Showing posts with label Birds. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Birds. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Bloody Murder at Tabor's Yard

(This is a warning that the following post may contain content too violent for children or adults with a sensitive nature, and no, Tabor did not kill her husband.)

It was a dark and stormy, actually it was the middle of a sunny afternoon.  There were ominous shadows flitting through the, it was a beautiful spring breeze rustling the new growth and that is what tricked me, that made me oblivious to what was to come.  There were an unusual number of blackbirds flying back and forth across the lawn.  Thats lends a little ominousness to the mood...doesn't it?  There was also the sinister buzz of black flies in the air...the type found in any Stephen King soundtrack.

I had just emptied my overcrowded dish of plant succulents, finished their re-planting and was heading down my driveway to obtain some soil to mix with the sand.  As I walked I noticed ever so superficially something bright red on the driveway pavement...a lovely rose petal, perhaps?  I continued my saunter under the large leaning tulip poplar that will one day fall across this driveway and kill someone.

Then, without warning, I felt something wet fall onto the outside of my hand just below my watch band.  Rain released from a tree leaf?  I looked down and saw wet, red blood!  A nice juicy spray of drops across the back of my hand to the base of my thumb.  I looked up and saw the tulip tree leaves winking at me and nothing else.  I looked back down at my hand and quickly wiped away the blood on my muddy jeans, and that was when I saw body parts scattered across the pavement!  Truly a CSI moment.

Here's looking at you!

I backed up a yard or two and again tilted my neck to look into the tree.  Many of you have already guessed what I saw.

He was not going to interrupt his casual lunch of shad just because I was doing yard work!  Today I learned that osprey do not eat the eyeballs, and now I wonder why not?  And I realized how much they fertilize the earth when they eat... if not eating over a paved driveway, that is!  The ants were soon having a picnic, though.

And at least it was not bird poop that fell from the sky on me....

Sunday, January 23, 2011


Some gifts are just so precious that you do not mind oooing and ahhing like a little old lady.  They look as though they were made/selected with love and careful thought instead of made with gears and delivered via conveyor belts after being wrapped in a sterile plastic bubble.  Above is the gift that I received from my son's new girlfriend this past Christmas.  She has met us only a few times, but already she shows insight and taste.  She bought this at a bird store near her home at the edge of  "Pennsylvania's Great Lakes Port City."  I am thinking that our little wren couple, the duo that nest everywhere impractical on my back porch, may find this tiny home inviting come spring.  I can hardly wait!  I already caught the quick shadow of one bird peeking in during one of these dreary winter afternoons.  I find the re-cycled barbed wire for the front 'doorstep' a nice statement...bringing down boundaries.  The whimsy of the curled bark on the roof is the cherry on the frosting roof.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Truth, the Whole Truth

I sometimes take hundreds of photographs on a day trip. I used to be conservative and clearly egotistical thinking that I should be selective and only try to take the 'best' shots.  I also felt going through 300 photos when I got home would be a headache. It isn't really...just deleting 99% is the tedious part.  I find that among those 300 there is usually one or two worthy of a post or adding to my collection. I realized that just posting these 2 or 3 was not a fair or realistic story of my photographic trips. So below is a more accurate photographic journey that I took in the canoe just a few weeks ago.  (The 3% will be posted on my other blog in the future.)

It was a beautiful if somewhat nippy fall morning.  We drove up to the landing at a small river that flows into a small bay that is a protected area for wildlife.  The foggy mist was just lifting from the water and made for a nice but not great early morning shot.  I had to carefully stand in some squishy wet grass that was just beginning to thaw from the early frost and to lean out across the water.  It was hard to see where the land ended and the deeper part of the river bank began.  I only got a few toes wet and cold which is the sacrifice one makes for a photo.

The air was crisp and the sky was a perfect November blue.  Some of the trees were still clinging to their colored leaves and the water was like glass.  I had my camera, my paddle, my paddle-mate, my warm gloves, my travel mug of hot coffee and a package of donuts.  Perfect for this little Queen, I thought.

