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!

PLEASE FORGIVE AND CONDONE. IT’S JUST ONE OF THOSE DAYS – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Condone

This is a short note because I forgot, we have to be out of here most of the day. The exterminators are coming to do the interior, so we have to get the dogs outside and us out of the house too. We need to be gone for four hours. What we can do for four hours in Uxbridge will be interesting, but we have to be gone completely until the pesticides dry and are safe. Also, they need to set traps for mice. Spring is here, or at least the bugs and the mice are here.

Mice. Ants. Whatever else crawls or scuttles. After which it dries and is safe for pets and their people.

Exterior. The place is not much bigger than my living room, but there’s a storage area in back.

Excuse this whole week.

For that matter, forgive me the entire month. It has been nothing but doctor’s visits, follow-ups, and shopping for something or other.

Meanwhile, Garry had a small “piece” of something removed from his face. I (and the doctor) think it’s nothing, but it’s ugly and it changed color, so it was time for the dermatologist. We’re supposed to get a callback today on results, but it might be Monday since we will be somewhere in Uxbridge, counting the hours and minutes.

New bird in town – the Brown-headed Cowbird.

We got a new set of birds: the Brown-headed Cowbirds. A pair of them. They are surprisingly tame, which is apparently typical of them. They don’t usually live in oak woods, but they do like feeders. Anyway, the most interesting thing about them is they do NOT build their own nests. Ever. They are nest stealers. And they are pretty large birds, especially compared to the Finches, Titmouse, and Chickadees, all of whom are little feathery fluffers.

I think maybe we’ll go back to Caroline’s Cannabis shop. I want to see if I can take some better pictures. The ones I got are mediocre at best. Maybe I can stop at Hannaford and find something interesting for dinner too.

I have a piece coming on the shop as soon as I like the pictures.

Meanwhile, in a determined effort to make some money in this quaint, but poverty-struck town, Uxbridge has voted “yes” on the very first “drive through” pot shop in Massachusetts. I don’t know if there are any other places with drive-through shops, but this town needs money. Badly. They are taking an extra 10% in town taxes on top of the 20% the state is already taking. It’s cheaper to buy it off the street. A lot cheaper. My son pointed out that when the dope sellers saw the prices in the shops, they just dropped their prices.

Everyone on the waiting line at the pot shop thought they should also open a bakery. Cupcakes would be a nice touch, but meanwhile, Hannaford is getting some extra business.


Competition is good for business.


They also have the most interesting blown-glass bongs I’ve ever seen. I might buy one because they are lovely.

So I hope you will condone my absence. We are pretty much out of time. They were supposed to come later, but there were cancellations and earlier is definitely better for us AND the dogs.

I’ll try to get to comments this evening after dinner. And maybe some pictures. The dam in town is gorgeous, almost at flood stage.

THE SAFETY OF HOME – Marilyn Armstrong

While I was starting dinner, I was watching out the window. Suddenly, a hawk with a white front swooped by the deck then winged off into the woods.

I followed him with my eyes. The camera was in the dining room and I didn’t hurry to get it. I knew I’d lose the hawk before I got the camera focused. Mostly, I wanted to get a good look at him before he disappeared.

I was curious why he swept so close to the house.

Hawks are hunters and don’t usually get so close to houses. It turned out, after minimal research, to be a Cooper’s Hawk. It wasn’t hard to find because among the white-breasted hawks, there are only two living here: American Eagles and Cooper’s Hawks. I’ve seen plenty of American Eagles. They are much bigger than this hawk, so Cooper’s Hawk it had to be.

And he was hunting for exactly what was on my deck: birds and squirrels. Those are a Cooper’s Hawks two favorite foods. The deck is his perfect hunting ground, his dinner buffet.

This is one of the things I feared when I set up the feeders. We have so many predators in the area and so little prey. How did we get so out of balance? Doesn’t it usually go the other way? Don’t deer usually overtake the area?

I remember when we had so many chipmunks they used to line up and chatter at us in groups. Now, we never see chipmunks. We use to see rabbits sitting on the lawn in the sun in summertime. I haven’t seen a rabbit in years and until we put up the feeders, I hadn’t seen any squirrels, either.

Mice I know about because they invade our house every autumn. We have an annual battle to keep them outside. It’s not personal. It’s just that they make an awful mess in the house.

We also used to see more deer, but I’m sure the coyotes have taken them down.

I wonder now if the reason the squirrels have taken refuge on the deck is that they think the house is some kind of protection for them from the hawks and the other predators. Is this house protection for the birds and squirrels?

By sending them back into the woods am I sending them to their deaths? That’s a terrible thought.

I feel like I should invite them all in for a warm dinner and a comfortable nap, but I’m pretty sure the dogs wouldn’t get along with them especially well. It could get pretty raucous.

SATURDAY’S EARLY BIRDS – Marilyn Armstrong

I keep seeing wonderful, exotic birds — who vanish exactly the minute I have my camera in my hand. Are they afraid of the camera? Does it look like a weapon?

It’s eerie. I walk very quietly into the dining room and put the camera on, facing away from the glass. I turn around — they the one I wanted is gone. All the rest are there, but the Cardinal or that big golden woodpecker?

