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Posts Tagged ‘robin fledgling’

Somehow, to me the title of this post sounds like a fine title for a children’s book.   It would be a sort of “Goodnight Moon,” only about birds.

A few days ago I was gazing out my bathroom window at the Hosta Dell, as I am wont to do.   It is a view that particularly pleases me.  These shots were taken several years ago, but it looks much like this now, although the hostas have really filled in.

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Note the bird house on the left post of the pergola.   That is a wren house, and there is a pair of wrens that has “owned” it for several years.

Part of the reason I like to look out the bathroom window is I can watch and listen to the goings on without having my presence disturb the tenants.   It is quite amusing. The redbud on the other side of the fence is the vantage point where the male wren proclaims his territory.   The pergola and shrubs nearby are great hunting grounds for all sorts of bugs, as is the Hosta Dell itself.

A few days ago I heard all sorts of commotion going on out there, so I took a peek and discovered that the rock ridge has attracted a resident, an Eastern Chipmunk.   Although I have no idea what the sex of this rodent is, I shall refer to it as “he” for the purposes of this story.

Said chipmunk was over near the fence where there are rail road ties that keep the gravel of the rock garden from migrating under the fence and into the front yard.   The ties are pretty old and decrepit, and have lots of rot in the center, places where maple seeds and other edibles tend to collect.   So he was investigating the possibilities for breakfast and suffering through a proper dressing down from the Papa wren, who was bouncing along the top of the fence and generally making his displeasure known in no uncertain terms.

This intrigued me, as I could not see what danger a chipmunk could possibly pose to the wren family.   My amazement grew as I observed the wren take a couple of dive bomb runs at the chipmunk’s head.   He took cover in a crack in the railroad tie, and I settled in to watch the proceedings.   The wren was not deceived by the disappearance of the chipmunk, and sat on the fence proclaiming “You’re not fooling anyone, you know!”  Eventually the chipmunk stuck his head out and began looking for maple seeds, an activity I heartily endorse.  The more he eats the less there will be sprouting in my garden.  I wish he would eat cherry pits.

The wren was having none of it, however, and once again flew down intrepidly and pecked the hapless chipmunk on the head.   He gave up on breakfast and dashed across the rock garden to his front door, pursued by the wren.

For the life of me, I could not understand what was the big deal about the chipmunk.  It wasn’t a cat, or anything I perceived as predatory.   Curious, I repaired to Google and looked up chipmunks.   Suddenly it all became clear.   The chipmunk, eater of seeds and other vegetarian sorts of things, is not so innocent.   It turns out they are opportunistic predators and will eat bird eggs and fledglings if they are convenient.   They have been observed to climb trees to get to nests of eggs.

Suddenly the wren’s attitude did not seem quite so odd.   The wren is a very small bird, and the fledglings would make a tasty morsel for  a hungry chipmunk.

Wrens ARE very small, and one year I observed a blue jay attempting to eat a freshly fledged wrenlet.   It was only because I intervened and liberated the chick from the jaws of death (literally) that his nefarious plan was foiled.

I suppose this post could be entitled “Wrens do not like much of anybody” as pretty much everyone is a potential predator when you are that small.  I have been keeping my eye on the wrens for a couple of weeks.  I have been listening to the chicks get louder and more demanding as the days go by, and I was hoping to catch the fledging.

Today was the magic day:  They fledged this afternoon.   No wonder it was so loud in that bird box.   The proud wren parents managed to raise up FIVE little wrens.   I discovered them in the snowball bush at the far end of the stroll garden (far from where the chipmunk lives!).   All five of them were grouped in a nice organized troop on one branch.  Of course I did not have my camera, so I ran to get it.

Mama wren is no dummy.   She saw me looking at her kids and knew the jig was up.   By the time I got back to the location with the camera, she had started marshaling them in a different direction.   There were still three in the snowball bush, but they were moving away fast, urgently directed towards safety by their mama.   However, I did manage to get a great shot of one of them in the snowball bush.

