Saturday, December 6, 2008

I'm for the birds

This majestic elm has marked the gateway to the path for a long time. You can tell it's been in this stage of life for quite a while. It may be my favorite tree.



Our friend Heather told her father how much we loved bluebirds, so he built this one for Ruth, and I just had to put it on this tree. The birdhouse overlooks a large field where there are many tasty morsels for a bluebird. They love to perch on the remaining branch and then swoop down on the unsuspecting bug, and then back up to the branch. The only variation on this theme is when they fly straight to the birdhouse and feed the little bluebirds growing inside.



On the last day of school, we have an assembly to say our tearful good-byes. The fifth graders have a tradition of "willing" parting gifts to teachers, other students, etc. One of my former students gave this birdhouse to me and I have had bluebirds in it every year. That student has kept in touch with me and she is now a junior in high school and thinking about her future. We have had many back and forth emails and I have a lot of fun giving her advice.



I built this one out of scrap pieces and it houses another bluebird family. You can tell it's well-insulated, the snow isn't melting on the roof... ;)


We cleaned out my parents' garage last summer and my mom was going to toss this, so I tossed it right into my truck. A House Wren built a nest in this one. They are non-stop warblers!



The same wren built a nest in this one and raised a brood in here. Baby wrens are too cute!


I am a trash picker from way back. I found these on trash day about a mile up the road from us. One is a bluebird house, the other is some sort of feeder which I will convert into a birdhouse of some kind. They are made out of cedar, so they will last a long time.

This is a birdhouse gourd and has different species each year. Right now the remnant of a Song Sparrow is peeking out.

I never get tired of birds.

We have some with the loudest call, and of course, they do it in the summer starting at daybreak. I just scared off (not on purpose) twelve mourning doves who were feeding on the ground under the bird feeder. Sometimes we have over thirty goldfinches queuing up at the thistle feeders.

The biggest "prize" bird I spotted this past summer was a pileated woodpecker. I surprised him near our woodland pond and he took off and glided across the water, about a foot from the surface, landed on the side of a tree, squawked at me and took off. That was the only time I saw him.

Among my favorite birds is the Indigo Bunting. We saw one on Thanksgiving day in 2003, and I saw another one a couple of years ago, but they are rare indeed!

My goal right now is to see a Scarlet Tanager.

Which bird do you think is the coolest? I like the name Merganser, but for now, I'll stick with the Scarlet Tanager.


50 comments:

Claire said...

I love the new winter theme and the egg count colors! What fun! This summer was my most "birdy" summer ever because it was the first one spent here in my new country home. I haven't seen a tanager yet. I think my favorites are the red headed woodpeckers - very striking. Although the Baltimore orioles are a close second!

Don said...

Claire: Thank you for noticing!

We have a really good Michigan bird book and it has a list of all of the possible birds at the back with a checklist. We have been checking them off as we go and it is amazing how many we have seen!!

I agree with you about the woodpeckers and the orioles. I want to find the orioles' nests! They are like hammocks hanging from a branch.

Joanna said...

My Dad could ID all the birds that came into our backyard, and he had a read love for bluebirds and building houses for them.

We have a thick patch of bamboo and you wouldn't believe how many birds that spend the night in there and then fly out during the day and eat chicken feed. :-)

shicat said...

I love the new header,ruth's (blog friend) photo's are beautiful. O.k. so I know this may sound stuid but do you,we eat colored eggs? hmm. You sell them I see because you posted customers. I need to look back in your blog for photos of the eggs,i'm sure they are beautiful.The photos of the green barn along with what must be the chicken coop are just awesome. Country living must be sublime.

shicat said...

Me again, I just read about your favorite birds and i can hardly believe we have such beautiful birds here in Mi. Today,as I was enjoying my day off, I could hear the birds singing loudly while they took shelter in the holly bushes next to my house. They would silence themselves as I walked closer even though I was inside and they were outside. Looking out my dinning room window into my garden I saw probably ten sparrows feeding in the bird feeder in our backyard. They were adorable covered with snow while happily feeding. Love birds too.

Country Girl said...

Great birdhouses! I enjoyed the story about the student you keep in touch with, that is wonderful.

Sharon said...

I miss Michigan's birds. They are so much better than Wyoming. We don't have any cardinals or blue jays here. My favorite bird that we have in the summers is the gray jay. They will fly right up to you and land on you if you have food begging for a taste. I only see them when we are at or above 8000 feet and they're very rare.

Do you or your class do Cornell's Great Backyard Bird Count? It's one of our annual home school projects although I'm not sure how helpful it is for them to know about our gazillion chickadees, magpies, and nuthatches. On a good year we can add crossbills and maybe even an eagle.

Ginnie said...

