SHARING MY WORLD – Marilyn Armstrong

Share Your World 5-13-19

Questions:

What social stigma does society need to get over already?

The list is too long. It’s sad, too. Because I thought, way back when, that we had actually gotten over some of it. I thought that if we hadn’t lost our racism, we had at least gotten past calling each other names. I thought we’d finally learned after Mussolini and Hitler and all the others throughout history, that we knew dictators are a bad deal. That all the organization they bring to the world, they are cruel, evil, and no good ever comes from them.

But somehow, between the episodes of horror, we forget. We lose our memories of evil. We idolize the power and forget the monstrous nature of the beast.

What was the last photo you took?

Yesterday, I took some pictures of a bunch of Brown-headed Cowbirds sitting on the railing of my deck.

Otherwise, I’m trying to figure out how the last squirrel managed to unhook the entire feeder and drop it to the ground below. I have to hand it to the maker of this feeder that it survived as if nothing happened, even though it fell two stories.

When was the last time you snooped and found something or found out something you wish you hadn’t?

The last time I read Tarot cards. I saw that the man I was reading for was going to die. And he did.

What’s the most comfortable bed or chair you’ve ever slept in?

The bed we own with its original mattress was the world’s MOST comfortable bed. Now, with a new, not as expensive mattress it’s very comfortable, but not like it was with its original mattress.

But that mattress lasted 15 years, so it didn’t owe me anything. I only wish I could have afforded another real natural latex mattress. Sadly, it was out of our price range.

THE MERRY, RAINY, CHILLY MONTH OF MAY – Marilyn Armstrong

RDP Saturday: MAY

Normally, by May, I’m dusting off my sandals and happily finding my short-sleeved shirts and wondering if I have any lightweight summer pants. Not this year. I’m still in wool and sweatshirts. From the wooly socks to the light wool dress with a Red Sox hoodie on top, it’s not very merry this May in New England. Or, for that matter, in Ontario or many places across the northern parts of the country.

Rain, even snow is still falling. Despite that, maybe because it has been so terribly wet, the trees are greening up. It’s not pleasant weather, but it looks like May, no matter how it feels. The flowers aren’t blooming. That would be the lack of sunshine and the nearly constant rain … but I think I can promise that there will, at the very least, be leaves on the trees.

Cowbird and flyaway Chickadee

But that’s as good as it is getting. There are some early spring flowers. The Daffodils have grown and we have had one (just one) tulip. And the flags for future daylilies are rising from the sodden earth.

Cowbird and Chickadee

We have an event to go to next week, but the sandals aren’t even on my agenda. I’m wondering if it will be cold enough for boots!

I trust that eventually it will stop raining. And eventually, it will warm up. A lot of wildflowers are not up yet and they are very late. About a month late, actually. I suppose we will have this year what we had last year.

Greening of the woods

As soon as the season dries up and the sun comes out, everything will make up for the lost time and we will go from not having any flowers to a double-time growth as the late-blooming flowers fight for a spot in the sunlight. The problem is that when we get leafy trees before we get spring flowers, they don’t grow well because where they need the sunshine, they are instead getting shade from the trees.

A little Goldfinch

Not much I can do about it but wait and see how it develops. Took a few pictures yesterday, but they aren’t anything special, I fear.

A FLOCK OF FINCHES, A DOVE, AND A BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD – Marilyn Armstrong

It was a super busy day at the feeder and for once, they didn’t all fly off as soon as I picked up the camera. It was a day for Cowbirds sharing the feeder with a little red House Finch.

It was also a day when a big Mourning Dove came to the deck and sat peacefully on the deck railing. He waited politely until the Cowbirds moved on.

After that, he settled down into the flat feeder.

Goldfinches
Goldfinch flock

The Mourning Dove was still in the flat feeder almost two hours later. He doesn’t seem to worry about all the hawks who are hunting for big fat doves … or for that matter, squirrels.

Cowbird and House Finch or maybe it’s a Purple Finch … I can’t tell the difference
Cowbirds and House Finch

I worry about my birds and squirrels. I understand the hawks and the fishers and the coyotes and the Bobcats need their dinner too. Not every animal eats seeds.

Dove on the deck rail

BIRDS DU JOUR – Marilyn Armstrong

Garry decided the poor birds must be starving, so he filled the feeders. Then we stood at the window and watched the tree fill up with all kinds of birds.

Molting Goldfinch

Which was followed by birdly jostling and bonking as various birds tried to knock the other competing birds off the feeder.

The Cowbirds are big and solid and don’t move, though they did at least look up when three finches whacked them at the same time.

A trio

The little squirrel was on the rail looking at the free-for-all, birds and more birds … and finally, he left. He didn’t feel like taking on the Cowbird either.

Watching me, watching you …

So there we are, looking at the feeders. On the flat feeder, there are three Brown-headed Cowbirds. They are about the size of a Robin. On the hanging feeder are a few Goldfinches and several Nuthatches with a mashup of chickadees, Carolina Wrens, and three woodpeckers.

It’s not like he didn’t get his turn, mind you …

I find, these days, that I spend less time shooting pictures and more time just watching the birds and squirrels and their interactions. Also wondering how every bird and squirrel in the woods know within a few minutes that Garry has filled the feeders. Is this what they call “Twitter”?

The feeders are full! Come and get it!

NO FEATHERED KITES IN NEW ENGLAND – Marilyn Armstrong

RDP Saturday: KITE

All the Eastern coast kits live down south, from Mississippi through Florida and out towards Louisiana. It’s not that we lack for hawks around here. We have both Golden (relatively rare as they prefer mountains to valleys, but sometimes you can spot them high above you, especially if are in the White Mountains in Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, or Canada.

