Thursday, May 01, 2008


Susan said, “It's a thrilling time, with a freshly arrived migrant around every corner, or a sleepy overwintered butterfly." Yay, Susan! She must be kidding or I must be living in another world.

What migrants? Where are the migrants? Maybe I need my eyes examined, or, they all conspired to pack it up for the night after I get home from work. Last spring I had a male Rose-breasted Grosbeak for two days and that’s it! When I read her post last night I gritted my teeth and felt a rant coming on.

Spring isn't good here. Perhaps it's because we're in a subdivision fairly young in years - eight at the most, or I'm too far from heavily wooded areas. I don't know. Every day I read e-mails from the county Audubon listserve from many tickled pink backyard bird watchers boasting about the array of birds in their backyards which, by the way, must be located at the edge of a nature preserve. Typically reported this week: Red-eyed Vireo, Indigo Bunting, Scarlet Tanager, Veery, Black-Throated Blue Warbler (whaaaat????), Peeping Yellow Rump, Tennessee Warbler, Nashville Warbler, Orchard Oriole, Eastern Wood Pee-Wee, blah blah blah. All lifers for me. So, I held my head high and went to the grocery store today.


What a stupid thing to do. We don’t even eat jelly around here. How’s an oriole going to lap it up if they don’t stop at my buffet?

And then there’s Sherry in Missouri, the backyard bird goddess in a wide-brimmed hat who sashays around her yard every day spooning out the jelly, serving oranges, rotten bananas, frozen or fresh berries in pretty little plates for the migrants who tell all their friends and family she’s the best deal in town. They land on the brim of her hat.


Meanwhile, I’m feeding Brown-headed Cowbirds, Mourning Doves, etcetera.

Mourning Doves are cute. The way they do that little head-bobbing thing while they waddle along is very endearing. But they sit and eat and sit and eat and sit and eat. A dozen of them, sitting and eating. Aaaaack.

Jayne in Georgia is another one that makes my eyes roll because every day she has a surprise visitor. For instance, a Summer Tanager perches on her deck, right in front of her kitchen sink. She grabs her camera and in one snapshot, “Oh, my, that’s a perfect shot on the first try! Lovely close-up! I must post this one!” Only Jayne is blessed enough to witness baby Bluebirds fledging, shown in stunning photos.

At Mary's View,


I exclaim, “Oh, my, look at those beautiful shades of blue, purple, and teal! Can’t wait to post a pigeon!”


Just look at the bottom bin in my refrigerator where a month’s supply of Zick dough awaits for my ordinary flocks. Add the oranges, grapes, suet cakes, shelled nuts, niger and black oil sunflower seeds, worms, maybe grape jelly, and I might as well go out and purchase a small picnic table and set up a real buffet complete with new ceramic plates and spoons for the pretty birds. Starlings and Grackles would freak out and cause a food fight.


I’ve wanted to pick up a broom to beat the living hell out of a Starling a few times when I see them dive and crash into a Chickadee and a Carolina Wren in a mad rush for the worms. I haven't seen or heard a Carolina Wren in two weeks and I miss them.

Oh, and I can’t forget Ruthie in Minnesota who will be having hummingbirds and Chickadees eating out of her hand soon. All the while, she’ll be giggling and thinking, “Mary’s gonna blow a fuse about this.” Tee-hee. Ha Ha.



My rant is over.


I calmed down this evening.


I still have two crazy Cuckoos that make me smile


and keep me running for hula hoops.


Sleepy, overwintered moth? Whatever. Blends nicely in the cedar. But I want a Scarlet Tanager. A Baltimore Oriole would be nice, too.

Dammit. ;-)


beckie said...

Bless your heart, Mary. If you don't have something to rant about-you go looking for something! I know what you mean about all the birders who see such fantastic birds without even trying. I have a cousin who I swear to God, mimics their calls so they do come to her yard. Me, I saw a red headed, brown bottom, green clawed woodpecker the other day and was thrilled.(well, maybe it was just red headed.) Fight the good fight, Mary, and you will see your birds!

Say hi to the cuckoos!

Ruth said...

Mary! I am so envious of the backyard birds you get. And your pigeon looks very beautiful. I have to walk miles to see any of these other birds and have only seen a handful of warblers. If I was a bird I would rush to your yard...(only if you got rid of that big snake on your porch!)

Beth said...

oh you make me laugh. The birds don't know what they are missing.

Q said...

Dear Mary,
The birds will love the grape jelly! Brown Thrasher will trill his gratitude and Cat Bird will meow and come out of hiding....Mocking Bird will bring the little ones for a snack.
Just because the range maps say no Baltimore Orioles in N.C. doesn't mean they can't come to you....these birds do not read maps! They love the jellies!
I do sashay about the yard in a large brimmed hat refilling fruit trays and checking to make sure all the nut and seed dishes are full....How did you know??? The birds have their way with me. My refrigerator drawers are full of food for the birds too.
Listening to a thundershower and watching the weather. Tornadoes are near...
Love you Honey....
Thanks for the giggles.
Sherry, who is dancing with the bees around her May pole

Unknown said...

