KINDA LIKE BIRDS OF MANY FEATHERS

Kinda like Birds of Many Feathers

I have to admit, I have taken a lot of pictures of birds. i know this because when i look for pictures — any kind of pictures — the page is dominated by photographs of birds. I hadn’t realized I’d become so obsessive about taking birdy pictures, but the evidence is hard to ignore.

That for the past 7 months we have rarely left this property probably has a lot to do with it. The birds — and associated other small wildlife — are the only interesting things to take pictures of.

ONE MILLION VIEWS

Looking at my stats, I realized before this month is over, I will pass a million views. When I started blogging, I remember discovering I’d made it to a thousand views. I was thrilled. A thousand was a lot! Those were the days when getting two or three views was a big deal. Then, suddenly, I was getting a hundred, two hundred, three hundred a day. It happened fast. I never imagined I would still be blogging eight years later and suddenly, in front of me, was the million marker. I know others who have crossed it and of course, the really big bloggers who are way up there in the multi-millions, but for a regular “I do it for the fun of writing and posting photographs” kind of blogger, a million is a lot of views.

I’m not getting the kind of traffic I used to get. I think the glory days of blogging are drawing to a close. There aren’t enough platforms anymore and they all charge more money than I can reasonably pay. I’m glad, before I fade away, that I’m going to make that mark.

I stopped pushing for bigger numbers a couple of years ago. It wasn’t that I didn’t care. It was just that I cared more about the writing and the pictures. The numbers were incidental. I also felt obliged — with all this political madness — to notch my writing frenzy down a few pegs. I began to realize while I love blogging, I also enjoy the rest of life. I started baking again. Bored with the same old food, I figured if I couldn’t stop cooking, I could at least try making more interesting dishes.

I also missed the joy of wrapping myself in a book and letting the real world disappear. And music and the occasional movie. All the hassles with WordPress made blogging so much more like work and so much less fun. I’m still trying to figure out what I’ll do at the end of my fiscal year. What I’m really hoping is that they fix their block editor to make it more “bloggable” and less of an ugly clunker. Make it more friendly for people who just want to enjoy blogging. If I wanted to get really SERIOUS about blogging, there’s always Medium. They want serious writing and if you get popular, they will pay you, too.

I can write seriously. But more often than not, I want to have fun. I want the fun of remembering stuff, telling stories. Showing off a few pictures. Serious is sometimes. The rest of the time, blogging is my idea of fun. Birds, flowers, foliage, and people from olden days when we were young and frolicked more while worrying less.

On a good day, I still enjoy blogging … but I don’t want to give it my all every day. This morning, I looked at Garry and asked him: “What’s going to happen next month? Are we heading for a civil war? When I lived in Israel, we were always expecting a war. War could come from outside. It wasn’t a civil war. This is something entirely different.”

Garry admitted he has no idea what is going to happen because this isn’t like anything he’s lived through before. I’m not sure anyone in our generation or younger who was raised in this country has any idea what might happen. I need to put some time into thinking about what living means to me, to Garry, to all of us. How we are going to find our way from this very dark place to a happier one. A million views is a nice thing but I’m not sure how much it’s going to help us get through whatever is coming next.

KIND OF A BIRDY DAY

Imagination Kindled: A Very Birdy Day

It finally rained! Not just a little drizzle, but the real deal. It rained pretty heavily for several hours and more lightly the rest of the day. I was thrilled to see it. We are supposed to get more rain on the weekend. Maybe our trees won’t die!

A very typical Nuthatch

The birds seemed to enjoy the rain too. There certainly were a lot of them although not as many as we had a month ago. The Goldfinch have gone north to breed. Gone north to breed? Do birds do that? Well, the Goldfinches do. They go to Canada to breed and come back here in December or January. They breed in the winter. I’m sure someone understands this, but i don’t. So today, we had “the regulars.”

Orange Cardinal and incoming Chickadee (I thinK, but It’s hard to tell when they are in flight)

A lot of orange Cardinals. We don’t seem to have red ones anymore. Only orange and they all look terribly angry. Lots — bunches and bunches — of Nuthatches, Tufted Titmouses, Chickadees and Mourning Doves.

You can still see that he’s not yet full grown

I took pictures and they didn’t all fly away the minute I took my camera out of the bag. Yay!