No hawks, safe to feed!

We see a lot of American Eagles, especially along the Merrimack — a much wider, slower-flowing river with lots of big fish and pollution to make me wonder if people really eat those fish. Nonetheless, many people nearby have boats and fish the waters of the Merrimack.

Red and yellow finches

American Eagles are lazy. Rather than do their own fishing, they station themselves in trees along the river, waiting for someone to catch their dinner. Then they drop out of the sky, grab the fish and fly off. I’m sure they are mentally grinning. Note: Beaks don’t smile.

Nuthatch on the tree

Very few people have enough character to fight off an eagle’s talons for a fish. Even a really big fish. American Eagles are not the biggest of eagles. I think the Golden is at least twice its size and there are some eagles in Africa and Asia that are also huge. Still, the talons on our Bald Eagle are no laughing matter.

Cooper’s Hawk – The white chest is a major giveaway for birders

I wouldn’t mess with them. I’ve been gored by a Cockatoo who wasn’t nearly as big as even a very small eagle and I nearly lost my thumb.

Birds have a lot of power in a lightweight body.

It’s rather like arguing with a bear over a basket of berries you are carrying across the moor. You can get more berries. You can buy them in the grocery store. Meanwhile, the bear doesn’t need a credit card and like the eagle, he’s glad enough you did the berry picking. He can as take your arm AND the berries for a healthy, balanced dinner.

To put it another way, “Know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em. Know when to walk away. Know when to run.”

Don’t run from the bear. Politely put down the basket and quietly stroll off. Don’t whistle. That might irritate him and an irritated bear is … well … an irritated bear. Even a small bear is a lot bigger than you are, so be nice, quiet, and go home. Light incense. Consider not scouring the fields for wild berries.

Cooper’s Hawk. Accipiter Cooperii. Jones Beach State Park, Nassau Co. NY.
Juvenile Cooper’s hawk in close flight during autumn migration.

The closest we have to a kite here is the Cooper’s Hawk and its close relative, the Sharp-shinned Hawk. Both of these small hawks used it live largely far from humans.

Until the arrival of bird feeders. Since both of these hawks are bird hunters and considered remarkable fliers when they discover a feeder and do their famous flap-flap-glide through forest and bushes — there are those who believe these hawks could thread a needle by flying through its eye — the scare the feathers from the birds.

Comparing Cooper’s Hawk and Sharp-shinned Hawk

For reasons best known to the Mourning Doves, they least terrified of these small hawks (listed as “kite-like” in my “Peterson’s” guide). Doves are not the smartest birds in the coop.

Regardless, a single passing swoop by one of the two bird-hunting hawks, and the birds are gone. They don’t just disappear for a few hours. They are gone for days and if the Hawks are active, as long as five or six days.

Which is what the Cornell Institute and Audubon Society both suggest you do if you find that the Hawks have become a problem. Which is to say you have actually seen them more than once. They are not easy to see, either. They are exceptionally skillful fliers. The diver between trees and hedges and in fact, when they miss, they are frequently crushed because they hit a tree chest first. I guess seatbelts would not help all that much.

Cooper’s Hawk

It’s not that we don’t believe every creature deserves its dinner, but most of us don’t want to be setting the table for this particularly gastronomic feast. We invited the birds to come and chow down, so when it’s obvious that we’ve set them up as someone else’s main course, it takes a lot of the joy out of the party.

We also don’t fly paper kites around here. The trees, abounding as they do with bird life and trillions of insects, have their own killer instinct and will happily eat your kite.

The last time I flew a big kite, it was down on Cape Cod. The wind caught it and over the waves, it flew. Eventually, I ran out of string. I had a couple of thousand feet of thousand-pound nylon cord, so it was far away. Way beyond the breakers and invisible.

Sharp-shinned Hawk

There was no way I could bring it home. The outbound wind was strong and had taken it way out to sea. We could not see it. I cut the string and let it fly.

I wonder if anyone found it and pondered where it had started? In case it was you, it was on a nearly deserted beach in November on Cape Cod.

SPRING HAS SPRUNG, THE GRASS HAS RIZ. I WONDER WHERE THE FLOWERS IS? – Marilyn Armstrong

RDP Friday: SPRING

The birdies are blooming in breeding colors and there are buds (but no leaves or flowers) on bushes and trees. What is up really?

Bugs are up. Ants are up. Birds are nesting and beginning to breed. The temperature is finally swinging around and while we will get some more cold days and night, we aren’t going to get a long month of deep freeze weather … or at least so we hope.

Back from the south, Carolina Wren

I’m waiting for a flower to appear outside. We have giant amounts of forsythia, but they don’t bloom much because they are at the edge of the woods and there’s very little sunlight there. A lot of our bushes bloom very late and some no longer bloom.

Nuthatch who never gets dizzy upside-down!
Our fearless deck squirrel
My personal favorite odd couple …

The winds of winter took down a lot of trees and I’m pretty sure our giant lilac tree has finally been squashed flat. It had taken several hits before, but I think this year, it’s a goner. I would like to be wrong. I guess I’ll know soon enough. At least by the middle of May, if not sooner.

Another odd couple — Carolina Wren and Goldfinch
Down the trees stalks the Nuthatch

Our Carolina Wrens are back and the Goldfinch have turned bright yellow and gold. Young squirrels have come up and hanging around for hours, picking up pieces of seeds that have fallen from the feeders.

Bright little birds!
Red and yellow, oh my! Better than flowers!

It is not quite springtime in the Valley as it is in other areas, but for this part of the world?

Maybe not flowers, but definitely colorful!

This is spring. Or kind of springlike. More or less springish. We are working on it.

I wonder where the flowers is?