Rainy morning squirrel. I do believe he’s shaking off the water!
I love when they just lay down in the seeds and won’t be moved, no matter how many birds come and try to bump them off the feeder. In this case, a nuthatch got tired of waiting while Mr. Woodpecker rolls in the food.

Flown away. Gone with the wind or at least, a feather.

A plump woodpecker. This one is a Hairy Woodpecker (pretty sure) because he’s bigger and has a long beak.
I missed the big red papa but got a nice look at lovely mom. Not as showy as her scarlet mate, she is still a very pretty bird.

That being said, the birds who are used to the feeder are hanging around long enough for me to choose my shots, which helps. I have enough pictures — including ones I have yet to process — so I can pick and choose and hopefully, get better (or at least different) photographs.

A DAY I THOUGHT I’D NEVER SEE – Marilyn Armstrong

I’m in the kitchen, periodically peeking out the window. There was a big Cardinal out there, but when I picked up my camera, he vanished. I hoped he would come back. Meanwhile, I got some nice squirrel pictures.

A morning squirrel

Meanwhile, I was slowly cooking canna-butter. Did I add too much water? I hope not. At least I got the temperature right. My new telephone arrived, though I haven’t had the energy to open the package yet. Tomorrow. I’m deep into canna-butter today.

Tufted Titmouse

They announced on the news last night that Uxbridge is getting its own pot shop, the third in the state.


Seriously.

Uxbridge.

A pot shop.

A legal pot shop.

In Uxbridge.


And here I am, brewing canna-butter and really hoping it will help with sleep and pain and if it doesn’t fix the pain and the sleep, maybe it’ll improve the quality of my English muffins with my coffee in the morning.

Nuthatch

I never imagined this day would come where I would be legally cooking pot for the legal purpose of using it medicinally. Of course, I never expected to find myself needing it medicinally either. You win some, you lose some.

A different nuthatch — or a different bird? I think maybe a different bird!

The sun came out and the birds are knocking each other off the feeder. I swear they are playing.

It’s warm out. A lot warmer than February 8th should be, but right now, I’m okay. Wondering what exactly I’m supposed to do with the canna-butter after it’s fully prepared. So far, toast is as far as I’ve gotten with it.

Chickadee — he’s outta there!

The sky is finally blue and I got some good shots of a squirrel chowing down in the flat feeder this morning. To get squirrels, I have to get up earlier. It’s the only answer. They don’t linger around much past 9 in the morning and that’s on the late side for them.

Another early squirrel

A pot shop in Uxbridge will be interesting for our one-horse, single-road, Main Street village. They will come from miles around. I’m pretty sure business will pick up. I hope so. Aside from being cool, it will be a massive inconvenience.

At least the fresh donuts will sell better — not like they don’t sell now.

What an interesting summer this is going to be!

BIRDS DU JOUR MINUS THE ONES I MISSED – Marilyn Armstrong

Owen filled the feeder yesterday and there were dozens of birds around the feeder this morning, including some I didn’t recognize.

Downy Woodpecker

I think the unseasonably warm weather is bringing the migrating birds back at least a month early. I hope the weather doesn’t suddenly change! I’ve seen it happen before where a warm spell in February brought back nesters who were frozen when winter blew back in.

Goldfinch?

But this year, we haven’t really had something I’d call winter. We’ve had some extremely cold days and a tiny bit of snow, but between the few cold days have been a lot more warm ones. I’ve got ants in the house. In February! And there have been ticks in the yard all winter. That’s not a real winter, folks. This is  … kind of like late March? Early April?

Junco on the railing

I swear to you I picked up my camera this morning and every interesting bird fled. As I see them, they see me. They don’t mind me standing and watching them, but the moment I aim the camera at them, they fly away … except for the “old-timers” who have finally figured out that I’m not going to do anything to them.

Nuthatch

I did get a few cute pictures, though, so I thought I’d show them to you. I thought I’d also share the interesting news that I can’t use my lens except at its shortest length, which would be about 200 mm (per 35 mm standard). If I extend, the pictures get blurry because the lens is too “close.” Never thought that would happen!

Downy Woodpecker

I can shoot longer when I’m shooting birds on branches in the woods, but not when they are on the deck or the feeders.

Titmouse and Goldfinch

A WILD RUSHING OF HUNGRY BIRDS – Marilyn Armstrong

So this morning, there were a few birds around, but since I took a lot of pictures yesterday, I decided to have some coffee and a muffin and maybe pictures later.

About an hour later, I went into the kitchen to see what I could grab to eat and there was a mad flapping around the feeder and every bird in the woods was trying to get a few seeds.

Maybe they thawed a bit since yesterday, but the birds were really, really hungry today.

Cardinal and Junco – Frozen seeds?
Flock of hungry Warblers
A landing bird and a lot of Warblers
Flying Warbler and a clinging Nuthatch
Junco landing, Chickadee in eating mode
More hungry Warblers
Junco on the Toad

And Cardinal on a branch, too!

Cardinal on a branch
Nuthatch, Junco, Warblers – Pass that seed!
And a big mourning dove to clean up anything that fell on the deck!
Yellow Warbler waiting his turn for the feeder