Tuesday, January 01, 2008

It's January 1st Already?


Beautiful Red-Shouldered? My goodness, yes! (My last 2007 OMG, pull over quick, and don’t forget to put the car in Park.)

My days off counted down in lightning speed and now I’m seriously bummed. Painfully, I’ll wake up tomorrow morning and head back to the office. Whine. Whine. Whine. Someone should smack me.

Yesterday, I drove around in a panic to make the most of the day, knowing New Year's Day would be filled with packing up the holiday glitter and getting that last damned load of laundry put away. I have some regrets about my thirteen days off but I now realize there was little free time to devote to my productive list.

I did not clean the hardwood and ceramic floors.

I did not deep clean the bird feeders.

I did not make Zick Dough.

I did not refresh and customize my website.

I did not entice a Carolina Chickadee to eat from my hand like Ruthie did…

So life goes on in 2008.

My brother and sister-in-law visited for a few days and brought their youngest son, Joe. I sure would like to have him around the house more often because there’s nothing like an energetic little boy to entertain my wild girls. They loved him!

A gift from Gina - Alicia Keys As I Am CD helped me out yesterday. I listened to her soulful voice as I tore through the house, noticing that every bathroom I visited needed toilet paper and things were a wreck... Wishing I was somewhere else.

A few more photos from the pond are coming up. Sorry. Yes, it’s getting monotonous but I’ll be back to work with no playtime for a while…


I believe this hawk would have allowed me to slosh across the small creek under it and sit.

Forty photos later, the hawk was still watching me walking softly. It was the first time I left the scene before the hawk fled!

Let me share my first lifer of 2008, caught this morning by me, outside, in my pajamas.

A male White-breasted Nuthatch visited for a while this morning and came back several times today. I heard they were in the area for quite a while and was beginning to think my habitat wasn't good enough.

Odd bill. I've never noticed this about nuthatches. Does anyone have a comment on the scissor bill? I was thinking to ask, “So, how’s it working for ya?”

Obviously, well enough!

Back to the pond,

Hoody has quite an appetite. Always on a mission and seems to have a genuine intensity about her.

Duck feet make me giggle like crazy.

Fred and Ethel were taking a break.

Come on, Ethel, let’s get away from her and get busy.

Okay Fred.
Back to work.
Back to work.
Back to work.

Happy New Year.


Q said...

Dear Mary,
Oh my goodness! These photos are on the "best of" list for sure!
I am so excited about White Breasted Nuthatch. Wonderful photos!!! I love the Nuthatches. This one goes so nicely with your Brownheaded ones.

I too wish Winter Holiday lasted longer for you. There always is so much to do and so many birds to watch. do you get a Spring Break?

Red Shoulder Hawk photos are amazing. Beautiful bird. Beautiful photos.
Happy Happy New Year.
May you have lots of lifers in 2008!
Thank you for your frienship.
Thank you for the wonderful photos.
Hugs and blessings,

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Hi Mary, Your photos are great. I don't know what was wrong with that Nuthatch,s bill. Poor thing.

Don't feel like the Lone Ranger having to go back to work tomorrow. I will have to work too.

We didn't take down our decorations like we normally do today. We leave to visit family thursday so it won't happen. Our house sitter likes the lights anyway. So...

Relax and enjoy your evening...

NatureWoman said...

OMG Mary, I would have sworn you had at least another week off. Well, I'm right there with you, but I haven't had any time off except the holidays.
I love your photos and commentary, as always! Poor scissored bill bewd.

RuthieJ said...

Hi Mary,
Those are awesome hawk pictures--I've never seen a Red-Shouldered.

So you're finally going back to work....HOORAY from me! I didn't get hardly any good e-mails while you were gone and when I did, you weren't there to share them with.

I'm no expert, but I think there's definitely something wrong with that little nuthatch beak. Looks like it's still able to eat peanuts though.

Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

Hi May!! Honey- you take THE BEST PIX!! What a way to start out 2008 with a lifer! Surely this means a lucky year for you. That nuthatch's beak is badly overgrown. I don't know what causes that but I do remember Birdchick having a link on her blog a last year where you can report it for someone's research. You should fire off an email and see what she says. I wonder how the poor bewd opens seeds? Art was off last week and goes back tomorrow but the kids are off this week too. I wish you had more time off to do the fun stuff- not the chores. The chores will always be there!
I plan to follow your lead and look for a place nearby to look and chill every day!
And like you, I'll let music help me through the day.

LauraHinNJ said...

That red shoulder just breaks my heart - they are so beautiful!

I'm back to work tomorrow to and whining about it as well.

Happy New Year to you!

Susan Gets Native said...

