I was delighted to discover we have an opossum neighbor (living under a shed) but very concerned that he came a’calling during the day. It had been SO cold and snowy for so long, I wondered if he was out in the daytime because he was starving. He hid under the grill while I door-dashed a plate of food out to him, which seemed to go over quite well. While I looked forward to his visits (especially knowing he was hanging in there and feeling confident about us being neighborly), I’m glad that his eating schedule seems more in line now with nighttime visits and finding other food since the temps are improving. I LOVE opossum friends!

Opossum on deck during winter in day

TIL that deer eat birdseed! I owe the raccoons an apology.

Penelope wants to know if all of these trending puppies searches are for rescues? What do we tell her?

#AdoptDon’tShop!! RESCUE your best friend!!
Empty the shelters, and not just during quarantine, for forever!!!

3/5/20 Oh, Penelope. Your humans couldn’t love you more. You are a totally different dog than you were three years ago today. This is the kind of comfort and relaxation you always deserved.

Get you a rescue dog who can do it all 😉

#RescueDog #DollyPartonChallenge

I got this photo in a text from Joel. Before I read what we wrote, I thought, “Oooh that looks like a bird!” His text read that he thought it looked like a bird. 🙂 I’m going to go with a swift…what do you think?!

Inspired by vultures in my news-feed recently, here’s that one time I literally fell out of my chair when a turkey vulture landed on the deck outside my home office window. The house sparrow sitting next to the same feeder is for size comparison. It’s not uncommon to get turkey vultures flying over the pond behind the house but not common at all to have one land so close. Like opossums, I appreciate their willingness to provide free clean-up services around the area. Not all birds have such a great sense of smell, but these guys sure do!  #turkeyvulture


Once again, a productive day of cleaning gets interrupted by having to watch parades of birds at the feeder. This time I was “charmed” by six goldfinch until…Corvidus Interruptus, captured here.

A group of Goldfinch is called a charm! How darling is that?!
October 2018

6 Goldfinch and a blue jay
A fledgling goldfinch feather on a penny. What is it about teeny tiny versions of ‘regular’ sizes that is so delightful?

Goldfinch feather on penny

A Baltimore Oriole and his lady had been coming to the deck for weeks. Every visit had me in a dither. I was prattling on about how handsome and striking the male is (seeing that orange hue is a rare treat) when, in a moment of feeling goofy and for dramatic effect, blurted out that if Joel really loved me, he’d be an oriole. NOT STAGED at all, he needed to ask me something and came around the corner cloaked in the colors of an oriole. #HeLovesMe So when I asked him to hold it right there, and would he mind me taking a photo for this reason to put on my blog, he said sure. #HeReallyLovesMe

Joel in Baltimore Oriole Colors

Ecstatic to discover a turtle hanging out in our backyard; first time in 10 years that I’m aware of.  I have no doubt the turtle is less ecstatic to have been discovered.
June 2018

Turtle in back yard

It was junior’s first day out of the nest (he grew up under our deck) so of course I had to spend my day keeping an eye on him. That’s how I got this photo of the ginormous worm mom stuffed in his beak! It just dangled there until she flew back to help stuff the rest in. Eatin’ good in the neighborhood! May 2018 

Barn swallow on our outdoor glider that seems like a newly-minted flyer. Been doing that for days – just preening and hanging out. I think I finally got busted after snapping the hundredth photo or so from the other side of the window. That face! May 2018


This is what I look like with a pigeon on my head. His shenanigans of dancing atop my mop happened all afternoon. If I tried to gently shoo him off he just skittered around and side-stepped an inch or two to another spot. Bird 1 Human 0. Having my work in the wild bird rehab room repeatedly interrupted by the house pigeon (non-releasable) that apparently likes #FreeHumanRides is OK with me. These are good moments.

Arden Pigeon on Head Aug 2017

Yes, that’s an opossum next to the can. Didn’t see her until I shut the door behind me. Whew! That’ll make your heart skip a beat. Had I been anywhere else I probably would have screamed and run but this is Ciega, a non-releasable blind opossum that lives at the wildlife center as an education ambassador. Rather than screaming and running, I took her outside for some sunshine and a romp in the grass.

Ciega Opossum in Bathroom Aug 2017

My biggest Pinterest fail to date. The intention was to make baked cheese sticks as a snack with a new almond-based mozzarella I was anxious to try. Two @&%$! HOURS later what I had produced was cheese sheets. Fancy a bite of cheese sheet? #pinterestfail


Caught a ladybug taking a spin through my counter-top scallions. There is not much else around the house I’d consider bug food so perhaps this is how she’s been keeping a spring in her step all winter.
January 2017


Peanut Was Here


Joel asked if the white bird in the pond was some kind of really big goose. Or maybe a swan. A large white bird you say? That’s not a crane, heron or egret? I dropped everything to go investigate.