I was able to manage a paddle stroke and a sip of coffee while resting my bismarck on the bow of the canoe.  I had the rhythm going.  Of course it helps that your mate does 90% of the paddling while you eat and drink.  As we got to the wider part of the river we could hear the geese that were sheltering in this preserve.  The sound of gunfire was intermittent in the distance which must have been making them leery.

We heard the geese chattering long before we rounded the grassy point and actually saw them tucked against the marsh. I immediately recognized the photo op and quickly set down my coffee cup which promptly spilled on my foot warming my previously chilled toes...but I got the first shot before the geese were bolting.  I watched them gently swimming away from us and grumbling to each other as I dabbed at my now warm foot with my wool neck scarf and uprighted my travel mug.  I lowered the camera and removed my gloves and took a bite of the frosting sticky donut and noticed the geese didn't fly.  I licked my chocolate frosted fingers as I pondered the hesitation of the geese.

Suddenly without warning and just to the back of my left shoulder a large flock of ducks broke the silence screaming in panic.  I rarely can get photos of our wild ducks, the above photo being a prime example.  They are very leery and so my heart jumped at seeing so many and so close as they raced across the bow of the canoe quacking and flapping.  I grabbed my camera covering the hand grip with frosting and snapped this blurry tilted photo above.  Then while trying to manually focus for a better shot I got more frosting on the lens!

I grabbed the damp wool scarf at my feet and brushed it across the lens quickly and leaning back in the canoe snapping this shot above my head as the ducks banked left toward another marsh.  Please notice the framing, the focus and the artistic use of lint which is not something I have seen on many photos.  (You should click on the photo for the complete experience.)

Oh, yeah, I also got this sharp photo of a hawk...feel free to identify!

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Home Sweet Home

I have a lovely patio beneath my deck at the back of my house.  I have carefully placed some rattan furniture that we bought while living in Indonesia which I painted weather-resistant white and paired it with some plastic furniture (on it's last seasonal legs) that I inherited from my mother-in-law who lived in Florida.  I bought a cute little outdoor rug (actually fought with two gay guys over who would get to purchase it).  We have a small iron fireplace unit.  And yet, after all this careful design we use this place only a few times a year as we are busy people.

Yesterday I went out there to clean the place of leaves and spider webs to get ready for some company that were coming.  One of the faded cushions with the ties that have long since broken was flopped over and the chair was covered in wind blown leaves.

Or so I thought!  Those determined little wrens will build a nest anywhere.  I have chased them outside of my garage many times.  Fortunately there were no eggs inside this nest.  Maybe they were just practicing and this was just a 'test nest'.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

War With the Cardinal, Himself

It seems to be a moist gray morning that has come too soon.  I am awake and do not know why, but push off the light quilt and head into my dark kitchen to make coffee.  Soon the water is hot and the smell of liquid amber fills my nostrils.  I take my cup and sit on the front porch trying to shake away the fog from my mind as the rising sun begins to silhouette the tree tops.  I am wondering why I woke up so suddenly out of a restorative sleep as I sip my caffeine and enjoy the pink and blue sky in early dawn.  In a short time my reverie is interrupted.

Crows are in the right side ravine making a brass band's worth of noise in the high poplar trees.  I cannot see them, but their cawing is most annoying and unusually angry.  They are probably ganging up on an owl or hawk that has landed in the woods.  The band of crows will give him no peace until he leaves this area completely.  These home boys own the block and do not give way to anyone without regard for claws and sharp bills.  The crows' weapons are confusion and backstabbing.

I finish my coffee and head back inside.  As I reach across the coffee table to get my paperback, the morning sleep disturbance mystery is solved.  First I hear a tap, followed by tap, tap, followed by tap, tap, tap.  There, at the dining room window, is that newly grown male cardinal.  He is small but has all his adult red coloring.  He bangs at the dining room window flying up to the top until my appearance startles him and he rounds the house away from me and continues banging at the kitchen window above the sink.  He has been doing this tapping at the window for several weeks, and I have been trying to ignore him.  Except now he starts his communication before dawn!

