Thursday, January 29, 2009

Common Birds and More

White-throated Sparrow

There are too many photos in my files that have gone untouched. These photos are not my best but I can’t let them sit in a folder to never again be seen by human eyes. So here are more January backyard birds.
And isn’t this bird a keeper?


Is there a gentler sparrow? I love these multi-color brown jobs along with the Songs, Chippings, and Juncos.
No mess, no fuss, no ruckus, no riot.


Perhaps I should be embarrassed to admit this, but for many years I heard a songbird whistle that I can imitate perfectly. Never knowing who owned the voice, I've been agitated and curious. It wasn’t until last week that I found that little whistler perched in a hedge. HA!


It’s so easy to identify that cute-as-a-button stripy head.


I enjoy watching it work so diligently and quickly, kicking back dry grass and mulch with both feet.

Their arrival in autumn is always celebrated, but sadly, I never notice their departure, along with the sweet Juncos. This year, I want to notice when they begin their journey.

On to the water creatures.


Koi float to the surface on a sunny day, still stunned by cold and looking very tranquilized. I can pet them.


It’s Dove time on the pond at four o'clock every afternoon, year round, when twenty or so balls of chub take a long drink to wash down a few pounds of sunflower seeds. They must have excellent vision as they can see me enter the sunroom from the kitchen. When one panics, they all panic. Gone.

Except for one.

My favorite photo of the week:


Take cover, Downy! Fear that Dirty-throated Sparrow!

Dear Readers,

Please be honest and tell me if you have trouble loading my posts. Does it take too long? Two readers have told me they are having trouble and I believe it could be due to the size and number of photos I post. Thanks!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A Goldfinch & Pine Siskin Party


It’s remarkable. North Carolina hasn’t reported so many Goldfinches and Pine Siskins since the mid-nineties. This year, both birds are ruling backyard bird feeders.


It’s also remarkable that two out of every three days this winter have been cloudy and colder than normal in this otherwise consistently sunny state.


A backyard birder south of the city reports one hundred Siskins at a time, every day, all day. There are about two dozen here and I might need to find a part-time job to afford to feed them. The bird traffic here is astounding this winter. The wonder is, “why?”


If they can’t find a spot on a thistle feeder, they go for the black oil sunflower. Unusual.

I also heard there are many Evening Grosbeaks and Purple Finches in our area. My binoculars are ready! And, do I dare suggest I might have a male Purple Finch on that hopper above? Wrong again?



It’s a pleasure to watch the Pine Siskins every day. They don’t scare easily while feeding so I’m able to get a good look at them. Although they’re pretty and plentiful, I must note my special fondness for the Goldfinches.


If birds can be courteous, they are. Goldfinches wait for a spot at the feeders,


rather than bullying their way through the crowd like some others.

They have a calm, quiet, and sweet beauty about them.


They aren’t camera shy, either. I like that!

Ok, that’s enough on Goldfinches and Pine Siskins until next season…promise.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Beyond the Barbed Wire

Written on Saturday, January 24, 2009


Have you ever felt an urge to worm your way under the barbed wire, leaving your cell phone behind and anything or anyone that wants or needs your attention? For an afternoon or a day? I have.

My addiction to the blog is two years old and I don’t foresee kicking the habit. Fourteen days ago I kicked cigarettes and now I’m planning to kick nicotine gum out the window way ahead of schedule. Whew! Now, is it time to nurture a new addiction? I’ve never even been a tad interested in anything like it.

Facebook has been the rage, I know. It’s brand new to me, and with a scowl on my face I edited my Facebook profile this morning. A few weeks ago I joined by accident, and now my inbox is filled with great friends who are laughing about my less than enthusiastic reaction. A dear friend posted my profile photo for me and lo and behold, IM’d me! Whaaaat? I thought instant messaging was a pastime for rascally teens and young adults. I loved the diversion!

