now being suddenly we found none on the shelves of the stores last time we got some (very recently) … only a new formula Sudafed PE … which is not what works for me. It’s a one-pill dose of 10mg of whatever version of decongestant it is, but it’s not the ususal “Sudafed”. We found out yesterday at Costco that the “original Sudafed” is still available, but THEY will not be carrying it. Other stores will have it only behind the counter, you have to ask the pharmacy attendant for it and in order to purchase it your vital information must be taken down. Urg.

So it’s just one step from being a controled substance … oh, it really is controlled. It’s not only behind the counter, it’s only sold if you are willing to tell them who you are, where you live, etc. You can’t just go in with cash and buy it. It used to on the shelf, now it’s behind the counter and you must be non-anonymous to get it.

I am not in favour of such things. I am not desirous to use it anymore. I didn’t want to use a drug to get rid of my stuff head. I hate using the stuff, I 1/2 my dosage long ago though, and found it a happy medium to use when I needed to. I know I would prefer a natural alternative, and leaned on the crutch of it’s availability so never tried to get natural about it all. Now I’m forced because of my beliefs in government, politics, and all that to not really ever get any of it. But I did just ask Frank to get me some, since I’ve had it really bad the last … whatever, and that it’s the “new” formula of Sudafed that was in the house and I hadn’t seemed to notice it. The pill is taller and not shiny … and the box say’s “new” on it, small area though, and the name has PE after it. I did not buy it, Frank did. I just used it as the other boxes in the past. I know the white and red box and the red pills and the way they are in the foil thingy and there was to many similarities with the old box and pill for me to take a closer look until I finally did because I just wasn’t feeling like it was helping me … and it is then I saw it was new, and that it was a different drug and different dose and the pill was actually bigger. It explained alot. I must say in my defence I took the junk in the morning, waking up and feeling yucky, and I am NOT a morning person at all. So I just didn’t look at it, had no reason to.

So my real thinking on this all is that my head needs cleared and “real” Sudafed does that well in a 1/2 dose, one pill a day, or maybe that first one and then another one pill 5 or 6 hours later. Traditionally, I may have a day or two like that, and then go a week or more, a month or more, with no need for it. It’s more often, then less often, then more, or none, then some, not much, then none, then more, that sort of thing.

If I can live with allergies I do. They just get to a point sometimes that I’m stuffy and need relief. So that’s where I am now. Sudafed PE doesn’t do it for me. I need the real stuff and then I may be able to get away from it again. I’ve been away from it before for a long, long time. I get “weak” and start up using it again, it’s easy to use and does the trick. That’s the weakness to it.

So along those lines I got a pack of “Sea Spray” from Costco yesterday. I’m not totally friendly to that sort of stuff, I feel like I’m drowning when I use it, for a second or two. I know it’s not bad for me, just a sensory thing I have a hard time with. We used to have that stuff around years ago, when we lived in Florida. That place was bad for me. I was needing all kinds of things there. Here in GA is better, yet more mold prone I think. Winters we have freezings, but overall the winters are mild. Pollen is nil then, but mold lives. At least the basic air around is better in winter. I love winter. 🙂 Exept for going anywhere that uses un-natural heating. Wood is best. Heat pump heat is alright-ish. Electric heat is horrid. I can’t hardly breathe in that heat. I feel like, “I’m suffocating” similar to the “sea spray ‘I’m drowning’ feeling” but it’s worse since it’s as if there is little “O” to breathe in electric heat, for me that’s how it is. So many that use it put it up so high though, and that’s half the trouble with it. I love how our house is in the winter now, with just one fireplace and using blankets at night in layers, and wearing silk and wool to stay warm during the day. The house can be in the 50’s F. and I don’t feel cold anyhow. Others might feel chilly, so that’s where warm clothing comes in handy. The air is so breathable in such cases though. It’s natural and full of the big “O” we need. There is something about dry-ness in it, but that’s not the full thing. Hot electric homes or buildings with humidifyers on doesn’t help the situation with me.