1. There is a disorder called Long-Bill Syndrome. This bird has it. Birdchick once took photos of a whole flock of red-winged blackbirds (or was it grackles?) with that syndrome. The birds seem to adapt to it and do okay. But I bet it's hard.
2. Good job on the RS! You ID'ed a RAPTOR!!!!!!!! And got it right!!!!!!!!!!! See? I told you that you could do it.
3. Make Zick Dough. The long-billed nuthatch will thank you.

Ruth said...

Great pictures to start the New Year. Our resident White-breasted Nuthatches do not have bills like the poor one in your yard. Obviously it is useful though.
Our "to-do lists" are always unrealistic and long. Hope you enjoyed your holiday. Happy New Year.

Anonymous said...

The Nuthatch has some problems and I have the email to the lady in Alaska who in the expert in deformed bills like this! I know she would love to see your photos! BTW: Love your Red-shouldered Hawk photos! WOW and forget everything you didn't do in 2007, you have all of 2008 to finally get to them! Happy New Year my friend!

Anonymous said...

Mary, you just keep getting better and better! Love these photos. You seem to have found a great place to photograph wildlife.

Happy New Year to you and your family!


Sherry said...

You take great photos Mary. I never get tired of seeing your pond photos. The duck feet made me giggle too... lol. :)

Time flies through Christmas and I'm sorry you have to go back to work tomorrow!

Happy New Year to you!

Alyssa said...

I never ceased to be amazed at your excellent bird pictures! The hawk is so regal and beautiful. I'm surprised you could get as close as you did. We have one that cruises through the back yard and sits on the feeder or tree limbs. He can spot us inside the house and flies away immediately. You must be very stealthy! You'd make an ideal video game sniper!!

I know how you feel about the vacation flying away from you. I guess you can only think that means you were having such a good time. When things suck, they drag.... Oh yes, I was washing my work clothes tonight, too. And I'm not going to take down the tree or "undecorate" the house until next weekend. I like how it looks all lit up!

And what the hell is "Zick Dough"????
(Pardon my French!)

Joe and the girls look like they were made for each other. Maybe you could have him stay with you for a long weekend during the summer.

Have a good 3 day work week - it'll be over before you know it...

Chrissie said...

LOL :-) I really should be sorting the laundry right now! My family have either returned to their own homes or are back at work, I however have a few more days to get the house straight again. I have fed our birds but they still flee the minute I open the door or window :-( So now I have given them a chance to recover and am drinking my 2nd cup of tea this morning and checking up on my friends :-) Your photos of the hawk are beautiful. How lovely that he stayed and watched you :-)

Jayne said...

I had nothing off but Christmas Day and New Years Day so I should be really cranky. Husband goes back today after being home since December 21st too... poor baby, he's dreading it. Love your hawk! And your duckies! Have a beautiful New Year Mary!

The Quacks of Life said...

lovely photos. mallards are superb birds.

the nuthatch? its not common but that sort of beak malady does occur

sonia a. mascaro said...

I wish to you and to yours loved ones a WONDERFUL NEW YEAR!

dguzman said...

OMG, you could never bore us! Beautiful red-shouldered. That nuthatch bill looks ouchy. You know, I think BT3 was asking for deformed bill reports back in the spring--you might send that pic to him; I'm sure he'd be interested.

TR Ryan said...

I had great plans to make the Zick dough too. It's still on the list - undone and felling unloved; and surely the birds are scolding me too. Perhaps a January goal?

Anonymous said...

Mary, your photos are wonderfully detailed and capture just the right moments (nevermind the ones on the cutting room floor - I understand about those). But what I love are your commentaries that accompany the images - kind of a unique story telling. Love it. Happy new year!

Julie Zickefoose said...

I'm worried about that nuthatch, but pleased it can extract a peanut with those overgrown mandibles. I'm not at all sure how it's going to process the peanut once it gets it, unfortunately, since nuthatches hammer bits off and can't swallow it whole. I agree with SGN--make Zick dough! which would be much easier for it to pick up and eat. (Poor Alyssa. She hasn't been anointed with lard yet, I guess).

This is a metabolic problem that is likely to recur even should the mandibles break off to a more normal length. It's not well understood but is sometimes thought to result from pesticide toxicity (a pretty likely event in the Land of the Well-groomed Lawn and Inane Leafblower). Ironically, it's being seen a lot in boreal forests that are sprayed for spruce budworms. White-breasted nuthatches do not migrate; they're resident wherever they occur so this bird probably got into something right nearby. Not saying this is the definitive answer, but it's an educated guess.SGN's comment is interesting: an entire flock of red-winged blackbirds or grackles showing the disorder strongly suggests environmental toxicity. And who better to run into agricultural pesticides than ground-feeding blackbirds?

