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.”

BIRDS, MATING SQUIRRELS, AND OTHER CREATURES – Marilyn Armstrong

When I got up early this morning — with every intention of going directly back to bed — but I took a look at our deck and started to laugh. I have never seen that many squirrels at one time, ever. They were chasing each other in circles on the deck, chasing each other up and down the deck staircase and along the deck rails. It was very funny to see and it just ruined my morning nap.

After that, I went and turned on the coffee. I had put out new food yesterday and there were a lot of birds. Most of them were familiar. Woodpeckers, Goldfinches, Brown-headed Cowbirds, Chipper Sparrows and another sparrow that looks almost exactly the same, but has a redder color in the strip above his eye. Sometimes bird-watching gets a bit too detailed for me, Even looking at their pictures in my books, I couldn’t see a difference.

I got some pictures of the Blue Jays in the woods, which is a lot harder than getting them on the feeders, and just as I was packing up, a Rose-Breasted Grosbeak showed up. Stood on top of the feeder giving me his “good side.”

Up in the tree 1

Up in the tree – 2

A good day to enjoy the woods

I didn’t imagine he’d hang around long enough for me to get his picture, but he did. Not great views. The angle wasn’t interesting — but with wildlife, you take what you can get.

Rose-Breasted Grosbeak

I really wanted him to do something interesting

He didn’t do anything interesting. He just ate.

Considering the rest of how life and the country are going, all I can do is give my thanks that I have birds and critters to help me remember that this is my planet and I have a right to be here, even if I’m considered to be too old to be worth saving.

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

BIRDS OF SPRING WHO WAITED FOR A PHOTOGRAPH – Marilyn Armstrong

A medley of spring birds

These are as many birds as I could photograph before they decided to fly into the trees. I think it’s personal. They see me and they hide — or fly. In addition to what you can see here, we’ve seen Robins and dozens of Mourning Doves, The House Finches seem to have moved north, but we’ll see them again in the fall. We saw an Audubon Oriole (they used to be Baltimore Orioles, but they live in a lot of other places). Orioles are migrants. They stop for a meal, then continue on their flight to Maine and Canada.

Surely by now they know I feed them … or Owen does. Since we switched to the big feeders, he has to hoist them. They are too heavy for me to lift. Still and all, this has been a pretty safe place for them. Good food and lots of it, right?

Yesterday just before dark, Owen filled both 10-pound feeders. That’s 20 pounds of feed and it was supposed to last. We also put up the camera which we haven’t taken down yet, but will before the night is over.

One Mourning Dove

Meanwhile, there was a tweet from someone who said that it was lucky Obama isn’t president because he isn’t a billionaire and couldn’t have afforded to send everyone money. How do these people find their way home at night?

These are all squares and high up on the feeders.

So do you know why they are called Brown-Headed Cowbirds? And why they don’t make their own nests but instead. leave their eggs in the nests of other birds?

First, they are called Cowbirds because they followed buffalo herds who were called cows. They couldn’t nest because they were always on the move. They laid eggs and moved on.

Goldfish

Sometimes the baby birds did well, but sometimes they died. They lay a lot of eggs through the seasons and though not every baby bird survives, enough survive to keep Brown-headed Cowbirds alive and well.

Here’s the bigger question. All Cowbirds are raised by other species of birds. Never their own parents. So how do they know they are Cowbirds? They do know but how without a Cowbird mom or dad? It’s a puzzle and no one has been able to answer it.

Downy Woodpecker

FROM OUT OF THE WIND BLOWN DARKNESS, PICTURES! – Marilyn Armstrong

In the middle of the morning, the power went out. I took bird pictures, many of which were blurry, but it was raining really hard and besides, I can’t see very well.

It’s absolutely amazing that these little bright Goldfinches can fly in the middle of drenching rain with hurricane-level winds. But they do it. Maybe they find their way between the wind … a quiet place.

These birds are so bright and yellow you can see them all over the woods. I really love those bright birds. Because this was a rather grim day with no water, no heat, no computers. Good thing we have oil lamps and books, eh?

Sketchy Goldfinches

More sketchy Goldfinches

More bright yellow birds

Despite are weather, this is actually what we call spring. It’s why we don’t talk about lovely spring weather in New England. We don’t have lovely spring weather. Actually, the weather around here is pretty bad most of the year. It used to be bitterly cold in the winter, but it wasn’t this winter. It’s steamy and buggy all summer. Autumn, typically the only season we can applaud, has been getting shorter and shorter.

I hope we solve our planetary issues pretty soon. Living around here was bad enough before, but it’s a lot worse now.

IT’S ALL ON TOP – Marilyn Armstrong

EVERYTHING IS ON THE TOP

These are top pictures. Top of the line, top of the heap, top of the steeple. These are all the top of something. Exactly what depends on the picture.

But they are all, definitely, absolutely and totally, on top of something! Let’s enjoy the bird’s eye view of reality. Or look at the peak and think of how high we could go.

High in the sky, a helicopter

Three top-of-the roof pigeons

On Top of the World

On top of the rail yet still looking up