Cooler air with wood heat and humidifying is nice, on the other hand, for those really cooler drier air times of winter, when they come, those lovely high pressure blue sky days of low temps. Then I just put a pot on the stove full of water, cinnamon sticks and whole cloves. Simmer away water, and fill the air with moisture and yummy smells of winter! Wood heat sticks better with moisture. All heat does, of course. The only heat, in my book, to want that with is gentel heat, as wood is the premier version of such.

It’s still Summer and I’m talking of Winter weather. I’m looking forward to it, and still feeling it’s not that far off, that “light” issue with less light than ever at the back of the house since the A/C window install, I wrote about that the other day.

I’ve been seeing flocks of blackbirds when we are out too. Since the last couple of weeks of July it’s been something I’ve seen every so often when we are out driving. It’s an “autum” sort of thing, as if they are readying themselves for the big grouping they do. So I have this sense inside that maybe it’ll be earlier this year than usual. Maybe not. Maybe it’s something normal and I just have never seen it before, this early. Oh well. I’m on record, just in case we have an earlier fall or winter or a hard one of either or both. 😉

Speaking of nature, the bluebird nesting box has been sitting on our deck. Russell made a birdhouse from a kit awhile back, and it’s workable, but is not openable by humans to clean it out, so I never liked the thought of it being used. Anyhow it was out of the deck and we noticed a male Bluebird checking it out, so we rushed into the garage and got out the bluebird nesting box and stuck it on the deck near the other one. That was over a month ago. Nothing came of it right away, but the last few weeks they got interested in it again and built a nest. Last week there were two beautiful bluebird eggs in the nest. I left it alone and saw Mrs. Bluebird around, but wasn’t able to watch the box for her in and out-ness, since the A/C in the kitchen blocks the views of the backyard entirely. I only saw her when I was in the backyard doing henny stuff.

So I was out of it the last few days and wasn’t outside, others did stuff for the hennies. I went out today and saw the box and went up and looked in, no Mrs. Bluebird, and just one blue egg. There was one missing. And the one egg there just felt warm as the air, so it’s not being sat on. I can’t figure where the other egg went to. There are no remains anywhere to be found. I haven’t seen any horrid birds, not that they couldn’t have done something stealth-like, but I haven’t even seen one around since I took the bluebird box down from it’s old install in the back of the yard when House Sparrows built a nest and started a clutch being layed. I found that, smashed the eggs, destroyed the nest, and took the box down for good. 🙁 But it got back up since the child-built one was there, and maybe shouldn’t have been. The beautious blue birds wanted a nesting and so I gave them one, but something caused them to abandon it or something worse happened.

I can hardly wait to get the kitchen more straightened out –$ to buy the doors we need and install them, then we can see into the backyard easily again. I am a bird watcher and haven’t watched birds in so long. My last binoculars were ruined by Asa, so I’m out of binoculars again anyhow. Half the reason for less to no bird watching is that the big cedar feeder in the backyard fell over and broke in a storm we had last year. Never had the chance to replace it since. I also used to always put out Hummingbird Feeders, I have only one though now, the others all broke. Just one very nice glass decoritive one, and it’s on the front porch and not that visible unless you stand right at the door. Birds would come and go so fast you hardly could watch their front porch activity in the past. Our back feeders alway got more activity anyhow. So I haven’t even once got that feeder down this year. Bad me. It sits out there looking nice, but is totally empty.

Last year was a bad year for me, loosing the baby so early. This year was anniversary of it and tough and a climb up ever since early Spring, but still hard for me. I find this the main cause for my lack of birding, lack of gardening, lack of much progress in many things. Lately it’s gotten weirder for me too, in ways I can’t really write out, but it’s all just thinking sorts of things that would appear too crazy to write down. 🙂

But I’m trying to pull up myself and get painting going again. I have the A/C now, sore throat or not I can paint. I just need to get the walls more ready. I’ve not gotten it all done yet. It’s taking longer than I meant it to. The children get the walls so dirty, it’s a lot of washing to get the walls ready to sand a bit, and fill holes. I guess I’ll close this rambling post and go do some more washing. Mr. Clean Magic Erasers have really been a great help in this job. Still, it’s hard. So be it. It’ll be worth it when it’s a nice blue instead of the light tan color there now that isn’t very bright and cheery.

