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Posts Tagged ‘robin nest’

Last night the weatherperson was having the equivalent of a weather orgasm all over the place.   We were setting records in the Ozarks, right and left.   Let’s see, we had the lowest high temperature ever.   I think we set a record for the lowest low temperature for that date.   It snowed in Arkansas, an event that has not happened in May for 194 years.   It snowed here too, something that last happened 106 years ago.

Last night as we were eating our dinner a little flurry set in.   I felt compelled to try to capture it, and I’m telling you that snowfall is hard to get on a still picture.   All those white streaks?   Snow.

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This is how it looked this morning.

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The reason the perspective is so odd on the last one is I was standing on the step ladder.   As you can see, pansies and the peas in the tubs below don’t give a rap that they were snowed on.

The cats know how to deal with snow.

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This photo is remarkable for two reasons.   First, there is a fire going in the stove.   In May.  Unheard of.   Second, Impy is actually lying in front of it.  The first time he witnessed fire being made in the stove his reaction was terrorized disbelief, never having seen a fire or heard it snapping and popping.  He was sure there was some sort of cat-eating monster residing in the living room.  As you can see, Mallory has managed to educate him about the subject.

So, lest you should believe that this spring snow is some sort of horrible environmental disaster, let me reassure you on that point.   Sure, it is chilly, but the frozen precipitation that caused such ecstasy for the meteorologists came without a hard freeze.   So the garden goes on, almost without acknowledging that anything odd or record breaking has occurred.

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It’s a good thing I got out there and got those pictures when I did.   In the time it took me to download them, edit them and get this far on my post, the snow on the wisteria has all melted.

I was concerned about the robins, whom I know for a fact have been very busy incubating eggs lately.   Jim showed me one out in one of the cedars a few days ago who was guarding new hatchlings.   So, the few days of cold and unseasonable snow made me worried for the little family.

I went out to see what I could see.  She was sitting tight.

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She did not like me or the camera, and left the nest to yell at me from a convenient locust tree.   Her mate joined her in vociferous complaints.   Since the nest was open, I thought I’d grab a quick look.

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Not wanting those naked babies to get cold, I left immediately.  I hadn’t gotten fifty feet away before Mama was back on the nest.   So that was all right.

The robin who has chosen to nest on the dragon head driftwood is hyper-vigilant.    You can’t walk into the back yard past the corner of that sauna without her jumping off the nest and flying over to the fig tree to tell you all about it.   This morning was no exception.

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I had my doubts about the viability of her eggs given that pattern of behavior.  Apparently all that flying off didn’t keep the eggs from developing.

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I guess that the cold weather this morning made it possible for her to ignore my presence over by the pond, because she got back on the nest while I was there, which is not her typical pattern.

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She was able to stay on her babies while I walked back to the house.   Of course, the fact that I walked WAY over by the fence behind where the clothesline is may have had something to do with it.

Well, I”m not so overjoyed by this weather pattern as the weatherman, but it certainly has been interesting.

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It has been a while since I made a bird report about activity at the Havens.   I feel a trifle derelict in my duty, since the stated purpose of my land is to provide me (and my family and friends) with organic food while also providing a  suburban wildlife habitat.  We’ve been pretty successful as habitat landlords, with a few notable exceptions.

One was the great skunk escapade.   I can report that we have reliably excluded them from our crawl space.   Finally.   They still live around here, and I find their modest grub foraging holes around the yard regularly.

Last summer we had a ground hog move into the pile of dirt the covers our root/storm/wine cellar.   I don’t think I wrote about that little episode.   I was happy to have him live there, there was lots of clover and stuff for him to eat, but he decided that the vegetable garden was far superior in the gourmet offerings, and spent no considerable effort digging under the fence to get to it.   We countered his efforts with a trap, which he rather insolently reacted to by digging in at another place.   So we got a second trap and he dug a third tunnel.   It didn’t take us long to figure out that this whole exercise was one in futility, and so our next gambit was to buy chicken wire (much cheaper than live traps) and install it along the back fence where he was digging through.   Attached to the board of the fence, it extended out along the ground about two feet.   So, he figured out he could weasel his way under it anyway.