How in the world did I spend the morning not noticing this? For the first time in eight years that we’ve been observing all-things-bird outside of our home, there is a Mute Swan in the pond. I am enchanted. No offense, geese.
November 2016


I just never think about dirty windows until the live photo op. Dang. Peeping Red-bellied Woodpecker with a nut.


October 2016 – How I Spent My Day Off of Work by Arden Zich

I spent my day off of work visiting Nachusa Grasslands preserve in Franklin Grove, IL. Joel and I hadn’t been there before but it has been on my list of places to visit in the hopes of seeing bison in their natural habitat. Only a few roads line the 4,000-acres of protected prairie, which is why we were gobsmacked to see them so close up. They could have been anywhere out there and yet they couldn’t have been any closer. Among the large group were three “small” calves. They stood there for a long time sizing us up (gratefully from behind two sets of fences) while we drank it all in. What a truly magnificent gift.


My heart.


For the first time in over a year, Peanut gave me the priceless gift of hanging out with me outside. She settled nicely in her basket while I savored a cup of coffee, a magazine, a pleasant breeze, and the cacophony of harassing shrills from all the birds that didn’t want us to be out there. Pure heaven.

Arden Peanut Outside Deck May 22 2016

Things that make the shortlist of why my heart bursts with joy for birds? Horns!
Fledgling House Finch with the last of their itty bitty baby feathers sticking up like horns. 

Fledgling House Finch May 2016

Birdie want a belly rub? Hardly. Intrigued by lots of screeching and squawking while on his way to the car, Joel walked towards the fussing and found this fellow that likely hit a window or side of a building. His comrades were hopping all around him but there was nothing they could do. The little bird probably assumed that this is how it was going to end! Luckily for him, the mister didn’t have a taste for sparrow. After a week of rest, birdie was back on the job of doing whatever crafty little house sparrows do. (No hating on house sparrows, they didn’t ask to be here.)

Joel and his house sparrow save2

Helping her in and out of her basket is always an opportunity to steal a kiss. Seems that Joel caught on camera the exasperated expression of a lil’ ol’ gal who thinks she’s kissed too much. Too much is never enough. #addictedtothepug

arden smothering peanut in kisses

Looks like a fine load-bearing twig to me!

mourning dove with twig

That shiny little rim right there? I call that “getting pug lip.” I love it I love it I love it. It doesn’t happen often and it’s hard to catch on camera when it does. Looking pouty gets her instantly smothered in kisses.

Pug lip

A casual stroll into the never-used living room and a peek out the window for no particular reason revealed BALD EAGLES FLYING AROUND THE HOUSE. What?!? They go fishing in the Fox River which is not too far from where we are but these two circled over nothing but housing developments and a large playground area for quite some time. Screaming for Joel that there were eagles, I flew out the door in my jammies and started wildly snapping at the sky. Apologies to the neighbors for sending their dogs into a complete dither. And for running around the yard in my jammies.

Bald Eagles Over House Feb 2016

We’ve taken to using a laundry cart to help ease Peanut’s ability to spin around the house and stay on top of who’s doing what since walking continues to become a bit more unsteady and unpredictable. This has become such a valuable tool for all of us.

Peanut in laundry cart

Contemplative squirrel, acorn for your thoughts?

Contemplative Squirrel

This is our resident bully Ruby-throated Hummingbird, a ruthless brute of a bird disguised as a handsome, unassuming Barbie-sized niblet. The wee warrior keeps watch over ‘his’ feeder and works tirelessly all day to shoo away others just looking for a sip. I had another feeder out there far enough from this one but there weren’t many takers; this is the coveted nectar depot. Hummingbirds…

Hummingbird Bully Summer 2015

So precious I can’t even stand it. Mom or dad Chipping Sparrow finds a suitable seed and brings it to the little one perched on the nearby handrail. Junior watches seed prep and excitedly opens wide for the choo choo train. Then it’s juniors turn to learn how to crunch up a seed.

Chipping sparrow feeding young July 2015

To Joel: “What do you see?”
Joel: “Uh… Is it supposed to be a face?”
Me: “Come on, really look at it. What do you see?”
Joel: “The Death Star?”

Do you see it? #pugonapotatochip

pug on a potato chip

RATS Raptors Are The Solution

HEY GIRL Raptors are the solution

HEY GIRL Raptors are the solution

All of the news about crows leaving gifts or payments for their snacks has me wondering if maybe our house finch and sparrows that show up with little feathers and strings are paying for their seed. Unless someone can prove otherwise, I’d like to assume this is so. However, I wish there was a way I could insist that they keep their nest materials and feathers; they need it more than I do. This female house finch left that string behind after she finished her lunch.

payment from female house finsh

A paying customer?

