ANGRY BIRDS AT THE FEEDER – Marilyn Armstrong

The one bird we are never short of around here are woodpeckers. We have at least five kinds. Only three of them come to the feeders: the little Downy Woodpecker, his big brother, the Hairy Woodpecker, and the Red-Bellied Woodpecker. The Red-Belly is the biggest of the bunch, but by physical size, the Blue Jay is a bigger bird.

I never realized what large birds Blue Jays are until I saw how big they are compared to the rest of our birds. Not, of course, counting the really big woodpecker who I see in the distance once in a while and the hawks and eagles.

Blue Jay still on the railing

Anyway, when the Blue Jay drops by for a meal, the other birds say “Yes sir, Mr. Jay,” and flutter off. Today, while big Mr. Jay was enjoying a little dinner, the Red-Belly decided to come by for a snack too. The Blue Jay is bigger, but other birds just don’t mess with the woodpeckers. Those birds have long beaks and hard heads and they are always in a grumpy mood. I think that’s from pounding their heads into oak trees all day long.

This is a series of pictures I got from the rather amusing event.

Blue is already there when the Red-Bellied Woodpecker arrives.

“Can we talk about this?” asks Mr. Jay.

“I don’t think so. How about you leave?” says Woody.

“This is MY feeder,” says Woody. “Take a flyer.”

“Okay, then. I’ll be flying a bit. See you around the woods,” says Jay.

The Red-Belly hung around for a while, it being dinner time. And when he was done, the Blue Jay came back and had his dinner too.  All was well but for some flurrying of feathers. As go the birds, so goes the world.

NEW PICTURES OF THE LOUNGING SQUIRREL – Marilyn Armstrong

To the best of my knowledge, squirrels are the busiest animals in the world. They are eating, jumping, climbing, leaping, running. Busy, busy, busy. When whatever tore down our feeder tore it down, it was full, so Owen just put it on the deck.

Relaxed squirrel

All the birds and the chipmunk and the squirrels came and ate from it sitting on the deck. Apparently we don’t need to hang it. Just pour the seeds on the ground or leave the feeder on the deck. I makes photography kind of weird — sort of impossible — but the critters are happy. As long as none of them is a black bear. That would ruin the party.

Old-fashioned squirrel at rest

I might fend off a raccoon, but I’m pretty sure me and a bear would be “Bear – 1, Marilyn – 0.” Although maybe if one of them tore down the deck THEN the insurance would pay for it. One can dream, right?

So today, after everything ate their hearts out, the squirrel who had spent probably four hours chomping through probably three or four pounds of seeds, basically without stopping to breathe, decided he’d had enough.

Graphic squirrel

That’s right. The squirrel had eaten so much he couldn’t eat any more. A miracle, is it not. He tried to launch  himself into the woods, but he was pretty full and I guess too tired to move very far. So he got to the top of the railing and decided “What the hell, it’s a nice, sunny day. I think I’ll hang here for a while. Yawn.”

Thus I got these cool pictures of one squirrel too tired from trying to eat 10 pounds of food in one morning. He could see me fine. He watched me, I took pictures of him and he was just too well fed and full of seeds to go anywhere.

DEATH OF THE LAST BIG BIRDFEEDER – Marilyn Armstrong

When Owen came upstairs this morning, he looked out the window and realized the birdfeeder was missing. It’s a very big feeder and (used to) hold almost 20 pounds of seeds. We had the feeders down for a few weeks and only put them back a couple of days ago.

Not only was the feeder gone, but the bracket that held it was torn off the oak stanchion, We didn’t have the camera up, but it had to be a big racoon … or a bear. We do have bears, but so far, they haven’t bothered us. And they won’t bother us … unless we keep feeding them. They apparently habituate quickly and lose their fear of people in a hurry. These are black bears, the smallest of North American bears … but even a small bear is a lot stronger than a person.

Whatever took the feeder down was strong. I hope it was a racoon. I’m not ready to deal with bears. Both raccoons and bears not only tear down feeders, but frequently steal them entirely, tucking them under their arms and taking them home to the nest..

Aw, c’mon! That’s not fair! Feeders are not cheap!

