Birds


There are not many types of birds that frequent my back yard on a regular basis.

Mourning Doves

Mourning Doves

What I do get are mourning doves, pigeons (which I have finally given up trying to rid my yard of), hummingbirds, Bullock’s Orioles and House Finches. (This is for the present. The winter mix is a bit different.)

PigeonsThere is also an occasional roadrunner, as well as the occasional hawk which finds the bird feeders a place to find a sure lunch. (The hawk rarely succeeds, but I have seen it score a time or two.)

Roadrunner-I love Roadrunners!

Roadrunner-I love Roadrunners!

By far, the House Finches are the most plentiful birds to frequent our feeders.

Typical of the amount of House Finches swarming around the feeder

Typical of the amount of House Finches swarming around the feeder

Our pets include two cats and a dog. One cat is a bird hunter. I argue with myself over my feeding birds to “lure them in” for my cat to catch. But the fact is that the only ones she catches are House Finches. Why is this? The birds are not very smart. This does not mean that I do not try to deter her, chasing the birds away when I see she is in stalking mode, or trying to save the ones she gets (a couple a week, but the death rate is very low), but sometimes I think they have it coming. (I realize how stupid I am to make such a statement online. If you want to yell at me about animals, go somewhere else. No one loves animals more than I do.)

SirenStalking

This is my bird stalker. A finch is less than two feet from her in front of the green bush.

House Finches eat anything. This includes the hummingbird food and the oriole food. I do not really mind this, but one component of oriole food is grape jelly. Finches to not have the intelligence to eat it delicately, so they get it all over themselves. I have seen them stuck to the feeder (no pictures–when I see this, my first thought is to rescue them), and have seen them bouncing around the yard because grape jelly is all over them.  So I catch them (because they pass out when under stress–also making it easy for the cats to catch them), and give them a bath.

Finch with grape jelly stuck to various parts of its body.

Finch with grape jelly stuck to various parts of its body.

Finch "passed out" so it is no problem for me to catch.

Finch "passed out" so it is no problem for me to catch.

Bathing a finch to get the sticky jelly off of it.

Bathing a finch to get the sticky jelly off of it.

What I have learned in the process of saving all these House Finches this summer is that most of them are babies. Many cannot fly at all. There are no parent birds around. Just babies kicked out to make it on their own in a world of cats and grape jelly. Babies that would not survive if a giant human were not around to rescue them over and over. What are those parent finches thinking???

Then there are the Bullock’s Orioles. Unlike the House Finch youth who appear to get kicked out of the nest before they can even fly, the orioles feed their young when they are fully capable of feeding themselves and fly well. The orioles teach their young where to find food and how to get it.

Male Bullock's Oriole feeding offspring. (Click photo to enlarge.)

Male Bullock's Oriole feeding offspring. (Click photo to enlarge.)

Male Bullock's Oriole feeding two offspring and showing them how to use the oriole feeder.

Male Bullock's Oriole feeding two offspring and showing them how to use the oriole feeder.

Two young Bullock's Orioles at the oriole feeder where they made complete pigs of themselves.

Two young Bullock's Orioles at the oriole feeder where they made complete pigs of themselves.

So what does this have to do with human parenting?

A couple of weeks ago I was in a staff meeting at my daughter’s school.  When I learned they were extending the school day by half-an-hour, I had to speak up.

Let’s just say I have huge issues with homework. I am not opposed to children bringing home the occasional (infrequent) homework because they did not complete their work in school (largely due to misuse of time) or a project, but schools have our kids for 7 or more hours a day. Tell me why they cannot get work finished then? I do not believe in homework just for the sake of it. Last year my daughter had spelling homework. I begged the teacher to give it to the students at the beginning of the day so they could work on it during their down time at school. This never happened. Most kids have time if they use it wisely. So during this discussion I raised my hand and said I would have to strongly object to homework if the school day were half-an-hour longer.  Her teacher’s response was, “You are the only parent who does not want her children to have homework. Most parents beg for more.”

WHAT????

My incredulity was apparent. The replies were that parents do not know what to do with their children at home, so they want them to have more homework.

