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.