We were on the point of the next escalation, which involved electric fence installation, when I went out to the garden one fine morning and found Sir Ground Hog busily eating my beans.   Of course, Ruby was with me, and when the ground hog saw her he went bustling off to his tunnel, and exited the garden precipitously.   Ruby was in hot pursuit, of course, but she couldn’t go through the tunnel so she dashed out the gate and around the fence.   Meanwhile, the panicked and bean fattened rodent had gotten himself entangled in the chicken wire in his haste to leave the premises.   He managed to get free before Ruby got there — not that she would had done anything other than bounce and bark at him, but he didn’t know that.  Anyway, that very morning he packed his bags and left for a less exciting neighborhood, much to my and the beans’ relief.

I believe that the skunk has appropriated that abandoned burrow.    This suits me just fine.

Of course we have tons of rabbits, which has resulted in great horned owls and barred owls hunting in the yard.   This is partly why my cats live inside.  The other part is that I did not go to a lot of trouble to create a wildlife habitat just so I could introduce an exotic predator.   Domestic cats are one of the major predators of song birds, and my cats do not need that food source in their diet, they are plenty well fed as is.

Yesterday morning as we arose at the crack of dawn, we heard a most lovely bird song right under our bedroom window, one that we did not recognize.   Very melodic and sweet, it rang out a couple of times, and was answered from the redbud tree.

“Who is that?” we asked each other in unison.   We moved to the window and gently raised the shades so we could get a better view.   Imagine our astonishment to observe the the birds that were singing this beautiful dawn song were a pair of catbirds.    I have only heard their “Cat! cat! cat!” call, and the plaintive meowing call that always makes me want to look for the lost kitten until I realize I have been fooled by bird song.  What a nice surprise to learn they have a beautiful courting song.   I must investigate those shrubs to see if they have taken up residence there.

We have brown thrashers raising a couple of youngsters in the yard, as well as cardinals.   The grackles are being followed by importunate chicks, who would much rather have their parents stuff bugs in their maws than find food for themselves.   Yesterday I observed a mama grackle demonstrating how one gets a drink at the bird bath, after which she showed her youngster the benefits of bathing as well.    Neither process impressed the young grackle in the slightest, and in disgust the mother hopped down onto the ground and began foraging again, assiduosly ignoring the brat following her around making demands for more dinner.  “I’ve done my best,” she seemed to be communicating.   “Find it yourself, I’m busy.”

I have been amused by the robins.   First they made a nest in the crotch of the wisteria, successfully raising three babies.    This was the most disturbed robin’s nest I’ve seen in a while, since the owner thought that our regular use of the path just 4 feet from the nest was excessive and just plain wrong.   So their next nest was in the elm tree by the garden shed.   Fine.

Now we have new construction, again in the wisteria.  Apparently, the first nest wasn’t close enough to the path.   Can you spot the nest in this picture?

Here, let me give you a clue.

Yes, that is it, right there on the corner of the arbor, where the mama robin feels compelled to flee every time I go out to the garden, or carry laundry to the line, or come back from one of those excursions.   Then she and her husband sit over on the wood shed and scold me.   Like I wasn’t using that path on a regular basis the whole time they were building that nest.

Apparently the disturbance hasn’t been so great that it precluded some successful mating activity.  Nosy neighbor that I am, I got out my kitchen step stool and climbed up there to investigate the situation.   Needless to say, my activities were NOT approved of by the parents.

Lets see, the wren chicks have fledged both on the back porch and in the garden, and now that they are successfully out on their own, their parents have embarked on a new clutch.   One of the sets of babies met each other and evicted the english house sparrows from the next box out by the vineyard and have been discussing housing arrangements quite vociferously.

We netted the last of the rows of grapes yesterday.   While we were doing it, a robin left the vicinity.   I distinctly heard him damning us as he left.  They know how effective the net is, and don’t like us for excluding us from such a delicious and convenient food supply.

In other bird news, both the rock doves and ring necked doves have increased their populations to the point where they are flocks rather than small groups.   That is just fine with me.   I also have a large group of cardinals using the area.   The gold finches and house finches are all around the place right now, enjoying echinacea and liatris seeds in addition to the niger seed I have in the feeder.

