Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Backyard Birds and Challenges


The dark clouds and rain hung around for so many days that when the sun finally peeked through today, I took photos of almost everything in sight during one of my walks on campus.


It’s going to be a banner year for fire ants, I think. They'll definitely keep me out of the fields of Bluets I’d like to photograph right now.



There are a few bird photos left in my stash that I’ll share here. Most of them get sent to the recycle bin as they don’t satisfy me any longer. Whatever it was I had, I’ll get it back, I guess.




I loved this photo. It needed some editing, so I gave it a try. Can you tell it was taken through a dirty window during a rainstorm?

The White-throated Sparrows are still whistling their odd little tune. There are a dozen, so sweet.


I have many great birds at my house all year. I like catering to the Downys and Red-bellieds. When spring arrives, however, the dark and heavy mobs move in and defeat the nicest birds.

Last spring was a backyard bird nightmare here while I continued to top off the feeders every day, served a wide variety of the best bird lovin’ food. Who dominated and ate it all? Take a guess. I can name five species.

All birds go to heaven and have a right to eat and live. I’m OK with that concept... but not on my dime. If I’m a snob feeder, sue me.


Starting now, routines change. My feeders will be dry for a few days a week! I’ll save cash for my trip to West Virginnie!


The birds don’t need twenty pounds of black oil sunflower or safflower seed and ten pounds of nuts with all the trimmings every week… There are bugs and fruits out there. Plenty of it!


That rule will apply to me, too. No, I won’t eat bugs, but fruit for dinner is a good thing. Mr. Meat & Potato can have what he wants. I’ll even prepare it but pass on helpings.

I’ll be walking inside and outside and attempt a few sit-ups if I have any muscle left!


I’ve started walking hard and fast this week, inside the college building with my iPod.

I’m working through the pain of shin splints. It’s great.

I’ll lose some weight, hopefully...

No nicotine or cigs = extra pounds. Ugh. I’m facing yet another challenge.

The days are longer,

the sun will be shining,

and I shouldn't be sitting all evening.

So, I’ll be busy for a while.

When I hang the hummingbird feeders on Sunday,


I'll think of you.


Lisa at Greenbow said...

Oh gosh, I can't believe it is almost hummingbird time again. I can't wait. Be sure to let us know when the first hummer appears at your place. I don't blame you for not wanting to feed the starling and house sparrows. I am trying to keep the house sparrows out of the Purple Martin houses now. I will win. They just don't know what a hard head I am.

Sherri said...

Beautiful pics.

NCmountainwoman said...

I think we will hang only suet and hummingbird feeders this summer. That will help our nesting nuthatches, chickadees, titmice, wrens and woodpeckers. I'll miss the goldfinches, but will live with that rather than have Pine Siskins all over the place, possibly spreading disease that has been noted in our county.

Thank goodness we have no problem with starlings or grackles.

KGMom said...

Ooooo--you know it must be getting warmer when hummingbirds come around.

Ruth said...

Spring has definitely arrived for you. Good luck with the walking. The pictures are great as usual!

beckie said...

Mary, I so enjoyed the birds! (as always) But what is the one with the yellow? I am not very good at Identifying them. :)

Good for you in wanting to get into shape. It's not an easy thing to do, but you seem to be going at it the right way. Careful with the shin splints. They can really become painful and a deterent to walking. Just slow down for a while until your muscles catch up to you. :) You go girl!

Betsy Banks Adams said...

Hi Mary, I agree about putting out too much birdfood... The Pine Siskins are eating us out of house and home. I just can't keep feeding that many of them.

Can't wait 'til our Hummingbirds come back... Your pictures are GREAT.

I walk with my iPod also... Love it.

Have a great day tomorrow.

Laurie and company said...

your pictures make me happy!

very magical indeed!

thanks for always putting up such coolness!

I've been "stalking" just not commenting!

Heidi said...

