Wednesday, May 30, 2007


I finally got some time to go out and get some nature and bird pictures but blogger won't let me upload pictures! Maybe blogger doesn't remember me.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Time Out

Hi peeps! I'm going to be taking a break from blogging for a bit. I'm going in to a stretch of working nights and they just wear me out. We have a visitor from Germany staying with us. Aranka was an exchange student living with us for the school year in 1997. It was an amazing experience, one we cherish. She was only 16 when she came to us and now she's 25! What a wonderful woman she's become. Anyway, with Aranka's visit, a funeral, a wedding, a high school open house, Molly's eighth grade graduation, Art's parents' 50th wedding anniversary, Art's birthday and our wedding anniversary, I'm luck just to keep the feeders full! I haven't taken a picture in days and haven't seen a bird outside my backyard. I'll be reading you guys and I'll pop back in here when I can. See ya around the campfire!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Thinking Blogger? ME???

I am so flattered that Pam at Nature Woman nominated be for the Thinking Blogger Award. I wholeheartedly agree with her other nominees as they are all among my favorite reads. I've given lots of thought about passing along my nominations and here are my choices:

Larry at The Brownstone Birding Blog is one of my favorite blogs. His bird and song lyric games are a blast (I admit to being a bit obsessive about them!) and he frequently asks questions at the end of his posts welcoming others' opinions and always causing me to think.

Deb at Sand Creek Almanac is one of the first blogs I ever read. She a fellow Minnesotan so immediately my interest was sparked. Her posts are always interesting, often thought-provoking and she is an eloquent writer. I envy her lifestyle and admire her writing talent.

Cathy at Looking Up is a blogger I only met a few months ago but feels like a friend for ages. Her joy for life is woven into every word. She often reminds me to be grateful for things I take for granted.

Mojoman at Moose Hill Journal is a blogger that I always count on to challenge me to think about his posts. He is able to convey his thoughts clearly- I admire that as I seem to agonize over every sentence that I put down! His writing is beautifully descriptive and imaginative and I always look fore ward to "going along" on his trips to Moose Hill.

RuthieJ at Nature Knitter is the newest addition to my blogroll. Another fellow Minnesotan, Ruth's attention to the details of every day life are a pleasant reminder to watch and be aware of what's going on around us as it will enrich our lives. She's also really good at Larry's Song Lyrics Game!

Again, I am so honored to have been nominated and really feel that the five I've listed and all of the rest of you out there that have become part of my daily blogging have enriched and brought color to my life. I never would have dreamed that I would feel so welcomed and that so many strangers that I've never met would become friends.

SO Larry, Deb, Cathy Mojoman and RuthieJ : If you would like to participate in this meme, please choose five of the blogs that make you think, and please put the following participation rules in your post:
1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think,2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme,3. Optional: Proudly display the ‘Thinking Blogger Award’ with a link to the post that you wrote (here is an alternative silver version if gold doesn’t fit your blog).

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Mother's Day Weekend at Hasty Brook

We spent the most beautiful weekend up north at Hasty Brook. We arrived Saturday morning to temps around 70 and perfect breezes. The trees and sky were FULL of birds! The low areas around the creek held huge bunches of blooming marsh marigolds. They glowed even more brightly in the dappled sunlight.

I found many patches of Wood Anemone. They are also called Mayflowers. Most of them have a single white bloom but I found an occasional pink too. The trout lilies were up but not blooming yet. In fact I noticed that the lilacs up there were not open yet but they're nearly done here at home.A pair of yellow-bellied sapsuckers were very busy drilling. The pair was quite loud and vocal with each other. I took 20 pictures of this one hoping it would pop down a bit below the obscuring branch, but no.
Here's an action shot that I liked. If you click to enlarge, check out the feet. Cool!
On to warblers. There were plenty of them in the tree-tops but my frustration got the best of me. So I tried just focusing on the ones that came more readily into view. Here is a Palm Warbler that let me watch for quite a bit while he caught insects in the spruce branches. Other warblers that I got firm id's on

Black and White Warbler

Nashville Warbler


Chestnut-sided Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler

The Nashville and Palm Warblers are new for me!

On Saturday afternoon we filled the old bear-bitten feeders to see who might come in for a snack. No takers until Sunday morning when this jewel turned up. I had heard them singing off in the woods. This male Rose-breasted Grosbeak was quite bold, singing and eating just a few feet away from our camp chairs.

I have never noticed the spots before.

A group of 4-5 Red-breasted Nuthatches were the first to notice the seed. These are funny little birds to watch. They too were fearless of us being nearby. A flock of chickadees soon found the seed too. The chickadees were the most fearless of them all. They would grab a seed ,then fly to the picnic table or a camp chair to crack it open. They weren't bothered by our activities at all- in fact one perched about 3 feet away while Art chopped wood.

This White-throated sparrow sang for us all weekend from a birch nearby. He was happy to pick at the seed fallen below the feeders and even came close to check out some potato chips that fell to the ground.

Evening at Hasty Brook is my favorite time. The sounds of veeries and hermit thrushes singing as the sky darkens are quite simply heavenly to me. Saturday evening we were treated to the peents and twitterings of woodcocks! We could hear grouse drumming just beyond the clearing and the loons were yodelling as the flew in to their lakes for the night. I really wish you all could join me there. Hasty Brook really does feed my soul.

