Sunday, December 27, 2009

Another Low Count

Bird visits were still off this weekend for PFW. I was only in town a short while the first day of the count and absolutely no birds were at the feeders. It snowed early Sunday morning, yet the number of birds was still off. Conspicuously missing were the Chickadees, Titmice, Downy WP, and House Finches.

A very quick visit from the Mockingbird was a pleasant surprise.

Checklist for FeederWatch Missouri Birds

Mourning Dove

1

Carolina Wren

1

Northern Mockingbird

1

Song Sparrow

1

White-throated Sparrow

4

Dark-eyed Junco

6

Northern Cardinal

3

American Goldfinch

7 (0 with eye disease)

Total Species/Individuals

8 / 24


I was off work today and of course just about all of them returned, including a Northern Flicker and the Eurasian Tree Sparrows. Ah, the fickleness of birds.


Dark Eyed Junco

Northern Cardinal

Frosty Napping (Christmas Inflatable on the neighbor's porch blew over.)


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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Cat Mischief

Lucy & Topaz are sweet, but sometimes you can't turn your back on them for a moment.



This was after I had already cleaned up after them once tonight. Then they try to look all innocent. Notice how Lucy (on the left) is looking upward? She's just itching to keep digging in the plant.



I have too much to do tonight to monitor them! Guess that's what doors are for. At least they haven't knocked the Christmas tree over, yet.

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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Rule of 3's Ignored

Every count this season has been a multiple of 3 until this weekend. There were 11 species and a relatively low number of individuals. The temperatures hovered just under freezing and there was light snow cover after it snowed Friday night. I can't complain, though, considering the storms in the Northeast of the US this weekend.

No unusual birds showed up. With the exception of the juncoes and finches off and on, the feeders were very quiet.

Checklist for FeederWatch Missouri Birds

Mourning Dove

1

Downy Woodpecker

1

Carolina Chickadee

1

Tufted Titmouse

3

Carolina Wren

2

Song Sparrow

1

White-throated Sparrow

3

Dark-eyed Junco

14

Northern Cardinal

1

House Finch

7 (0 with eye disease)

American Goldfinch

8 (0 with eye disease)

Total Species / Individuals

11 / 42

Happy Holidays to All


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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Return to Normal

I still don't know what "normal" is here, so maybe I should say the Bird Counts met my expectations this weekend with a total of 15 species and 66 individuals. A far cry from 3 species last weekend! The only bird missing that I would have expected is the White-breasted Nuthatch which seems to always come around with the Chickadees and Titmice. Perhaps it showed up while I was out.

Checklist for FeederWatch Missouri Birds

Mourning Dove

7

Downy Woodpecker

1

Northern Flicker

1

Blue Jay

3

Carolina Chickadee

3

Tufted Titmouse

4

Carolina Wren

2

Song Sparrow

1

White-throated Sparrow

4

Dark-eyed Junco

16

Northern Cardinal

3

House Finch

7 (0 with eye disease)

American Goldfinch

9 (0 with eye disease)

House Sparrow

2

Eurasian Tree Sparrow

3



Total Species/Individuals

15 / 66



The juncoes were here in full force with a total of 16 at one point. I've noticed that the birds tend to come in spurts of about an hour at a time. They'll be here, then disappear for a while. Guess they are visiting other feeders on the circuit, or a predator came into the area.

With heavily overcast skies, it wasn't the best weekend for photographing birds, but here are a few:

White-throated Sparrow


Tufted Titmouse


Carolina Wren


American Goldfinch


Downy Woodpecker



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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Birds Return!

So the birds have practically vacated the neighborhood these past two weeks. I have a strong suspicion that a predator is prowling the area. This morning as I was drinking my coffee before going to work, I saw a large hawk fly across the sky and land in a tree a couple doors down. It wasn't long after that a Blue Jay or two started buzzing and dive-bombing the hawk perched in the tree. I saw the hawk fly off to the west, then another hawk flew off higher in the sky.

