Wednesday, March 12, 2008

We do it for the birds.

We had a mediocre frozen meal for dinner last night.

Chicken Alfredo -

Prep time: 1 minute to put in the oven.

I was planning to have hot dogs and beans but that would have been too labor intensive and I’d have spent too much time in the kitchen. There were other urgent issues that needed my attention.


The birds needed food. As you can see, I’m one of those Choosy Mothers who Choose Jif.

A double batch of Zick Dough and 16 cups of Hummingbird Nectar

Prep time: 2 hours and 15 minutes from start to clean-up. Add 10 minutes at the grocery store.

It was my pleasure to eat slop and cook bird cuisine.


The hummingbird migration maps aren’t very promising for our arrival date of March 31 but it’s been suggested to fill the feeders this weekend. I will! And I’ll keep replacing the nectar every other day as if they were here.

Hey, they’re worth it. My backyard birds have been busy lately and show up when they’re exhausted to rest, refuel, and quench their thirst.



Love is in the air.

Even my problem bird is worth it. We are getting along quite nicely. He stares me down at 5:00 p.m. until he gets what he wants.


I give in and tell him to save some worms for the Carolina Wrens.

As long as the Starlings take care of the grubs in my yard, what the heck. I'm done with the squabbles. Have some dough. I still startle them whenever I can.


Can you see his eye? It’s been a challenge for me to photograph a Red-winged Blackbird’s eye. Oh, I’m just so complex :o/

With a post hole digger in the back seat of my car, I arrived at work this morning to accomplish erecting four Bluebird nesting boxes on our wildlife habitat. We might be a little late getting the job done, but they are available now, properly baffled and quite nice! I wasn’t the digger, but I did a good job of being the holder of the level, screws, and measuring tape until I saw a male Downy at the base of a tree.


Thrusting my equipment into someone else’s capable hands, I excused my excited self for a few minutes. Others were probably thinking, “Oh, there she goes again…”


He didn’t seem to mind me or the activity around him. His quick spiraling towards the top of the tree, sometimes in reverse, made me dizzy and caused my camera to whine and choke. Arrrrrgh.


A pause. Thank you.

But let’s not focus all of our attention on the more elaborate, colorful birds. Give praise to the peaceful and faithful LBJs, too.



Lisa at Greenbow said...

Great pictures Mary. I know your birds appreciate all of your gourmet offerings.

Carol Michel said...

Mary, I was aghast to come home tonight and my feeders were EMPTY. I filled them, though. But I'm not to the point of cooking for the birds. I don't even cook for myself. But if I keep visiting your blog, I might just end up slaving in the kitchen on bird food.

Wonderful bird pictures as always. And I laughed at your comment to my comment on the previous post that you actually slipped into your pond once trying to get a picture.

Carol, May Dreams Gardens

Anonymous said...

You rock. With my kitchen out of commission, I'm not feeding the birds well or my kids well. Sigh. My kids would be happy for some Jif, I think! :)

Anonymous said...

I love seeing all the smiles on these birdies faces! I hope they are wrong and your Hummingbirds return quicker than normal!

nina at Nature Remains. said...

Oh, Mary! I hope your hummers get here soon--then we'll know it's spring for SURE!

Anonymous said...


I laughed out loud on the "choosy moms choose Jiff" comment. I made Zick dough myself today (the other batch is dwindling) and of course, I used Jiff!

I had some guys doing some work in my house today and at one point one asked what I was making. He said it sure looked The look on his face was priceless when I told him it was for the birds.

Love the pictures, and I LOVE reading what you have to say. You are just a hoot! I'm so happy I found your blog. You make my day. :)

I love the picture of your mockingbird. Mine isn't a total pest yet, but he's starting to wait for me in the mornings and he's getting closer and closer on the fence. I have another mockingbird that's not as brave. It's fluffier (I've wondered if it's a female). That one will sit patiently on the back of the fence in the far corner of the yard.

And those starlings...yikes! I had about 100 of them in my yard last week. They were driving me nuts! I put cages over many of my feeders and that seems to have worked.

I have 3 that just don't get it. They'll go round and round and round those feeders trying to get to the food. I call them The Three Stooges!

Anonymous said...

Chicken Alfredo doesn't sound too bad especially when more important things take precedence, like making Zick Dough and taking pics of the spring birds in your area. I could almost hear that red-winged blackbird singing in all the puffed up glory, we hardly ever see mockingbirds, thanks for the scenes.
Choosy mothers chose Zif, cuz it's the best.
Nature Knitter's Mom [Betty K]

Anonymous said...