So it made me think of the birds.  The House Finches seem to be the type of parents as some of the parents of children in my school. They have babies, send them to school and think their job is over. (Without me, at least twenty House Finch babies would be dead this summer.)

Forgive me if I see myself more as a Bullock’s Oriole parent. I have children, I spend time with them, I teach them things like responsibility and how to act (not that they always do it perfectly). I truthfully love summer and vacations because our schedule is more relaxed and we can do more things. This is not to say that I spend every second with my children.  I NEVER play with my kids. I never have. OK, a little at the park (rare) and games and in the  yard. But not once have I sat down and played dolls or Barbie’s with them. (I would probably have to shoot myself from the boredom.) They do those things on their own. They have lots of play time. But our together time is structured. We practice school subjects. We do crafts and art . Science projects. Exercise. Cook. Read. Once in a great while watch movies. My kids do not watch television at all or have any video games. (They do watch a short educational video daily during my shower.)  During the summer about 2-3 hours per day of my time is spent directly with my kids. The rest of the day they know very well how to entertain themselves.  Why? Because I taught them to do that.

This week's art project. These are "hipps" based on a 4000-year-old Egyptian sculpture. (I use books. I do not come up with this stuff on my own!)

This week's art project. These are "hippos" based on a 4000-year-old Egyptian sculpture. (I use books. I do not come up with this stuff on my own!)

This is not me being self-righteous or condemning parents who parent differently than I do. My choice of activities is personal to our family, but children are not just creatures to be ignored in hopes someone else teaches them (or saves them from the cat). Just don’t ask the school to oversee your children (extra homework) during the after-school hours and vacations. I do not want that for my children or my family. We have plenty to do here without busywork from school.

And I realize that working parents have a different kind of time with their children than I do since I am a stay-at-home mom. But all I can say is that if I were working and had just a couple of hours daily with my children, I would not want them to be doing homework during that time.

Note: This is not an attack on anyone. I know most of my readers with school-age children are amazing parents. This is more about me, my opinions and why I have those opinions.

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Two days ago it was my “Blogiversary.” There was another post scheduled for that day, and I do not get terribly wrapped up in these things, so I did not say anything. But I want to say something now because I will do a giveaway, and I LOVE to do giveaways!

But first, you must endure some of my chatter mostly about our trip. It will be a hodgepodge as this blog has seemed to be over the past year. (Or you can skip to the giveaway stuff at the end!)

Chic~Turtle

Chic found a turtle just as we were headed to church. Since turtles are not common in our world, I HAD to let her play with it a few minutes. (We were late to church.)

We were almost 2 weeks in Missouri. (It WAS two weeks if we count the travel days.) When I make these trips, the purpose for them is for my business, but that only takes a day. The rest of the time I visit family and friends, shop (I hate shopping and rarely do it here, but there are necessities so I do it in Missouri where I have more time, and the stores I like are closer) and maybe spend a day or two in Branson. (My dad loves to take us to Branson.) But this trip was a little different.

Remember Grandma D and on her birthday she was in the hospital after a botched surgery? Well, that has not gone well. She almost died three separate times since that surgery. (Needless to say, they are not paying any of the medical bills.) I realized right away that it was going to be a burden for us to be there so long, so I decided to do the cooking and some cleaning. Prince Charming scanned some of my recipes, e-mailed them to me and that’s what I did most of the time. I did not cook EVERY day, but quite a bit, and made enough that they should have had plenty for at least a week after we left. We did not go shopping the entire time. That was fine, but there were a few things I needed.

Scissortail Flycatcher on wire--click photo to enlarge

Scissortail Flycatcher on wire--click photo to enlarge

The girls and I drove to Missouri not long after school was out, then Prince Charming flew in after two weeks. He was there one full day, but we had lunch with a former professor of his that day and planted two letterboxes. One is in honor of the Scissortail Flycatcher that we always used to see on a road on which we lived. I took my bike on this trip in hopes for some exercise (moderately successful) and found the bird in two other areas I had never seen before. My camera lens is not made to get good bird shots, but these are not bad. I like the still one, and the other one is a bit blurry, but you can at least see the tail action. It is so interesting to watch them fly.