After the hawks departed, the Blue Jays flew into the neighbor's magnolia tree and started screaming again. Was there another hawk, or perhaps an owl, roosting there? Evidently not. The screeches must have been an "All Clear" signal because all of a sudden, dozens of birds started flying to the magnolia and the surrounding yards. It was a constant flow of birds as if the flood gates had been opened.

And yes, even though I was 10 to 15 feet away sipping my coffee, they started coming to the feeders! For 15 minutes in the morning, and a short time when I was home at noon, I saw Tufted Titmice, Carolina Chickadees, a White-breasted Nuthatch, a pair of Carolina Wrens, a pair of Downy Woodpeckers, Cardinals, House Finches, a lone Mourning Dove, a single Am Goldfinch, and of course the Blue Jays on the perimeter.

And to top it off, there was a fall-out of Juncoes and White-throated Sparrows! There were at least a dozen Juncoes and half a dozen WT Sparrows in the morning. Winter is definitely upon us.

It's great to know that the birds haven't completely abandoned the neighborhood. I'm sure the hawks will be back from time to time, and my counts will fluctuate because of it, but that's just how nature works. The hawks have to eat too and if they see a good source of food, they will be around.

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Sunday, December 6, 2009

Birds have flown the coop/neighborhood?

I have had worse counts when I was at the apartment last year, but I couldn't believe the meager number of birds to count for Project FeederWatch this weekend. I don't even need to put it in a list format, there were so few: House Finch - 3, Northern Cardinal - 1, Blue Jay - 3. The neighborhood was practically void of birds and bird song.

I have noticed the decline in the birds for about a week now. Last weekend, I know there was a hawk prowling the area, but it hasn't been visible since. I do have a guess though. The three Blue Jays that I counted this weekend were rowdily screaming at something in the neighbor's magnolia tree. Unfortunately, magnolias don't drop their leaves so I couldn't see what was upsetting them. But I'm speculating that it could be an owl. Last night at about 9:00 I heard a Barred Owl calling, then a commotion as it flew to the ground to catch something. I could see hardly anything, but I did see its shadow flying away. So I'm wondering if it is roosting in the magnolia.

No birds so no bird pictures. I'll share a couple pictures of my other favorite subjects: Lucy & Topaz lounging under the Christmas tree.



This is their first Christmas tree so I was kind of worried. Lucy did try to climb it the first day, but luckily they haven't broken any ornaments. They do like to gently swat at them to hear the bells tinkling. Well, I guess they like the sound of the bells. Who knows with cats.

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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Low Count and Reality Check

Hope everyone in the U.S. enjoyed the Thanksgiving holiday. I was out of town for a few days and didn't return until late Saturday afternoon. My Project FeederWatch count days are Saturday and Sunday so I only had a couple of hours of daylight to count Saturday. The number of birds was way down despite the beautiful weather. The highlight Saturday was this White-breasted Nuthatch.


The only other birds I saw were a couple of House Finches, a lone Mourning Dove and an unidentified Hawk species. It flew into the "birdy" magnolia tree in the neighbor's yard. Wonder if that kept the birds away?

Today there was only a one hour period where the birds showed up in numbers, but I only saw an additional eight more species bringing the total number to 12 for the weekend. A picture of one of the Carolina Wrens that visited, then the total count list for the weekend.




Checklist for FeederWatch Missouri Birds
  • hawk sp. 1 Confirmed
  • Mourning Dove 4
  • Downy Woodpecker 2
  • Northern Flicker 1
  • Blue Jay 4
  • Carolina Chickadee 2
  • Tufted Titmouse 4
  • White-breasted Nuthatch 1
  • Carolina Wren 2
  • Northern Cardinal 6
  • Common Grackle 15
  • House Finch 4 (0 with eye disease)
  • TOTAL 12 species / 46 individuals

Last week I "celebrated" a milestone birthday: 50. I have no problem with it. It's just a number, you know. But when I visited my Mom, she presented me with the mailing from AARP. I'm not a senior citizen; I am no where near retiring. So why do they have to send these to 50 year olds? Guess, like every other organization, they need the money.