And now there is a new twist as I see the mess on the window he has left.

I watch closely and see him hanging at the base of the window and notice that his mouth is full of some green juicy caterpillar thing.  It is so disgusting I can barely watch on my coffee stomach as it oozes insect life from his bill.  My husband mentioned he had seen a similar meal in the bird's bill yesterday  So, is this cardinal now spreading this mess across my window attempting to feed his reflection?  Is he gay and thinking this is his mate to which he offers a gift of fresh breakfast?  Is he a childless father driven by an instinct to feed that he cannot understand or control?  Or is he a pacifist and thinking this male antagonist (reflection) can be won over by an offer to break bread (bug) rather than fight?  Is he in love with me and wants to bring me gifts so that I will fill the bird's water bowl on time?  My guess is that he is just crazy!  We have that crazy cardinal gene pool thing going in our woods which you can read about here and here.

He is driving me crazy; well, crazier as well!  My windows are now covered in streaks of bug guts.  I had planned on cleaning them a few weeks past and I now pat myself on the back for my wise procrastination in the heat of summer.  Sun-baked bug protein is just what any of my few dinner guests want to see while eating a meal and observing our sunsets through the windows.

OK.  Clearly the day has started with a thrown gauntlet.  I rinse my coffee cup and begin planning a battle strategy.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Outrunning an Inconvenient Truth

I was trying to work through the 1,000's of photos that I keep taking and then collecting.  I was trying to be honest and delete most of them because they are worse than mediocre.  We fall in love with our mediocrity, I guess, thinking it is a bit of our immortality and representative of our pregnancy with genius in some way.  The genius that, in my case, never gets born.  Anyway, I have many bird photos and a good portion are water birds.  When I took the photo above it made me think of joy.  Running along on the beach with the wind at your back and the waves singing a song is a pleasure in life that everyone should experience.

Now, as you can guess, this photo has the feeling of impending disaster.  I hope this bird can outrun it, but I am guessing time is not on his side.

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Mask of Zorro - Conclusion

Having an injured bird is somewhat like having a baby in the house.  It is a continual distraction, because even if the baby is napping, it is always on your mind and you are subconsciously listening for sounds.  The photo above is the flock of waxwings that had visited my yard weeks ago.  Perhaps they were the cousins or uncle or aunts of this little one?

It was a long day and we did not reach the rescue house until way after dark.  We struggled to find our way through the nest of houses and cul de sacs in the city suburbs.  The lovely GPS our children had bought us for Christmas was no real help!  It seemed this subdivision, while not new, was off the data map and in some bird twilight zone.

Zorro seemed to be fine in the back seat although initially he was a little nervously active and I worried about him damaging more wing feathers.

As we eventually pulled into the driveway of the rescue house I saw a large furry cat sitting on a cat stand in the window.  But (fortunately) the cat quickly disappeared when I rang the doorbell, and a little lap dog greeted us with high energy, and thankfully no yapping.

Lynn, the rescue lady, takes in all kinds of birds and ends up keeping the hawks and raptors that cannot be returned to the wild as her personal mission. She has an inspiring video on her web site where she recently released a bald eagle that had been rehabilitated.  

She took Zorro and ran her fingers carefully and expertly along the wings and seemed to feel that nothing was broken.  She did explain that it was not unusual for a bird to sprain a wing while flying because of these high wind gusts.

Her laundry room was filled with a gray parrot, and two other smaller parrots that I did not recognize, that had been abandoned by incompetent owners.  While they were noisy it was not the deafening noise you normally hear in a pet store filled with parrots.

Her garage held a number of wild birds for rehabilitation including a seriously damaged Cooper's hawk that had been hit by a police car.  She kept it in a very small cage so that he would not further injure himself.  

She had prepared a little cage for Zorro but I did not take photos in order to avoid disturbing all the feathered friends nearby.

We talked birds for a little while, but we had to head to our daughter`s house in the city.  It was hard to say good-bye because we had gotten attached to Zorro and hubby had actually started negotiating with me to keep the bird before we turned him (or her) over to rescue.  We felt better to know that Zorro was in good and experienced hands.