Scissortail Flycatcher in flight -- click photo to enlarge.

Scissortail Flycatcher in flight -- click photo to enlarge.

It also must be noted that I have wonderful friends in Missouri. During the two weeks I was there, my children were whisked away from me four times (in addition to the two times I needed babysitting), and three of those times included overnight stays. (It gives a parent pause to think about the advantages of moving back to the land of heat and humidity–and no job for my husband!)

My brother and his wife also live there. His wife is who went to Silver Dollar City with us. We could not have survived the day without her! But since my girls are never in Missouri on their birthdays, they decided to have a birthday party for them. The girls were so excited, and it turned out to be a surprise for yours truly as well, since MY birthday is never when we visit! Wasn’t that thoughtful?

BirthdayCake~Candles

During all the cooking I sliced my finger with a very. sharp. vegetable peeler. I am no wimp, but this was a bad cut. WARNING! GORY PHOTO AHEAD. I’LL LEAVE SOME SPACE SO YOU CAN SKIP IT IF YOU WANT. It was about 3/4″ long, 3/16″ wide and 1/8″ deep. It bled like crazy. I finally managed a bandage and antibiotic cream, and the picture is of it after two days of this. There was barely any healing at this point.

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The reason I am even telling you this is because Grandma D had a liquid bandage which I put applied on the 3rd day. I did not take pictures of the healing progression (I really am not a very good blogger, but I will say that I have other things going on all of the time), but in ONE day the cut had reduced in size by more than half. Three days later, it was all but healed. Now I can just barely see where it was, and I do not even think it is going to leave an ugly scar. (Bump. I really don’t care about scars, but I have a bump on a finger from a childhood cut.) This blog is NOT about product endorsements, but if you have never tried this stuff, it is SO worth it! I made Prince Charming buy some. I think it will also be great in our dry, dry winters when our fingers have big, ugly cracks in them. Oh, it hurts like the dickens to put it on if the wound is as bad as mine was, but if you do a little Lamaze breathing, you can survive, and it will be well in no time. (I know this is not a new item, and I had heard of it but never tried it because I had no idea how well it worked.)

LiquidBandage

Time for the giveaway information!

First, I do not like to do this to get more traffic or comments, so you are required to E-MAIL ME if you want to be entered! Just e-mail louisestamps at aol dot com and let me know you want to enter. (Please put “giveaway” in the subject line.)  There will be two winners. Prince Charming will draw names, and the first one has first choice of what s/he wants.  The other person will get what is left. (But I do not make slouchy things, so I think that is OK, and it is free, OK?)

Here is an idea of the prizes:

1) Handmade cards. There will be these four, but I will probably throw in a couple of others for which I did not immediately have samples.

4Cards

2) A Banner. But not this one or one even like it, but you get the idea. I have not made it yet, and I decided to wait because the winner can pick the colors (within reason). It will be a “SUMMER” banner (NOT “MERRY”). It is a home decor item–large enough to fit over a double window or in a hallway. Each pennant is about 6″ wide and 9″ long. (I did not measure, but am doing this from a memory. I am too lazy at the moment to get out something to measure.)

MerryBanner

You have a week, through Wednesday, July 1, to e-mail me. If these things do not interest you, but you think they might interest someone you know, consider entering to give as a gift.

I am also thinking of adding a third prize, but you can tell me if you would be interested. I am not a great photographer. I take some very good pictures, but I do not edit them (other than occasional cropping when I am not too lazy) and I have still not figured out all the manual settings on my camera. I hesitate to do this one because I am so small in a big photography world. But I know a few have really liked some of my pictures. So I could also make a set of cards from my pictures. If you want to enter and that interests you, let me know. It could be a “Louise’s choice” thing, or the winner could choose from pictures I have posted.

OK, I think that’s it for today. But I forgot to tell you THANK YOU for hanging with me for a year. I went back and read a few of my first posts, and many of my readers are the same. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate that you come and read the drivel things I write and look at my photos. If it were not for you, I know I would have quit blogging entirely the couple of times I have had to take extended breaks due to my crazy schedule. YOU keep me coming back! Thank you.

