Sunday, May 31, 2009

Things I Have Never Seen Before.

When a "Birder" sees a new bird that they have never seen before, they write it on their "Life List." Listing is VERY popular with the Birding crowd. It is not uncommon for a die hard birder to have Day Lists, Location Lists, Life Lists... lists lists lists :) Well, I am not big on writing stuff down - well, I guess, until now. Anyway, Kent and I wanted to take the dogs for a good walk this morning, so we shot up to the White House Greenway. This is a wonderful greenway, not tooooo popular, nice and wide, good bridges, creekside, nicely paved, and VERY importantly, pretty well shaded.

I had not anticipated that I would find any fodder for this blogging enterprise, but expect things when you least expect it. I did see three things that I have never seen before - So, add these to my Life List. LOL!!

We generally carry a phone with us when we walk, just in case there is an emergency, so that is what I had to use to take these pictures - please excuse the poor quality.

I am sure that most of you have seen this before, but for me it was a first... Baby Donkey. He was very cute hanging out with his momma.

Then we saw this VERY weird bug. I will have to check one of my insect field guides for this one. It was easily four inches long and pretty quick moving. The dogs were curious, but I was not likely to let them sniff. It's abdomen looked like it had pincers, as did its' head. Strange to the "n"th degree. Anyone able to keep me from looking this one up? Know what it is?

Then finally, there was this wonderful patch of literally thousands of little mushrooms. They were growing under a huge Tulip Poplar. There was no way to capture the immensity of the patch - it was one of those things that you just have to remember.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Ripeness of Spring

Spring is rapidly coming to an end, and yesterday evening I realized it was now or never for picking our (human) share of the bounty on the Mulberry tree. This morning, up at 5:30am and out to the tree with the ladder and several bowls for collection. Last year we had to trim many dead, deformed and dying limbs -- the past couple of drought summers, combined with the past damage wrought by the female cicadas laying their eggs, caused some serious issues with our tree. Having to use a ladder to harvest berries is seriously difficult. The best berry is always just out of reach - ain't that the way it always is? :)

So, while we were picking - or rather, while Kent was picking, and I was playing with the dogs (remember, using ladder :::grin:::) - I noted several great birds competing with him for the sweet treats. In the hour that we were down there I saw a Gray Catbird, a juvenile Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downey Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Bluebird, Chickadee and Scarlet Tanager!! WOW!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Bluebird Babes

I LOVE it!! More great input from our customers. This is the email that I received from our premier Bluebird Landlord, Spike Odell :

Hi Pam...
I had a nice surprise this morning when the Mom and Dad bluebird showed up at the window feeder with all the kids! Man....! They look healthy! Must be that WBU mealworm diet I put them on!

I had 5 birds fledge, but only see the 4 now. I'm getting ready for the second nest ..(hopefully). I have installed the camera in the top of the box and will put it online when (if) they begin to build again.

I enjoy your blog. You have a lot going on in your neck of the woods!
Be sure to check out Spike's website: I am sure that we will be seeing some great action out of his website!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

What's This?!?

Any Ideas??

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Nesting Complications

Notice anything wrong here?
This is not an uncommon occurance, and I receive many calls and emails from folks that see this when they open their box for monitoring.

Early in the season, Mardy called and said that there was a Chickadee that had taken over occupancy of the box that we put up specifically for the Bluebirds. As usual, I asked her to please allow the Chickadees to continue their nesting and then, after she removes the spent nest, perhaps the Bluebirds would come and try again. Several days later, I received another call with the information that the Bluebirds were now there, having decided to use the nest, and they were "fighting" for the right to use this box.

It seemed all was well, as several days later, there was laid one egg. Yea, it seemed that the Bluebirds would prevail and have their nest.... Never speak too soon when trying to determine what will happen in nature. By this time, the House Wrens had arrived in the area, and they had a different idea for that nest box. It is now clear that the Wrens have prevailed.
When the Wrens have finished, Mardy may remove all the nesting material and then possibly get a nesting pair of Bluebirds to take up residency again. Lucky for us, Bluebirds will nest several times during the season.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Hungry Babies

Got this nice little email from Janis Tomanek and the great pic of Momma Bluebird feeding one of her babies:

Thank you so much for educating me about Bluebirds.
I bought several bags of dried meal worms and put them in my feeder.
Mama Bluebird found them right away and is feeding them to her three baby Bluebirds (yum!).
I am sure she is very grateful to WBU!