I'm partial to your Cuckoos ;-)

NCmountainwoman said...

Mary, I can empathize with you. Last year we had marvelous birds. This year, for reasons no one can figure, the pine siskins have decided to take over. They are erratic and in huge numbers, jockeying for position and flitting everywhere. They are not fun to watch, in fact they make a person nervous and disturb the other birds. And they don't seem to have any travel plans.

We switched from a no-waste sunflower to an expensive mixture. They quickly flicked out the seeds they didn't want and most of the seeds fell on the ground.

In desperation, we have removed the seed feeders, put the thistle feeder in the front yard near the house for the goldfinches, and increased suet for the chickadees, titmice, nuthatches, wrens, and woodpeckers.

We'll put the seed back up next week, hoping to catch the rose-breasted grosbeaks who will be migrating through. With any luck, the siskins will have moved on in search of better food. I surely hope so.

Good luck. Of course you always have the licker sisters to watch.

Anonymous said...

Oh I feel your pain, Mary. Last spring we lived next to Battleground Park in Greensboro. It was Warblerpalooza for a couple of weeks. I was on a crazy high from all the warbler sightings. This year I have my own little forest, but have I seen a warbler? Okay, two yellow-rumps today, but whatever. Thank the gods for the rose-breasted grosbeaks that cruised through today or I would've had a conniption reading everyone's awesome sightings on the Carolinas Birding List.

I have to remember my first year doing Project Feederwatch. We lived in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, right next to the East River. I had I think 9 species the entire winter. But I saw my first ever junco and ruby-crowned kinglet that year, which made up for everything. And I learned a lot about the different types of sparrows. Lemons to lemonade.

Susan Gets Native said...

It's all about Ohio, baby. There's still a week left for you to change your mind.
I got my life Baltimore Oriole at Black Swamp. In fact, about 75 percent of my lifers were there.
I'm just sayin'.

Larry said...

You're funny! By the way Mary-Have you had a chance to get out and see some of the migrants?

LauraHinNJ said...

Oooh! A Mary-rant! I like you when you're snarky, too!

Thanks for the laugh today. It felt good to laugh.

Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

OOohh!! A May Day rant!! I'm just home from work and you made me LOL and wake poor Art! You know they will come, and don't forge you get the best hummers. Hummers won't come to my yard.

I think your pigeon is beautiful.

Alyssa said...

Stiff upper lip, Mary! I'm confident that your time will come and you'll be "swimming" in migrants and all sorts of lovlies.

Actually, it must be hard reading about everyone elses good fortune and just wishing for one orange and black bird to eat your grape jelly! If it makes you feel any better (probably won't) we haven't seen anything yet (sorry, there was an Orchard Oriole here a few weeks ago - but just for about 5 minutes!!) and we've got all kinds of woods and fields around. We only have the "regulars" at our feeders - Goldfinches,Cardinals, the ever popular Doves,Woodpeckers,Turkeys, Blackbirds, and Sparrows (they have a black and white stripe on their heads!)

We rarely see the huge amounts of migrating birds that used to visit us. But what really gets me is that we have so few butterflies! There are less and less every year - even with all the flowers, trees, grasses, and shrubs we have.
It is sad and frustrating.

Just hang in there Mary and post more pictures of the girls. I love those funny and sweet faces they make! I could kiss them both!!! (What's going on with BamBam and Mr.Biggins???)

Anonymous said...

Hey Mary,

You need to organise a trip somewhere.
You did take a great cloud photo in the last post. Clouds are always interesting, so are dogs.
Everything comes to those who wait. (Hopefully anyway)

Jayne said...

Love the name of this post Mary! LOL! If it's any consolation, I live in a VERY rural area. I mean each day I have to wait for guinea hens to cross the road and the cows are plentiful. That may be one reason. And, we have the blessing of being in a subdivision where much of the natural hardwood tree line was maintained. I never got the variety of birds where we used to live, and so the bird gods are making it up to me? :c) Love ya!

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Oh Mary, this is such a funny post. I actually hear Orioles calling around my garden but they have never, read never, come to any orange or grape jelly. I have seen them in the Honeysuckle sipping on blooms but wouldn't touch an offering from the kitchen.

I love your cuckoos. A great consolation prize.

Stacey Olson said...

LOL Mary, Loved your post today. You have a wonderful sence of humor. Just keep trying to feed them.. you build it, they will come.. I could post you a picture of the new SNOW we got last night if it would help. (grin) Have a great day

Corey said...

You're a riot. I am with you, I've gotta walk to see the migrants. The only bird now that eats my suet cake is a Mockingbird. Spoiled little brat.

Sorry they're not in your back yard . . I'm right there with you!

NatureWoman said...

LOL Mary, "MigRANT" you totally crack me up. I like your backyard birdies, I really do! And if I remember right, you do get some beauties!

Anonymous said...

Mary! You had me laughing so hard that I was crying...I hope all your birds come to see you soon!


