Our eyes and ears should be open and alert to the natural wonders that surround us every day. Take time to look out our windows to see the birds that visit us and open our windows to hear them. Walk around whatever space we have to enjoy the birds in nature. Every day, work on improving our powers of observation.
Nature happens. We cannot MAKE natural things happen (or NOT happen). We can create habitats to encourage natural things to happen around us, but there are no guarantees.
Birdfeeding comes with responsibilities to the birds and the environment we share with them. If you are unwilling to accept these responsibilities, you shouldn’t feed the birds. We also have a responsibility to share these natural wonders with the next generation.
Now that Purple Finches are mostly done with the breeding process, except for a few begging fledglings out there, they can turn their attention to the next high-energy-demand process in a bird's life: MOLTING.
We're having a very good Purple Finch summer, so we have a big bunch of raspy-lookin' birds filling our feeders. Here, take a look!
Just a quick final report on my last Black-capped Chickadee nestbox. I watched the box on and off on the morning of their expected fledge date of June 24th, their 18th day in the nest. I didn't see any signs of nestlings thinking about leaving, like peeking out the nest hole, or parents coaxing them. I had to leave for work around 1:00pm, still hosting a box full of chickadees.
I didn't get home until after dark, so I had to wait until morning to check if they had fledged. When I peeked through the top, I saw the nest was still full of little chickadees. But within a few hours, it started to look like today was the day!
Mom and dad weren't entering the box as often, and then the first little chickadee stepped up to look out at the big world outside the box. He quickly turned and went back in to the safety of his nest.
I kept an eye and ear on the nest, listening and watching for the sound of adults beckoning the chickadees to fledge. When I heard the adult call, it was followed by a chorus of scratchy little calls emanating from inside the box. Within a couple hours, the fledging had begun.
I got to see two leave the box. Others were easy to find in nearby trees, calling that scratchy, high-pitched little "che-bee" call. I also knew it was one of the six when I saw a chickadee taking short little flights ending with clumsy landings.
One flew across our small yard to the front of the greenhouse and held on for dear life to a rubber gasket. He eventually had the sense to take the short flight to the roof, but the slight pitch there made his initial landing tough. Everything has to be learned for these little guys!
The young ones are just too cute for words! The feathers on the top of their heads stand up on end. They have a stubby little tail. And in varying degrees, they all have clown lips, where the corners of their beaks are still yellow and soft.
But in no time, their fluffiness will be gone. They'll grow out their tail feathers and lose those clown lips too. In just a matter of weeks, they'll be unidentifiable amongst the flock of identical-looking chickadees raiding our birdfeeders.
While we were recently in Nashville TN, we had one day to take in a little nature. We spent some time on the trails at Shelby Bottoms Park, a 960-acre park just south of downtown Nashville. The park has a nice variety of habitat, from riverfront and pond, to field and hardwood forest. We accumulated 30 different birds during our walk there, including a really good show put on by a Killdeer.
We encountered this Killdeer in a large field, calling loudly and showing a variety of defensive displays. Perhaps the path took us too near the nest, which is often not much more than just a little scrape in the ground. Killdeer are known for their broken-wing display, acted out away from the nest to draw our attention away.
What an attractive bird they are, with their suit of brown, white and black. What big eyes they have too, ringed with a bright red eye ring.
We moved on fairly quickly to let them get back to their nest, at least until the next park visitor came along the winding path through its home field.
Q. Is it true that Cedar Waxwings can actually get drunk eating fermented berries?
A. Yes they can! Cedar Waxwings can survive almost entirely eating fruit and berries. But if they eat berries that have overripened they can indeed become drunk, or even die. Overripe berries can ferment and produce alcohol, which brings on this result.
Greetings from nature! We know we haven't stopped by your birdfeeders much lately, but we wanted to let you know we're still out there, doing just fine, and thinking of you! The weather has been gorgeous and we're enjoying it as much as you are.
The summer has given us a bounty of natural foods for the taking. There are tons of insects like caterpillars, spiders, grasshoppers, ants, and beetles out there, and we hate to pass them up while they're available to us. We're also finding lots of tree seeds and nuts, as well as fruits and berries.