Hi Dennis!

Dennis is here, the outer north-east bands part of “him” that is. It’s breezey all of the sudden and tropical air and rain are falling (warm and big heavy drops rushing down). Dennis is a cat. 3 hurricane now, and expected to hit somewhere on the Gulf Coast by tomorrow morn, and he’s so big that this weather we are having up here is his influence.

The ground just got un-soggy from Cindy-rain today (still very damp though), so here we go with Dennis and it will be really muddy-ish and soggier than soggy as Cindy made things the other day.

We had another nest of Mockingbirds in a tree out back and they fledged from the nest the day after the Cindy rain. They are still little birdies and one is staying in a small tree near the tree that held their nest. There were 4 baby mocks. They all got out, but I lost track of one right away, and then another soon there after. There were two in the tree that just one is in now, until today. Having baby birds like that around make one consider how they get through such rainy times as this, in their weak young state. They hop around, still getting up their wings to learn soon. So it’s not like they can fly up into some sheltered area exactly. 🙁

I have to get pics up for the birds, I have a couple of nice little ones. I’m bad about getting them up now. I really just need to get them up here!

We are suppose to get a good bit of rain, but not sure, it does depend on how far West Dennis goes, or how far East, of course. I love the rain though. I really love it. I know it’s tough on others in other places, it’s what waters us in the summer though. We need it here. In any case, it’s lovely to hear the rain fall, soft, hard, breezes blowing the trees, curtains blow in and billow about sometimes, fresh clean air. 🙂

Northern Mockingbird Nest

I was out in the backyard doing stuff for the hens, and I paused by one of the trees to look at something, and heard some peeps. I looked up, and in our young maple there was a nest, just above. I could hear the peep, peep, peep, peep, more like a “wuueeep”, and could see some little head or heads bobbing around. I moved to the other side of the tree and there I could see two of them directly, the nest edge was a bit lower there and they were positioned right by that side. Big beaks and sweet little heads, newishly hatched I’m guessing.

There has been a Northern Mockingbird in our backyard more often than I have ever noticed in the past. Particularly the last two days I’ve noticed it coming into the yard by our old garden, sitting on something there, picking up something from the ground there, also alighting in the Weeping Willow tree, which is several feet behind the Maple where the nest is, but in close proximatey relatively speaking.

So today while I was looking at the nest and showing Russell, I saw the Mockingbird arrive close-by. I went in, Frank was on the phone for me. Then after that phone call I went back out, I showed Victoria where the nest was at that point, and then told the children to all move away from that tree, the parent of those babies wanted to go to them, but wouldn’t with the children there. I thought the babies were Northern Mockingbirds, and the mature birds arrival demonstrated the validity of such thinking. I went over in the yard to move the Leghorn pen, looked back and there was Victoria, still under the tree. The Mockingbird was flying here and there, waiting patiently, but maybe not, for Victoria to leave. So I yelled to her to get away. She did.

As I was done with the Leghorn pen I looked around and the Mockingbird was in the tree nearer to the house, and so I took a wide sweep around to the other side of the yard to get back to the door to the inside, bypassing the nesting tree and the path between the mockingbird and the nest. So as I ducked under the tree by the dog pen, which is right by the house, I looked over and there was the Mockingbird coming out of the Maple. So she went to the babies with what she had in her mouth while she had been waiting, and quickly gave it to them, or whatever she did, and check on them.

I do suppose she was a bit anxious at our attention to her new nest. I don’t know exactly how she escaped nest building notice. But she did. I just happened to be in the exact right spot this morning to hear and see the new babies there. It was very satisfying. 🙂

My Bluebirds aren’t in my scope this year. We took the box down after House Sparrows claimed it. I took great delight in smashing the two eggs they had laid, though sad too that the Bluebirds didn’t have the box to use. Last year was a grand year for their nesting attempts, but something destroyed all three … and I have to guess, since I couldn’t know it at the time, but I do now think it was House Sparrows last year. I didn’t see any House Sparrows around ever then, but their dominance in the nest box this year tells me a lot. Each clutch last year met a different sort of death. All very House Sparrow-like behaviours.