How does your garden grow? With silver bells and sunflower shells, and pretty pine siskins all in a row.

pine siskins all in a row

Wild turkey neighbors out in their yard. I hadn’t seen them out for some time; the kids got so big over the summer! Seeing them go about their turkey business is always a treat.

wild turkeys

I’m awfully sweet on Wooka, a disabled Northern Flicker that is part of the education animal ambassador team at the wildlife center. He is underdeveloped, missing an eye, and cannot use his toes very well but don’t tell him that! Sometimes he’s quite the flirty birdy and other times he’s a fierce defender of his territory (enclosure). Time and weather permitting, I like to take him outside for supervised recess. Here he has impaled a leaf on his beak while pecking through the dirt. Ants are a flicker favorite!

Wooka with impaled leaf on beak

My absolute FAVORITE way to start the day. Feeders are set up on the other side of the deck so that I may also enjoy the company of feathered friends. I have an exemplary record of only feeding and not eating wild birds that visit the house and yet they STILL won’t visit if we’re out there. Hardly a menacing looking duo in my opinion.

My book’s title reminds me of The Bird Bible skit from SNL.

Arden Peanut Morning on Deck Bird Watchers Bible

These feet belong to Ernie, a disabled Rock Dove that is part of the education animal ambassador team at the wildlife center.  He has little feathers between his toes! What I wouldn’t give to have naturally toasty tootsies year-round!

pigeon rock dove bird feathers between toes

I see you seeing me. Juvenile bluebirdbluebird stares back at me

Mummy’s princess
peanut pug resting on sofa bed

“How to Know the Birds” 11th edition printed in 1957. Overheard from the kitchen, “This book can’t believe it was bought.”Roger Tory Peterson bird book 1957 11th edition

I came home from an afternoon at the wildlife center to find this note sitting on the counter. For a few days, Joel had been trying to describe a hedonistic bird that had been causing quite the ruckus for several mornings. He positively ID’d the perp from this photo that was ironically taken a few days earlier. I assumed it was a barn swallow until I took a closer look. It’s a tree swallow.

The fact that he even took the time to make mental notes of the perp and write them down after getting a better look? Good gosh I have fallen in love all over again.

Tree Swallow 2014

Oh, just checking out some rare-to-this-area ducks on my lunch break… “Rare sightings prompt flocking

Black Bellied Whistling Ducks Yorkville IL May 2014

This is the wild bird equivalent of leaving the veggies that you don’t like on your plate to be taken away by the wait staff. Picky picky!

rejected bird seed

Good timing! An hour before my shift at the wildlife center, I get a refresher on how to feed baby birds from an expert. (I will not, however, be using my own beak.)

mama house sparrow feeds her fledgling

Fancier oriole feeders exist but a few orange-colored dishes purchased from the resale shop filled with grape jelly do the trick! If I didn’t know better, I’d think this photo tells a story of a gallant gent looking fondly upon his lady.  Nope; seconds after I took this photo he hopped up there and told her to hit the bricks.

male female Baltimore orioles eating 2014

I guess he liked his chances that the big scary giant with the camera wasn’t interested in making a shrew stew.

shrew in garden

We  finally figured out whooooo has been hooting up a storm for the past several evenings. I love birds, but this little screech owl better not even think about harming one itsy bitsy piece of fur on mummy’s little snookums. Bird-on-a-bolt is off limits as well (squatter’s rights).

Screech owl under deck Feb 2014

what a pug wants what a pug needs

Another first  (to the best of my recollection anyway) – a Junco trying out standard finch fare from the sock feeder. They forage almost exclusively on the ground. I love that a house sparrow happened to be zipping along from point A to B while taking this photo.

Junco on thistle sock feeder

I’m not in the market for a house with carrion counters but I know a turkey vulture that is! carrion counters

A few months ago I noticed a male and female cowbird strutting around on the deck. Now I see that this wee chipping sparrow has unknowingly and involuntarily inherited the job of raising their chicks. Poor little thing probably has a hard time keeping up with her big baby’s feedings!

Chipping sparrow feeding cowbirdBird Watching Buddy is Bored

It’s an educated guess.
Peanut Dreaming of Peanut Having a Bone

bird business 2

In five years at this house, I don’t ever recall seeing a dark-eyed junco at the feeder. I watched him watch the other birds at the feeder just munching away. He clearly wanted in on the deal. Several times I watched him gear up and fly at the feeder with intention but he would either change his mind at the last second and zip around it or just kind of slam in to the side and flutter back to the handrail. After several attempts, he finally got it.

junco on feeder

Quick math and survival instincts tell me that I should be very very still…Starling Peeking Through Window

Red Bellied Woodpecker and Sparrow

Peanut Pug

My mother-in-law spotted this feather in her driveway. I think she’ll pass her next eye exam.

tiny feather

Luckily the one on the left was able to brake in time, avoiding injury and a costly insurance claim.

Sparrow crash 2

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