Friday, January 23, 2015

Birds: Week of January 23, 2015

     Old dog, her walking buddy, and I went for a short meander in some woods the other day. The snow was crunchy underfoot. I found a nest.

Nest in young sapling, view one

Nest in young sapling, view two

Nest in young sapling, view three

It will be curious to find out if nest will be reused this spring. Behind the nest is a view of an old [farmers] field which hasn't been planted in many years. The sapling itself was in the midst of a collection of young ash, aspen, birch, and not so young hawthorn trees-- and some brambles. Casual footpaths lead to the field from several directions. The trees within the woods are much older than those around the field.

     Dogs were tired afterwards and spent some time sprawled out on the living room rug before I took old dog's walking buddy home to her family.

     In the side yard the other day nosing around a willow was a male white throat [Zonotrichia albicollis] who had neglected to read his bird manual. Admittedly, I've mostly viewed white throats running through side brush but this one had decided to nose around the mid-level of the willow instead. Shortly after he left [and I saw no other ones then], a downy woodpecker landed on the suet cake in the same willow tree.

     The chickadee flocks in the backyard by the feeders have become more mixed of late. They've included nuthatches along with a few white-throats but not the fox sparrow that hangs with them in later spring.

     When picking up old dog's walking companion the other day, I was amused [but not surprised] to find a pileated investigating a tree across the way. The picture is not a very good one. The colors are lost but it was clearly a pileated. My conjecture is a pregnant female but I wouldn't bet money on that.


     Old dog has hosted several sleepovers with a couple of doggie buddies of late. Here are two pics of old dog and her collie buddy before organizing friend came to help me organize the living room.

Collie buddy and old dog, view one

Collie buddy and old dog, view two

     Old dog is definitely showing her age and I dread the day of her death. I am amazed that she has lasted this long-- she is twelve and a half-- but for as long as she is eating, walking, and fairly happy then life will go on. She has been sleeping a bit longer in the mornings lately. If she is fortunate, she will pass naturally in her sleep.

     She does have a bit of arthritis in one rear leg and in the small of her back. Gentle exercise and the inclusion of her younger walking buddy [which I call with great affection "the rent-a-dog" who lives in the neighborhood] along with a daily anti-inflammatory has so far staved off having to make the decision to put her down. I do very much carefully evaluate her quality of life. I've observed what happens to dogs and cats when their owners are unable to let them go.

     I have caught old dog on the deck watching the birds at the feeders in the backyard. She used to hate mourning doves [and chased them off in her younger days] but she has now accepted their presence to the point of allowing them to rest on the deck railing near where she naps. She also has sorted through her escapades with squirrels, choosing to chase them only when they are swinging upside-down from the baffles over the tube feeders. She used to chase all backyard squirrels on general principle but now not so much. My guess is that a squirrel hanging upside-down is too much of a temptation for even an old dog to resist.

     Within the last couple of years, red squirrels have moved in and are now interbreeding with our grays. The results are fertile and colorful. I've seen mostly gray squirrels with fluffed out red tails, gray squirrels with red coloring mid-section but with gray tails, and every possible variation. The reds have thinner tails than the grays do but when they get together, the babies are interesting. They also appear to retain their bi-coloration through adulthood. I've heard reports that black squirrels are also moving into the area but I haven't seen them round here as of yet. I like blacks and I look forward to their addition to the neighborhood.

     I've continued this winter with leaving peanuts in the shell [unsalted, unroasted] out for the blue jays and crows weekly. It's great fun to watch the corvids carry away their prizes. Some of the jays will eat a peanut in a nearby tree and then come back for more to carry away to their caches. But the crows always fly off with them. The squirrels and some of the woodpeckers too get excited about the peanuts. Even so, it is primarily the blue jays and some crows that descend upon the yard within minutes of putting out the peanuts.

sapphoq and friends of the furry and feathered kind

     As usual, I took the pictures myself. As usual, you are free to right-click and save to somewhere on your computer, upload them to social media sites with or without any clever captions that you wish to add or not.
     As usual, if you are a copyright troll I have no love for you. The originals of my photos are safely stored in several places and you can go find some other targets to involve in your legal quarrels.
     And for good measure-- fuck the DRM.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Winter Blahs!