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One of his siblings had ensconced itself in the clematis.

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Another one was in the beach plum bush, but that picture was very blurry due to the fact that the wind was blowing and the little bird was not still enough for a good shot in the shadows.

But another one of the chicks got very excited by the whole thing and flew over the fence into the forsythia by the pond.   Immediately the parents went ballistic, telling it that it was too far away and it should just get it’s little butt back over to the group.   Obediently, he returned from his foray and perched on the fence, where I got a delightful portrait.   “What are you looking at?”  he seems to be saying.  “My mother told me not to associate with strangers, you should go away.”

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The mother wren seconded his sentiments, emphatically.   So I left them to it.

In other news, the second round of robin babies have hit the ground.   I had a new heuchera to plant, and I had sat the pot out under the pergola to await my attentions while I gave a couple of massages.   When I returned to my chore, I reached down to grab the pot and discovered that while I was gone it had been graced with an inhabitant.  Again, I ran off for the camera.   Can you see it?

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How about now?

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That bird child was the noisiest little bugger!   I scooped him up to put him on the spirea bush while I dealt with transplanting the heuchera, and the screeching that the little bird put up was impressive.

“I’m being molested, kidnapped, help! help! help!”  was the burden of his extremely loud complaints.

I expected his parents to come to his aid, but what I did not expect was every male robin in the yard.  They ALL came over and started yelling at me.   There were at least five male robins, a female (probably the baby’s mother).  Even more surprising was that  a gold finch and both wrens gave me what for right along with the robins.  Avian solidarity, I guess.

I put my head down and planted my plant, and then got the heck out of Dodge while my eyes were still in my head.

Life at The Havens is never dull!

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That old saying “Time flies when you’re having fun”  also applies to working hard.

I did indeed go to Alaska.  We cruised for three days up the Inside Passage to Juneau and Skagway.   It was beautiful.

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We went whale watching and did see whales, both humpbacks and orcas.  All those amazing photos you see of whales?   Taken by professionals who got 5000 shots just like mine:

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Out of focus and not very interesting.   But the experience was fantastic.

We also saw the Mendenhall Glacier.

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There was a glacially carved pond along the walk way to the view point.   I loved this.

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I was entranced by the moss/lichen forests.

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The area right below the view point for the glacier was roped off from visitors.   The arctic terns were nesting there.   I watched a pair in their mating dance; the male flew down to the glacial lake and brought his intended a little tiny salmon.   She accepted it.   Farther down the beach there was a female who was deep in the process of incubation.

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We went on a bus tour of the inland part of the state, starting in Canada and crossing into Alaska near Tok.   On to Fairbanks, where I did the tourist things I never did while I lived there:   sailing on the Riverboat Discovery on the Chena to the Tanana River, visiting a gold dredge and learning to pan for gold.   It was fun.

Then we took the Alaska Railroad to Denali National Park.   There were more mountains than it seems possible.   And wildlife.   Mostly moose.  This was taken on our wildlife tour in the park.   This mama had twin babies.   They were less than 24 hours old.

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When I got back home, there was a 60th birthday to celebrate, which was done appropriately.   Apparently I am not quite done with my birthday.   Yesterday in the mail I received a beautiful ammonite fossil that someone anonymously ordered off Etsy and had shipped to me.   I feel special and loved.

While we were aboard the ship, we sat for professional portraits.   I believe this is a good way to demonstrate how 60 looks.

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Back at home, I had plenty of work waiting for me.   I got my day lily bed north of the stroll garden cleaned out, much to the day lilies’ relief.  They were being swamped by goldenrod, violets, wild iris and sundry other volunteers.   That took a few days.

I also had to catch everyone up on their massages, and I have been very busy with that ever since we got home.

Last night Jim mentioned that he thought we ought to rake the algae out of the pond that has been forming.  I went out there to do some of that this afternoon.  I decided to be circumspect about it, rather than just wholesale rake in clumps of algae.   I am very glad I did.   It is being used by literally dozens of tiny salamander newts.   They were not too happy to be fondled and photographed by the local paparazzi.