RuthieJ said...

Oh Mare, I love you too!!
I promise not to post anymore pictures of birds eating out of my hand and just to make you feel better, will post pictures of the huge flocks of grackles and cowbirds and the one really obnoxious starling eating suet from the upside down feeder they aren't supposed to be able to use! (just so you know it's not migrant nirvana in my backyard!)
Oh yeah, and 1 photo of my ugly little pond still filled with dead leaves and plants from last summer.....

dguzman said...

OMG, I'm laughing so hard that it's making me cough and now people in the cubeys around me are asking me if I'm okay! "Sure!" I could say, "I'm just reading Mary's View!" but then they'd know I wasn't working....

Oh Mary--I guess I shouldn't tell you I saw a yellow warbler on the hill right across the street. But I can tell you that I had neither binocs nor camera at hand. Of course, he was so close to me that I was able to ID him with my naked eye....

Donna said...

I love your crazy cuckoos, Mary!

Anonymous said...

Mary, I have not had a chance to read what everyone else said but just put the jelly in a dish like here: might take a little while for them to find it but when they do!! Also, love your Duskywing butterfly that you captured! They overwinter in their pupa stage!!

Debbie said...

Oh, Mary, you did make me laugh. I sure hope you get a few migrants soon.

Regardless, I love your photos. Your hula hoop doggies are so adorable and the pigeon is so lovely.

JeanMac said...

I needed a laugh and got one!

Cheryl said...

Well Mary....all birds are beautiful, and hey the colours on that pidgeon.
Know what you mean about Sherry...everything is so beautiful, and perfect.
But you have got two lovely boston terriers, snakes and lizards, oh and the koi carp with the funny eye.
And I've got my bees and an apple tree......lifes not that bad.

nina at Nature Remains. said...

I thought I posted before, but blogger ate my comment, apparently--but I DO like your pigeon very much.
I empathize with the frustrations of not finding what we think we should, especially when others seem to be finding them with ease!
But, some of my favorite discoveries come from times when I turn my attention in a different direction--
I know birds are your first love, but I enjoy a frog or toad, now and then--don't be sad, they'll find you soon.

Mel said...

Mary... Pigeons are birds too ;)

Bill said...

It's been a while since I've stopped by, Mary. What caught my eye was your new (to me) picture on a comment on Beth B's site. So I had to stop by to check out what's happening in your North Carolina world and catch your migranting! I think it's GLOBAL WARMING! They are few and far between here too! Oh look great with that camera poised for the first Ivory Billed to come out of the woods!!!

Rose said...

Mary, I'm not very knowledgable about birds, but I am learning so much from all you wonderful bird watching bloggers. I'm just excited to see the cardinals and robins, not to mention the goldfinches who have found my new feeder. I have lots of birds, but unfortunately they're mostly black--blackbirds? starlings (I hope not)?
If I were a bird, I'd sure come to the feast you have planned for them! (Please tell me you don't keep worms in your fridge, though.)

Mary said...

I'm sorry, Mary, but I have tears in my eyes from laughing so hard at your rant! I do understand how you feel (even though I have Indigos at the moment)! I read some of the most wonderful blogs and feel so incredibly jealous at what they see and get perfect pictures of. Your pigeon really is beautiful as are all the pictures you post :-) What would the blogging world do without you, whether cheerful or ranting!

Susan Humeston said...

Boy can I relate!!! Yours is the first post about backyard birding that rang TRUE! I live in South Florida and have been feeding birds for over 8 years at this house. We get LOTS of pigeons and doves, starlings and grackles. I do love the bluejays and we do have a pair of red bellied woodpeckers. Once in a great while a Spot Breasted Oriole lands for a few moments in our backyard and we practically die in ecstasy. Meanwhile, my husband has the hose ready to chase away over-zealous pigeons.

Others in our geographic area? In the winter there are painted buntings - I've yet to see one. We drove for 2 1/2 hours one day to see where "dozens of painted buntings" were. When we got there, they had evidently flown the coop. I can SO identify with your frustration. You live in an area where, so far, the majority of birds you see are those tough species that can live with man and don't need much. I do too - I live in a subdivision that has been here 30 years and more, but the trees just don't have the height and age necessary for unusual birds. I have planted bird-friendly natives, etc.....and in the winter we do get a few faithful warblers and the occasional American Goldfinch - but my daily diet is pigeons, doves, grackles and bluejays. Sigh. I can SO relate.

Crayons said...

Hi Mary,
The rant didn't really strike me as too serious, what I take away from this post is the passion with which you approach birding. I love the photo of the stuff in your fridge.

Julie Zickefoose said...

Well, I'm kinda jealous that I don't make you jealous...if that makes any sense, so I will pull out my Nerf bat and hit you with another Chimp Attack.

Juvenal's Duskywing, Erynnis juvenalis. Female! See how the antennae are unfeathered? If it were a moth they'd have comblike projections on them. It's a nice spring butterfly, a skipper.A good species to have in any yard.

Eee! Eee! Eee!

I love this post. Eeee!