ORANGE CARDINALS ARE NOT ONE OF A KIND …

One of a Kind Or Maybe Not …


When I first saw my bright orange Cardinal, I was sure I had seen something absolutely unique. Cardinals are red. That’s their thing. Their redness is their thing. Then  I discovered that other clusters of orange cardinals have been found, a bunch down in North Carolina. Now they are tracking them to see if this is change is an actual genetic change. I can tell them it is and it’s inherited. These orange Cardinals have had at least two sets of babies. One set of them are almost grey with shafts of orange in their tails and huge orange beaks. The next set is orange, but has a variety of other colors mixed in. This photo picked up the variety of colors very well. But I’m going to add a few other pictures so you can see the differences.

Some of these differences may be because these birds all have the same father. Cardinals are very possessive. They like to collect lady Cardinals and will fight any other male who flies into their territory. I suspect that most Cardinals are probably inbred, given the possessiveness of the males.

One of the first fledglings. Don’t you love that beak?
Mother and very big fledgling
I think this is mom.
Growing up – one of the early orange Cardinal babies

There may have been three nestings this season. It’s hard to tell. I think the mother of the most recent fledglings was part of the first batch of baby orange Cardinals. But we definitely have a cluster!

CLIMATE CHANGE IN SOUTH CENTRAL MASSACHUSETTS

We don’t need scientists to explain climate change to us. We can see it all around us. The rivers are dry with their muddy bottoms showing. Fall came weeks early and blew away a week later. The winds which normally blow straight up the Atlantic shore are twisting eastward, so all the rain goes from the mid-Atlantic area straight out to sea, completely missing the northeast.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

As a watershed area, the water that we store here is part of the water that keeps the entire state flowing wetly along. And some of the water normally flows down into Connecticut and parts of southern New Hampshire.

Muddy banks, short dock at Riverbend

I leave a bowl of water on the deck. Squirrels, chipmunks, birds  … they all come to drink. Usually there are little rivulets and patches of wet through the woods. But not this year. It’s bone dry which is scary for any number of reasons, including the danger of fire. So far, it has just been little brush fires, quickly squelched. But New England is 70% wooded. There’s a lot of forest and it’s dry. And contrary to presidential warnings, no one has been out there raking the woodlands to keep them neat. What a really stupid idea that is. There’s so much stupidity going around. It’s hard to keep track of all the dumbness. I wish some of the incredibly stupid ones would drop by. Check out our dry rivers. Maybe pick up a rake and start raking my woods. Maybe cut down a few ailing trees while he’s at it.

We aren’t waiting for climate change to come. It’s here. We’re living in it.

A GOLDEN DAY IN AUTUMN

Autumn came weeks early because of the long summer drought that is not over yet. We had a normal spring, but then the rain stopped falling. We’ve had a bit of rain and too much wind and autumn flew away. Very early. At least we almost had autumn this year, which beats out last year when we pretty much nearly missed it completely.

Our house is not normally an area that gets a lot of color, but we did this year. But we did get outside a bit. I was hoping to get one more trip down to the river … maybe down to the river in Rhode Island.

I have reached the outer edges of my political process. It’s not that I’ve changed my mind. I think Trump is the worst president America has ever had and god forbid we should give him another four years at the helm. I do not believe we would have a country anyone would want to live in.

 

ORANGE CARDINAL BABIES

First there was the big male orange Cardinal. He was orange and he stayed orange. Then along came and orange lady Cardinal and together, they made a few orange baby Cardinals who are growing up. Orange. Now, what’s particularly interesting about this is that they have found other groups of orange Cardinals. They have found a group of them in North Carolina. Cornell University’s Ornithological Department has begun to research orange Cardinals. They are trying to figure out whether or not this is a genuine genetic alteration or has something to do with nutrition or air or water … or something else. Although we are dead broke and in debt and getting even more in debt, I decided to put my money where my mouth is and I signed up for a monthly contribution of $8.00 a month. Not exactly a huge contribution, but I can probably squeeze that much money out of our tiny little budget.

The thing is, more than a billion birds have disappeared over the past 12-years. Maybe more. Originally, it was assumed that the reason for the plunge in bird life was habitation destruction. But now, they are wondering if it isn’t something more than that. We nearly lost our Robins and Blue Jays to viruses and bacterial infections. Many finches have eye infections. Certainly destruction of habitat is a major problem, but it isn’t the only problem. If we don’t research our birds, we won’t have birds and I won’t get to listen to the morning song I hear every summer’s morning.