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You can see his gills and tiny legs.   I believe we may  be leaving the algae alone.

Of course the robins have been very busy too.  This fellow was outside my massage room window the other day, chirping loudly to his parents to induce them to feed him.   They were just as loudly exhorting him to move his butt off the juniper and learn to hunt for himself.   He won the day that afternoon, but I saw him out on the lawn a couple of days later, following his papa around and learning to find bugs for himself.   This is so gosh darned cute.

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When I left in mid May, the vegetable garden only had the cool weather crops in, and so since the beginning of June I got the squash, beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and I don’t know what all else planted.   It is doing just fine.

We’ve been feasting on beautiful salads.

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This is how the garden looks today.   Notice the wooden boxes rather in the middle.   Those are the potato towers.   I’ll let you know how the crop is.

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Just in case I thought that all this belonged to me, the wren was there to set me straight.

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Well, that catches you all up a bit, I hope.   It is a long summer still.   Now I believe I shall hang out ANOTHER load of laundry and then take Ruby for a walk.

It won’t be a moment too soon for Mallory, who is trying to take a nap on the chair behind me and wishing I would move my derriere off Her Chair so she can get comfortable.  Cats.   Always willing to put your importance into perspective.

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It’s hard to believe, but the time has come for the first Alaska cruise of my summer.  Yes, I did say the first, because I really am going on two!  This one is all paid for by my dear mother.   I am going along with her on a sea/land tour from Vancouver to Denali.   My two sisters will be on this expedition too.

Then in August, Jim and I are going on an Inside Passage cruise from Vancouver, which will be a mini family reunion for him: one of his brothers, his sister and their spouses will be attending that one.   I feel sort of like a jet setter this year.

So anyway, I will be off line for a couple of weeks.

I got busy and finished the top half of the son and daugher-in-law’s quilt.   I think it looks rather spectacular myself.

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The two nests of baby robins I featured in the Snow in May post have developed nicely.  By the time I get home, they will be fledged and prancing about the lawn in youthful plumage.   Right now, they are rather cute.

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The yard is wonderful.   The wisteria will be all done by the time I get home.  It is in the last flush of bloom right now.   When you stand under the pergola, it literally hums with bees.

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There is a snowball bush in the stroll garden that is in full bloom right now.  Also, my clematis have begun their display.

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And the rock garden is looking very nice.   I imagine I will have to dead head the candytuft when I get home.  And hopefully the dianthus will not be completely finished.  I just love to stand there and smell it when it’s in full bloom.

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Well, you all stay healthy and happy while I’m off gallivanting, okay?

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I couldn’t think of anything to title this post.   I am considering that perhaps The Havens will need a name change in the near future.  Out in California, there is a city called Twentynine Palms because when it was settled there were 29 palm trees there.

I’m thinking that we need to change the name of The Havens to Twentynine Thousand Elms:

You see all those little seedlings down along the driveway in this picture?   Those are sprouted elm seeds.   It is like that all over my gardens right now.    Like I need another project:   pulling up elm trees.

While I was throwing water at my lavender bed today, I noticed that one of the shrubs was shaking in a most emphatic manner.   When I moved the branches aside, this is what I saw.

That is a baby rabbit, that was stashed there for nursing purposes by its mamma.   I think it is very interesting that soon after rabbits get past the two inch stage, the mother separates them out of the nest and stashes them in various safe places, then visits them regularly for feeding.   I can see that this would be a good thing because if a predator comes across one baby, it has not come across the whole litter.   It must make for a very busy day for the mother, though.

Anyway, the burden of what this little guy was telling me was something like, “My mommy told me to stay put but it is so WET all of a sudden and I just don’t know what to do now!”

