Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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How to enjoy snow

Once upon a time I lived in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula where snow arrives early and stays late. You learn how to enjoy it or it will beat you down.

Your choice.

“You think it’s gonna snow all day?”

Of course I was younger then.

I learned how to use a U-per Scooper to clear my parking place, and how to snowshoe and cross country ski. It was all self defense, of course, but I learned to love most of it. Maybe not the U-per Scooper so much.

The back yard looks more exotic with snow.

I’ve lived in lower Michigan for 37 years now, my bones have become more brittle and I’m more careful when choosing my adventures. Lucky for me we don’t usually get snow in the amounts I remember from up north.

Even luckier for me I’m retired.

“One picture one treat, lady. I heard that was the rule around here.”

Yesterday, during our all day gentle snow I didn’t have to be anywhere. Husband cleared the driveway multiple times.

Abstract art.

My only responsibilities involved keeping the birdfeeders full. In return I got to watch dozens of beautiful birds all vying for a spot to grab a snack.

The feeder looked Victorian with it’s cap of snow.

At one point I counted 8 male cardinals in my shrubs, on the deck railing, and on the feeders at the same time. There were lots of females as well, they’re just harder to see. I couldn’t count all the blue jays, titmice, goldfinches, chickadees, starlings, nuthatches, ravens and woodpeckers.

“I guess I’ll share my favorite tree with the others. This time.”

Today looks like more of the same, in the bird world anyway. It’s stopped snowing, but it’s still wildly beautiful.

I even took a walk down the road, wearing grippers on my boots, for a little look see.

Didn’t have to go far to see I liked the yellow against the white.

Yep…beautiful down there too.

I wish you all could experience it from a lazy-boy chair inside a nice warm house with big windows and a lot of birds to entertain you.

Hey lady! There’s snow on my suet!”

Winters in Michigan. Be careful, or they’ll get the upper hand.

And then the sun showed up for a moment or two.

But if you can learn to enjoy them…well…then you win.


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Meanwhile, back at the feeders…

The European Starlings descended on our feeders one afternoon this week.

Hmmmm, this suet seems to be a bit stale.

I only see these birds in the winter, though I read they are year round residents.

But not so stale that I’ve got it to myself.

All I know for sure is that they are pigs and will empty a feeder and eat a whole block of suet in a day. Many people don’t like them because they are invasive.

I guess we can get along and share it.

But, when the sun shines on them just right they are beautiful.

I think the prettiest bird should have first dibs on the food.

On this day the skies were dull and there was little light. But I’ve seen them in sunlight on other winter days and been mesmerized.

I think you’ve got a big head, that’s what I think.

This week I first noticed them fighting each other over the suet feeder. But soon enough they were on the peanut feeder too, a favorite with our Red Bellied woodpeckers.

Hey! Back off, the peanuts are MINE!

The woodpecker stood his ground, telling the starlings off and eventually winning the right to eat in peace.

Geeze…what’s the world coming to I ask you?

In fact, after that little run-in all the starlings moved to the ground in the backyard and then on to greener pastures.

No need to mess with that woodpecker, plenty of seed down here for us.

But they’ll be back.

What you talkin about?

Guaranteed.


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The continuing saga of my hungry birds

It’s winter here, with storm fronts headed our way.

Birds know when it’s going to get rough and they stock up just like humans do.

All the birds have been hungry, emptying feeders daily.

We even put out suet to help them fuel up.

In return they’ve allowed me to grab a few images from my warm living room.

I love my birds. They’re not aware of the one shot one treat rule.

So far anyway.


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Showing his red belly

We have a squirrel problem at our house, made worse by the number of birdfeeders the fuzzy marauders have to choose from.

So we have a caged feeder that little birds flit in and out of regularly. The littles were never nervous about it, right from the start.

But the bigger birds don’t fit inside the cage. They have to do with the nearby flat feeder, or whatever seed has fallen to the ground.

Sometimes they get jealous and try to figure out how to get to the seeds in the caged feeder.

And if they have a really long tongue and are especially tenacious…

…they can be successful!

I’m outta here.


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Crane watching

While I was walking the boardwalk searching for the Queen I noticed these cranes through the bushes and across the road.

Is our lunch being delivered?

What were they watching, I wondered?

You gotta make sure you check both ways before you cross this road!

Oh. You wouldn’t think there’d be so much traffic on a cold mid-week afternoon.

That guy’s got skinny legs.

Don’t worry, no cranes (or runners) were injured in the capturing of these images.

Guess our lunch is delayed.

But I wonder if these guys don’t think it’s about time to head south?


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Queen of the Boardwalk

I was out there to meet the Queen. I’d been trying to get an audience with her for several weeks. But she’s a Royal and follows her own rules. I’m used to that.

Anybody out there? Hey Mr. Downy, are you hungry?

You see, almost every day I’d see, on Facebook, a photographer who calls herself the “Hand of Snacks” feeding a female cardinal along the boardwalk at my favorite park.

Well, at least one bird wants a snack!

Lots of birds come down to any number of hands filled with snacks at this park, but cardinals are famously shy. Quite stand-offish. So to see this female sitting in a hand regularly intrigued me. And I drove the 30+ minutes every week or so, hoping to get to meet her Majesty for myself. Oh, I’d see her – sitting in the scrub along the boardwalk. I’d offer a treat. She’d watch me. But she never showed any interest in getting to know me better. Week after week I’d leave disappointed.

They almost always go for the peanuts first.

This Wednesday, there she was, sitting among the twigs of a dogwood bush with her partner, the bright red Mr. Cardinal. And that morning she seemed interested in me. She moved out to the end of the branch and eyed me up and down. I stood still, gifts offered. She flew to the railing, quite a far bit away from me and eyed me some more.

She’s not too sure about this.

Clearly I was not her Hand of Snacks. I was an imposter. But she was hungry. But I was an imposter. Could she trust me? Would she trust me? She hopped along the railing to get a closer look. She looked up at me and then down at the snacks in my hand. I stood still, barely breathing.

Come on sweetie, it will be OK.

And then she reached out, her feet still firmly planted on the railing, she wasn’t going to actually stand on my hand, and grabbed an oiler seed, moving rapidly away from me to eat it. I stood still.

You have options, pick your favorite!

She hopped over again and helped herself to another treat, not moving so far away this time…and then she grabbed a peanut and with a slight nod to me, she flew back into the bushes to share it with her partner.

You’re such a good Queen, taking your partner the best peanut.

And the politely waiting chickadee hopped up onto my hand to see what she had left behind.

She’s off to share. Mr. Chickadee is waiting in line.

Now I can say I’ve met the Queen. And it was everything I knew it would be.

I’m glad she left him some of the good stuff.