My weekend Hasty Brook list:

American Crow

American Robin

Bald Eagle

Black and White Warbler

Black-capped Chickadee

Common Raven

Downy Woodpecker

Eastern Phoebe

Great Blue Heron

Hairy Woodpecker

Hermit Thrush

Nashville Warbler

Northern Flicker

Pileated Woodpecker

Red-tailed Hawk

Tree Swallow

Turkey Vulture


White-breasted Nuthatch

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Northern Harrier

Palm Warbler

Chestnut-sided Warbler


Red-breasted Nuthatch

White-throated Sparrow

Ruffed Grouse (heard not seen)

American Woodcock (heard not seen)


Wood Duck

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Help with a Sparrow ID

This is my third year of trying to learn to identify sparrows. A friend recommended the book Identify Yourself: the Fifty Most Common Birding Identification Challenges by Bill Thompson III, aka Bill of the Birds. To be honest going in to my challenge I was only hopeful to be able to tell female house sparrows from anything else. That first year I learned to firmly id chipping sparrows, fox sparrows and white-throated sparrows and I was happy. Last spring I got the book out again and added white-crowned, Harris's and song sparrows.
Last week this guy showed up. He looked a bit daintier than the song sparrows scratching under the feeders. I want so badly to call him a Lincoln's sparrow. His chest has a buffier wash. No dark dot on his breast.
His tail is shorter and his streaks are finer.
Warmer tones all around.
These last two pictures are of one of the song sparrows hanging around for comparison.

Is it all wishful thinking? Go ahead and shoot me out of the water if need be. I really need help on this one.

By the way- no one has moved the can of starter fluid. It seems to be a bird magnet!

White-crowned Sparrow!!

Look who came to visit my yard this morning!!

What a pretty sparrow- so formal looking.

Do you like my crown?

Here's a view of the top. Now I'm wondering what it is with the sparrows wanting to feed and pose next to this crummy can of starting fluid, tossed to the ground and LEFT THERE by a husband named Art. Some might say it adds a splash of color to the sand and gravel. (that would be Art). Others (me) say it looks like we're the trashy neighbors everyone seems to have. Either way, darn near every good sparrow picture I've gotten in the last two weeks has been next to this can. I was going to pick it up, but maybe I should just leave it a while.
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Thursday, May 03, 2007

Odds and Ends

I emailed Birdchick about some odd behavior I observed yesterday. I watched as a male cardinal repeatedly snatched a twig from this house wren as he was trying to stuff this nest box. The cardinal eventually went after the wren and drove it off. Sharon posted my question looking for additional comments. I'd like to post a piece of video I took showing some of the behavior but need help posting the video. Please help video-savvy blogger pals!!
This picture is begging for a caption. The winner wins heartfelt congratulations from me!

I found this beautiful heron when I took a wrong turn coming home from Molly's softball practice last night. I was frustrated at the wrong turn and running late, but this view made me pull over and stop to appreciate the "gift around the corner".

I know a lot of you have been wondering what Buddy's toes look like but were too shy to ask. Well, here they are in all their stretched out glory.

This is the view from my bedroom window where I do a lot of my backyard birdwatching. The pink tree is a Newport Plum that Art and the kids got me for Mother's Day just 3 years ago. The tree must like it's location as it has doubled in size in just 3 years. It's beautiful in spring. The blossoms all mature into little tiny fruit and then about a week later they all fall off! I've heard that's characteristic of this particular variety. We were hoping for a fruit bearing tree for the birds. Hopefully the bird-friendly shrubs I planted last fall will take off.
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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Harris's Sparrow!!

Just this morning I was reminding myself to take a closer look at the sparrows under my feeders. There are always plenty of house sparrows and for the two weeks or so there have been several white-throated sparrows. Yesterday a pair of white-crowned sparrows joined the mix. I had a busy day with doctors appointments and groceries. Molly had a softball game at 4:30 and then we dashed off to find a formal dress for May crowning at school on Friday. Finally at 7:30 I sat down with a bowl of chicken salad and put my feet up. Wait- just take a quick look out back and see who's in the yard. Whoooey! A Harris's sparrow!
Look at his pink bill and legs.
He's bigger than this white-throated sparrow. In fact the Harris's sparrow is the largest of all of the sparrows.
They nest in northern Canada
and winter in the great plains.
This is one gorgeous sparrow!
Are you sick of Harris's sparrow pictures yet? I just can't get enough of this bird. The only other time I saw a Harris's sparrow was last year in the same spot. The only picture I got last year was of it's butt. Today was a lucky bird day!
Was it a lucky bird day for you?

Back Yard Visitors

There was lots of action in the back yard today. Several white-throated sparrows were scratching under the feeders while others sang "Oh sweet Canada, Canada, Canada" from the lilacs.

Mr. and Mrs. Bunny did what bunnies do. Aren't these little buns CUTE?? They've been just a blast to watch. The three of them dash around like their tails are on fire then they jump right up in the air, flip around and run again.
I heard a strange peeping/squawking sound from the maple right outside my upstairs window and saw this beautiful wood duck looking me in the eye about 10 feet away!! I drank him in through my bins for a good five minutes before I put them down to get my camera. I wish they'd stay.