Saturday, April 30, 2011

Bird Brains

The usual suspects are back trying out backyard nesting sites on our Chick Magnet Garage. The picky chickadees are once again demanding endless walkthroughs. But they just can't close the deal on our bird house. Sweet but ditzy robins are again building a nest atop the light. It is a precarious business that demands no backyard illumination until the babes hatch and depart. Just how toasty would that nest get if we used that light? Maybe this spring, they would appreciate the extra warmth.

Robins nest atop our backyard light.
They need to tidy up a bit.
The blue jays seem to be considering the climbing rose site again. And who wouldn't want to nest all cozy and dry under garage eaves protected in thorny rose bramble? Soon it will be Time to Get out the Batting Helmet.

The blue jay nest is a fortress.
Not that they need any more defenses
with those claws and beaks!
This spring is definitely NOT Up to Eleven like last year. This spring is cold, rainy, and slowly unfurling ... as spring often is.

I don't like rain. When it rains, I wait it out. 
I think the rabbits and squirrels are with me on this one. They look miserable all soggy. 

But the birds really don't seem to mind it at all. The wet lawn was twitching this morning with birds who actually looked quite thrilled at all the tasty treats the rains seem to bring them. 

The white throated sparrows are back with their clear songs.

White throated sparrow                                                    credit
Woodpeckers are always fun in the spring. Especially when they hammer on the gutters and our house's wood siding. That's when Susan runs out to holler at them. I don't think they take her very seriously (neither do I).  We get hairy and downy woodpeckers year round. The sapsuckers mostly hang out in here the spring and slurp up the sap from the maple tree.

Yellow bellied sapsucker               credit
The warblers are moving through. 
A pair of ovenbirds were snacking all morning on the lawn. 

 Ovenbird                                                                       credit
Ovenbirds get their name from their ground nests. 

Ovenbird nest                                                             credit
While quite cute, these twitchy, little guys are clearly not the good kind of ovenbirds.

 The best kind of ovenbird.          credit
I rather like the brown creepers that meander up and down the tree trunks. When they stop moving they look like bark. They are songbirds but I can't say I know their song. I think they have their mouths full of bugs when they are in our yard.

Brown creeper                                                                 credit
Susan can't stop talking about the woodcock she found nestled in the garden a few weeks ago. Cornell's Lab of O says the woodcock is a shorebird that lives in forests where it probes for earthworms. Kinda messed up. Then again, I am a hound that lives in a Queen Anne house and eats dry dog food.
Woodcock                                                                    credit
I know I have said before that I am no bird dog. But Susan was raised by birdwatchers and her enthusiasm is catching. As I get older, I find the sunny deck more and more appealing. It really doesn't take all that much effort to open one eye to take a look when Susan squeals and points.

Birdwatching is easy.

Rainy Day Blues

Usually, Saturdays are dog park days, extra walk days, backyard days... When I wake up on weekends, the whole family is home. Even the bustle and bickering of chores is interesting - so long as the vacuum keeps its distance and Susan doesn't yell too much. On Saturdays, the pack is united and on the move.

This morning was so dark I wasn't sure if I should wake folks up at 7:30 a.m. (but I did). The boys' beds were empty... I think they were boarded for the night at a boy kennel. Dave and Susan lounged about like cats -- sipping coffee, reading the paper, listening to Simon & Garfunkel and Greg Brown (which hasn't gotten much play since the boys became music critics) and musing about their future after their pups leave the den. YAWN.

Rain spattered windows and my very quick morning constiutional told me it is going to be one of those days.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Couch Dancing

Ballard Street by Jerry Van Amerongen
Ballard Street

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Homework Help

When my boys get home from school, it is homework time. I hope that Boy#1 doesn't really think those cats have any answers. Do those look like algebra eyes to you?

I am always happy to help, of course. But the spring sunshine makes it awfully hard to think about science and water conservation with Boy#2...

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Spring Garden

We love spring in Minnesota! The sun is delicious this time of year, neighbors emerge, smiles return... And there are lots of spring surprises in the garden.

Some make Susan happy. 
And some...not so much.

She says I have to stay out of the gardens now.


Saturday, April 2, 2011

Walking the Dog Such a Chore

Ballard Street by Jerry Van Amerongen
Ballard Street