3 + 1 + x = 7 The “x” is the unknowable 2004 killer, but I am fairly sure it’s the House Sparrows, because of their nesting in same box this Spring. Yes, assumption, but not one that will hurt anyone. 🙂

Mr. Bluebird has come to our deck just in the last week, inspecting the little bird house that Russell put together from a kit last year. It sits on the deck, more a decoration that isn’t painted, than a useful box. In any case, it was nice to see him close-up for a bit. We don’t know where they are nesting, but they are around. Just not as prolifically.

I’m very glad to have baby Mockingbirds in our Maple. It’s the smallest Maple in the backyard, but superior for some reason to the Mockingbirds. I know some Mockingbirds nested in our October Glory in the front yard, the same Spring we planted that tree. That was neat. I used to hate Mockingbirds, from nightmare times I had with them in Florida when I lived there, them singing in the middle of the night right outside my room in the Orange tree. No A/C and it was hot and close, muggy, moon shining often during those times. It was a nightmare summer that one year, that turned me to hate Mockingbirds in general.

Years went by, I moved away from there and here in Georgia the Northern Mockingbird has won my respect again. They sing when they do, but it’s not a hot, muggy, Florida in your face sort of thing. 🙂

They are fiesty pretty birds. They duplicate any old sound. They also sing beautifully. I do like them now. 🙂

Spring! Signs everywhere!

It’s a lovely day so far. It’s supposed to be up to around 61 degrees F. The sun is shining. Spring is in the air.

I forgot to post this exciting news the other day. Victoria were on the deck the other day sorting through some Thyme I’d cut out of my herb garden (hair cuts for Thyme plants). I heard an odd sound, an odd bird sound, garbly trilly odd. I didn’t have my glasses on so I couldn’t tell if there was something over this or that way making the noise, in trees or something. She pointed to the east. I squinted my eyes, Ah there it is!

A huge V of geese flying due North at a nice clippy pace. The first sign of Spring Migration!

It was a euphoric site and had me on high excitement levels for quite awhile.

In other news, the Weeping Willow tree is looking very dotty green. It’s fronds are long yet, not at all, but she’s a-puttin them out and from a distance you can see those green things coming out. It’s beautiful. I fear she’s too early though. We have a few weeks to go before the probably “last freeze”. In fact, in the next 15-days forcast Accuweather is calling for many nights down to 32, 31, 29. It’s not that which will be a problem, most likely, but it’s the fact that in the last couple of days they did have “ice storm” maybes in the forcast. They’ve gone away from the forcast, but could come back.

In the greater Atlanta area there are many trees starting to bloom. Cherry trees, or something like them, not the kind we have (ours bloom into March or so –Y. Cherries) and a few others. Maybe they aren’t cherry trees, but they look like the K. kind (I can’t recall the names to spell them out, so figure out the Y and K please yourselves 😉 )

Today I saw a Bluebird looking at the nest box. I need to relocate that box. Last year it was nothing but bad stuff for them there. As well, today there were E. Starlings on the fence by the bird box. They were bothering the Bluebirds, of course. Going out I just have to clap and yell a second or two and the Starlings fly away, but the Bluebirds stay. 🙂 I can’t watch them every moment of the day though 🙁

So I need to get a pole to mount the box on in another place in the yard. Frank, mark that down. 🙂 You are the pole buyer. 😉

I would also like a new big bird feeder … mine fell over in a storm last year and started to crumble, not worth the fixing. So I have no nice feeder. I also would like a few more Hummer Feeders, through different things all but one is broke now. Just my nice one is around for now. It’s delicate, blown glass shaped like a long tubular flower. It’s a piece of art really. It’s not a “filler-er-up” many times in a month type. I like the feeders that have many stations on them. So this artsy one is not for that, it’s a one-at-a-timer.