What baffles me up is that they mailed it to my Mom's house. 300 miles away. I've never lived there. My name has never been linked to that address in any way. I think the AARP mail administrators must be senile.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Grackle Mornings

Second week of PFW wasn't as active as the first, but still a pretty good showing with 15 species and 58 individuals. The total individuals count was boosted by the 20 (or so) Common Grackles that showed up early Sunday morning.

Apparently there is a place about a mile from my house where the Grackles roost every night. When the sun starts to rise at about 6:30 you can hear them waking up and their calls start getting louder and louder. Eventually they take off and fly in the direction of my house. The noise they create is amazing as they disperse to wherever they go for the day. Sunday morning, they made a stop across the street at a neighbor's house. They were behind a tall fence so I couldn't gauge how many were there, but it had to be at least a couple hundred.

But about 20 of them stopped in my oak tree so I was able to count them for Project FeederWatch. I knew they were up there when the acorns started raining down! Good thing my patio is covered or it would have felt like a hail storm on my noggin.

Here's the total count for the weekend.

Project FeederWatch Count for Nov 21 & 22
  • Mourning Dove 5
  • Downy Woodpecker 1
  • Blue Jay 5
  • Carolina Chickadee 1
  • Tufted Titmouse 3
  • White-breasted Nuthatch 1
  • Carolina Wren 1
  • American Robin 3
  • Northern Mockingbird 1
  • Dark-eyed Junco 3
  • Northern Cardinal 6
  • Common Grackle 20
  • House Finch 6 (0 with eye disease)
  • American Goldfinch 1 (0 with eye disease)
  • Eurasian Tree Sparrow 1
  • Totals 15 Species / 58 Individuals
I didn't take any bird pictures, but it's been a while since I posted photos of the Lucy & Topaz. Not the best photo, but it sure shows how much Topaz (on the left) has grown over the past few months.



And she's not nearly as ornery as she appears here.

Happy Thanksgiving, all!!

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Great Start to Project FeederWatch

Yesterday started my sixth season to count birds for Project FeederWatch and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. There were a total of 18 species to visit my feeder area at the new house. This is significantly more than seen at the apartment last year when I was lucky to see double digit species and the average was maybe six. The 18 species this weekend is even higher than seen during the last season at the old house.

What is even more amazing is the lack of birds that tend to commandeer the feeders such as house sparrows, grackles, starlings and house finches. I hope this continues throughout the winter, but I don't dare tempt fate. I'm sure it could change at a moment's notice as the weather changes.

The first day, Saturday, was beautiful with sun all day and temps in the upper 60's (F). Early there was a flurry of Carolina Chickadees and Tufted Titmice coming to the feeders and taking seeds to stash around the yard.

Carolina Wren

Today was overcast and colder. Bird activity was very low in the morning but picked up in mid-afternoon. The larger birds noisily and furiously dominated the scene as the American Robins appeared to be defending their territory in the neighbor's magnolia tree from Blue Jays, a Mockingbird and Grackles.


Carolina Chickadee

The total count this weekend:
  • Mourning Dove 3
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker 1
  • Downy Woodpecker 2
  • Northern Flicker 1
  • Blue Jay 2
  • Carolina Chickadee 3
  • Tufted Titmouse 5
  • Carolina Wren 2
  • American Robin 12
  • Northern Mockingbird 1
  • White-throated Sparrow 4
  • Dark-eyed Junco 4
  • Northern Cardinal 9
  • Common Grackle 2
  • House Finch 4 (0 with eye disease)
  • American Goldfinch 1 (0 with eye disease)
  • House Sparrow 2
  • Eurasian Tree Sparrow 3
  • TOTAL: 18 Species & 61 Individuals



Tufted Titmouse

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Saturday, October 10, 2009

Signs of Fall

The dog days of summer are definitely behind us here in St Louis. The temperature has fallen with an overnight low of 38 and it never got past the mid-50s today. The houseplants have been brought in. I wore a jacket while running errands today.

I finally caved in and closed the windows and turned on the heat in the house (for a short while.)

The days are shorter and shorter. I do appreciate the daylight saving time extension! The leaves are starting to change color. Do not appreciate (at least this time of year) the seven large trees in the yard that will be dropping those leaves soon.