Awesome pictures as always Mary! I'm going to put my hummingbird feeders out in the next few days. I made the zick dough a few weeks ago but I think I used a "smidge" too much lard. It wasn't as firm as I thought it would be. Maybe my next batch will be right. How long will the sugar water keep in the fridge for the hummingbirds? I'm going to make this myself too! Thanks for your blog and all the info and tips that you pass on to us newbie birdwatchers!!


Anonymous said...

beautiful picture of a White-Throated Sparrow.

JeanMac said...

Prep time: 1 min. You slay me.I do that on occasion, too, and I'm retired!

beckie said...

How fun, Mary! I too made Zick and put it on my post! It was my first time so my birds aren't quite sure what the heck it is yet. Great pictures as always. Glad you got he bird houses up finally.

Anonymous said...

Spoken like a true bird-lover. We've all been there, done that, with cooking more for the critters than for ourselves. Ain't love grand?

Beth said...

Beautiful pictures along with a great sense of humor--that's why I love reading Mary's view!

brucesc said...

Ditto what Beth said. Humor and birds--what else do you need!! Your pictures are terrific, Mary.

RuthieJ said...

You're a good bird mom, Mary! Keep their tummies full with the good stuff and they'll keep coming back!

I'm glad you got your bluebird houses up--even if you missed the first round of nesting, it's very likely they'll choose one of the new houses next time. Be sure to keep those house sparrows out!

Julie Zickefoose said...

You give them JIF?? Mine get Sam's Club.

Your pictures this round are publishable, Mare! That's a dandy (and I'd add, rather rare) mocker/mealworm shot. Keep it up and book publishers are going to come knocking.

Not sure how I feel about Beckie's calling bird cuisine "Zick." I feel my identity melting into a swirl of peanut butter and lard juice.

Then again, we could call my no-sugar-added recipe "Simply Zick."

Anonymous said...

Fantastic photos!! How I miss feeding my own birds! It was a hard decision to not put up my feeders last autumn but the bears are just too numerous here- they stand on their legs and look into my windows!! Then they snap the feeders off and run away with them. And you can only imagine what a tasmanian devil my terrier turns into when she "senses" that the bears are out there.... Thank you for yet another wonderful post! hugs, gretchen

John Theberge said...

I liked the shot of the mourning dive drinking by the waterfall, very unique.

Q said...

Dear Mary,
We do it all for the birds with a very happy heart!
So glad you are getting ready for the Hummers! They will not be here for another month.
The Blue Birds will love new housing.
Wonderful Downy...So sweet.
I too will startle a Starling but I don't get after them like I used to. I see them and the House Sparrows as Hawk food.
Enjoy getting ready for the Hummingbirds.

Sherry at the Zoo said...

Would you come cook for me? LOL! I'm sure those birds appreciate you very, very much. I know I appreciate you...your pictures are awesome!

Mary said...

Lisa, I think they DO appreciate it, really.

Carol, so the birds you didn't think you would have emptied the feeders. See? Get busy and fill them.

Liza Lee, a kitchen under construction is a great reason to go out for dinner!

Tom, they haven't even been spotted in SC yet!

Nina, you'll all be the first to know when they arrive. I guarantee spring.

Maddie, don't you love the distinct personalities of birds? I laugh all the time! Some are quirky
like us bird watchers - hey take a look at Julie's profile photo below. Isn't that great! :o)

Betty, the birds are spoiled. I'll need to wean them off Zick dough soon. Won't be pretty.

Angie, are you refrigerating the dough? I keep nectar refrigerated up to two weeks but usually run out before then. I clean and replenish the feeders every other day during the hottest part of the summer. Otherwise, every two or three days. I don't know if that's a rule or not.

Cindy, thanks for the compliment and visiting.

Jean, I try to keep prep times to a minimum on weekdays. Too much else to do!

Beckie, they'll love it! It took my birds a day or two before they caught on.

Wren, I find it more satisfying than cooking for myself or anyone else ;-)

Beth, I try not to take things to seriously :o)

Brucesc, thanks for the compliment. I'm constantly trying to improve.

Ruthie, I haven't seen any house sparrows on campus YET. They live at the grocery store down the road.