We were in Bass Pro Outlet last night, they have some nice single Hummer Feeders … made out of all kinds of glass bottles and copper and such twisted around them to hold them up, very pretty decorations on them, big old decorative Hummer Feeders all in themselves! But single feeders — pricey too. $19 and up. 🙁

I’m doing some work on my “herb garden” here and there. I really want to get it in good shape, get more plants in it, and a nice brick border, or a short picket fence around it. It’s a battle keeping the creeping weedy grasses out of it. So the Mantis needs to come out of the garage and do some work for me. Edging first, then cultivation between “rows” to loosen the dirt, get rid of little springy weeds, then I get get in there and do the hefty stuff easier, tidying up and hopefully getting a mulch to put on the dirt, and as I said before, more plants. I have Bee Balm and 3 kinds of Thyme, and Chives that are perennials that are doing alright. I also have two other plants in there that are not “herbs” but are nice butterfly attracters. Purple Cone Flower, and a Giant — I forget it’s name. Both die back to the ground in the winter. The herbs don’t die back, the Thyme keeps plugging away winter long, and the chives scale back but don’t go away, same with the Bee Balm.

I may only have 2 types of Thyme now. I recall that one of the 3 is “Wooly Thyme” and may be under some weeds in the corner, or vanished … or may come back in some small way that I can work with. I also have English Thyme and German Thyme. My English is more leggy and loose –mild smell; the German is more bushy and thick–more smell to it too.

The Peonies out front have continued to put up their first shoots out of the ground. They should be super duper huge this year, and I need to put out supports for them for sure. Frank, take note– I need stakes and garden string! 🙂

Many Things in One Post

This is my “many things in one post” post. Weather, books, hens, wild birds, etc.

The weather has turned mild again. Yesterday it was warm enough not to need a fire upon waking. Last night was warm too. It’s currently in the mid-50’s, and that’s without the sun’s aiding. It’s been mostly cloudy, morelike “light overcast” since sometime during the night.

Accuweather is saying that on Saturday high will be 39 and low will be 37. Rain possible.

Weather Channel on TV is saying there is a BIG chance of an “Ice Stor”m looming far enough South to hit us. Which to believe?

Time will show us. :LOL:

In any case, the last time the hens laid eggs is reported on January 22nd. Nothing has been laid since then. Nothing at all. 🙁

I have listed the book I’m reading currently in this post. Redwall is a great book, the start of a great series that I only recently have become aquainted with. I found it in Barnes & Noble the other night and Frank let me buy it. I’d heard about it on an email list I’m on. I’m nearly done with it. It’s a large book, easy to read, full of lively colorful characters. I mentioned it on a Forum I frequent, and Kelly there said that it’s a great read-aloud series. I must agree, from just the first couple of pages I was thinking that, and now on page 253 I just think that even more 😉

I’m looking forward to finishing it and starting it as a read-aloud to the children. Frank knew that when he said he’d buy the book for me he was getting into a big mudhole that’d reach high over his head. There are quite a few in the series. So the first one I have is in large softback format, my favorite format next to hardback. Most of the other books in this series in B&N were normal paperbacks and hardbacks. Can’t afford brand new hardbacks, but this first one in large format softback was do-able. Frank says that he’ll find the rest in same format … he knows I’m a stickler for “same format” books in a series. 🙂

So then I thought it’d be nice to mention birds here too. I haven’t had much opportunity to spy any nice birds for months. My big binoculars bit the dust. Frank got me a little pair from Eddie Bauer Outlet. Children have confiscated them and I can’t ever find them. They aren’t for very far distance viewing well though.

Our big feeder fell over in a storm in 2004 and is all falling apart, out of commision this whole time. So in 2004 I didn’t really feed any birds. I had Hummingbird feeders out, but gave up on filling them up when I didn’t see any at all all Spring when they had been sighted elsewhere in this region. I only spied one here or there a couple of times. So feeders were out and just dormant and got moldy, but still, no interest in them was really evident ever all 2004. I put my really nice glass feeder out front later in the season, and it dripped empty with no hits at all. So I totally gave up.

2004 was also the nightmare year for animals and birds and me. The Bluebirds laid three clutches and lost all three. One: eggs didn’t hatch. Two: Babies died. Three: Babies died. It was horrible. I’ve written of this and the other deathy things before.