2009-04-02intissue

Reader, have you ever thought about hanging up the blogging hat and just quitting entirely. I have. In fact, it might cross my mind (in a big or small way) every day. When I started doing this, I said I did not have time for it. I still do not. I have less time than I had for it when I started. Yet I continue. And today makes eleven posts in eleven days.

This warrants a new paragraph. I think once, way back last summer, I might have done six posts in six days. But that was only once. And it was summer. How some of you people post daily (or MORE than daily) is beyond me. I have barely been able to keep up with posting, let alone visiting others (which is much more interesting to me than posting).  My hat goes off to ALL of you who post frequently. (But to those of you who don’t, please don’t start to get a hat off to you! I am thankful some of you post less or I would NEVER catch up!)  I had no intentions of posting eleven days straight, but that whole cruise business happened, and I had the memes, so I just had to do it. And in the midst of it, the reason for today’s post happened, so here I am… again. (But I will not be here tomorrow.)

So anyway, the topic was blogging. One of the reasons I do not quit is because I find it relaxing. My life is stressful and busy. Even though a lot of the time sometimes I should be doing other things besides visiting you and reading comments, I do it because I enjoy it, and it is relaxing. It is one of the calm places in my crazy life.

But the reason I really cannot stop (at least at this point) is because I LOVE the blogging connections.  And this is what I hear from every other blogger I “meet.”  (I have not actually met any in real life yet that I did not know before, but I would really like to.) And one of my more recent connections has been so fun and enriching that I just must share it with you.

When I did this post, I got a comment from Daryl (who I am sure almost all of my readers know) saying that she had never seen a rainbow. Oh MY! Right away I e-mailed her a few of my best rainbow shots and told her if she corresponded by using actual pen and paper that I would be happy to make some cards for her using some of those photos. (We know that usually I use rubber stamps to make cards, but I do make them out of my photos if I really, really like the photos.) I must admit I was a bit hesitant to do this because she lives in New York City. She has so many amazing sites in front on her all the time. Why would she want homemade rainbow cards from a pseudo-photographer? But her response was not only gracious (which I am sure it would have been no matter what), but excited. She wanted to TRADE cards. She would do cityscapes for me, and I would do rainbows for her! Oh, the excitement!

At my first opportunity (several days later), I made the cards for her. I had Prince Charming mail them for me. No sooner had they gotten in the mail when I thought maybe I should have included something BESIDES rainbows. After all, their differences were subtle. She might get bored with all rainbows. But it was done, so what could I do?

The same day I got her package. It came UPS, and I was not expecting anything UPS. The new UPS guy handed it to me. I looked at the address information rather confusedly. When I saw where it came from, I slammed the door and ripped it open. (Very impolite.) I will admit I had to re-wrap it to get the first picture because I was so giddy with excitement.

And did I ever have reason to be excited!!! I got these giant, beautiful scenes on notecards. (On very nice cardstock, I might add. I know a little about cardstock, and this was good.) They are all so DIFFERENT. (Adding to my consternation about the similar rainbows.) They are all so rich in color and city life. I. LOVE. THEM!

2009-04-02cellopkg

I have seen some of these pictures on her blog before.

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2009-04-02carouselclocks

The carousel picture above is MUCH better than it shows. It had a bad glare on it when I took the photo. I have decided to give it to Chicklet for her upcoming birthday so I can use it, but it will not actually be removed from the house!

When I opened the package, I was sure I knew my favorite, but in the end, I picked three. I truly love all of them, but there are three that stood out for one reason or another.

2009-04-023favorites

click photo to enlarge

The first is the perspective and the depth-of-field. I love the blurry foreground. The second is just pretty and enchanting. Who would not love this? In the third, look at the sky!

The cards themselves are not the reason why blogging is so enriching. It is the connection with the person who made them. I love this community, and I love getting to know individuals better. So time or no time, I will continue. And I will be a better and richer person for it.

