Sunday, April 30, 2006
*gasp...gasp...(Susan runs in from outside and down the steps to the computer)
(types out)...tree...swallow...gourd...tree...swallow...must document...*
I have been on a roller coaster with the purple martin house and environs for the past few days, and now there's a new level of craziness: A male tree swallow is interested in the plastic purple martin gourd. And guess what? The house sparrows are scared of him. (Insert maniacal laughter here)
I didn't see one HOSP go near the martin house while the swallow was there. Maybe this guy can hold his own...he even dove at Nellie as she wandered innocently under the gourd.
This solves a mystery...well, two:
1. It must have been him that I saw yesterday.
2. Last summer, I saw purple martins, but also some birds with them which had forked tails.
I took the above photos with my binoculars with digital camera. Not bad, for bins.
So...the tide has turned...no HOSP, but with a tree swallow in residence, the martins will go elsewhere. But you know what? I will take what I can get.
Saturday, April 29, 2006
Today, a subadult male Purple Martin checked out our plastic martin gourd. He flew in, and stayed there for quite a while...I had to leave, so I don't know how long he was in there. When I got home, I closed up the martin compartments again, because the house sparrows were nest building in them. But here's the key: They won't go into the gourd. Maybe I need a few more gourds and use the compartments for trapping the HOSP.
I now have TWO bluebird boxes...because yesterday there were 2 pairs of bluebirds arguing over the one box. Didn't see them today...only HOSP. So I put pinecones in the entrances of the boxes and will watch and wait some more.
I now have all potential HOSP nest sites closed in the hope that they will disperse, at least until some bluebirds or martins have a chance to nest. One interesting thing I saw was that the HOSP would not return to the martin house while the martin was in the gourd. Hmmm...are they afraid of him? I hope so.
But here's some good news: I have Carolina Chickadees sitting on eggs, in the sunflower box above. (It's in a tree now) So at least this yard will get some baby birds this year. I don't worry about this box getting massacred by the HOSP because they can't fit into the opening.
We have had sucessful chickadee nests come from this box before. Best $5 I have spent at Hobby Lobby yet. (It was one of their few real, functional nest boxes)
Little trivia for any non-birders in southern Ohio...if you see chickadees around, they are most likely Carolina chickadees, versus Black-Capped chickadees. I never knew until I became a birder that there was more than one kind. The "line of scrimage" here in Ohio is up near Columbus, with the Carolinas staying south, and the Black-Capped up north. Yet they overlap a bit, they are virtually identical, they hybridize and imitate each other's calls. But for all intents and purposes, we have Carolina's here. And I'm providing the shelter for a sweet new family of them. Ahhh...
Friday, April 28, 2006
Lorelei and I came in for a drink of water, and I suddenly could smell my Dad. Weird as it sounds. I was so forcibly reminded of him, it froze me.
I remembered how he would come in from the garden for a drink, and he would have the scents of gasoline, grass and hard work. It was so part of him, that smelling that smell today brought tears to my eyes.
I picked Lorelei up and sat her on the counter. Desperately needing a hug, I held her close, and thank goodness she was in the mood to be hugged. It was then that I realized that I smelled of gasoline, grass and hard work.
It got me thinking; how much of Dad and his self is living on in me? God knows he tried to drop some wisdom on me...but how much stuck?
To be like my Dad is to be honest, hard-working, wise...not a bad thing, to be like Dad.
I hope I can say it, someday.
Thursday, April 27, 2006
The pond...well, it's kinda like a swamp right now
Smallest baby HOSP
Largest baby HOSP
I dropped Isabelle off at Mom's today for a sleepover. Today was so gorgeous...a bit cool, but hey, it's not like it snowed! I took Belle down to the pond in the field to look at the house sparrow babies (yep, they're still there) and to poke around the water.
I actually got a chance to bird, because Isabelle was enjoying the quiet.
She said, and I quote, "Wow, Mommy...it's so peaceful." How old is this child???!!!
But I didn't see any birds that caused any hysteria. Mourning Doves, grackles, house finches.
But that's okay...because Belle LET ME BIRD.
Rules: Post a list of the 10 birds you consider most beautiful on your blog; you may limit the list to the ABA area (continental United States and Canada) or use a geographic area of your choice. Mark birds you have seen with an asterisk. Tag 3 bloggers to keep it going.
1. Hooded Merganser
2. Northern Gannet
3. Ruby Throated Hummingbird *
4. Black-and-white Warbler*
5. Great Blue Heron *
6. Tree Swallow *
8. Purple Gallinule
9. Northern Saw-whet Owl
10. Ivory-billed Woodpecker * (just kidding)
Okay...I tag Cathy...but I don't really know any other bloggers to tag, ...at least, ones who actually read MY blog!