Yes, very wet behind the ears.   And everywhere else, too.   Despite the knowledge that in short order this little bunny will be eating my flowers, I did NOT snap its neck after this picture was taken.   I put him back down in the lavender for his mother to take care of.

I probably was feeling kindly towards all young wild ones this morning as I discovered that the robin nest under my window that I was featuring is empty this morning.   A skunk, raccoon, owl, cat, or snake cleaned it out in the last 24 hours.   Sad.   But we still have lots of robin nests around the place with kiddios, and the parents are starting over again already.   They have chosen and high place in the elm this time, probably it will be better luck for them than a shrub at nearly ground level.

 Out in the vegetable garden, the garter snake was hunting in the lettuces.

This is basically what my father thinks I am right now, since I am part and parcel of the conspiracy to “isolate” him at an apartment in town.    Like he isn’t isolated right now, at the end of a half mile driveway that crosses a hollow and is washed out so badly the only vehicle that can manage it should be a truck, preferably 4 wheel drive.   Like he isn’t isolated now, since all his friends are dead and no one around the neighborhood can stand him because he is so opinionated; even my mother lives in a separate house and doesn’t go to visit him, he goes to visit her.

Oh, he blows hot and cold.   He tells me that he can take care of himself, does just fine, and blows off the suggestion that the fact that he was admitted to the hospital malnourished and dehydrated belies this statement.  Then in the next breath he wants to know what he is going to do for food at the apartment  if he is” isolated” in town.  This is because deep in his heart he knows the only square meals he gets are the ones my mother prepares for him, and if he’s in town she won’t be catering for him.   Jim and I will be, but he doesn’t know that yet.

I am taking note of all this experience.   I will give Jesse a link to these blog posts so he can show them to me when I get old and difficult and need help and am insisting that I can do it all myself.

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Blessed event

Remember the nest full of blue eggs?

I’ve kept an eye on them, much to the dismay of the proud mama.

Yesterday, when I looked in the nest about 9 a.m., this is what I saw…

About an hour later, I looked again.   If you look closely, you can see that one of the eggs now has a little hole in it where the chick is pecking its way out.

I had to give a massage, so I went and did that.   As soon as the massage was over, I went out and found a freshly hatched chick.  Still wet.

Hungry too, it seems.

This morning, the last egg had hatched too.   There are four babies in this nest.

When we first moved to this place, my mother gave me some iris tubers.  One of them was pink.   It bloomed a couple of times, and then it disappeared for years.   Suddenly this spring, I noticed the tubers which had not bloomed for years made a reappearance.

This next one is one of a set of six different irises that Jim’s mother sent me the first year we lived here.   She lived in California, and the box of tubers arrived here in early November.   I found a place to put them in the ground, which was cold and wet.   A couple of days later it snowed.   I was pretty sure that those irises wouldn’t survive, but they certainly did.   And they bloomed the next spring, too.

They’ve been blooming every year since.

Odd how such an ephemeral and delicate blossom can be so very very hardy and durable.

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I guess I’ve been studying Syncopated Eyeball’s work for long enough now.   I was walking the dog at sundown the other night and captured the three day old waxing crescent.   While I was cropping it, I realized that I was tuned in to the textures and forms that I see in her photos and finding them in mine.

The clouds were pretty amazing that afternoon.   A big thunderstorm was just over and the front was blowing through as the sun went down.

One of the things I dislike about my town is its insistence on above ground power poles.   It makes it hard to get any “clean” shots of atmospheric phenomena.

In other news, we have the Iowa Niece living with us now.   We are very much enjoying her presence in our home, she is a lot of help and a willing worker.   Of course, we want her to eventually be able to get a job and pursue her education, but right now I am REALLY happy to have a minion to help me with the garden chores.

The dianthus are going nuts now.

Little robins not fledged yet.

The mother robin was on the nest when I went over there, and I was cussed up one side and down the other while I was getting that shot.

The bees have left the ajuga and have turned their attentions to the Ninebark.