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Note: I think Daryl is going to post her version of this story sometime today. (I am sure in much more efficient form!) She is going to add an interesting twist to it, so if for some crazy reason you do not already visit her regularly, you should pop over and see what she has to say today. (And her “Toonsday” today is hilarious!)

Later note: Daryl’s life is so fun and exciting that something came up today, so she’s going to do her post tomorrow (Wednesday, 8-Apr-2009, around noon EDT.) But you still should check out the “Toonsday” today.

Today a new hummingbird showed up at my feeders.  It caught my attention because the regular hummingbirds were making a racket, like hummingbirds tend to do.  I went to see what was up, and saw glistening rust and orange.  All day long I tried to get a picture.  I do not have time to sit and wait, but finally I got a pretty good one.  My thoughts are that is is a Rufous Hummingbird, Selasphorus rufus.  There is something somewhat similar called Allen’s Hummingbird, but that one has more green, and I never saw much green on this one.

click on photo to enlarge

click on photo to enlarge

This bird is a real dazzler in the sun!  Apparently they live in the northwest U.S. and southeast southwest Canada in the summer, but migrate to Mexico for the winter, so we were lucky enough to see the little traveler.  I hope I can get a better glimpse, and picture, before it heads out.  I have no idea how long it will stay.

click on photo to enlarge

click on photo to enlarge

For a short time while waiting for the hummingbirds to get close enough to photograph, I took pictures of the herb flowers in my garden.  The hummingbirds like to get nectar from the lemon balm flowers.  I also have cosmos in the herb garden and took some pictures of that.  The cosmos pictures turned out OK, but I like an older one I have better, so I am putting that up.

This cosmos picture was taken in early morning light, and I liked it because of its shadow.  I did not realize until I uploaded the photo how interesting the other shadows in the picture were.  The extra shadows are from my late Weeping Cherry tree.  (I will probably do a full post on the tree soon. ) It was dying suddenly when the picture was taken, leaving it without foliage which made the nice shadows.  I cannot really explain why I love this picture, but it is a favorite from my own archives.

The last picture is of a Desert Willow bloom.  I love these trees.  They grow anywhere and very quickly.  When we moved here six years ago, I thought it was a bush and trimmed it as such in the Spring.  A year later I learned it was a tree.  It is a bushy sort of tree, but it is already taller than the roof of our first floor.  It will not be giant, but it is even now a very nice size. 

click photo to enlarge

click photo to enlarge

The Desert Willow blooms are full of nectar, and they “rain” it all the time.  It always feels cool when walking under one in the summer because of the mist of nectar.  This particular tree rains its nectar on my garden.  This morning I was picking jalepenos for a batch of salsa, and all of the peppers were covered in nectar and quite sticky.  The plants were also covered with aphids, and that was not as pleasant, but they came off easily when I cleaned the peppers.

The salsa recipe I made today is from Lynn at the Vintage Nest.  You can go here to find the recipe. 

When I made my first batch this summer, I used the following recipe:

Huachuca Salsa

4 lg. ripe tomatoes, diced

1 green tomato, diced

8 green onions, chopped

1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped

2 or more jalepeno peppers, minced (I am a pepper wimp, so I usually remove the seeds unless the peppers have no heat at all.

1/3 c. olive oil

2 tsp. lime juice

1/4 tsp. sugar

2 tsp. ground cumin

2 garlic cloves, pressed or minced

salt to taste

Combine all ingredients and mix well.  Refrigerate to let flavors blend. 

This is my favorite summer salsa.  I make salsa once or twice a week when I have my own tomatoes and try different recipes all the time, but I come back to this one at least a couple of times every year.

Lynn’s salsa is much different.  It is sweeter and has some interesting nuances of flavor.  Go make one of these.  I swear you will have it devoured in no time!  (And you don’t need to bother with chips if you don’t want to.  A spoon is just fine!)

by Louise Cannon

A few days ago I wrote about something I try to do as a legacy for my mother.  Today is something that falls along similar lines.