Lynn sent an email several days later that indicated Zorro was doing fine and eating well, although still not flying but she said that she had high hopes he would repair soon.  This is a good enough ending for us for now, it will have to be.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Mask of Zorro - Part I

We had ventured outside to replenish the food pantry, although in reality, we had enough food to last months.  Our excuse was that I was missing the essential chocolate and hubby needed to get his laptop checked as he had broken the speaker system. How did he do that you may ask?  If you saw the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding you may remember the scene where the young woman gets nervous and proceeds to walk away from her computer with her headset connected and still on her head.  Hubby did not pull the laptop off the desk during his quick retreat, but it seemed that he destroyed the plug-in port and needed to get a USB replacement.  (He is the most expensive computer user I know!) Anyway, I digress...terribly.

We went to the big box store where we could save hundreds of dollars by spending hundreds of dollars and managed in a short time to fill the shopping cart with big boxes of stuff.  Paper towels, pasta, chocolate, know...the essentials of life.

The winter winds continued their bitter stomping through our neck of the woods and they shoved us across the parking lot like tough bullies.  Loading the car took careful speed as our fingers froze and frozen wind whipped down our necks and pulled bags from our grip.

It was on our drive home as we turned into our wooded neighborhood that we saw this wounded, or what appeared to be wounded, cedar waxwing.  He was hopping ever so slowly across the road.  He would hop once or twice and then seemed to catch his breath thinking about whether he had energy to hop again.  As we approached he stopped hopping and just sat there in the middle of the road maybe hoping his suffering would finally come to an end under the wheels of our car.  Hubby looked at me and I looked at him.  Finally I said that we needed to see if we could help. (My loyal readers will remember another encounter we had with an unexpected woods visitor here or the time we failed to help a lovely owl with an owwie which I posted on my other blog here.  I am a BIG softie for animals.)

"You get him." hubby said with decisive speed as he rubbed his hands between his legs and sat back against his seat stoically indicating he was definitely going to remain in the warmth of the car.

I opened the door and moved slowly to the front of the car expecting this fragile gift of life to fly into the sky leaving me cold and startled.  But the small bird  continued to just sit there and then surprised me by hopping across the road and with some effort toward my feet!  He stopped and actually looked up at me!  Honest!

I bent down to lift him and was very surprised that he did not struggle in anyway.  He just snuggled into the warmth of my leather gloved hands like he had come home to mama.  I returned to the car and realized that I had no hands to open the door.  Hubby had to lean across the seat and open the door.  I am thankful to have exercised recently and maintained my sense of strength and balance as stepping up into a large SUV while holding your hands out in front of you in a prayer and getting into those high seats requires considerable strength and balance.

Cedar waxwings up close are the most divinely colored birds.  They are gray and brown and yellow and even a little peach and look as though they were wrapped in the softest velvet.  They wear a dark velvet mask across their sparkling black eyes, intriguing Zorros of the bird world.  (They also are very messy if you read my post on my other blog a while back.)

This little waxwing peaked his eye through the space between my thumb and forefinger, but made no effort to push his tiny head through the opening.  He just watched my face as we headed home and made no sound.

We have a fragile bamboo bird cage that has never held a bird.  It was purchased in Indonesia or Panama...I cannot remember from which roadside stand so long ago.  It was lovelier with the natural bamboo, but I was in my cottage phase of life and painted it white and hung it covered in silk flowers in my sun room decades ago.  The cage now sits in the basement with dusty abandon.  Hubby got this cage into the garage and we released the bird inside.  I took him into the house and filled a small bowl with water.  Since we have well water, I did not have to worry about the chlorine.  Zorro proceeded to poop three times (they are from the Bombycilla family) and then jumped feet first into the small water bowl and drank heartily.

I sighed as these were good signs.  

I could study him now and saw that one of his wings looked slightly askew and showed the blood red wax tip on one of his secondaries that is the reason they got their name.