If you can take a little time out to watch this bird, see if it's got a mate. Your photos suggest that you've got a mated pair. I would not be unduly surprised if the normal bird were feeding the scissor-billed bird. I can imagine it taking a peanut to its mate, and having the mate process it and feed little bits to the disabled bird. (I took in a female bluebird with an old broken wing injury, who had been fed by her mate for weeks as she scuttled about on the ground). Stranger things have happened. An opportunity to make (and perhaps photograph) a pretty cool observation. Science Chimp, signing off.

Susan said...

Happy New Year Mary! Wonderful photos of the hawk and I'm so glad you finally got a white-breasted nuthatch at your feeder. Ours come for mealworms and zick dough every morning.

KGMom said...

Mary--I am joining the chorus of comments late and feel like I should just say--what she said.
Great pics
Make Zick dough
Love the hawk pics
Love the mallards pics
Take care of the mal-formed beak bird
BUT--nevertheless HAPPY NEW YEAR.

Annie in Austin said...

Happy New Year 2008, Mary - I'm trying to catch up with everyone's post after being away for a couple of weeks and am sorry your time off is over, but you sure have had a good run of interesting birds that want to pose for you! Not only are your words and play-by-play descriptions great ... your commenters are making a visit to your blog educational ;-]

That poor Nuthatch! Since he's not migratory I wonder whether when the drought made plants and trees and shrubs grow less in general, then the pesticides became more concentrated in the local seeds and berries? Maybe your recent rains will help dilute the residue for the spring nests.

I loved all your Christmas decorations and your Christmas Eve walkabout with camera in hand.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Digital Polaroids said...

I love the ducks!

Kerri Farley said...

Wow Mary....that HAWK is amazing! I just love your posts and the way you tell your stories!

We have a WB Nuthatch here but I have NEVER seen his beak look like that.

Happy New Year!

Kathi said...


Love your Red-shoulderd Hawk! Very cool. You have probably answered this before, but what camera equipment do you use? I am hoping to upgrade to a digital SLR from my point-and-shoot Canon Powershot with this year's income tax refund, and looking for suggestions.


"Zick dough" is our nickname for a lard-peanut butter-oatmeal-cornmeal mixture that Julie Z. created. many of us make it for winter bird feeding. I like it because yo ucan get some birds that otherwise wouldn't come to an all-seed feeding station: Eastern Bluebirds, Norther Mockingbirds, and Carolina Wrens, to name a few. Last winter, I had a female Ring-necked Pheasant eating Zick Dough!

I have a post about it, with the recipe, here:


Kathi said...

Sorry, the link was too long. Maybe this will work:



I forgot to comment on your WB Nuthatch. Poor guy, with that deformed bill. I hope he makes it. I think it is cool that for you, it was a life bird, while I have them here in spades. I would trade you a few for one of your Brown-headed Nuthatches, which I have never seen.

Isn't it interesting, that we tend to take our common birds for granted?


possumlady said...

Happy belated New Year Mary! Oh, I feel for that poor nuthatch. I saw a titmouse a few times in Arlington with a bill that looked very similar. I was feeding the birds off of my condo's deck. Within 2 weeks a notice was put up to stop feeding the birds!!! I moved to a house a year later.

I too, had the best of intentions to make Zick dough this past weekend and didn't get to it. Now it is bitterly cold out and I'm on a BIG guilt trip. I'll be mixing it tonight for sure.

JeanMac said...

Oh, Mary, it's so wonderful to be off but I remember the "feeling" of counting down the days til back to work!
Your hawk is majestic - beautiful pictures, as usual.
We have a bout 40 ducks in our yard daily - they live in harmony with the smaller birds. I love their marks in the snow, too.

Mary said...

Hi All - back to work with a head and chest cold on the very same day - how nice! I'm dragging my feet tonight but want to thank you for your stopping by...

Sherry, no Spring Break for us office workers. Believe me, the work never ends until Christmas break.

Lisa, I would have loved to keep the decorations through "Little Christmas" but it's tradition to end the glitter on New Year's Day...

Pam, I do feel fortunate to have the yearly break from work. I remember working on Christmas Eve and it wasn't fair :o)

Ruthie, we do keep each other entertained during the weekdays, don't we? LOL!

Linne, we love our music! I hope you are getting a few minutes of "away" time each day. Just a few minutes keeps one sane.

Laura, my whining stopped as of today. Tomorrow is Friday, right?

Susan, I'm learning...submitted two research reports and I WILL make the DOUGH this weekend!