The neighbor put up Halloween decorations today!

What really made it hit home for me today was my first seasonal sighting of the White-throated Sparrow! They are back for their winter vacation in the southern tropics. Huh? This wouldn't be my choice for a winter vacation but compared to staying in Canada, the White-throated Sparrows are making a wise move. I wasn't able to photograph the White-throats today, but here is a photo I took a couple of years ago:


The Dark-eyed Juncos can't be too far behind.

Of course, winter birds arriving also means the summer birds are heading south. There are still plenty of reports of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds in the area despite the cold temps. A St Louis birder (John Curran) posted this wonderful video of a hummer plumping up for its imminent migration: Golf Ball Sized Hummingbird
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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Suet Cakes - The Real McCoy

I've been making "suet" cakes for the birds for almost four years. The recipe consists of quick oats, cornmeal, flour and sugar combined with melted lard and peanut butter. The birds love it (as do the squirrels, of course.) The cakes attract woodpeckers, chickadees, jays, titmice, wrens, black birds, and I've even heard of cardinals and thrashers eating it. It's particular good to have around in the winter as a good source of fat to help the birds through cold periods and when other natural food sources aren't readily available.

I put "suet" in quotations because obviously there is no suet in the recipe. True suet cakes would be made with rendered beef suet (fat), but how many of you know of a grocery store that has beef suet in the meat case? It probably wouldn't be a big seller. So lard has become the standard substitute. I hear that even lard is hard to find in some areas of the country. [When did real pie crusts lose favor to those found in the freezer section?]

But my grocery store fortunately does carry lard. At least they always have. I went in to pick up a package tonight and it was no where to be found. I talked to the butcher in the meat department (where I always find it) and he said they changed suppliers and the new company doesn't carry it.

I'm thinking, this isn't good, what to do now, when I thought of beef suet. So I asked him if they had any in the back. He says that as they trim the meat, they toss it in the garbage, but he would go back and check. Sure enough, he had about 3/4 of a pound which would be enough for me.

This is when I had to shake my head and laugh. He brings it out to me in a package with a price tag on it ..... $0.69 a pound or $0.49 total. His logic was that it was half the price of what I would have paid for the lard, so he was giving me a deal for the inconvenience. And I'm thinking, "you're charging me for your garbage?" Does that make any sense? But I graciously accepted it and thanked him.

So I made REAL suet cakes for the first time and it was so easy to render the fat. If they look to be a hit with the birds, I will go back to the grocery store and negotiate a reasonable price to pay for the butcher's garbage.

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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Another Eurasian Tree Sparrow Chaser

I submitted the "Distinguished Visitor" post and the next night, there's another birder contacting me, hoping to see the Eurasian Tree Sparrow at my house. Phil was coming into St. Louis from Michigan for his college roommate's wedding and had some time to search for the ETS. That's so cool, so I told him he was more than welcome to park at my kitchen table for while.

Phil was here for about 30 minutes in the early afternoon during the "prime" ETS period. I had a really good feeling that he would see the bird because there was one at the feeder just as he pulled into my driveway. But it didn't happen.

Sounds like it was a fantastic wedding celebration as he had a couple of hours to kill between the first reception and the second reception so I told him to come back over. We watched, scanned, and talked for a while, but I had a bad feeling about it. I'd never seen the ETS this late in the day so I suggested we take a quick drive over to Creve Coeur Lake/Park where they are known to hang out.

We scoured a couple of places with no luck and then finally came upon a field where there were hundreds (if not thousands?) of sparrows. Every minute or so they would rise out of the field en masse. It was an awesome experience. Phil, as an experienced birder, must have been laughing at me because I have never seen such a sight. I think I giggled a couple of times.

But after watching for a while, the flock was obviously weighted heavily toward the House Sparrow. There were also some American Tree Sparrows, and I'm pretty sure others I couldn't identify, but definitely no ETSs. I guess my appointment as Eurasian Tree Sparrow Ambassador of St. Louis will be delayed until my track record improves!