How fun, Don, to read a post about all your houses...for the birds! I can see why you are cut out to be a teacher and why your students love you to death. I would have LOVED to be one of your students back when I was Nicholas' age. I always learn from you!

Don said...

joanna: My dad is the same way! I have some bmboo too, and it is just getting started. I hope to have a huge clump like yours in the next few years.

Don said...

shicat: Chicken eggs come in all colors and sizes, and they taste the same. Well, my free range eggs all taste the same as each other. I believe my eggs are superior to what you buy in your local grocery store!!

I gave some green and brown eggs to a student and her mom threw them out because she thought they were rotten, (being green and brown!!) Different breeds lay different eggs.

I agee with you about he great variety of birds here in Michigan. We have a friend who is Australian and every time he comes to MI, he can't get over the beauty of cardinals.

Don said...

country girl: I'm lucky to be in the kind of job where kids can come back to visit!

You must have quite a selection of birds up there in Maine!

Don said...

sharon: you have fabulous mountain vistas, we have birds. you have high plains drifters, we have lots of big lakes, you have ranches, we have dairy farms,

you can probably list more cool things you have out there.

8000 feet!? You better take an oxygen tank!!

Don said...

ginnie: thank you for your kind words. I sometimes wonder if I am nothing more than a big third grade boy.

Laurie in MN said...

Funny coincidence that you mentioned the Scarlet Tanager. I saw the Minorca Hen and immediately thought of Scarlet O'Hara for her name. After viewing thepicture of the Tanager, the name seems perfect for the hen if you consider the coloring, black and red.

Here is a blog that I enjoy visiting to see the wonderful homemade cards and the pictures of many farm animals and chickens. You will love Tiny Tim if you have the chance to visit.

www:Sweetmissdaisy.typepad.com

It is also called Sassy and Sweet Notes.

I am enoying your blog and the wonderful pictures you are able to share.

Candy Duell said...

Hello, this is my first visit to your blog. It is wonderful. I also love to feed the birds, and have out many bird houses. My hubby finds them, and gets them in his travels. About 3 years ago, my stepson came in and there were 2 Pilated Woodpeckers in the tree across the street, I had only seen them once in 20 years, it was a thrill for me too.

Candy Duell said...

I forgot to ask, would you mind if I put a link to your blog from mine?

Don said...

laurie: Thanks for stopping by. I went to the missdaisy blog and agree that it is a cool place to visit!

The web site url however had a few boo-boos in it. Here is the correct one if anyone wants to go and visit missdaisy:

www.sweetmissdaisy.typepad.com

My black minorcan hen has such a sweet disposition, that I don't know if I can name her after such a brat!! I forget, tho, does Scarlett get redeemed at the end of the movie?

Don said...

candy: Welcome to the green barn!

I would like to see a photo display of your birdhouses from your husband's travels.

You are more than welcome to link my blog!!

Don said...

sharon: I wanted to go look at the great backyard birdwatch site and it is really something! I wasn't aware of it and now I am going to go scour through it to see if we can add it to our "relationships of living things" science unit.

THanks for the tip!

The Scavenger said...

I love the bird houses but nothing compares to that beautiful Green Barn, I love it.

Chris

Don said...

Chris: Thanks Man! The green barn has its problems, but little by little.

Berthddu Suit said...

What lovely bird houses, and the snowy pictures are just beautiful. Lucky you to still be getting eggs, I have had none for some time!

Loring Wirbel said...

I have never seen a farm with so many, and such a variety of birdhouses. Amazing!

jen's farmily said...

How cool that you have so many birdhouses! Once Mr. C and I have our own land, I plan on ecouraging all wild life to take up residency! (Except maybe the wolves that type!)

Don said...

Berthddu Suit: If you build them, they will come...

I have heard a lot of chicken farmers talking about egg production going down or stopping altogether. It's probably a combination of cold weather and shorter days. Give them light for 12-14 hours per day if you want eggs! Or, give them a break from eg laying. I think I will give them a break after the new year.

Don said...

loring: I'm going to add a few more this winter. I want to see if I can attract some barn owls.

Don said...

jen: what kind of wolf types? I read it aloud to ruth and we both laughed and then looked at each other and said, waazzzat?

Carole@Fowl Visions said...

Your new header looks great! Thanks for sharing all your bird houses. I enjoy having a variety of birdhouses and love it when the birds take up residency. I would say that bluebirds are probably my most favorite to watch and the majority of my houses are for them. Of the birds you have listed, the Pileated Woodpecker is my favorite. It is huge and makes itself known when in the area. We have several in our woods.

I'm a trash picker also and hope I run across some treasures like yours one day!

Farm Chick Paula said...

