Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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We have babies!

There are two bluebird boxes in our yard. Last spring I cleaned out one of them, but hadn’t gotten to the other one when I noticed bluebirds checking it out, so I left it alone. Turns out the bluebirds went with other options and I sadly acknowledged that we didn’t have any tenants this year.

Warning off the human intruder.

Well, I guess I haven’t been paying attention.

For the past couple of days, whenever I wandered around the backyard there would rise up noisy, agitated chatter from the fringes of the yard. Somewhere up in the oak tree, or over in the hydrangea bush was an angry bird, but I could never quite find it.

Everybody OK in there?

Well, this morning I figured out most of the noise was coming from the bluebird house, the one I never got around to cleaning out. A house wren soon swooped up to sit on the roof and tell me off. I retreated to find my camera while she fed her babies who were screaming for their breakfast.

Heading out to gather more insects.

Once outside with my camera I hid in a tree far away and watched mom and dad fly in with insects for the hungry crew. I don’t know how many babies they have, but in this next shot you can see one of the little ones inside.

Click on this to make it larger so you can see inside the nest box.

My new Michigan bird book says they have two broods a year; this is probably the second and last. I’m guessing they had a batch while we were off traveling earlier in the summer. I’m so happy at least one of our rentals had occupants this summer. I think the world could use a few more wrens and I wish our happy brood success as they venture out into it.

It’s hard work being a parent.

Good luck little ones, it was an honor to be your landlord!

Don’t make me come in there!


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The illusive camping birds plus a robin or three

I like site #16 at our local state park because it’s always filled with birds, many of them different than the birds that visit my feeders at home.

A yellow warbler hides in plain sight.

Camping there this week without Katie to distract me or them, I sat quietly through most of a day, camera in my lap studying how they worked the shrubs for food. There was wild cucumber as well as wild grapes winding their vines all over, and though the fruit wasn’t ripe, they seemed to be enjoying it.

I don’t know if this is the same bird, see the black around it’s eye?

This little yellow warbler worked his (or her) way up and down the branches, picking off green fruit as it went.

Giving me the cold shoulder.

I couldn’t get a good image, because it never stayed still, and mostly hid behind at least one layer of leaves. It would pop out for an instant and then be hidden again.

Incoming!

I tried for hours.

While I was concentrating on the little yellow bird I noticed a robin hopping around near my feet. Sometimes he’d stop and stare at me, and I realized I had a big container of blueberries open in front of me.

Hey lady! You got anything good over there?

Did he want one?

Well of course he did! Obviously he has been successful begging campers before.

Nom nom nom

The whole three days I was there a robin stopped by and begged for a treat. I don’t know if it was the same one, but at least once there were several be-bopping around.

Thanks lady!

And I had this visitor, I don’t know what this is, but he (or she) stopped by a couple of times.

He’s got a dark patch on his head that you can’t really see here.

And this one….this one seemed interested in the blueberries and chased a couple of them down when I tossed them his way. But he didn’t eat any of them. I don’t know what he is either.

About the same size as a robin, but slimmer. Maybe because he doesn’t eat blueberries.

At one time there was a perfect shot, he flew up on top of my tent with a small insect in his mouth, but of course my camera was over on the picnic table so I just watched him as he watched me.

Maybe a young something?

None of these bird pictures are great. I have excuses, the light was low, the birds were fast, I didn’t have the right ISO or shutter speed. But it was good practice for me and I’ll try again soon.

Meanwhile if you know what those last two birds are, let me know!

Site #16.


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The upside of weeding

We interrupt our Norway travelog to tell you a sweet story from this afternoon.

I was bent over weeding under our redbud tree, moving slowly because I’d been weeding for awhile and standing up was getting more and more difficult.

I heard a ruckus above me, a sort of chirping chattering noise that continued for quite awhile. I figured it was a squirrel unhappy with me being under his tree.

Whatever it was kept it up to the point that I sort of looked back and up over my shoulder, trying to find the annoying perpetrator.