     I got the winter blahs this year but [so far] at least not the winter blues [seasonal affective disorder] which for me requires the use of a special light in the mornings. I don't know why I haven't been afflicted by S.A.D. this winter [so far]. Maybe it is because I've been spending more time outdoors or maybe it's because physical exercise has now become a habit for me. I know one thing for damn sure-- this [temporary?] improvement is not due to my eating habits or my non-improving insomnia. 

     Hey. Even if the blues come back, I'm good with that. I'm happy not to be experiencing them right now. And I know what to do if they should impinge upon my little world this winter.

     The birds around me have been anything but blah. I've observed mixed flocks of chickadees plus in the backyard feeders along with some woodpeckers. The juncos continue to eat from the platform feeders and the crazy little titmice continue to occupy the tree and sing vigorously. The Canada geese are still flying overhead, heading south. I've observed several families of mallards at local creeks, including one family that was swimming in close proximity to a blue heron.  There have also been various hawks-- mainly kestrels-- hanging on tree branches stalking out dinner.

     The weather has been a bit trying. I don't object to snow. I don't care for freezing rain. So far we've had very little snow and way too much freezing rain this winter. The temperatures cycling twenty degrees or more on an almost daily basis is annoying to me but there is nothing much I can do about the weather here short of moving. 

     Here it is December and we have no snow base on the ground at all. Unless I want to pay to x-c ski or snowshoe through "groomed" trails with fake snow [and no, I don't], I will continue to have to use my boot or sneaker clad feet to ambulate through the woods. The dog wags her tail and makes excitement noises when it is snowing but she doesn't seem overly bothered by the lack of the fluffy stuff outside. She also hates ice and in that we are united.

sapphoq n friends

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

The Juncos Are Back!

     Several days ago, some juncos flew in with the resident chickadees and titmice. I was very happy to see them. I do miss them when they are gone for the summer. I guess the juncos 'round here didn't read the bird info about their species that says they are ground feeders.

     They have color variation according to geography and a sweet little call which can be viewed at

     I advocate keeping cats indoors. They like to eat birds. They can get hit by cars, have fights with other cats and maybe a few dogs, and sicken quicker from the stuff outside.  My cats are indoor cats. The two year old "kitten" makes noises at the crows outside while sitting on his window perch. He is not interested in the smaller birds.


     In my younger days, in my ignorance I allowed my cats to be indoor/outdoor cats. The cat hauling home a half-grown rabbit twice her size and bringing the live mouse inside to kill it finished me.

     I also advocate not allowing dogs to run loose unsupervised. Dogs can get hit by cars, attack deer and start eating them while still alive, and eat garbage. Some dogs will harass cats and people. A few will fight and bite. There is no excuse for a dog biting a human being, especially a child. Once you've heard a child scream in terror while being attacked by a loose dog, you will never forget it. I haven't.

     In some areas, a dog is allowed to be off-lead if he or she is under voice control. I take the time to obedience-train my dogs. I have called dogs off of deer, canada geese, and once a moose. A dog that is found running a deer can be shot on sight. I agree with this law. I saw a film showing dogs running a deer down and then starting to tear at her flesh while she was still alive.

     My dog is not allowed to roam around the neighborhood making a nuisance of herself and relieving herself on other people's property. The world is not your dog's toilet bowl. Just saying. 

     The dog is older now. I've caught her on the deck of the fenced in yard sleepily watching the birds in the tree eat from feeders and hop around.

sapphoq n friends says: Hey I felt like posting some pics. Right-click to save to your computer if you want them. No hot-linking. Thanks.