THE BIRDS ARE EATING LIKE CRAZY

I’ve been feeding birds for a few years now and I’m pretty used to their feeding habits. Generally, they come in groups. Flocks of Goldfinches, a couple of Cardinals — orange or red and some orange babies, too. Lots of Nuthatches. The odd Blue Jay. Catbirds. Bluebirds. The other kind of Nuthatch. A few wandering Warblers of the green variety. Some miscellaneous birds I don’t always recognize and of course, a fair number of woodpeckers. Sparrows. Carolina Wrens. These days, a few Robins have come back. They were hit by a virus and went missing for a while. As did the Blue Jays.

Big Woodpecker

This year, we haven’t had the huge number Brown-Headed Cowbirds we had last year. We had a few at the beginning of the season, but none since. We also haven’t had as many squirrels — regular Gray Eastern Squirrels — but we’ve had quite a few Red Squirrels and a few Least Chipmunks. No full-size chipmunks.

Putting water out on the deck has helped too. With all the small wet areas dried up during this drought, the birds and the squirrels all come a drink from the bowl. I fill it every other day, washing it out in between fillings. And now, every morning when I look out the window, I see dozens of birds. All different kinds. Instead of the flocks and sets, they come dashing in, hitting the feeders as if they’ve never seen food before. Many of them have gotten quite fat, so roly-poly that you wonder how they can sit on the edge of the feeder and actually get their beaks in there for the food. They look like brightly feathered tennis balls. Especially the Cardinals are hefty eaters!

I know the Goldfinches are eating a lot because in October they will fly to Toronto (or nearby) to breed, then, in December, come back here again. I sometimes think we are the last safe patch for the birds, saving this last little bit of greenery. It makes me sad because I know when I am not here to feed them, no one will feed them and they will die as so many others have already done. That’s why I urge as many of you as I can to feed them. Feed the birds and feed the squirrels. If we are lucky enough to restore this world, it would be very nice to have some living things in it from these times.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I was reading a book called “A Boy And His Dog At the End of the World,” by C. A. Fletcher who is also the narrator. I couldn’t finish it. It was beautifully written and very well read, but it was painful to hear. I am already brooding over the destruction of our planet and there’s only so much sadness I can deal with. Twenty-twenty has not been a good year.

I THINK I NEED NEW GLASSES

I think I need new glasses. I figured this out when after taking a lot of pictures of birds and squirrels, I realized they were all blurry. I could just be having a bad day, but the odds are pretty good that I’m not seeing well. Or maybe my lens needs cleaning. Or the filter.

I’m pretty sure I have an eye test coming up soon. This month, or maybe next month. Maybe I can afford new lenses if I can put them in my existing frames?

 

BIRDS OF AN ORANGE FEATHER

Nothing could have startled me more than realizing there was another orange Cardinal! I got more pictures, but I my camera was set wrong and the others didn’t come out, but at least I got one. You’ll have to trust me that she is most assuredly a lovely orange lady cardinal. I am going under the assumption that both of my orange cardinals came from a single nest. Either that, or we have a new breed of Cardinals growing up in our woods which would be fascinating and exciting, but I’ll go with the simpler explanation that both birds came from a single nest.

So here they are:

When I first saw Miss Lady Cardinal, I thought I was looking at a parrot. Such a big beak! And such a big bird! So what do you think? Are we breeding a new kind of Cardinal here in the woods of Uxbridge? Or are these from the same nest and whatever made the boy orange also made the girl orange? All birders, please throw in your vote! I would love to discover we’re breeding a whole new species of bird. That would be too cool.

A PHOTO A DAY: PLAYFUL GOLDFINCHES

August photo a day challenge: Goldfinches

written by citysonnet


It was a bright and sunny day and the Goldfinches were out enjoying the black oil sunflower seeds. It was so sunny that many of the pictures burned the goldfinches making their feathers hard to see. So I played with the finches and here they are. Playing on the feeder on a very sunny day.

A bright day on the feeder

Goldfinch

Two Goldfinches

Two moe Goldfinches

WHAT A BEAUTIFUL SIGHT IN THE MORNING

Yesterday, while I was feeling especially poorly, I got up early to get something to drink. I looked out the dining room doors and there, on a feeder, was a bright red Cardinal and a brilliantly yellow Goldfinch.

Even feeling as badly as I did, I wanted that picture, so I snuck over to my camera, turned around and both birds were gone. I think it’s personal. Still, it was a beautiful sight with the early morning sun shining on the two bright birds. So in compensation, here are some pictures of scarlet Cardinals and yellow Goldfinches. They are beautiful.