Wow Mary! Your white-throats are just adorable :) Keep up that walking, you might even inspire me! I'm very inconsistent. I'm excited it's time for the hummingbird feeders! At least that's one feeder you can always keep full :D

Kim said...

The only birds I am feeding this summer are the hummers. Last summer I had an invasion of house sparrows and squirrels and they wasted most of my food. Not this summer!!

I can't wait to see your hummingbird pics!

Jayne said...

My hummer feeders will be up this weekend too Mary! I can't wait. :c)

J.G. said...

Spring is a great time to energize new routines and fresh starts, so go for it. Glad to hear you are keeping smoke-free.

Tina said...

I am so glad to have read your recent post..I feel much better having taken down several of my feeders b/c all I'm feeding is grackles, blkbirds, and crows..they are so dominating, they keep all my song birds away...:(
I feel a little discouraged with my backyard right now..I'm either running out to chase the house sparrows out of the blue bird house or I'm opening the windows clapping my hands to get rid of 30+ blackbirds..I know I'm being witchy about it but those huge beaks whack thru a piece of suet so fast or suck up pounds of $$ bird seed...
Hopefully removing several feeders will do the trick..
Also, I really enjoyed your post about the walls of your home..a very emotional post...but so well written..
thinking of sending you a case of wine..would love to read the book!

Anonymous said...

Love the pictures. We are about 3 weeks away from Hummingbird feeder time in Southwest Lower Michigan. The grackles are back so I've taken down the suet feeder and the black oil sunflower seed. I'll just be feeding safflower and nyger seed for the summer.

Dog_geek said...

I'm so happy the days are getting longer - I need to get out more, too! I busted my bad knee last month falling in an icy parking lot, and have been a slacker ever since (why would a busted knee keep me from doing upper-body work in the gym? I dunno, but it did!) Time to get it all back together!

Endment said...

You find so much beauty in the everyday things.

Had to take down all the feeders in the yard - only ones hanging from the house now --- we want to feed birds but don't much want to feed the bears.

We still have about a month before hummers arrive here and I am ready.

Murr Brewster said...

I only wish I could be a snob feeder. I would take a crested yellow-smellied crapfester right now and be glad of it. No one wants what I'm serving. I'm kinda famous for not being able to cook, but this is ridiculous.

Thanks for the beautiful cardinal! My birth state bird, and nowhere in sight out here.

Q said...

Dear Mary,
Good for you for letting go of the the extra pounds...sugar is good for Hummers not for Humans!
I will be thinking of you and the hummers while in Oregon.
Happy Spring,

pennjos said...

You don't know me, but I follow your blog routinely. I LOVE your bird photos! They are so incredible!
I wanted to ask what you are feeding your bluebirds? I didn't know they ate anything other than bugs. I'd like to feed them so they stick around this year.
Last year my daddy blue caught me peaking in the house at the babies, and the next day they were gone, and nobody came back! Now that they are back "home" to me, I want to keep it that way! LOL!
Keep up the pictures, I love them!
Savannah GA

Mary said...

Hi Penny in Savannah! Thanks for commenting :o) This is the first year I've had Bluebirds come to the feeders and they've only been here a short while. I don't have nesting boxes but I have a pond they like to bathe in. To be honest, I don't feed them! I'm not offering mealworms for the birds this year but I do offer homemade suet, referred to as Zick Dough - you can see the recipe here and it also links to the owner of the recipe:


Bluebirds love this suet recipe and I only offer it when the temps get near freezing, or in the 30's, overnight. Try it! They'll never leave! LOL!

Good to hear from you.


Mary said...

Murr - only you:

yellow-smellied crapfester

I'm out of control here :o)

NatureWoman said...

Your photos leave me breathless, Mary. Just when I get it back, I scroll to the next one, phew! I wish you success with the weight. I need to get going to the gym once I stop travelling so much.

Rose said...

Like Lisa, I can't wait to see your first hummingbird pictures. Good luck with your walking regimen--that's my goal this spring, too.

I just read your last post and left a comment there--it was so moving.

Rose said...