What a great Picture! The mealworms that she is feeding are an easy substitute for the live mealworms that many people feed their bluebirds. The dried variety are reliably available; whereas, the live mealworms may be difficult to acquire during the heat of the summer.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Mulberry time!

So the pics are not great, but you need to know that I was pretty far below these guys, and sure, my camera has "Image Stabilization" but still... It was hard to get them zoomed in without losing them entirely in the leaves. ANYWAY.... Kent and I LOVE this Mulberry tree!! It brings us so many great visitors, and we are also able to harvest some fruits for ourselves - - Either for use on top of Yogurt or in the making of adult beverages - -Yummy!

We first came into contact with a Mulberry tree when visiting Land Between The Lakes (LBL). We were hiking the Hematite Lake Trail, near the Nature Center, and came across this HUGE Mulberry tree. In that tree we counted more than 12 species partaking of the bounty. This, we thought, was something that we just HAD to have! That year we bought our own little Mulberry tree. We have not been disappointed either!

Today I managed to snap several Cedar Waxwings...

and Papa Bluebird chowing down. It is my sincerest hope to catch more visitors in this hot spot - AND I don't have to drive all the way to LBL to enjoy the diversity of bird life... too cool.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Clean Up Crew

You just never know what you will see when driving down the road... Today I saw many different bird events; but, by far, this is the one that caught my interest - I know, kinda morbid...

Driving home from the Franklin Wild Birds Unlimited store, I stopped at a light right there in Grassland, and there were a good dozen Black Vultures fighting over the carcass of a White-tailed deer that must have met his demise last night trying to cross Hillsboro Rd. Very sad, but... The Vultures knew what their job was, and got right to work cleaning up.

Note their nearly featherless heads - this helps them stay clean when sticking their heads into carrion when feeding. Black Vultures are often more aggressive than Turkey Vultures and may take over a cadaver that the Turkey Vultures have located and chase them away from it. Unlike Turkey Vultures which have a keen sense of smell, Black Vultures can find carrion only by sight--or by following the Turkey Vultures.

Back to my interest in Names, and common Names: The scientific name comes from korax, the Greek word for raven; gyps, which means a vulture; and from the Latin word atratus, meaning to be clothed in black, as in mourning. The Black Vulture has also been known as a Carrion Crow, Black Buzzard, and Jim Crow.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Bluebird Nestlings

Wow...looks like my bluebirds are about to leave the box (I estimate that they will fledge in the next couple of days).  Mom and Dad are still busy feeding, but these little guys look like they are ready to take on the world for themselves.  It's been a lot of fun !!

Swallow Tail

Found this on the laptop and thought I would share it. This is some type of Swallowtail Butterfly, though I do not know what type. I had thought Tiger, but... it sure looks too white and the markings don't look exactly correct.If you have any idea what variety of Swallowtail this is.... please let me know.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


This female Red-bellied Woodpecker likes to partake of the peanuts in our Choice Blend. A good mix will bring good birds :)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Cedar Waxwings

This is a flock of cedar waxwings that frequented the Nashville store in late April/early May. Most of the time they were high in the trees - but a few times they came in to the birdbath - AWESOME!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Citizen Science

Online Volunteers are Being Recruited to Support Climate Research

Volunteers can assist researchers to better understand historic and current life cycles of plants and animals, by participating in phenology.

There are six million personal observations about bird migrations written down on note cards and stored away in vintage government file cabinets. Collected as part of the North American Bird Phenology Program (BPP), the observations reflect ninety years of data on the migration paths and distribution of birds across North America for a better than ninety year period.

A Window into Climate Change
Researchers have come to recognize the value of the BPP data as a cornerstone in study of climate change and its effects on birds. The most immediate problem scientists have now is transcribing the data into a database that will be useful for research and they are looking for the public’s help.