I really wanted Phil to see the ETS, but birds are finicky. There are no guarantees. But if it is any consolation to Phil, his visit made my weekend. He may not be a big time government official, a financial wizard, or the director of a nature conservancy, but he is a VIP in my books. I learned a lot from him, such as:
  • Listen carefully to the sounds around you. Even if it is a mile away, you may still hear the bird calling. Birding is more than a visual experience.
  • Look closely. Phil saw so many birds in a tree right in front of me that I missed. Next time I look through my bins, I will take my time. I might even do a better job of keeping the lenses clean!
  • Know the habitat of the bird you are seeking. Know what it eats. Quit searching blindly. And when the much more experienced birder tells me that "maybe we should stop here" I will listen.
  • If you see an unfamiliar sparrow, quickly consider that it might be a female house sparrow. Otherwise, you might waste a lot of time. (This would be funny if you had been there. I just needed to put it in writing because his stories made me laugh.)
  • And beyond lessons learned, Phil helped me identify Bird #102 on my life list. I saw a warbler in the trees, pointed it out to him, and he knew exactly what it was: Black-throated Green Warbler!
If you're ever in search of the ETS, drop me a line. There are no guarantees, but I'll do what I can.

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Distinguished Visitor

I'm not a big time birder. I don't go chasing zooties. I don't start a new list every year. I am very content to watch the birds in my backyard and see a few others here and there when convenient. I'm pleased that my life list has surpassed the 100 mark.

Nevertheless, I do follow the Missouri Bird List-Serve just to hear what birds are out there, to keep apprised of migration patterns, to learn more about birds, and to live vicariously through reading the adventures of the many experienced birders in Missouri.

Yesterday morning a request was posted on the list-serve. A gentleman from Canada would be in St Louis Thursday and Friday and he wanted to see a Eurasian Tree Sparrow (ETS). The ETS was introduced to St Louis in the late 1800's by European migrants. Unlike other introduced species, specifically the House Sparrow and European Starling, they bred here but never expanded very far out of the St Louis area. So any birder looking to add the ETS to their life list must visit St Louis.

Well, I have about a half dozen European Tree Sparrows everyday at my feeder during the lunch hour. I thought there would be a number of experienced birders offer to show him the bird, but what the heck, I'll offer an invitation myself. So I emailed him with the time I see the bird and a general idea of where I live. If that would be convenient, please email or phone me. It wasn't an hour later that the gentleman, Jim Coutts, called me. Thursday (today) he had a meeting until about noon but then he could have his driver bring him to my house at 12:30. Perfect, we had it arranged.

DRIVER???? Who is this Jim Coutts? Well of course I'm off to Google right away. Wikipedia has an entry on him. To summarize, Mr. Coutts was the top advisor (Principal Secretary) to Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau from 1975 to 1981. Previously he had been an advisor to PM Lester Pearson. After he left politics, he was the founder, President and CEO of an investment capital firm. Other web entries pertaining to Mr. Coutts show that he is currently on the Board of Directors of the Nature Conservancy of Canada.

OMG, this powerful man will be visiting my modest home to look at a bird. The pressure is on. I get home that night and clean the main rooms, mop floors, and meticulously clean the sliding glass doors that open to the patio and bird feeders. Don't need any cat paw prints to diminish the view!

The next morning at work he calls me for assurance that the ETS is still around. Yes, I saw them yesterday. So he confirmed that he would be at my house at 12:30. He arrives in a tasteful limousine and the impeccably dressed driver opens the doors for Jim and his colleague Debbie Casey. I invite them in and since there are no birds at the feeder, we take a step outside for a quick look around the area with our binoculars to see if any are in view. No, so I suggest we sit in the kitchen and wait. The ETS is a somewhat timid bird and won't come around humans.

So we're sitting at my kitchen table (in my modest home) making chit chat. I tell Jim & Debbie that the usual routine is that I walk into the kitchen and my reflection shoos the birds away. After 5 or 10 minutes they start to come back to the feeders: first the House Finches, then the Cardinals and MODOs, perhaps a Chickadee or two, and eventually the Eurasian Tree Sparrows are starting to feel less threatened and they return.