Owen found ours on the ground. It’s pretty bent up, but at least the bracket is in one piece and he can probably straighten out the rest of it, more or less. I don’t think the birds will care if it’s bent. I’m not sure what else to do, but I’m thinking of just tossing seed to the ground and let everyone have a go at it without having to climb onto the deck.That would minimize photography, but I’ve gone through four feeders this season … and it’s only the end of June.

Raccoons are not true hibernators, but grown ones store up fat so that they can sleep through most of the winter. The problem is, our weather is getting warmer. Will winter be cold enough for bears to hibernate? Or will they be coming after the feeders and trash cans all through the year?

Sketchy Goldfinches

So, for now, since we have a lot of feed, we will put it on the ground below the deck. Everything can eat without climbing the deck. Bears are big and strong. If the Duke goes after a bear, it will not go well for the Duke.

I’ve run of money. I can’t afford more feeders. I’m worried it might have been a bear because so many have been seen locally. Bears also mean finding secure places to store trash cans. Bears can break into sheds, or for that matter, houses.With such warm winters, even a hibernating bear might not sleep soundly and come out for a midnight snack. 

AT LEAST IT’S A CHIPMUNK – Marilyn Armstrong

He is a chipmunk, but he’s a tiny little thing, maybe the size of the palm of my hand. He always comes alone, and if there are no birds or squirrels (or photographing people) around, he looks for fallen seeds on the deck. In fact, he is a “Least Chipmunk,” a rather miniaturized version of the big guys.

First I thought he was a baby, but he is the same size he was in February.

A least chipmunk

More seeds and I’m so hungry

He’s watching me doing his portrait

The last two times he visited, he somehow managed to get up onto the feeder. The big chipmunks seems to have disappeared. Possibly eaten by bigger predators? The big ones make a proper dinner, but this little guy is hardly worth the effort.

Portrait of a tiny chipmunk

Related to squirrels, flying squirrels, and chipmunks, he’s like a miniature version of a normal chipmunk.

Good meal, wasn’t it?

He sees me taking pictures. He watches me while he eats. When he fills his mouth pouches with seeds, he quickly leaves. He has figured out that I’m not a predator, but you never know about those birds!

Just think for a moment what a LONG trip it is for this tiny guy. He has to climb from the ground up the rail of the deck — at least 20 feet. Then he found his way onto the deck, then up the rail. Finally, he climbed the center rail and finally, finds a place on the feeder.

NARY A RIPPLE – Marilyn Armstrong

RDP Sunday–RIPPLES


“With nary a ripple” signals ultimate peace. No waves, no white water. Just the smooth glassiness of water and it’s reflection of sky, clouds, and the trees along the bank. And maybe the reflection of the geese or swan that float silently along the water.

DURRELL’S MISSION IS IN JEOPARDY – SAVE THE WILD, SAVE THE ZOO!

I don’t usually publish donation ads, but this particular one is near and dear to my heart. I read Gerald Durrell’s books when I was a kid and continued reading them into adulthood. From him I learned about saving rare and nearly extinct species. His stories helped me become increasingly involved in wildlife. I owe a lot to Gerald and his whole family.

They made a mini-series about him and his family (his brother was Lawrence Durrell) and their life on the isle of Corsica. I think it was made by the BBC and it has been shown on Acorn and and PBS.

I have always tried to send them any bit of money I could dig up and today, I figured somehow I could swing $25. I hope that many people will help them. Without tourism, they have no means of support. The lives of many rare animals depends Durrell’s Zoo, one of the places I always wanted to visit.

Durrell Zoo on Jersey

From all at Durrell’s HQ in Jersey, we hope that this email finds all our friends in America staying safe and well during these times of global upheaval.


These have been very unsettling times, and despite our hardest efforts, the present pandemic is having a devastating effect on the income of Durrell, and we need your help.

Our global conservation work, and 61-year history of saving species and habitats from the brink of extinction, is in real danger due to the impact of the pandemic on Jersey Zoo.

Jersey Zoo is the heartbeat of Durrell. All of the Trust’s global conservation work is underpinned by the zoo.

Despite having reopened the gates to our zoo on the 12th May, we are still facing an 80% reduction in income, given our unique position of being dependent on travel and tourism.

We are facing the impact of at least 18 months without tourists visiting Jersey. It is always challenging to run a zoo on an island with a catchment of just over 100,000 people. With no tourists able to visit, and islanders that are still fearful of COVID-19 and venturing out, the challenge is proving too much at the moment.