And, instead of a noisy little red squirrel I saw a downy woodpecker, standing on the main truck about three feet from my head. “Well hello there,” I said, wondering if the birdfeeder was empty and this little guy (or girl) was trying to tell me something. We locked eyes and I slowly stood up. The bird just moved down the trunk, getting even closer to me.

And then I realized the noise wasn’t coming from this bird, but another downy, almost the same size, sitting out at the end of a branch just a few feet further from me.

The bird on the tree trunk began to move up and down, looking, then picked out something special and flew to the bird at the end of the branch who opened his mouth obligingly for the snack. Then mama (or daddy) flew back to the truck to look for more.

The teenage bird was fed two more times with me standing right there and then the adult flew off and the youngster followed.

I loved that the two of them weren’t bothered by me being there, and I had to share it with you. I don’t have pictures, but you can imagine it. The images here are from our gardens, taken today.

I didn’t take any pictures of the weeds.


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Smiling this week

The week is literally flying by as I smile while watching the spring arrivals at my bird feeders.

Male cardinal, female and male grosbeaks, shot through the living room window complete with reflections.

May 1st was a very very big day, as the first two male Baltimore orioles showed up, brilliant in their orange feathers.

Welcome back Mr. Oriole! We’ve missed you!

Their feeder had only been up one day when they arrived, so perhaps they’ve been around a few days. I hope they didn’t get too hungry waiting for me.

All day today, May 2nd, the oriole feeder has been active, with the beautiful orange birds, plus others who stopped by for a taste.

Energized for takeoff!

Today I saw my first Grosbeaks, two males at my seed feeder fighting each other for space at the table. One finally chased the other off, but then seemed kind of confused.

Waiting his turn at a feeder.

I had his favorite food on the feeder, but he seemed interested in all the activity right next door at the oriole feeder. So he gave that a try.

Hey everyone, there’s desert over here!

Turns out he liked it and sat there tasting for quite some time. And when he noticed me he flew up into the tree to watch…

It’s safe up here to sort out what kind of options I have.

…then sat at the finch feeder eating thistle seed for a long time. He thinks he’s arrived at a smorgasbord. I guess he has.

Hmmmm, this is pretty good too!

And when a bluejay showed up he retreated to another feeder pole to watch the action.

Just resting between courses.

Yesterday I saw the first hummingbird too, checking out the oriole feeder because I hadn’t put up his feeder. I hurried up and got that out and he’s been back today. In fact I just saw him a few minutes ago. No pictures yet, he’s pretty shy.

And of course between the orioles and grosbeaks (a female showed up today too!!) and hummingbirds…

Sharing is hard sometimes.

…I have the usual gold finches and titmice and chickadees and bluejays and blackbirds and cardinals.

And this guy, image caught through the window and a screen.

Good water lady!

What made you smile this week? Tell us your story and link to Trent’s blog so we can all smile with you!

I make everybody smile!


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A photo a week challenge: Rule of Thirds

Nancy Merrill is good enough to post a photo challenge each week. On Thursdays I read her post and file it away in the back of mind in case I run across the perfect fit. Sometimes I find something interesting, lots of times I don’t, but I’m always looking.

This week’s challenge is ‘rule of thirds,’ which means the main point of the image should be resting at the intersection of lines drawn a third of the way across and down the image space.

Tonight I’ve been watching my goldfinches arrive to eat their supper in the pouring rain. I set the camera on a tripod, focused it on the feeder, and then sat across the room with my remote shutter release.

It was a bit of a wait, but finally this big guy showed up. He was hungry, so he hung around long enough for me to get a few nice shots.

And with a bit of cropping he turned into a perfect fit for the rule of thirds. I love the colors of spring, the brilliant green of the grass and the bold yellow of his feathers.

Even with the continuous cold rain this image reminds me of warm summer days to come. I hope you feel warmer too.