And, I have done a few more journal pages.   These are actually two separate pages, done two days apart.   When I took the protective paper away from the left hand side I found that there were certain congruencies between the two that were interesting.

So, I’m off to the garden to do some pruning and weeding.

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As I mentioned previously, I have been involved in a fifth grade science project.  It has been quite the experience in many ways.

One of the best results of this endeavor has been an increase in closeness with our neighbors.   We have been “good neighbors” for quite some time.   The husband works at the barrel factory and he often brings home kiln dried oak which was destined for the waste fire.   This is absolutely the best kindling ever.  When I have extra fruit and veggies, I share with them.  But helping the daughter with this project has really cemented good relations.   I am starting to really bond with the mother, who I am sure will start helping Jim and me with our Spanish project.   We feel that since we are destined to travel to Costa Rica fairly often for the foreseeable future, acquiring a certain basic facility in that language is a good idea.

So, great excitement all week as we collaborated on the final product of our little study of cherry seedlings.   I am sorry to report that I neglected to take a picture of the awesome display board that my young neighbor and her older sister produced, complete with home made lettering for the title, which was illuminated with hand produced construction paper cherries.   My role consisted of making sure that the project was more or less grammatically correct with as few mis-spellings as possible.   This was complicated by the young lady’s slight dyslexia, but we worked to minimize that.

I also spent considerable time discussing the results of the experiment with her, helping her interpret the numbers we came up with.   That was one of the learning curves I observed with my young student.   She quickly learned that when you are writing the measurements down, it behooves you to produce something legible enough that you can read it later when you are calculating your averages.   We also ascertained that when you are making calculations, if you leave out decimal points when you do your data entry on the calculator, it can really skew your results.  (!)

Anyway, we got the project done, and done well, and it was turned in ahead of time, which must have shocked the heck out of the teacher given the complete lack of anything at all being done a few short days ago.  And it was obviously her own work (with evident knowledgeable guidance) too.

So yesterday, with great excitement, my young student revealed the grade we received on our project to me.

I feel bad about the reduction in score on the “Procedure” section.   I realize in retrospect that I never really read that section over very closely.   I was a lot more concerned with our conclusions and guiding the thought processes about the numbers.   The young lady is smart as a whip, and I discovered very quickly that with her reading/writing challenge, she has a learning pattern that works best when she “hears” information and then discusses it.

Anyway, I couldn’t be prouder of the results of this activity.   Jim commented to me as we were getting ready for bed last night that I may have created an on-going job for myself.   I told him that I was certainly aware of the risk, and had indicated to the neighbors that I am available any time to be a teaching resource.   I suspect that I may be called on in the future, and I hope so.   I really had quite a lot of fun helping out and exercising my teaching skills.

In other news, there have been developments out in the robin’s nest.

A lot can happen in five days.  Those young-uns will be ready to fledge in a couple of days.

Also, the irises are being spectacular right now.

All I did with the above shot was crop it.  That is the rising sun refracted in that drop, and if I could have just moved one micron to the left that would have been red rather than yellow.

Finally, last but not least, we have been working crazily to get the yard whipped into shape for the upcoming nuptials.   Jim has been working on fixing the privacy fence, which suffered quite a bit from the heavy snows this winter and the strong winds this spring.   I have been working on the flower gardens, which at this point mostly involves weeding and cheerleading the existing beds.

Somehow, the clematis vine on the fence seems to have gotten wind of what is coming up, and has arranged itself appropriate for the occasion.

To my imaginative and romantic eye, this looks like the rough outline of a heart, and I wish I had the bride and groom here so I could pose them in front of it.  Maybe it will still be here in a couple of weeks when they are here.

Actually, my devious little mind has already applied itself to the problem of how to prune, nudge, and encourage this particular shape to develop more fully.

The sun has finally moved around to the north far enough that the dragon on the sauna wall casts a shadow.

I’ll be keeping an eye on this installation as the season progresses.

Now, I really MUST produce something for breakfast before my blood sugar crashes even further.

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