So it goes to say about the Bluebirds that they tried hard, but failed. I’ve seen them about lately, actually one female and two males. They are so beautiful. I missed them around most of the Summer, with them busy with nests (and not super visible then) and then the nestings failing, they sulked off eventually and only have been more noticeable the last few weeks.

Brownheaded Cowbirds weren’t around last year either. Maybe because I didn’t have a seed feeder out. But then, I don’t now and guess who’s lighting in our trees, screeching out their whistlepiercing sounds? Yup, Brownheaded Cow Birds. They sit on the Bluebird Nest Box too and try to mess with it. I do not like those birds. They are not like the Bluebirds, whom are gentle and sweet. Bluebirds stick around if you go on the deck. Cowbirds fly away if you do that. 🙂

Just this last week too then we’ve been innundated with droves of Chipping Sparrows. Unfortunately I can’t ever see them very well, with no binoculars to aide my sight into the yard. They are very diminutive birds. Cute little fellas. I call them all fellas. They all look alike, pretty much, and all look like little guys.

I’ve seen a few Starlings, and they are staying clear of bothering my stuff. They are another kind of bird I don’t like. They might be responsible for some of the Bluebird Failed Nestings.

American Robins have been tottering around the yard too. Won’t be long before they are here in droves, no doubt.

I really want to get a new feeder and install it in a great place in the yard. Hopefully I can do that soon!

I lost many of my hummingbird feeders through neglect and then child destruction fully this past year. I have one remaining, my very pretty red glass arsty flower looking one. It’s gorgeous. I’m happy it’s stayed put happily and safe on the front porch. I left it there all Winter, so far, that is. I really should clean it and refill it, in case there are any Hummers around this Winter. I know they’ve been sighted in other areas in North/Central Georgia. I just don’t stay faithful enough to them to lure them in. 🙁 I am trying to make myself say I promise to keep it filled and clean this year. I’m trying. I will try, how about that?

But I need to get a few more feeders just for the Hummers themselves. They are such fun birds! So acrobatic around the feeders in mid-Summer. A delight to watch, that is a sure thing. But you must put out feeders for them –to be able to witness these things so well from inside your house.

I went out front to where I have the peonies and iris and pussywillows. The irises are growing new leaves. The Lambs Ear there is starting new growth. The Pussy Willows are starting to plump up a bit, with a few of them unsheated already, too early though. The Peonies last year growth is still there, dry and brown, just winter texture, you know. I leave it there on purpose. I checked beneath them, and sure enough, there is growth occuring there.

This mild weather is hopefully not going to hurt the plants. We had a very mild Autumn and only got cold weather finally near the end of December, and had mostly very warm weather in January. Some cold snaps. Maybe an ice storm finally this coming weekend, maybe not. But I hope that whatever happens with the weather, that we have a wonderful Spring bloom nonetheless. I really want to see the Yoshino Cherry trees is brilliant blossom. 2004 Spring was terrible for them all around the Atlanta area that we saw. Ours did so very poorly. 2003 was a grand season for them everywhere that we saw them. That’s why last year was such a dissapointment.

We have a Dogwood that we need to remove. It died last year. But the other two next to it are still alive, but all have some dead areas, and peeling bark. I fear we must remove them all. 🙁 Well, our landscaping sort of slacked off the last couple of years. I really am itching to pick it up and do lots of work on it. That take money though. Also my garden is calling me. Frank is letting me order seeds from an heirloom seed company in February. This will be my first time growing everything from seed. I’ll be sure to have a second-season mid-summer planting.

That’s all for now!

Bluebird babies are hatched!

I checked them today and there were four sweet newly hatched baby Eastern Blue birds. They are small and all look fine. I can’t be sure when they began hatching but if Mama Bluebird began sitting on July 26, then twelve to thirteen days would mean they hatched yesterday or this morning, though I noticed no shell residue, but they look so tiny and sweet and new they surely are freshly alive in this world.

I am hoping all goes well and that they grow up to fledge and live over winter to start their own families next Spring! They’ll be young, as Cornell info says they lay as late as early June. We are in the South, so that’s good, but I do fear that if they do fledge they’ll be too young for the winter season, as early November is only 3 months away.