Julie, oh you make me blush. The problem with many of my photos is the background of vinyl siding and brick from the houses nearby. And, you are much more than p'nut butter and lard, silly.

Gretchen, oh my! Take care of that little devil!

John, thanks for visiting and leaving such a nice compliment.

Sherry at Q - I know you braved the worst storms for them...

Sherry at the Zoo - I'm not much of a cook but I think I cook up a mean batch of suet, thanks to Julie Z :o)

Cheryl said...

You are so good doing all those tasty treats for your birds. I love your "love is in the air" doves and Mary what do I see, your being nice to starlings. Am I wearing you down.
Can't wait for the hummingbirds, hope they turn up.
Thought you were going to have a break from this blogging????

Mary said...

Cheryl, I got tired of worrying about the starlings :o) I only have six now which means there's more food for everyone else. Yes, I will take a break when I get busy outdoors. My break is usually less than a week :o) It's been very chilly in the evenings.

Sandpiper (Lin) said...

Great post, Mary. I loved all of your pictures. The one of the dove drinking is terrific! I wish you would come to my house and do all this work for me. Well, actually, for my birds! :)

Jayne said...

We are soul sisters, you and me. A minute for dinner prep, two hours to fix the bird food. Yep! We were separated at birth! :c)

Mary said...

(the other Mary :-) I love that picture of the dove drinking...beautiful! and the water is so clear and refreshing and spring looking! The little white-throated sparrow is cute too.

Stacey Olson said...

Great photos,I bet they all appreciate your fine culinary offerings.. Thanks for sharing

kate said...

I am still laughing about choosy mothers choosing Jif. Your birds will thank you and go bragging to their friends that they've got the best food in the neighbourhood. Or maybe they won't, because they won't want to give away their secret!

I hope you take some photos of the new bluebird feeders ... I always enjoy seeing your bird pictures. (Oh and I have a neighbour who called me a wingnut last fall - another neighbour thinks we should start a 'Wingnut Central' society and take pride for living on our street where most of us have one interesting quirk or another!)

Unknown said...

No wonder you have such great photos of birds, Mary. No mother could boast greater dedication.
I take it Starlings are somewhat of a nuisance, but I’m glad you posted a picture of one because I’ve never actually seen one. Are they exclusive to the East Coast?

Mary said...

Hi Benjamin, European Starings were brought here from overseas. A very aggressive bird that causes havoc for the agricultural industry and backyard bird enthusiasts, as they travel in huge flocks of a few hundred or more at times. I believe they are local all over the U.S. but I'd need to check my field guides.

dmmgmfm said...

Great photos and story, Mary. You are a wonder.


Susan Gets Native said...

You buy JIFF for your Zick Dough? Damn. I get the biggest, cheapest jar I can find. I guess I'm not a choosy Mom.

Unknown said...

Mary well after loosing all my Zick dough I had to make some more myself today. Ha once again Don came home and wondered what it was. He said I better start labeling it before he gets into stuff like that. giggle.

I love that photo of the morning dove drinking. I am getting so excited for you and the hummers coming.

dguzman said...

WOW, the birds in my yard would FREAK if I made them Zick Dough. They'll just have to settle for the grocery-store brand; it's gross enough that I have to touch the lardy things to get them out of the packaging. If I had to MAKE that stuff -- blech! (P.S.--I'll probably break down and cook it sometime...)

Great pics!

Robin's Nesting Place said...

Those are great pictures! I enjoy making the Zick dough and finding different things to throw in it. I still make it even though the only birds that eat it are the starlings. I can't wait until your hummers come.

Kerri Farley said...

I am a JIF Mom too!

But I am lazy when it comes to making bird food... but I hear that this Zick Dough is fabulous!
I wonder if there are any on line sites where one can buy it already made?? If not, someone should start a business :)

Great shot of the "mocker" and the downy.
Happy Friday!

Mary C said...

Mary, your photos keep getting better and better! And I'm not saying they were bad to begin with. ;o) That one of the dove drinking from your pond is priceless. And love that Downy! Happy weekend!

Elaine Cougler Author said...

Oh, Mary! How lovely are your pictures, especially the bird at the pond's edge.
Sorry I've been neglecting my blog lately but I've written about my reason. Check it out1

Crayons said...

Wow, what a nice post. I'm proud to be part of a species that feeds others! The photos are just excellent. Bravo.

Larry said...

I especially like the way you captured the Mouning Dove near the water-really nice!