"Chit Chat, Chit Chat" for five minutes. No birds at all. Ten more minutes of small talk, no birds. I'm getting very nervous. I swore to him that the ETS is a regular at my feeders! Terrible thoughts go through my head. Maybe the squirrels are being aggressive and keeping the birds away. Maybe there's a hawk out there looking for lunch. Did the neighbor finally decide to fill his feeders and the birds went there? Dang! Where are the birds?

So I tell Jim & Debbie that I'm going to check out the view from different windows in the house; keep looking from the kitchen. And as I'm in a back room, I hear them get excited about a bird at the feeder. I come back in for a look ... it's a House Finch. But that's a good sign. At least a bird is at the feeders.

Sure enough, the finches start coming in one by one. The Mourning Doves arrive. A chickadee. And FINALLY, the Eurasian Tree Sparrow!

[Inaudible] sigh of relief from me! And over the next 15 minutes or so, more and more ETS's arrived. They are a flighty little bird and don't stay very long at a time, but Jim insisted that he got at least one good photograph of an ETS. I do hope that is true.

Here's a picture of the target bird that I took a couple of years ago.


And for the gentleman Jim Coutts, the ETS was Bird #713 to check off on the ABA (American Birding Association) checklist. That is an awesome accomplishment that very few attain. I may be a novice/backyard birdwatcher, but I do know it is an achievement to be proud of. And I'm honored to have played a small part.

Congratulations, Jim.

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Sunday, September 13, 2009

Family Reunion 2009

I feel fortunate to have a very close family, not only my immediate family, but my extended family including cousins and their children and their children's children. Wow, as much as I love to see the young ones, it reminds me that I'm no longer the young 'un!

This weekend was the annual reunion for my Dad's side of the family. My grandparents Leo & Rudina Klarer (long deceased) had 8 children and only one still survives, my Aunt Rita. And there are two daughters-in-law from that generation: my Mom and my Uncle Bill's wife, Rita. Grandchildren total 22. Great-grandchildren 36. Great Great Grandchildren (to date) 8. Not counting spouses, that's a total of 69? And the attendance at the Reunion was close to 60. Not a bad showing.

I feel horrible that I only took a couple pictures. Here's the best of the day (I'm embarrassed!)


But what can I say? As Lyle Lovett writes in his song "Family Reserve":

So mama don't you make such a stir
Just put down that camera
And come on and join up
The last of the family reserve

And that's what I did. Put down the camera and spent the whole day enjoying my family. And I have one of the best!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

It was a Red-Bellied Woodpecker!

I was back to work today feeling marginally better, but since I wasn't contagious, there was no way I could stay out another day. I did make it home for lunch and once again heard the familiar call of the Red-Belly that did it's best to stay out of view.

I was walking out the door to return to the office, looked at the feeders on the patio, and lo & behold, there he was on the platform. Looks to be a juvenile male. He stuck around and I was able to get this half-way decent photograph. Then he flew off for a brief tiff with a Downy Woodpecker on the telephone pole before he went on his merry way.



Hopefully this is a good sign for a very birdy 2009-10 Project FeederWatch (start date 11/14/09).

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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Sick Day

Sure-fire way to get in to see your doctor that day .... tell them you have flu-like symptoms. Almost guaranteed to work with the H1N1 scare going around. I've been sick since Sunday and started worrying that maybe I did have the flu and heaven forbid it would be the swine-flu. My entire family was in town last weekend so I called around to make sure no one else was sick and happily no one was.

I called in sick to work this morning and made an appointment with the doctor. Luckily it wasn't the flu, but some sort of bronchial infection or something. All I know is that I'm on meds and should be feeling better soon.

There is an upside to being sick. I got to watch the birds at the feeders today, although I spent most of the day at the doctors, pharmacy or sleeping.