Well, I’m just thrilled though to see that all four eggs hatched. That’s a wonderful result. 🙂

2nd Nesting of 2004 coming to a close

I checked the Bluebird Box this week, and the eggs were warm each time, and still intact. The last check I did was Saturday. I didn’t check today, Sunday, but will first thing tomorrow, that’s Monday, Memorial Day in the USA. Hatching should have occurred already, so I sure hope there are baby birds in that box, not another full failed clutch!

2nd Nesting of 2004

The Bluebirds did make a second nest, and laid 4 beautiful blue eggs. I didn’t take any photos this time. They look just like photos of the first nest this year, minus one egg 😉

It’s near time for this clutch to hatch. If I recall correctly (which I highly think I am doing so) she laid the fourth egg on a Friday and began sitting that day, which would mean: this week – Day 12 on Wednesday, so hatching by Saturday, most likely, Lord willing.

Since their first clutch failed this year, I’m very hopeful that this one will be 100% successful.

It rained today

It’s not rained for a few days, always threatening at some point in the day at least once though. Today it finally rained. Relief, sort of. It was hot and muggy early today, a sure sign it SHOULD rain. After it rained, during as well, it cooled down, but not too soon of course it was muggy-ish again 🙁

I checked the Bluebird box today. The eggs are all fine and warm. I have to check my data to see when brooding started. Mr. & Mrs. Bluebird have been around and are faithfully doing their respective jobs 🙂

Bad News and Good News

The Bluebirds first clutch of eggs (5) for 2004 did not hatch, so I removed the nest and eggs on Saturday, May 1, 2004.They were warm the day before, but cool on that day. It was many days past when hatching should have already occurred.

Yesterday, May 5, 2004, I checked the box, and there was some dried grass in it. Mr. Bluebird has been very active around the box since Sunday, the day after I removed the nest and eggs. So yesterday I saw him several times in a row perch on the entrance hole into the box and look in, go partly in, come out, go in all the way, out, in, etc. Later then I went over to look in the box, and Russell was with me, we saw the several pieces of dried grass. Box Reserved!

Late this morning, May 6, 2004, I checked the box, and there is the beginnings of a nest, over an inch-high of loose dried grass formed into a circle. It’ll be built much higher, and become more densely filled with materials to make the nest a safe warm place for new eggs, and hopefully hatchlings.

I’m happy for the Bluebird’s that they are wanting to continue and try for a second time this season. 🙂

Time Flies — hatching due soon!

The Eastern Bluebirds are due to become new parents this week, sometime between Tues and Fri or so, give or take, 12 to 14 days incubation. That began on April 9 or 10, so it won’t be long now! I’m amazed at how fast this month has gone.

The Starlings haven’t been bothering the nest box, but the worst part of it all happens, generally, near the end of incubation, or after hatching, before fledging occurs. We had babies disappear once. That’s enough to show how delicate a balance there is in nature. Baby birds disappearing before they could have possibly fledged is heartbreaking. So diligence in watching the nest is important, but can’t cover every instance of possible danger.

I checked the nest a few days ago, when Mrs. Bluebird left the box for some food or a “rest” from sitting for a few moments. All five eggs looked nice and were warm and cozy in the nice nest Mama Bluebird built. (The nest in the pictures below squishes shorter when incubation starts, due to the weight of the whole situation, so it looks more compact now.)

As soon as I have confirmation on hatching, any, I’ll be sure to report it here!

Eastern Bluebird’s 1st Nesting 2004

Yesterday, April 9, 2004 I was able to document this years first nesting beginnings with the digital camera. On Monday, April 5 the first egg was laid, Tuesday, April 6 the second egg was laid; Wednesday, April 7 the third egg was laid; Thursday, April 8 the fourth egg was laid; Friday, April 9 the fifth egg was laid. Saturday April 10, this morning, I checked the nest box, and the 5 eggs were still there, and appeared to be arranged very nicely as if Mrs. Bluebird had begun to sit on them. I didn’t get to verify warmness of the eggs, as Mr. & Mrs. Bluebird were around and anxious.