I knew that they don't eat bird seed but placed a little on the floor of the cage, just in case.  I also put in several small pieces of fresh date and dried cranberry.  Hubby went outside to find juniper berries, without success, and by the time he returned it was dark and I had place the bird on the floor of the laundry room and put a beach towel over the cage so that he would not die of stress or fear.  It is late in the evening and I have not heard a peep out of him.   If he lives, I will call the rescue office tomorrow.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The American Turkey

Dear readers, enjoy in moderation. (Photo of wild turkey taken in the mountains of North Carolina.)

If you want to do something today when you are feeling too full you can go here or here or here.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Messin' Around

These photos are somewhat degraded as I resized for the blog, but I am having so much fun today with Paint Shop Pro. I have used this software for years, but never really got into some of the nicer features. As I wrote, I have downsized the photos above for blogger. For instance, my son's girlfriend is gone from the photo above. Any photographic detective could see it on the full resolution image, but not your average viewer. (I am not removing her from the photos by the way...just experimenting.) And then the poor photo of the red-bellied woodpecker which I shot through the dining room window (no way I am going outside) has been greatly enhanced. It is not a great shot, but you should have seen the before!

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Room With Walls or the Wren House

Due to the cooler evenings and my craving for a substantial dinner, I decided to roast a 4 pound chicken for our meal two nights ago. I marinated the fat bird in the early afternoon and started to preheat the oven. I stuffed the bird with onions and sliced apples and it took several hours to roast making the kitchen cozy and warm. Adding some cheese potatoes and a nice salad made the meal complete. When all was ready, hubby and I sat down to a perfect late October dinner. We threw our healthy caution to the wind and proceeded to stuff our little stomachs to the brim. With my last swallow of wine, I pushed myself back from the table and wondered if I would regret my piggyness.

Hubby graciously offered to clean up after dinner and I slowly burped my way upstairs to read some blogs. I heard him banging the roasting pan lid trying to get it clean. He called up to me asking what he should do with the drippings at the bottom of the pan. I did not want all that tempting but unhealthy fatty salty broth sitting around and suggested he may want to dump it in the woods outside.

I heard him open the front door and then I heard him bang the pan on the stoop and I heard a whuffet sound and my husband swearing softly under his breath.

When I called down asking about the commotion, he said that the new porch resident, a wren, flew into his face. We have a little wren that has tried to set up tenancy in my autumn door decoration and with the addition of the bug-filled split wood for the fire now added to the porch, she has a grocery store just beneath her new home.

I could hear the door was still open.

"She didn't get in, did she?" I asked.

"I am afraid she did." hubby sighed.

Well the next hour (or what seemed like an hour) of our leisure evening with stomachs full of food was spent trying to encourage a small wren to leave the house. We closed all the doors and cupboards and turned off the ceiling fans. I had to get out the very, very long light-bulb changing pole to make her leave her perch on the chains of our hanging foyer lights in the second story. Hubby almost destroyed the geranium I had recently brought inside and placed on a corner near the window as she tried to hide behind that plant several times.

After depositing bird doo on various walls, she eventually tucked in behind some decorative basket ware that we have on the shelf above the foyer. Hubby was determined to get out and balance on that shelf and try to catch her, but I was adamant that I was not willing to add a visit to the emergency room to this evening's adventures and insisted that we try alternatives.

We don't have a butterfly net, but in desperation, got out the fish net to see if we could capture her. Of course, the weave is too big and although we swooped it over her several times, she acrobatically made it through the holes. Once hubby and I almost bumped heads as we dived for her, temporarily caught beneath the net on the kitchen floor.

Eventually she became tired and we were able to catch her in our hands. We very gently and carefully took her out the front door where she instantly dive bombed into the shelter of the wood on the porch. I sw her hopping around the porch today, appearing none the worse for wear, but chiding me in her whistling fashion. (The photo above is of another wren, perhaps a juvenile relative, that was on our deck this summer.)

Monday, March 26, 2007

Free lunch

It appears that everyone likes a free lunch prepared by someone else and also likes to eat outside with a view. (Home sick today, so this is all you are going to get.)