In a press release announcing renewed interest in the historic data, Coordinator of the North American Bird Phenology Program at the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center says, "These cards, once transcribed, will provide over 90 years of data, an unprecedented amount of information describing bird distributions, migration timing, and migration pathways and how they are changing. There is no other program that has the same historical depth of information that can help us understand the effect that global climate change has on bird populations across the country. When combined with current information, scientists will better understand how birds are responding to climate change and how to develop tools to help manage that change, especially for at-risk species."

The effort to document the historic movement of birds in North America was started by Wells W. Cooke in 1880 to better understand and expand the knowledge of their migrations. Renowned naturist C. Hart Merriam expanded the program throughout the United States and Canada through the use of volunteer observers. There were 3,000 volunteers working within the program during the late 1880s and the Federal government kept the program active until 1970. Scientific interest in the bird migration records caused the program to be reopened in 2008.

Researchers describe the collection of observation cards as a treasure trove of natural history. Concerned USGS employees kept track of the card’s locations while the program was extinguished. Fortunately they survived the period of disinterest with no apparent harm. Participants in the BPP recorded bird names, location and dates of arrival, departure and peaks of abundance. The cards often bear personal remarks about a significant sighting or event.

Get involved today!

I have been transcribing cards off and on since March, and I must say, it is VERY interesting to think about all these volunteers, from Boy Scouts, to Park Rangers, to Citizen Scientists like us, all putting pen to paper to note what they were seeing. As technology changes there is always the need to bring the old data into the next century. I would hate for these folks' work to be in vain.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


Native and fragrant, this beauty is a MUST HAVE ornamental!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Rose-breasted Grosbeaks

These guys are great migratory birds. Nesting in the northern tier states, we only see them during spring and fall migration. Generally we see them in the weeks leading up to Mother's day, and a week or so afterwards. This year it seems that they came in earlier than usual. The Male is mostly black and white with the tell tale red breast... the female is far more criptically colored - looking much more like a large female Puple finch. LOVE these birds - they eat LOTS of seed.

Just had to share...

I was mowing our lawn...mostly because it finally was NOT raining, and I had a sneaky suspicion that my hubby would have to work late... Anyhoo- as I was attempting to mow around one of our bushes, I suddenly saw a flash of yellow after pulling the mower backwards. I stopped the mower to check out what had caught my eye. This tiny baby Box turtle was the result! I'm so glad I didn't injure it- he/she was just too cute for words! I placed him in the forest just behind our house. I figure any baby turtle that survives a lawn mower should be able to make it in the wild just fine. :)

Update on "Our First Bluebird Family" by Roberta

This is Day 10, there are still 6 chicks! Our Bluebird parents are still doing a great job. My husband and I enjoy observing how the female will fly off out of sight and search for food for her babies, and the male will demonstrate typical male laziness and just hop down from the birdhouse to the dried mealworm feeder we have for them, and then proceed to give those to the chicks! It always makes us laugh :)

I just LOVE this picture! They are so darling, and I was shocked when this little guy turned around and looked at me! It was the coolest experience! Thank you SO much Pam and Kent for our awesome Bluebird house! This picture was taken on Day 12, hopefully when they start coming out of the box soon, I'll have my camera handy & snap some great shots.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Window Hummingbird

Feeding Hummingbirds is great, but having them right on the window is MUCH better! Why feed the birds if you can't see them? I just don't get it when folks have their feeders so far from the house that they need binoculars in order to see who is partaking of the bounty. :-/ Anyway, there is no reason for that when there are so many different devices available that can bring the birds to you.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Cardinal Nest Update

Here are the two cardinal babies in the nest outside my kitchen window. I saw the male bringing a bug and then leaving with a poop sack. Looks like these are going to be good parents.

