Friday, February 27, 2015


I don't mean to forget. But I do. I forget often to list "goldfinches" as birds that hang out at my backyard and side yard feeders. I don't know why I forget them. Just because they are drab in the winter and not all yellow shiny like they are in the summer.

So yeah. There are goldfinches. Lots of them. All over the neighborhood. And in my yard.

I like "my" goldfinches. And they "like" my yard. Or at least the variety of bird seeds that are offered there.

~sapphoq n friends~

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Birds: week of February 15, 2015

     A white-throat[ed] sparrow flew in with some chickadees and nuthatches several days ago after a storm. It ate some black oiled sunflower seeds from the clinging feeder [but sitting on the tray] for a long time. I spotted one [same one or different one who is to say] today who spent much less time at the same feeder but then flew off to the pine trees.

     Our chickadees have indeed become a mixed flock this winter to include a few nuthatches and many juncos. The house sparrows that hang in our short pine and along the extended branch [read: untrimmed] of our mock cherry tree continue to do so. They have been a bit quieter since the snow storms started, not really fighting each other for places on the feeders as they usually do. We've a pair of cardinals who have been coming to the mock cherry steadily on a daily basis. Today I saw the male over at one of the suet feeders negotiating a place with a female downy [woodpecker] and one junco. The three birds seemed to have been taking turns as it worked out. A collection of mourning doves continue to hang on the deck rail as well as in the yards feeding on whatever spills from the feeders. They also tend to hang on various branches for half-hour naps. The blue jays, crows, and red-winged blackbirds are always in the neighborhood. We've had a couple crows choosing to hang out in branches above the yard quietly observing. Kestrels continue in abundance of late. I usually see at least one a day which is more than this time last year. They don't come to the feeders. I see them circling around or parked in the top branches of a tree. I did see several crows chasing a hawk away from some nearby woods. My imagination told me the crows were angry. The crows were scolding as they flew after the hawk. The hawk flew away and I haven't seen it since. The hawk was impossible for me to identify as it was a couple of standard city blocks away from me in distance.

     I can tell when the storms are coming because the birds feed frantically in greater numbers the day before each storm comes in. Today has been exceptionally cold with wind chills to 30 below or more and hardly a bird in sight. Can't say I blame them. I barely venture out in this weather myself.

     The squirrels do not stay away in the cold. I've seen our standard grays, a few reds, and some red gray crosses. Several of them hand in the choke cherry when confronted with the old dog and then jump up to branches of the oak tree behind us. Two of them run for the deck rail and then plunge over the snow to then climb the aspen and then fling themselves over the fence that way. Yeah, there still is the one daredevil around who goes to ground immediately when confronted with the dog and then runs under the fence. I think that one just likes the chase.

     In the woods nearby, there was a sudden increase in deer prints. It looked to me like many deer came through rather than just a few. The deer tend to hang below one of the trails but these prints were right where we walk into the woods and were "many" rather than four or five sets.

     I've also seen rabbit prints in the yard but no actual rabbit themselves [yet] this year. There usually are several who may be living under a bush near the front feeder but I haven't seen them yet. They are the common cottontails. I did also see a set of snowshoe prints.

sapphoq n furry friends

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.