In addition to the chickadees, we have sparrows flitting about the place:  song, field, fox, white throated, white crowned and chipping.   A few years ago I would not have been able to tell the difference, but practice has made me a better bird watcher.

Blue jays are ubiquitous.  Right now they are keeping the yard cleared of June bugs, a hunt that amuses me as I watch them pursue the flying beetles until they catch them.   Then they take them to a branch and pound on them to open their hard carapace.

I found some of their moulted feathers the other day, and was fascinated to realize how different the colors are on their wings as opposed to their bodies.   The first image is a small chest feather.   The second is a wing feather next to the same chest feather.

The red tailed hawk dropped a wing feather the other day.   I found it while I was walking Ruby out at the conservation area.   A couple of days later I saw her hunting, and noticed the gap in her wing where the feather had been lost.  She’ll grow another soon enough.

I was captivated by the grass shadows cast by the rising sun on the white part of the feather.

Another denizen of the Havens habitat is the Cooper’s hawk.   She hunts here on a regular basis, and last year I even got to witness a hunting lesson for her fledgling which resulted in the demise of one of the house finches.   Success for the young hawk; not such a great outcome for the finch.   I’m not too sorry; I have know for years that I have a multi-tiered bird feeder.   I feed the seed eaters which are prey for the small hawks.   It’s all good.

I haven’t seen the hawk lately, but I know she has been around.  I have seen several meal sites in the area, scattered with tossed feathers.  She lost a tail feather just last week.    I imagine she either caught it on a branch has she was jinking and turning in pursuit of breakfast, or it was time for it to be moulted and she yanked it out while perched.  Anyway, it was on the ground under the elm where the niger seed feeder is.  I moved it for a better shot.

Right this minute I hear a hummingbird scolding out by my hostas.   As I jump up to look out the window, I see it is a mama with a baby, showing it the ropes of foraging.

How cool.

I believe I shall go out to the garden and see what’s happening out there.   Maybe the ants will have left.   Ha ha ha ha ha ha.  As if.  Maybe a flock of flickers will have come by and eaten them all.     Hahahahahaha.

I can dream, though, right?

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Friday night I had a date in Kansas City with my niece and some jazz.  I spent the drive up there and back brushing up on my Spanish skills.   I feel like if I’m going to be running back and forth to Costa Rica every little whipstitch, I’d better be able to say more than just “Please” and “Thank you.”  It is amazing how much of that language I have stored in the back cupboards of my skull.

Kansas City is quite a place, I certainly enjoy visiting it.   We really had a wonderful time, and I can testify from personal experience that the food at The Phoenix is as good as the music.  Plus they have really good beer on tap.

After we thoroughly enjoyed the performances by Lonnie McFadden and his two beautiful daughters, which were ably accompanied by the piano guy (Mark?) and an amazing drummer, we walked down the street from our hotel to indulge in some ice cream.    It has been a while since I had such a very nice evening.  Next morning we went down to the Kansas City Market and visited the prairie plant sale being held by the Missouri Prairie Foundation.  That is where I received my birthday and winter season present for the coming year:   a selection of plants (my choice) total value one hundred dollars.

This picture does not do the selection justice at all.   It has been raining today (good for the little plants in their pots) and not windy, so I didn’t get a very good photo of my new babies.   They are destined to be planted out behind the sauna in that garden bed, along with the seeds I started last fall that have been residing in pots in the vegetable garden.   It’s about time to get them out of their pots and into the ground.

I have been getting that bed ready for its new function all spring.   Everything can live there quite nicely while I get the front ready for the new prairie installation.    I hope they all grow wonderfully and reseed themselves and propagate themselves so next fall when I am ready to plant that front yard I will have a good portion of the several thousand plants I will need to make the front look grand.  Fortunately I have several successful little nurseries going on all over the place.   The stroll garden is just one big native plant nursery right now.   There are several hazelnuts started out there, as well as numerous grasses.