Facebook. Oh, it’s fun! I was giddy and giggling early in the morning, wondering if Wall to Wall had anything to do with carpet, joined a nature blogging group, and sent a few messages, all within an hour. I can share photos of myself or anything I want with an endless list of hand-picked friends to whom I can send flowers and gifts. Oh, and I was so curious to give someone a Poke. Poking is very cool, especially if you get poked back. “Was it good for you?” “Hell, yeah!” "Gotta cigarette?"

On a more serious note, Facebook is an easy, fun network. Blogging isn’t so easy. Making time to write blog posts and read others’ blogs is quite a challenge for me. How many hours a day can one sit in front of a computer monitor and avoid red eyes and a wide backside? I’m just sayin’.



where there was a pond,


it was quiet.


Let me into that simple,

uncomplicated life, if only for

an hour.


Cows didn’t seem to care if I looked on

outside the wire

standing in a ditch

alongside the road



as they went about their cow business


feeling the warmth of the sun and cool breezes,


doing nothing much.

Against their fence post I leaned

remembering a promise I made

to myself


to keep it simple.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

SNOW STORM and a Meme


On Thursday morning, we had a snow storm. What a thrilling event.

All schools were closed, including mine. I had a snow day!


By daylight, there were a few flurries, wind, and temps in the teens. Our southern birds were in shock, scrambling for food.



Thirsty Goldfinches and Siskins lined up inside the pond. I took all of these photos from behind the bedroom or bathroom window. I’m not accustomed to frigid weather like I used to be, so I stayed inside.


By mid-morning, Moms and kids were in search of a snowy hill. We have wonderful hills that are perfect for sledding. I felt so badly for them as I remembered the fun I had with my own Flexible Flyer up north. They probably made snow angels in the grass.


By noon, the sun was bright and our white dusting disappeared. Isn’t she pretty in this photo taken from inside my bedroom? And I thought the windows were filthy.

I’m still hoping for a real snowfall. A white blanket! A winter wonderland!


I recently saw this meme on Jayne’s and Lynne’s blog so I thought I’d participate. It's been a long time since I played a meme game.

1. Do you like blue cheese? It’s OK.

2. Have you ever smoked? Yes, until January 12, 2009 :o)
3. Do you own a gun? No. My parents used to own a hand gun, though.
4. What flavor Kool Aid is your favorite? Cherry
5. Do you get nervous before doctor appointments? Yes.
6. What do you think of hot dogs? Grilled or boiled with French’s mustard and raw onions on a warm bun.
7. Favorite Christmas movie? I have a few faves but National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is in the top 3.
8. What do you prefer to drink in the morning? OJ or water.
9. Can you do push-ups? Only one. Push up – fall flat.
10. What's your favorite piece of jewelry? I don’t have a favorite piece.
11. Favorite hobby? Photography/Writing/Blogging
12. Do you have A.D.D? Definitely not.
13. Do you wear glasses/contacts? Eyeglasses w/bifocal lenses OR contacts with reading glasses.
14. Middle name? Marcel :o/
15. Name thoughts at this moment? I ate too much for dinner! Darn. I'm cold.
16. Name 3 drinks you regularly drink? Water, Lipton Green Tea, and wine.
17. Current worry? I worry about everything. Lately, jobs and the economy.
18. Current hate right now? Darkness before 6pm and a certain Excel spreadsheet waiting for me at the office.
19. Favorite place to be? Sitting by the pond.

20. How did you bring in the New Year? Watching some decent fireworks from my front porch.
21. Where would you like to go? Somewhere I’ve never been.
22. Name three people who will complete this? No clue.
23. Do you own slippers? Yes, they have name tags: Left and Right
24. What color shirt are you wearing? Red sweatshirt.
25. Do you like sleeping on satin sheets? Never tried them but I like Egyptian Cotton.
26. Can you whistle? Yes – not like a guy – like a bird.
27. Favorite Color? I like ALL COLORS but faves are a toss up between reds, yellows, greens.
28. What songs do you sing in the shower? I don’t sing in the shower – too busy thinking about business & the day ahead.
29. Would you be a pirate? Arrr...NO. I’m no animal.
30. Favorite Girl's Name? Don’t have a favorite.
31. Favorite boy's name? Don’t have a favorite.
32. What's in your pocket right now? Cell phone and a rubber band.
33. Last thing that made you laugh? Something Gina said this evening.
34. What vehicle do you drive? Honda Accord blah
35. Worst injury you've ever had? An ankle broken on both sides.
36. Do you love where you live? Yes.
37. How many TVs do you have in your house? Four.