Oh, I meant "moving" literally...I wasn't trying to make a pun:)

Kerri Farley said...

Mary, these are wonderful!! My favorite is the one you say was taken through a dirty window...absolutely beautiful!
He looks like he's smelling the blossom!
It's great that you are walking and eating healthier. Hubby and I have been trying to do the same.
Slowly but surely...we're getting there. You will too!!

Corey said...

Mr. White Throat sings "Old Sam Pea-bo-dy Pea-bo-dy Pea-bo-dy". I think the shot through the window is neat.

My bluebirds did the same trick with the suet cake after the Zick Dough was gone too, never seen them go for that before. Then, yesterday, I looked out and saw a male Cardinal hanging on the suet cage! What are you doing dude?


I do love every photo you post Mary. Glad none of these were in the recycle bin. And now I'm getting psyched for hummingbirds because it means more amazing photos from you!

RuthieJ said...

oh ick, Mare, for all those ants!! I wouldn't like that at all.
Sophie and I are walking again now too--I've run out of excuses with no more cold weather or ice on the roadway.
And I'm so jealous that you'll have hummingbirds arriving soon.

jason said...

"Snob feeder"! I love that term! Thank you for the laugh.

I think it's good to let the birds focus on taking care of themselves more than not, Mary. That's an okay thing. The feeders are a great way to bring them in so you can admire them and photograph them, but I think you're right on considering the feeders a treat for them rather than their main source of food.

Your photos are beautiful as always. I have to say the female cardinal is my favorite. That species is really one of my favorites (then again, aren't they all?).

Migrations have started and spring is rapidly taking shape, so you'll soon have your hands full trying to decide what image to capture next (and how best to avoid the fire ants!).

Good luck with your healthy lifestyle choices. They'll make you feel better, I promise, and soon they'll be habits that make you feel awkward when you can't get to them.

Naturegirl said...

Mary it is always a delight to come by and see your photos of the birds. These images are excellant!Worthy of publishing!!
I know how you feel about working out and getting active..I'm golfing twice weekly and hiking twice weekely here in the AZ desert but havn't lost a lb.!! So frustrating...sending lots of sunshine your way.hugs NG

Larry said...

For all the woes you talk about you sure can take good pictures.I especially like that warm glow of light cas on the female cardinal.

Kathie Brown said...

I actually love the impressionistic quaility of that White-throated sparrow photo Mary. Life is not always crisp and clear as you well know! Sometimes we all need a dream! Oh, and I think I will join you in those sit-ups!

Ramblings of a Villas Girl said...

Hi Mary! I guess they won't be talking drought this year, huh? Your hanging your hummer feeder's this weekend? I am SOOOOO jealous. Please take lots of pictures for us (me:o) I miss the little ones. Lisa

Wendy said...

What is it about spring that makes us want to do sit-ups? Ah yes, we all want to get back into shape. I also am walking a lot more - well the weather is warmer so that's when I like to walk.
Stretches, tai chi, crunches (really Mary, sit-ups is an old, old, old expression. LOL)!

Love your bird pics. I can't believe you'll be hanging up the hummingbird feeders already!! We still have snow!!! But not for long.
Happy Spring - tomorrow!

JeanMac said...

Mary, I'm so proud of you. the weight will be gone soon and you'll still be a non-smoker!

Mel said...

Oh Mary!
Your hummingbirds are so beautiful! Can't wait to see them again! :)
I think birds will understand why the nice lady who feeds them too much is not doing so... or maybe your car will be covered with bird 'poo' if you leave it outside... lol
I think it is best to save some money and have the birds be birds, they need to find their own food too, otherwise they'll become lazy and when they really need to look for themselves they will be in serious trouble!
GREAT pics! Your recycle bin pics are SO much better than my A+++ ones!

The Quacks of Life said...

migration is happening Mary.

Chiffchaffs are singing. they a dull bird but there "song" is the first sign of spring so they always lift the heart and I saw my first Sand Martin yesterday. woo hoo

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