I was pleasantly surprised by the number of birds. There was a constant stream of House Finches, Cardinals, a pair of Carolina Chickadees, a number of Mourning Doves, about 15 Grackles, and half a dozen Eurasian Tree Sparrows (a refined house sparrow that was introduced to St Louis a 100 years ago.) I also saw out and about a pair of Flickers, a pair of Downy Woodpeckers, a few Starlings, and a Blue Jay.

I know I heard a Red-Bellied Woodpecker, but it never came into view.

All in all a good day despite being sick. I didn't take many pictures, but here are a couple.

House Finch


Carolina Chickadee

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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Bird #101

I was sitting on the patio last week as the sun was starting to set. I saw what I thought was a house finch on the neighbor's fence, but something about it told me it was different. I put the bins on it and realized it was different. It sat on the fence and would fly up to catch bugs over and over. Then it flew to the overhead lines and sat there with its mouth wide open .... guess the bugs were flying right into its mouth! I also noticed the bright yellow lining of its mouth that must be its way of attracting the bugs.

A few months ago I bought the iBird field guide for my iPhone. Actually, it is "WhatBird" for the iPhone. I love it! (Can we say "i Geek") Anyway, I entered a few parameters, came up with several possibilities, but knew right away it was an Eastern Wood Pewee. YaHoo! 101 on my life list.

Photo below is not my own. Photo courtesy of "All About Birds"




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Friday, August 14, 2009

Landscaping at the New House

One of the (many) things I like about my new home is the nice landscaping along the front of the house and side yard. And there are lots of healthy trees, although I paid a nice sum this week to have just three of them trimmed up. Ah, the joys of home ownership. But because of the trees most of the plants are early bloomers. There is very little full or even partial sun throughout most of the yard.

And even though I like what is planted, I doubt any of them are my favored native plants that provide benefits to wildlife such as birds and butterflies. There are a few berry shrubs, but that's about the limit of it.

Another "negative" is the decent slope at the west side of the lot. It doesn't look like much of a slope, but try mowing next to the fence line. It takes a lot to control the mower and keep it from sliding and taking out the fence.



So after struggling a few times, I thought about it. I don't like mowing over here. And this area of the yard gets the best sun. Hmm, this might be the best location for native landscaping! A couple of weeks ago, I placed a 3' wide strip of black plastic over it and pinned it down. In a couple of months, the grass should be killed off.


It will be too late to start planting (I think?) but at least I'll have the garden started. This Fall I can till the soil and perhaps put up a stone border in preparation for Spring planting.

It's so wonderful to be back to home ownership!

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Topaz

My cat Lucy is such a sweetheart. She's not one you can hold for more than about 10 seconds, but she does love people and sticks close by you. So close that she is constantly underfoot when you least expect it. My sister was visiting a few weeks ago and stepped right on her, to which Lucy's reply was to bite her. I felt so bad for MB & Lucy. The next week, I must have stepped on Lucy three times.

And now that I'm at the house, I spend a lot of time outdoors while Lucy sits at the door staring out at me, lonely.

So I get the notion that maybe Lucy needs a friend to run with and keep her occupied. I thought about it a while and finally decided I had to adopt another cat. I wanted a cat about one to two years old since Lucy is 18 months. I didn't want a kitten. As cute as they are, I'm not sure I can deal with the energy level any more.

But when I get to the Humane Society, the only cats they have are older cats or kittens. I knew that an older cat that is less active wouldn't be a good choice. And how can you not look at a kitten and want to take it home. I saw "Teko" and knew she was the one. The other kittens were just too wild while "Teko" seemed a bit more laid back. Plus, I love "blue" furred cats.

After I got her home, I let her explore a while and meet Lucy. Of course, Lucy wasn't too happy at first but by the next morning things were working out great. Lucy finally has a friend she can run with. I wanted to change "Teko" to a name more suitable and to my liking. I saw those golden brown eyes and decided on Topaz, my birthstone.

Nine days later everyone is happy with only a few spats here and there.



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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Is it raining where you are?

For the first year since I've been in Missouri, the amount of rain has been just about right. I know others around the country are complaining about too much rain. Other areas not enough.

Whichever way the rain is falling (or not) where you are, you might enjoy this. I don't know where it originated. Let me know if you do.



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