I'll bet you thought it would never end.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Northern Mockingbird Connection


It’s feeding time, or any time. When I arrive at the bird feeders with food and a greeting, all birds flee, but I’m never alone. The only two birds who show trust, or I should say boldness, are the Northern Mockingbird and Carolina Chickadee.

Mockingbirds intrigue me. And, as seen in these photos, I think Mockingbird is intrigued by me. Often, I have complained about its haughty nature and also vowed to never complain again. Consider this as my truce and a tribute to a bird I continue to stumble upon, rescue, and spoil. There are several Mockers who reside around the house. I held one of them close to me during a rescue from my sunroom. Ahhh…I’ll never forget our eye-to-eye.

Is it possible for a backyard bird to recognize a particular human as being trustworthy, to a certain degree? Can it form a relationship with a human? Let’s flip the question and answer it here. Yes, it’s possible for a human to form a relationship with a backyard bird.

We talk. For you non-birding folks, conversations with birds are no different than having conversations with household pets. The Koi in the pond listen to me, too. Think I’m nuts?

It’s quiet in the yard. The birds fled. Not a bird in sight.
Dive. Smack. Plop.

Hey lady. Where’s the suet?

There’s no suet in the cup. Do you hear me? No suet.

Oh gosh, it’s you again. Be patient, Mocker. It’s coming.

I’ll wait right here. You may take a photo of my right profile for your homemade suet.
Or would you prefer my left profile?

Is this pose worth suet and worms?
And, by the way, my grapes are gone. Someone ate my grapes.
I need more grapes.

Obviously, Mocker, you have not been on guard often enough…


How do I describe a Northern Mockingbird?

Type A, drama kings and queens, protective of its own, combative, territorial, intuitive, good communicator, possessing the sweetest, most melodic voice of all songbirds, and

Elegant. Flashy!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Ice Fantasy


Since early Fall I’ve been admiring everyone’s snowy landscapes from all over the country and Canada. I don’t have snow to offer here today, but I have ice. So, go ahead and laugh…


Yeah, this is a joke compared to the frozen ponds my daughter skated on in Maryland. But, it’s ice. And I like it.


The meteorologists on local TV news in Charlotte make me crazy every morning and evening. How long can you dwell on a high of 50 degrees and sunny? How many ways can you deliver the story? After the first fifteen seconds of a lengthy segment, I tune them out because there’s no weather in Charlotte, other than a thunderstorm or rain shower once a month.


Oh, I forgot. The reports of drought and rain chances were good for fifteen minutes of coverage every evening for six months straight. It never rained…

We might have a windy day or two in a row. Or fog. And if there are clouds with it, the weather reporters can barely hide their excitement about it all.


Oh, the talk about yesterday’s weather was sensational. Would we break a record set back in 1800-something with 4 degrees on Saturday morning? Naaaa – we were in the low teens or maybe below 10. I don’t even remember.


I’m just happy I had some ice to get all goofy about yesterday. When the sun was rising, I bundled up and sat on the pond, and soon realized I have forgotten much about macro photography :o/ Doesn’t help when your fingers are numb, either.


So, we have ice. Our winter here in Charlotte won’t be complete without our one-half inch dusting of snow that melts before noon. I’m waiting, and I know those meteorologists are already having night sweats about all those school closings and the city shutting down. They’re probably planning a “Snow Show” like WJZ-TV does in Baltimore during a blizzard. Get the yardstick!


The Pine Siskins are so small and pretty! I can’t get enough looks at them while they’re here.


More on cold and hungry birds later.

Smoke Free: 7 days :o)

I’m so blessed and thankful to receive your encouraging comments on my most recent "Rehab" post. Y’all lift me up!