Ruth, I always have high expectations and suffer disappointment. It's the way of life, I guess!

Tom, thank you for having Colleen contact me. I really appreciate you.

Sandy, sometimes I wonder if Sandy would like this photo. I'm still trying to get the reflection of the moon on the pond :o)

Terra Incognita, what is it about duck feet? And the goofy "quacking" that goes with it.. Always makes me smile.

Alyssa, LOL! According to Julie, the Science Chimp - you have not been annointed with lard yet :o) See the comment from Katdoc below and Julie's comment :o) Get cooking!

Chris, I hope you are not back to work until Monday? I should have taken this week off - but the work was calling me...and, my laundry has piled up (only two darned people in this house).

Jayne, now I know why your husband got the photo feva! He was off when you were working! Is that unfair? Tee-hee

Pete, although very common, Mallards are very beautiful and should not be overlooked and I know you agree.

Sonia, Happy New Year to you, too. I wish you a new year full of the best photos of your country to share with us.

Delia, the red-shouldered is my favorite hawk. Not only pretty but LOUD. Love them!

TR, we all have plans that go awry. Hey, 2008 is achievable! Make that Zick Dough! I'm planning to do it this weekend.

Nikkopolani, oh, cut cutting room floor. I'm loaded with bloopers and blunders :o)

Julie, I'm worried, too. But! There are two! This weekend I'll confirm one with a normal bill, I hope. Here, you share so much and we all salute you.

Susan, I hope my white-breasteds stay... Mealworms and nuts are at their disposal - thanks to you.

Donna, I will, I will. Happy New Year to you, too. Glad you are back in the States.

Annie, your blog is educational (and entertaining) also. I've learned so much from your website. You are back! Yay! I'll be visiting soon.

Digital Polariods - thank you for visiting. You have wonderful photos!

Kerri, I am glad you are back to posting and sharing your terrific photos. Blacksburg must be frigid right now...freezing in Charlotte! Let's get photos of ice.

Katdoc (LOL!) I'm glad you advised Alyssa. I also sent her a note :o) I use a Kodak Easy Share Z612 with 12x zoom. It's an equivalent to a 200mm lens - totally automatic. I am lusting for a digital SLR but my camera is only a year old. I expect an SLR to be in the budget sometime in 2008. Good luck with your choice for a new camera! The WB nuthatch was my first bird sighting of 2008 and a lifer - with a deformity. Doesn't feel lucky but I'll take it :o)

Possumlady, they said to stop feeding the birds? Glad you moved! Zick dough this weekend... Let's hear about it!

Jean, wow. I might have 30 Mourning Doves at a time but I would be in HEAVEN to see 40 ducks! Lucky you!

Good night, all! Chloe & Bella are gassing me out of this room. It's been a pleasure - until now :o/

Larry said...

Those are great photos of the Hawk!
You must have been fired up when you got such great looks at that beauty!Interesting comments about long-billed syndrome.-Never heard of that before.

Carol Michel said...

Mary, I am very late in commenting but laughed out loud at your comment about your dogs gassing you out. Gross!

I did want you to know that I also have nothing to show for my time off over the holidays... didn't get my sunroom painted like I wanted to, got nothing done! And I feel good about it. I was quite relaxed going back to work yesterday!

Carol, May Dreams Gardens

Susan Gets Native said...

Don't you LOVE it when Julie leaves a comment?
It's always either: Freakin' hilarious or well-formed and INformed. Don't ya just love her?

Unknown said...

Well I can see I am bringing up the rear here. Your photos just keep getting better and better. and your list of commenter's keeps getting longer. Lucky gal. ;)
Do let us know what the lady in Alaska has to say about that poor little nuthatch. Don't you just want to take them all in and nurse them. Darn pesticides anyways.
I'm just now getting over my cold and congestion. Happy New Year my friend.

Naturegirl said...

Mary these photos were just wonderful! I have been watching a hawk watching my birds feeding for days now.I know what he is waiting for ..to catch one of the smaller birds for a meal..anyway I cannot take photos of this because my camera
bummed out..off/on switch..not working!!! ((((EEEEK)))) I need a camera like yours..please tell me what you use!! The clarity of the photos close up is what I want!!
You whine about going back to work I whine about having no working camera...Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!
Whineee.hop along..hibernating NG

smilnsigh said...

Wow, these close-ups! You can be an inspiration to me, to learn to use my zoom, on my new camera. Which camera, is kind of intimidating me at present. ,-) But, I will persevere.

Wishing you a very Happy and Healthy New Year of 2008.


dmmgmfm said...

Fred and Ethel, OMIGOD, how funny. Those pictures are amazing Mary.