The pictures I drew don’t show it, but we are under siege by a huge number of grackles and a flock of Brown-headed Cowbirds who showed up a couple of days ago, much to my dismay. The Blue Jays looked like they were willing to put up a fight, but were so outnumbered, they gave up. Ironically, the Blue Jays have become the guardians of our deck.
This first picture was a test to see how well my sable brushes would handle watercolors. I didn’t want to waste “the good watercolor paper” on a test, so I used basic sketching paper. It’s obvious why you need heavy paper for watercolors. Otherwise, the brushes worked very well and the image has “potential.” Not ready for prime time, but a good test.
Meanwhile, back in the flat feeder, the Cowbirds and the Grackles were battling for the few remaining seeds. I was exhausted. This is a terrible time of year for this to happen. The annual bird count is during the first week in February, but what can I count except a massive number of grackles and now, after I was sure I’d managed to get rid of them, the biggest flock of cowbirds I’ve ever seen.
My repeated inability to draw a picture of a squirrel was so frustrating I decided to try some plants — orchids (sans buds) and Anthurium. I also decided to try a person (me, actually) — but from the back because I’m NOT ready for faces! Especially not mine.
There is little remaining for me to do except to let the feeders empty out and wait until the grackles and the cowbirds leave. I hate doing this in the middle of the coldest part of the winter, but none of the other, smaller birds are getting much to eat anyway. As it is, I’ve cut down on how much food I’m putting out. Whatever I put out, the grackles and the cowbirds will consume.
I have no idea how many grackles are in these woods. Some days, with the trees bare of leaves, the trees look like they have grackle-shaped leaves. I’m sure we have hundreds of them and since I can’t count them, maybe thousands. I have reported this through Cornell’s Ornithology group and they assure me this is a really big flock. Much bigger than usual, though they didn’t tell me what “usual” means. Whatever it is, I’m pretty sure I’ve got it beat.
My orchids are looking extremely healthy but showing no sign of setting buds. They aren’t due to bloom until spring — April — but I wouldn’t mind if they hurried a bit. In the meantime, they might as well be models for me. These are colored pencils and pen. The weird looking snakelike sprouts are something the orchid does, but it’s not to set buds so I’m not sure of the purpose.
Tired of taking pictures of grackles and even more tired of cowbirds — I was sure I’d finally gotten rid of the cowbirds — I haven’t even picked up my camera except to take pictures of my sketchbook. I feel like taking photographs of the marauders is somehow rewarding them for bad behavior. Obviously the birds don’t care whether I take their pictures or not, but I care. And besides: every minute I spend photographing them is a minute I haven’t shooed them away.
So it goes. I keep hoping I can look out a window and not see a deck covered with Grackles and Brown-headed Cowbirds, but I think it’s a forlorn hope.
I’ll just keep drawing pictures and hoping I get better. On the up side? Drawing is a great thing to be doing while you sit there on a “brief” hold that stretches into hours and amidst “discussions” with “customer disservice” workers. Try not to make holes in the paper.