Hummers are here

We have been seeing the Hummingbirds here at the house since April 13th - two days earlier than usual. There are finally enough here to assure the ability to take some pictures. This male was perched at the very top of a Sumac tree in our clearing. I was not able to get him on the feeder, but that will come :)

I also wanted to share a couple of plants that bloom just in time for the Hummingbird's spring migration. Except for the Locust, which is at the Nashville store, the rest of these plants are very numerous on our property. This may account for the early arrival of our birds and the lucky fact that we have them visiting continuously Spring into Fall.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Too Excited for Words!

Ok, I can not contain myself!! Today I scooted home a bit early from the store so that I could watch a movie that I had never seen... "The Runaway" 1961 starring Caesar Romero - excellent movie, but it costars a Greyhound so I may be a bit biased. But I digress. I went upstairs and just happened to look out the window to see if there was any activity at the Barred Owl box. Lo and behold, there was a Barred Owl chick peaking out of the box. These first pics were taken through the window. Not great quality, but s/he sure is cute anyway.

I really wanted to get a bit higher quality pics for you all so cranked open the window, and s/he didn't seem to mind too much - though you can see the air of wariness in each of these pics.

The end of the movie came and I decided to take the dogs for a walk, and upon returning, it was apparent that this little Owlett was getting ready to experience their world more closely. I ran back upstairs to try to get some more pics. It was about 7:30pm here in the woods -- so a very low light situation for picture taking... oh and I have yet to read the manual that came with my camera so was unsure of the setting that I needed. I LOVE that you can see their little feet in the weirdly blue picture. CUTE!
I hope that this little Owlett will remain in the box tonight, as we saw two coyotes last Monday about 100' behind the house. Owletts, when they fledge, will climb out of the nesting box, and climb a bit up the tree. They will then flutter down to an adjecent tree and climb back up to continue to do this until they are into a safer place to hang out. Unfortunately, last year our little fledgling ended up on the ground (which is not uncommon) and all we found was a little piece of wing - it was very sad. :-( All that work by the parents, to come to that end....

Bird Feeder as House?

This is a ceramic bird feeder that has been in my yard for 5 years. This is the first time any bird has attempted a nest. I think it is a house Wren who has been building fast and furious. I have never seen one like this before.

Rainy Day Clean-Up

There is nothing like a rainy morning to motivate you to look to see what pics you have not posted, that you clearly intended to.... OK, that is a lie. A rainy morning does not motivate me to do really anything but go back to bed. :) I did, however, pick up the laptop and memory card to see what was there. I found a wealth of fun stuff. We will start with nesting, though it really looks like everyone is having pretty good success along these lines.

The Chickadees really got busy at the Nashville Wild Birds Unlimited store. I snapped these quick pictures a couple of weeks ago, but have not been back recently to see if they have fledged yet. Based upon this pic, I would say that the chicks were 2-3 days old that day. If that is the case, they should fledge any day now. This box is what is considered to be a Sparrow repellent box -- the theory is that it is not only smaller than the Sparrows desire, but also allows too much light into the interior. Whatever the reason, I have never had problems with Sparrows in this style nesting box. It is called a Kentucky Style Slot Box... this particular box was made by the professor that developed the style, Dr. Wayne Davis. The birds Thank You, as do we, Wayne!

This is the Bluebird Nest at my home. As of yesterday, the eggs had still not hatched.

In other NESTING NEWS... It has been confirmed that my Barred Owls have a nestling in the aforementioned Very Dangerous Nesting Box. Just Monday, we saw one of the parents taking a pretty good sized rodent into the box to feed their chick. All this rain concerns me, as I can not believe that that chick is at all dry. Kent reminds me constantly that if they had nested in a natural hole, it is unlikely that the conditions would be much better. For good or for bad, that is where they are. The chick should be fledging in the coming week.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Our First Blue Bird Family

This is our first attempt at attracting Blue Birds. Two days after we put up our box, we had our first occupants! My husband and I were bursting with excitement when we saw our first egg laid! If you look close you will see that there are 6 Blue Bird eggs!

This is a picture of day 2 for the Blue Bird hatchlings.

Here is an updated picture of the little guys... this is day 7. More pictures to come soon! We are happy to report that our Blue Bird parents are very dutiful, and both can be seen feeding the chicks.