...Laura already tagged me, and she tagged Endment, too. It's up to you, Cathy!
How in the world can you really pick just 10? I think they are all beautiful...except for House Sparrows. :-)
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
I've been meaning to post about this, but never got around to it. This is dish soap...not the soap that goes in the dishwasher, but Dawn dish soap. And it really gets foamy in the dishwasher...and no one is owning up to putting it in there. I didn't know it was in there until the soap was pouring out of the washer in big sudsy piles. Oh, well...at least the floor got clean.
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Tuesday, April 25, 2006
Monday, April 24, 2006
We have lived in this house for 6 years, and we had never seen a snake. Today I saw two. The first one, I picked up by mistake while grabbing an old fence post off the ground. Needless to say, I almost wet myself. The second one was lying headless next to the magnolia, obviously a casualty of lawn mowing yesterday.
First photo...Geoff gets fun and interesting stuff from PR agencies when he writes about their clients, and today he got two bottles of new Samuel Adams beer in this box. Since it resembles a nestbox, I thought I could find a use for it. If any birders out there would like to venture a guess as to what kind of bird would nest in this, I would love to hear it. It's about 10 inches tall, 6 inches wide, and the hole is handle-shaped, kind of like a laundry basket handle. It would be easy enough to narrow the hole, since just about anything could crawl in there.
Above: I saw more purple martins soaring and twittering above the yard today, and I thought it was a good time to put up the pseudo-gourd I bought weeks ago. Maybe it will make the yard more noticeable. Sweet little martins, please come to my yard. I am willing to do anything for you. I will even throw you crickets when the weather's bad. I will trap the house sparrows who try to crowd you out. Anything you need. We are the most bird-friendly yard around!!!!
This is my started hummingbird garden: Catchfly, bee balm and bleeding heart. As soon as the catchfly was in the ground, a bunch of cute little flying beetles alighted on it.
BTW, I saw our first little hummer today...a female. Thank you for blessing our yard, little one. We will treat you right.
Take the Audubon Healthy Yard pledge.
And while we are on the subject, I need to get something out of my craw. When I see a Scott's Lawn Care or ChemLawn truck in our neighborhood, I want to puke.
Do these people have so much money that they would like to pay for something they don't need? Why are they poisoning their yard? Why are they killing their insect population? Why are they fertilizing the grass so it grows twice as fast?
Let's look at some facts:
1. Nature not only abhors a vacuum, but also abhors a monoculture. So these yards have grass and ONLY grass? So what? It's boring.
When a monoculture exists, any organism that is dangerous to the monoculture is capable of wiping it out. Totally wiping it out.
2. When you kill all the bugs in your yard, you are removing the food from baby birds' mouths. Many, many bird species depend on at least some insect food for their young.
Also, if left alone, nature is damn good at taking care of itself. Insect A eats Insect B, but Insect A is eaten by Bird A, B and C. So if you kill Insect A, you will be harming Birds A, B and C, but allowing Insect B to flourish and unbalance the whole thing.
3. Fertilizing your lawn makes it lush and green and pretty. It also makes it grow faster. That equals more mowing...which equals more gas being consumed...which increases our dependence on foreign oil and dirtying the air more...which falls into lakes and streams with the rain...which...I could go on and on.
Last note on fertilizing: When fertilizer runs off your property with rainfall, it ultimately ends up in some sort of natural body of water. This fertilizer feeds an algae bloom. This algae bloom a. Steals all the oxygen and kills off fish and b. Blocks out sunlight to other aquatic plants in the water and causes them to die.
Thinking about cancelling your lawn care yet?
If you have the money to spend on chemical lawn care, you have the money to donate to charity, or donate to wildlife conservation.
Sunday, April 23, 2006
Saturday, April 22, 2006
Friday, April 21, 2006
1. Where to put it?
CHECK: In the soggy section between the house and the pine island
2. How big should it be?
CHECK: As big as we can handle. Sites I researched all said that the pond you get will be about 30% smaller than you envisioned, and one of the top mistakes made in making a pond is starting too small.
3. How to dig a hole that big?
I am totally sure that everyone in the immediate area, and possibly beyond (Cathy, Laura, Endment, you up for it?) would love to come help us dig a really big, really muddy hole in our yard.
Okay, okay, people! Calm down! Everyone will get a chance!
Thursday, April 20, 2006
The first three had trashy nests, and no eggs.
Number four was a different story...
