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) and oddly 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
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.
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
Funny to think how dated this photo will look in time, especially in those glasses. (I love those glasses, but if they get any bigger, I’ll look like a circus clown. Any rounder, I’ll look like Harry Potter. Any smaller, I’ll lose corrective vision in my peripheral. Where will the trend go next?) Some day we’ll look back and think, “We were just kids!” the way we do with photos of us together that are 10+ years old. September 2017.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Aug 2016 – The bird room was much too crowded to also hop around the resident imprinted Canada goose, Lucy, (non-releasable) who was ambling about so I asked her several times to move. Nothing. I then patted her back and asked her to scoot along which always works. Still nothing. I warned her that I was going to get her…nothing. So I got her. In my 6 years at the center never once have I been able to do more than reach out and barely touch her back or wing. Maybe she sensed that I needed a hug and tolerated it. (PSA: Don’t hug wild geese.)
May 22nd: 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.
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.
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.)
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
Looks like a fine load-bearing twig to me!
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.
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.
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.
Contemplative squirrel, acorn for your thoughts?
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…
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.
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
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.
A paying customer?
How does your garden grow? With silver bells and sunflower shells, and pretty 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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
Oh, just checking out some rare-to-this-area ducks on my lunch break… “Rare sightings prompt flocking“
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!
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.)
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.
I guess he liked his chances that the big scary giant with the camera wasn’t interested in making a shrew stew.
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).
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.
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!
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.
My mother-in-law spotted this feather in her driveway. I think she’ll pass her next eye exam.
Luckily the one on the left was able to brake in time, avoiding injury and a costly insurance claim.