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The trees talked to me

On an impulse, and because I’m still working on my 365 days of walks, I took my camera and wandered the woods of my favorite local park. It was later in the day than I’d normally be out there, and though I had seed and peanuts for any bird I ran into, I wasn’t out there to find picture of birds.

An overcast sky couldn’t dampen my enthusiasm.

I just wanted to be in the woods.

When I arrived two school bus loads of elementary students were milling about. Not a good sign. But luckily they were loading up to go, so I skirted their noisy mass and headed for the trail the furthest away from chaos.

So much texture and color if you just look.

There I began to notice the trees, and it was as if they were speaking directly to me. Who, they said, ever notices them? Most people are out in these woods looking for birds to feed, or deer to watch, or wildflowers nudging up from the wetlands.

Nothing out here but me and the trees.

Who notices our bark, they wonder, our towering stature. Who appreciates the shade we provide or the abstract art our branches draw? Who even takes note of the songs we sing when the wind blows and our branches rub against each other?

Oh wait. Let me take a closer look. I’m feeling watched.

So this post was going to be all about the trees, the different textures and shapes and sounds I experienced while I was there.

Tree art.

It wasn’t going to be about birds or deer or chipmunks or squirrels.

But as I was concentrating on capturing this lovely old log…

Even in death a tree provides nourishment and life.

…I heard from somewhere behind me a gentle cry, almost a soft whining. I looked back to find this little one asking politely if I had something, anything, for him to eat.

I’m sorry to interrupt you, lady, but have you got something for me?

Normally the nuthatches are a little more reticent and don’t come down to my hand until they’ve studied me awhile, until other birds, those brave titmice or the cheeky chickadee have made successful landings. But this little guy was hungry and no one else was around, so he had to be brave.

Thanks lady! Peanuts are my favorite!

And just like that birds began arriving from every direction.

And it was that way the rest of my walk.

Flight paths became crowded.

But along the way I did find other beautiful things. Like these fungus growing along a fallen log.

A bit of green on a cool spring afternoon.

And the last bit of winter color hanging on.

Some red to brighten the landscape.

And as I climbed a hill I ran into these guys.

Three gents out for a stroll, looking for love or lunch, whichever comes first.

Still looking for interesting trees, I turned to walk around the small lake, and was approaching my favorite stand of white pines, rounding a corner, and literally had to stop in my tracks. Because marching down the path toward me were a pair of cranes without a care in the world.

The lunch menu today seems a bit thin, don’t you think honey?

They walked right up to me as I was clicking away, and, without seeming to notice me, walked on by within inches of my hip. This didn’t really surprise me as the cranes here are so used to people. They usually ask for something to eat, but I’m a bit timid about letting them eat out of my hand. So I tossed them a few seeds and moved away to watch.

Aren’t their colors wonderful?

I had to laugh as they moved on down the trail and one of them stopped to stretch.

Awkward!

I continued on my way around the lake, anxious now to get back to the car. I had more than enough photos to choose from for my one photo of the day. And I’d been out there for a couple hours already and had barely walked 2 miles. Couldn’t even count this walk as exercise!

But the surprises weren’t over.

Around a few more corners, almost back to the busiest part of the park, I saw a deer munching on lunch. And behind her was something white. At first I thought it was just something caught in a tree, some trash perhaps.

Or maybe it was a cow.

What you lookin at lady?

A cow? Oh no, not a cow, but the fabled albino deer I’d heard about but never hoped to see. I didn’t get close, and there was a lot of brush and trees between me and it. But oh my.

Be still my heart.

I stood quietly for a very long time, just watching, not wanting to startle it or cause it to run. Eventually I eased myself further away long the path with a huge smile on my face. A once in a lifetime sighting.

So that was my day wandering in the park, talking to the trees and my usual suspects of birds. For a day when I didn’t think I’d see much of anything I sure had some wonderful experiences.

Thinking back on it all I feel, just like Mr. Blackbird, like crowing.

Hello world! Wasn’t this a magnificent day!