After A. and I went to the native plant sale, we visited Williams Sonoma and selected a set of measuring cups for Jim.  Actually, we got there before the store opened, so we walked over to Starbucks and indulged in coffee.  After drooling our way through WS,  we visited a little boutique, where I tried on a cute couple of little dresses that were floaty and comfortable except for the fact that they were designed for that darned Twiggy again — no room for any bustline whatsoever.   It was fun going through the racks of clothes, though.   Then I came home and looked into my closet and realized that I really don’t need any more clothes, not really.   I already have a huge selection of very nice stuff that I don’t dare to put on because sure as fate if I did I’d see a weed that needed pulling and that would lead to other tasks and then it would be all over for that nice lace blouse or elegant afternoon tea dress.

That bad girl took me into the Apple store and tempted me with a iPad, which I could see Jim liking a lot.  After the way the cell phone chose to die on me on the way up to KC, I am leery of taking custody of any other electronic devices, so I didn’t even pretend to bite at the salesman’s pitch.  In fact, I asked him how long it was hardened against people with my sort of energy body.  We really had a fun chat, actually.  He has an aunt that kills watches the same way I do, but he doesn’t know if she has the same problem with remotes and other electronics that I do.

All that shopping made us hungry, so we went back over to the market area and had a fantastic lunch at a middle eastern restaurant there (whose name escapes me); the food was wonderful.   The dolmas and the baba ghanoush were amazing.    The hummus was pretty darned good too.  Then I had to tear myself away from the blandishments of the Big City and head home,  but not before I was gifted with a lavish amount of chocolate chip cookies and a piece of flourless chocolate cake enrobed in a chocolate sauce (for Jim — he let me have a taste and it was quite good).

When I got home we went to the local Chinese restaurant that we favor:  The Great Wall.   Usually we order off the menu as the food is better, but we were not really wanting to wait to eat, so we partook of the buffet, and it was pretty good.  They actually had some spicy food out for once.   Then we got our fortune cookies.  Jim opened his up and said, “I don’t believe it!  How do they know?!”  He was reading his fortune out loud to me as I opened my cookie.

I’m sorry, but this is just trippy.

It’s especially trippy considering what has been going on in our lives lately, what with the science project, the son getting married, and our niece coming here to live.  She is scheduled to arrive sometime today.

Today, it has been raining, so I did a certain amount of house work.   I stopped short of cleaning the stove, but we did feel moved to clear some of the accumulation of centuries out of the closet that our niece from Iowa is destined to use.   You would not believe how much crap two people can accumulate in a few short years.  There were several dead remotes from sundry electronic apparati, and I don’t know how many cords.  In addition to all that, there was all sorts of stuff (now in the recycling and trash), plus there was a lifetime supply of raw incense resins and woods from the Middle East that Jim acquired back in the 80s when he was stationed on the USS LaSalle in the Indian Ocean.  There is oud, frankincense, myrrh, dragon’s blood, sandalwood and several essential oils as well.  That got moved into our closets, along with a whole lot of other stuff which I shall not enumerate here.

Needless to say, that wound up involving clearing out the top shelves of both of our closets which was another instructive exercise  accumulation as well.   I have learned that I am an accomplished squirrler-away-of fabrics of all sorts, especially wools, cottons and silks.

One of the things that fascinated me as I straightened up the book cases in the back bedroom is that there is room on those shelves.   I was able to put almost every book on those shelves on the shelf vertically.   I am still trying to figure out why I had so many books stacked on their sides in front of other books.   Anyway, those book cases are now ready to receive other stuff on them, and have been dusted.

I also cleaned the bathroom.  I have spent many moments of my life trying to figure out why bathrooms get so dirty so fast.   I still don’t know.

I spent some quality time with Ruby this afternoon, throwing the ball, and weeding, and planting some seeds.   I got wild flowers and nasturtiums planted, but decided that the requisite warmth during the nights has not started happening, so I am waiting to plant the zinnia seeds.

It turns out that I was the beneficiary of TWO Easter Bunny visits this year.   The kids across the street hid a dozen decorated eggs for me to look for, and thoroughly enjoyed the fact that I played the game.  It turns out that the basket of chocolates was the largesse of my niece A., and so I feel doubly blessed!

Who knows what the morrow shall bring.

I do know that the robin nest on the air conditioner on the sauna dressing room has been the scene of a blessed event.

And the nine bark is blooming too.

Tomorrow I will try to get some decent shots of the front garden, which is sporting poppies and irises right now, with a lovely understory background of wood hyacinths.

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