Five naked one-day old chicks and a warm egg. (See below for photos)
Now, I posted this morning how much I hate the little buggers, because I am trying my damnedest to get some bluebirds. And I tried to remember that as I carried the nest with the chicks and egg to the pond to leave in the grass. The chicks were peeping and begging.
In my head: They're House Sparrows...House Sparrows...you hate them...you hate them.
I got about 20 feet.
Returning the nest and inhabitants to the box, I had a rather unpleasant dichotomy raging in my head. Eggs, empty nests, no problem. Baby birds, no matter the species, I just can't do. Even eggs, I could throw away. Eggs don't peep at you, or shiver with cold or beg for food.
I spared the life of 6 House Sparrows today. I had it in my power to end their lives and the United States would have 6 less HOSP to contend with.
But I still couldn't do it.
It's made me wonder...how much of a hard-core birder am I? Do I care what those bird-or-die types will say?
Turns out that I don't care. I care about the sleepless nights I would have (and boy, would I!) and the anguish every time I walked by Mom's pond. I care about the life I held in my hand today...even if it was a House Sparrow life.
I couldn't do it.
Well, I saw my beautiful blue boy perched in our red maple, just staring at the nest box. I ran out, set the box back to rights and I am now watching and hoping. But as I was out there, I heard the hated cheat cheat cheat of the HOSP in the fir trees. Good God in Heaven, I hate those birds! If I were traveling abroad and happened to see them, say in London, going about their little birdy lives, I would appreciate them.
But they do not belong here and they are messing with the blues and giving me the blues!
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
Sharon Stiteler's blog had something interesting on it today. I didn't even know something like this existed, but birders in Wisconsin can take a test to become a "certified birder".
You know, I thought I knew a thing or two about birding, but there's no way in Hell that I could even begin to take this test.
I posted something about this a while back but the link wasn't working.
Now it is.
Native plants and landscaping ideas...worth checking out.
I was wondering when I would get around to living up to my blogger name.
Monday, April 17, 2006
|You Are Coke|
A true original and classic, you represent the best of everything you can offer.
Just the right amount of sweet, just the right amount of energy... you're the life of the party.
Your best soda match: Mountain Dew
Stay away from:Dr Pepper
Sunday, April 16, 2006
I admit it. I'm jealous.
Saturday, April 15, 2006
I haven't seen them any more today, but since they were adult males, they may very well have another spot they have previously nested, and were just passing through. One looked very interested in the bluebird house, though. When I told my Mom about them, she said that there was a semi-successful martin nest in one of the bluebird houses at the house way back when. Semi-successful meaning that a predator got to the eggs before they hatched.
News on the RAPTOR, Inc. front: I finally spoke to a lovely lady from RAPTOR yesterday, and I will be beginning my volunteer-ship with them on May 20. It is such a cool place, I can't wait. When I told her about wanting to trap House Sparrows, I mentioned that I could freeze them and give them to RAPTOR for prey food, and she thought that maybe they could use some LIVE ones for the Cooper's hawks. Rehab places like to gauge how ready a bird is to be released by giving it live prey to catch. So my plan to wipe out HOSP at the Williams "manor" may bring good to some lovely raptors.
Thanks to Birdchick for a link to rehab centers in our area.
What else...what else...
I strongly suggest to all my loyal readers, that if you get bored with my girls and my bird news, please visit Laura's blog for a change of pace. While she is a birder, she is also a bunny-lover and a bibliophile, and she always has something lovely to share. I can hear Jim now..."Who could possibly get tired of your girls? Are you crazy??" But really...my life is on a narrow path at this moment, and my subject matter doesn't get too deep, so I thought I would mix it up.
Another gorgeous blog is Endment. This woman gets the most fantastic bird photos. I don't know how she does it. She also shares poetry, some hers I think, some from others, that is moving, thought-provoking and above all peaceful. I am so glad I know about her blog...after a day of chaos, it's like a warm blanket and hot cocoa.
I hope everyone has a happy, healthy, safe, candy-filled, choco-licious Easter tomorrow!
I will certainly be posting adorable photos of the girls in their dresses and all the festivities.
Friday, April 14, 2006
Nellie wanted to check it out and ensure the safety of all involved.
Lorelei "helped" us alot. You can see the dining room chairs behind the blanket she's holding. The chinz fabric is part of the curtains we used to cushion everything. And my in-laws handed those down, too. Every time we leave their house, they try to pawn more stuff onto us.
That's if Jim can bear to part with it.
For all of his "rat" jokes, the man must be part Pack Rat himself."Come on, Belle!"