So we haven't been in your yard much because we're filling up on the goodies in the wild. We did stop at your birdfeeding station last night at dusk, but we didn't see you around. Sorry we missed you.
While we're not around as much, it's okay with us if you just fill your feeders halfway. We'll use them for one last nibble before we settle down for the night or when we pass through the neighborhood. Oh, and thanks for keeping the birdbath clean and filled. Will you have that open all winter?
We know that all these natural food sources will eventually deplete. ☹ We continue to check in on your yard so that when that time comes, we know where to find a reliable quality food source and some decent habitat to shelter us when the weather turns nasty.
Thanks again for all you do for us, even when we're not around that much. We'll remember that, and will be back in your yard before you know it! You're the best!
Love, Your Favorite Birds
ps: Thanks for keeping those kitties indoors too. They're cute, but they don't seem to like us to much.
As a bird enthusiast who blogs about paying "Zen
attention" to what goes on in nature in our own backyards, I was thrilled
to happen upon this great children's book by Annette LeBlanc Cate. "Look Up! Bird-watching in Your Own Backyard" is
all about how easy it is to see birds and that by paying just a little
attention, we'll see some pretty amazing things about them. Birds are, as Cate notes, "by far, the
easiest-to-see of all wild creatures."
In an entertaining and often humorous fashion, Cate
introduces us to all the things to look for and at when we see birds in our own backyard. She utilizes, without us even knowing it, the
method used by some of the most experienced birders in the world: GISS (pronounced and sometimes spelled JIZZ). GISS is a way of identifying and studying a bird by noting a General Impression of
(a bird's) Size and Shape.
Cate strongly encourages us to draw the birds as well, to help experience the
birds more fully and feel more connected to nature.
Annette Cate wonderfully illustrated the book as well, and it is
filled with colorful and cartoonish drawings of the birds (and of herself!) She worked with veteran birder Jim Barton to
keep these fun drawings as accurate as possible, still maintaining the birds'
general shape, color, and defining characteristics. Check out her acknowledgement page to
Jim...I'd say he kept Annette on her toes!
This is a BUSY BUSY book.
The pages are filled to the gills with Cate's artwork of talking birds
and accompanying text. You really do
have to systematically go through each page (or read it a second time) to be
sure you haven't missed anything.
The book covers birds' colors, shapes, and behaviors before
getting into their finer details, plumage, sound, and habitat. It then delves deeper, into birds' ranges,
migration, and classification. I found
my attention span waning a bit trying to absorb the busy "Classification Class"
page. It was the one section of the book
that was perhaps just, as they say, too much information.
But the information about birds and the messages throughout "Look Up!" are spot on. Cate encourages us all to learn about the
birds we see everyday, so that we'll be more prepared when we see something
different. And although this is
described as a children's book (age 8/grade 3 and up), I believe adults will definitely
be entertained (and educated) by it as well.
I know I was!
Things I especially like:
Ethical bird-watching behaviors are nicely explained in
"Bird-watching Do's...and Don't's!"
The emphasis on the fact that birds are everywhere to
be found and that there's interesting things to see and learn about even the most
The "A Rainbow of Color" page is beautiful, showing us some
of the reds, oranges, yellows, greens, blues, indigos, and violets in the bird
I absolutely love her sense of humor, sprinkled
throughout the book through the magic of talking birds.
"Look Up!" is a joy to read and I would love
to be able to read it to a child to introduce them to the world of birds that I
love so much. The book made me learn and
it made me laugh. You just can't ask for much more than that!
LOOK UP! BIRD-WATCHING IN YOUR OWN BACKYARD Written and Illustrated by Annette LeBlanc Cate Published by Candlewick Press 2013 ISBN 978-0-7636-4561-8 $15.99 - Available at Wild Birds Unlimited - Saratoga Springs NY
ANNETTE LE BLANC CATE BOOKSIGNING AND DRAWING ACTIVITY Saturday September 7, 2013, 11am - 3pm Wild Birds Unlimited Nature Shop 3084 Route 50, Suite 1 ~ Saratoga Springs NY 518-226-0071
In accordance with Federal Trade Commission 16 CFR Part 255, it is disclosed that the copy of the book read in order to produce this review was provided gratis to the reviewer by the author. The book is also sold at a retail shop owned by the reviewer.