 

My mother loved birds.  It was actually a strange kind of love.  She was terrified of being near birds outside, something about their wings flying around her .  I have no idea where she got that phobia.  I cannot think of anything else that frightened her; she was one tough broad.  But although she did not want birds flying around her, probably in her top three favorite things in the world to do was watch birds.  She had lots (I mean LOTS) of bird feeders.  At the last house in which she lived, the lawn was 3 acres.  She had feeders of all sorts scattered under and near trees throughout that yard and hanging from the porch eaves.  She would also put cracked corn on a wide spot of the driveway by the garage to feed the mourning doves.

 

Although I was never afraid of birds and did not mind looking at them occasionally, I never really got into watching them.  She would love to point out a new one that would come to the feeders. (Once a strange sort of hummingbird was way off course and was at her house for a few days.  Some people from a local conservation office came to check it out.)  I would be interested, but only casually.  The only time the interest became greater is when my parents would leave town and yours truly got the posh job of filling the feeders.  My mother filled the feeders three. times. a. day at a minimum of 30 minutes for each round.  I did it twice a day in her absence, on the way to work and on the way home. 

 

When Prince Charming and I got married, he expressed an interest in having bird feeders.  One year for a birthday or Christmas, I purchased a very nice pole and feeders for him.  It was his job to keep the feeders full.  I liked watching the yellow finches come to it, but I preferred watching them on my giant sunflowers that took up half the garden. (I have always loved looking at flowers.)

We moved to the desert where there were no songbirds at all, at least none where we lived.  We did not put up our feeder after we moved.

 

Last year (nearly 5 years after moving), the homeowners association patrol noticed our bird feeder lying by the side of our house (where it had been since we moved) and sent us a none-too-friendly letter about it not being appropriate there.  This was just a couple of months after my mother’s death, and I had already been thinking I wanted to watch birds a little more.  We decided to put it up.   (Prince Charming’s father had also been into feeding birds, and had passed away recently as well, so it was easy for both of us to decide to put up a feeder again.)

 

During the summer I fill the feeders twice a day and could probably do it three or four times, but I refuse.  What kinds of birds we get?  House finches and pigeons and a few mourning doves.  The house finches are OK, but they are everywhere.  And the yellow finches do not come much when the house finches are around.  The house finches will eat almost anything, so it isn’t like I can change the diet out there to make them leave so something more interesting will come.

 

But we have a jewel that comes to our house.  Bullock’s Orioles.

 

The first time I saw one I gasped.  (I guess I gasp a lot when things are beautiful.  I do that all the time when I open Sky Watch Friday pictures.)  We do not have cardinals or blue jays here (the showier birds I was accustomed to from southwest Missouri), but periodically we get a glimpse of the orioles. 

 

We have a yellow Bird of Paradise tree/bush not far outside our back door.  Little did I know when planting it that Bullock’s Orioles come there for a feast.  They are terribly skittish birds, and nearly every picture I have of them is from inside the house, through the window.  (The pictures in this post are the best I have from this summer and last.  I do not believe the scarcity of good pictures is due only to my lack of ability to take good pictures!) When I first saw them last year, I did not know what they were eating from the tree until I enlarged some pictures and saw the worms in their mouths. 

 

The tree only blooms for a short time, then the birds go elsewhere.  This year we got an oriole feeder.  The orioles still come since the flowers have gone, but not as frequently.  But what do you think eats most of the jelly from the oriole feeder now that the orioles are not here as much?  The house finches! I do not want to go so far as to scare the finches away, but it does get a little irritating to see an oriole finally light on the feeder, only to fly away (before I can even move toward my camera) because the finches ate all the jelly!

 

Last week, however, I received a special treat.  A male was on the tree getting the last of the worms from the tree and a little grape jelly from the feeder, then taking it to a young oriole in a nearby tree.  The male was so busy that I actually got the lens of my camera out the door and took a couple of pictures before they both flew away. 

 

The orioles have made me interested in watching birds.  They have made me want to build a life list of birds.  They are the reason I started going to blogs like 10,000 Birds and Virtua Gallery.  I wish my mother could have seen them.

 

By Louise Cannon