Earlier in the morning, just after sunrise, there was a slight ruckus I noticed at their nest box. As in past years, the European Starlings were being pesty, and one was looking into the box, hanging off the front. So with this witnessed event I, and Frank also, jumped out of bed and ran downstairs and opened the deck door, and I yeklled my usual loud, “Shoo! Shoo!” at them. From the deck it’s a decent distance, but any of that or clapping usually scares the Starlings off, and it did right away this morning. The Bluebirds are gentle and know not to worry at such sounds, they stay.

So with that happening, as it does every year, I got out the hole extender and installed it a bit later, but as usual, Mrs. Bluebird refused to go in via it, and was very frustrated. Mr. Bluebird wouldn’t try to go in either. I watched as they looked at it, and sat on top of the tube, and looked inside it gingerly, and flapped their wings at each other and were fluberated. So after awhile I said, as usual, “OK, I’ll take it off. I’ll just have to make an effort to watch and protect via a distance” a scary thing as I cannot watch every second of every day. (European Starlings are not nice, they destroy eggs and baby birds of other species, they immigrant birds and prey on the “naturally” occuring birds in these regions, such as the Eastern Bluebird, for instance, which are very gentle.)

Here is a photo essay from April 9, 2004:

This is the Nest Box of the Eastern Bluebird pair that we host in our backyard.

Side view of the nest box, where the box opens to access the inside where the nest is built.

Nest box is opened, and inside is visible, there is the completed nest for the 1st nesting of 2004.

The nest is tilted towards the outside in order to view the contents, 5 beautiful light blue Bluebird eggs. (eggs appear darker due to shadows in box) They are very small. This is the first year for so many eggs in one clutch. Previous years were 2 or 3 generally.

Now the nest is outside of the box for a few better photographs. The egg color is a bit more blue than appears to the camera’s eye.

A closer view of the Eastern Bluebird eggs.

Another closer view of the Eastern Bluebird eggs, with my index finger to compare the size with, somewhat.

And finally, this is what the nest looks like out of the box, from a sideview. This nest was made from dried grass strands and bits of white fuzzy material of some nature.

Bluebirds build nest from various things. The first nest we ever had in this nest box was made exclusively with pine straw (some neighbors mulch, we suspect, as we don’t use that variety of mulch).

It’s exciting when Spring rolls around, and nesting activity begins. Every year it’s neat to see the nest box reserved with a few pieces of grass or something else, and then one day a little nest material takes shape, and usually by the next day the nest is looking about perfect, with a few minor touchups put on it afterwards by the dear birds. After this, it’s a wait and see, will they lay eggs, when will they begin, etc. This nest was done by the end of March. So we waited until April 5th, in the morning, for the first egg to appear. I was thrilled each day when a new egg had been laid, and by Wednesday had thought that might be the whole clutch, and thrilled to see egg number four the next day, and never thought I’d see five, but sure did on Friday! I suspect brooding has begun, but must check tomorrow morning to be sure. There was no sixth egg mid-morning, and I really do hope that 5 is the limit. It’s more than the box could hold if all five would hatch healthily, IMO. I think that last year one clutch was four eggs, but only three hatched. One of the past couple of years a full clutch that had hatched disappeared too early to have fledged, Starlings the culprit IMO.

I wish that this pair of Bluebirds would accept an extender tube on their box, but they just haven’t done so on any attempt I’ve made. I still have a couple of times I can try it, but generally speaking, they seem to look at it and say, “No way! Our entrance is that blue shaped thing”. The extender is putty colored plastic and goes on the box in place of that blue wood around the entrance hole in the above pictures.

I hope you enjoy these photos, and check back for updates every so often.

Bluebirds 2004 1st posting

Our Eastern Bluebirds built their nest, and had it finished in March. Since Sunday, April 4, 2004 they started laying their eggs. Monday there was one. Tuesday there were two. Officially this morning there are three little blue Bluebird eggs in the nest box.

I’ll try to get a picture taken with the digital camera later, and post it here.