This situation is having a devastating effect on the income of our charity. A large portion of our income is raised through Jersey Zoo, so quite simply, if the zoo fails, the whole of Durrell fails.

Given our shared passion for Durrell and the environment, I know you wouldn’t want this to happen. But the future is looking bleak, so I need to ask for your help now, more than ever before.

VISIT THE WEBSITE! THERE IS SO MUCH TO SEE.

We have been so moved by supporters asking how they can help us at this uncertain time, that we have launched a campaign called Love Your Zoo, where those who are able to can help us by donating and contributing to the care of our animals.

It costs us $5,200 per day to care for the 1,285 animals at Jersey Zoo, so gifts of any size really do mean so much. If you can, are you able to share your love of Durrell and make a donation today?


DONATE NOW


 For our supporters in America, donations can be made through American Friends of Durrell, which is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, established in 2014 to facilitate contributions to Durrell.

I am sorry not to be writing with better news, but I am hoping that together we can prevent the worst scenario from happening, and ensure the future for Durrell.

Best wishes,

Lee Durrell
President
American Friends of Durrell

Source: Durrell’s mission is in jeopardy

 

BY RIVER AND CANAL – GARRY ARMSTRONG

TIME OUT FOR SQUIRRELS!

I took a lot of pictures along the river. Marilyn is processing a half dozen at a time.

Meanwhile, some squirrel and bird news! In the last week, our deck has been covered by dozens of baby squirrels. I think that the mamas and papas took them as soon as they could climb to our deck and said to them: “Be joyful children for on this deck, there is always food.”

The road between the river and canal

Both Owen and Marilyn have gotten up early enough to see the madness. At six-thirty in the morning, they are on the feeders, on the steps, climbing up the pole and down the banister and across the beam. Chasing each other around the deck and actually fighting each other for a place on the feeder.

This morning the decision was made. The feeders will stay empty for a few days. The squirrel babies will have to discover the forest and the trees. The birds haven’t even had an hour when they could feed. I have a feeling (but no pictures) that we’ve been massively hit by flying squirrels all night. They too have probably been breeding up a storm and are bringing their floating kidlings to the deck for seedy delights.

I feel sorry for the birds who looked downright mournful when they couldn’t get any seeds. They sat on the railing looking at the empty hooks.

We didn’t mind some squirrels, but this was a three-ring squirrelly circus. All they needed was a marching band.

And some of those squirels fly!

If we feel things have calmed down, we’ll try putting the feeders up next week. This is the time of year when you can see birds you’ll never see the rest of the year. Maybe the break will calm the creatures. We’re also going to try and buy a lot of corncobs for the squirrels. Maybe if they get something they like better, they’ll leave the feeders?

Of one thing I am sure: all the feeding has raised the squirrel population here from a few squirrels to an awful lot of squirrels, both leapers, and flyers!

BLUE BIRDS ARE HERE. CAN HAPPINESS BE FAR BEHIND? Marilyn Armstrong

I kept wondering why I never saw a bluebird. Ever. Not here or in New York. And I know they live here. This morning I got up and looked out my back windows and the deck was full of bluebirds!

Two bluebirds

Bluebird and Chickadee

And the Chickadee is about to take off!

Bluebird on the fence rail

ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK: THE AMERICAN FLAG BIRD – Marilyn Armstrong

I know they should be red, white, and blue … but the bird came back today a few times and I got more interesting pictures today. What an interesting bird he is! the designs on his wings which might look a little like stars, look like all kinds of things, and that combination of white and red on the breast …

Well, take a look. This is truly an interesting bird.

Garry wants to know what I find interesting about birds. I want to know what he finds interesting about old western TV series from the 1950s and 1960s. It’s not that I don’t like westerns. I can sing along with every one of those show’s songs. I’ve seen them all and not just once.

This is not the first time Garry has decided to rerun Cheyenne or Bat Masterson. Owen, who never saw the shows can also sing along. As a matter of fact, I’m pretty sure the dogs can sing along and one of them is trying to do that right this very minute.

There are many ways to stay sane. For me, it’s remembering that these creatures I feed are important. They are as important as I am. If you are of a religious bent (which I am not, but I can still quote the Bible), “dominion over animals” doesn’t mean “wipe them out because they are in the way.”

A RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER ON A BRIGHT, SPRING DAY – Marilyn Armstrong

We put different food in the feeder today. Well, actually, I put the food in. Owen lowered the feeders so I can reach them myself and not wait for him to get home. There were a lot of baby birds out there today. Tiny little Goldfinches, miniature Nuthatches, really small Chickadees, and occasionally a baby so young, he doesn’t even have all his feathers.

A very redhead

A rare head-on face-forward shot.

I got a really good lens-lock on a Red-bellied Woodpecker and I since these are one of the birds that usually disappear when I have a camera ready, I took as many pictures as I could. Also, I took a lot of Nuthatch pictures, but that will have to wait for another day.

RETURN OF THE RED HOUSE FINCH – Marilyn Armstrong

They were here, and then they were gone. Today they came back or at least a few of them came back. They are a brilliant red now. I guess they were just tuning up for the warm months. Maybe they are a sign of better days to come? We live in hope!

A pair of red House Finches (the brown speckled one is a lady) sharing space

A pair of House Finches

I have reached the state with our government and our crackpot president and his band of evil-doers where I know about as much as I can handle. All that is left for me is voting. I’m sure I’ll do at least some ranting, especially since I am harboring a very deep fear of what awaits me out THERE!

Two Goldfinch in full color

It’s eerie feeling unsafe merely going to your doctor. We have two appointments in June — mine is on the 8th (oncologist) which I can delay since I have no symptoms to report. Garry has a hearing test on the 9th. I need to call the audiologist and see if that appointment is “on” since that department has been closed down since March. I also need to call the eye doctor and arrange for a test for Garry before he sees the doctor in July. I feel a bit paralyzed by all these simple, easy decisions.

 

Day of the Blue Jay

These should be no big deal but these days they are life and death. I don’t know what’s going on out there in the bigger world. I also know if I get sick, there’s no treatment or medication available — not even a test to see if maybe I already had it, so one bad choice and it’s done and done. This takes a lot of bubbles out of the champagne.

On a positive note, I seem to be taking better pictures. I have no idea why suddenly I can find the focus I have been missing for a while. But my eyes are weird and sometimes I see better than others. There are a lot of guesses why, but no solid proof. In the meantime, though, I can see better than I have in a while.

Downy Woodpecker

RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER AND THE BLUE JAY – Marilyn Armstrong

If there are two more aggressive garden birds in this part of the world, I have no idea what the might be. All garden birds are a little aggressive to other birds. Some birds, though, when they hit the feeder the other birds decide there’s a branch they’d like to visit elsewhere.

Matched pair?

All woodpeckers are aggressive — not based on their size. They are aware that they have very thick skulls to go with their deadly beak, so even bigger birds avoid them. Some of the smaller ones are more aggressive than the bigger ones.

Blue Jay

Blue Jay again

Blue Jays are aggressive. They attack the nests of other birds and eat or destroy their eggs. And if you get near a nest, don’t be surprised to have a phalanx of  Blue Jays attacking you. They don’t mess around.

One Red-Bellied Woodpecker

Eating well!

So it figures when both landed on the same feeder, it was eyeball-to-eyeball and neither backed down. They flew off together.

FLYING SQUIRRELS ON THE NIGHT OF MAY FIRST – Marilyn Armstrong

We hadn’t put out the night camera in a while and I still have a lot of unprocessed pictures from the previous two nights. But what is interesting about these is that you can see many flying squirrels gliding in. They look like bars of light, although it depends on the angle. See if you can tell how many gliding squirrels are in the pictures.

You can see a glider in the background, on the right. They are so stretched out, they don’t look like a creature. But they are.

More background gliders

Landed and hungry, He hasn’t fully tucked up his gliding “cape.”

Look in the background and what do you see?

The flat line in the front is a glider too. There’s even one or two in the background

There will be more coming, but we actually cleaned the house today and I’m beat. We even moved the refrigerator and despite my fears to the contrary, the was nothing dead back there. Just dirt.

We have reduced from two to one feeder for now. The birds and raccoons and flying squirrels are trying to drive us into bankruptcy. My theory is that no matter how much food we put out, they will eat all of it.