Wow!! You have a wonderful collection of birdhouses, Don!
I too saw a Pileated woodpecker a few months back and managed to get a couple of pictures... they almost look like some prehistoric creature!
I think the rose-breasted grosbeak is a beauty- I have only seen those around here twice in my entire life.

warren said...

We are bird people too...one of my favorite to see is the pileated woodpecker. We have a pair on our hill and they flit about regularly. Common as they are, I also love mourning doves. We have too many stray cats around the place right now for the doves to come by though...

Deborah Carr said...

What a wonderful community you are growing! Both in the backyard and on your blog. How lucky you are to have seen a indigo bunting - and to have bluebirds in your area. We get very few here on Canada's east coast - but we do have a number of pileated woodpeckers around our property.

Drowsey Monkey said...

Wonderful post, I enjoyed that :) You have quite a nice collection, and imagine some people were going to throw those out!

I miss having a yard ... but I do have a few mourning doves that live atop my balcony. I love listening to them. Of course at the crack of dawn I don't always feel that way, lol.

Gwen Buchanan said...

Don, I can't tell you how much I enjoyed reading this post.. It cheered me, on this very blustery cold day..... and reminded me to fill up the feeders..

The photos of your surroundings are even more beautiful with a sprinkling of snow...

It is so good to see how much you care for those little feathered creatures..

Don said...

carole: Trash-Pickers of the world, Unite!!

I'm going to do some research to find out how to attract other kinds of birds which are on the rare side. I'm thinking owls...

Don said...

paula: Pileated woodpeckers do look like some sort of 'raptor from Jurassic Park! We get rose breasted gtosbeaks and last winter, we had some evening grosbeaks!

Don said...

waren: we have at least 4 feral cats hanging around our farm. They leave the chickens alone, but I do find bird remnants around. I like mourning doves too, but they get on my daughter's nerves, for some reason.

frugalmom said...

This post made me think of great memories with my grandma. She too, lived in Michigan. And she loved her bluebirds. She would put meal worms out for them on her deck and she had a house there for them as well...she always had a family of bluebirds in there.

All of your bird houses are great. I love to watch the birds.

Don said...

deborah: I think we are finally recovering from the nasty DDT that was sprayed so heavily in Michigan back in the day. It seems that we are getting more and more of the great songbirds coming around. We have orioles all over the place and I don't remember ever seeing one as a kid!

community building is a good "word" for the day.

Don said...

drowsey monkey: balcomy life in a beautiful city definitely has its upside! with mourning doves to boot!

Don said...

gwen: thank you for you nice words. we are getting quite a few nuthatches and every saturday, we mention you and wonder if you have seen any around your place yet?

I keep them supplied with suet and dried fruits, and I call them gwen!

Don said...

frugalmom: it is nice to think of grandmas, even though I was very young when I lost one of mine and very young in the head when I lost the other. I wish I had that time back to learn all I could.

I put mealworms left over from a science experiment for our bluebirds and they gobbled them right up! That felt good, to know that I fed the bluebird of happiness.

Kelly or Alex said...

I love the bird houses. They are wonderful and so colorful. We would love to have some but I'm afraid that the cats would think they were treats. We have 6 cats and they are great mousers. I guess I can't have both. I'll just enjoy yours. Thanks!
Kelly

Don said...

kelly: our barn cat scores at the bird feeders! I'm not sure I'm real thrilled having a predator like a cat roaming around. We also have several feral cats whom we feed as well. (not on purpose, but we don't mind as they were probably dumped by previous owners)

Bob Johnson said...

Don before I went to Kelowna on my hoilday I wasn't much into birds, nothing here to speak of, but there were all types and colors of them in Kelowna, I took tons of pics of them and became quite a bird lover, my fav was the American Goldfinch

http://bp0.blogger.com/_zo0lRSuSE3g/SEm3xcaEpZI/AAAAAAAAA-0/prJmBoGopSw/s1600-h/framed_yellow_bird.JPEG

Love your bird houses, the neighbor has a huge tree with all kinds of old bird houses in it, my wife call's it the bird ghetto, she swears she saw a bird of the night smoking out side of one of them,lol.

Don said...

bob: that is a great shot of the goldfinch!

I laughed at the image of some birds sharing some Kools. Is that a Canadian influence?

freefalling said...

Don, you might like a squiz (an Australianism?? I'm not sure.) at
Birds in Tasmania.
It's ruly, ruly kewl!
http://tassiebirds.blogspot.com/

Gwen Buchanan said...

Oh Don I love that... I'm blushing!!! a namesake!!! awww...

and you have cardinals.. I have yet to see one in real life.. I saw a Scarlet Tanger once about 20 yrs. ago near my beehives...

Stiggy said...

Great job on the birdhouses Don!

It's nice as always reading about life over the pond - you have so many things going on - I love your woodpecker.

We have a woodpecker in our garden too - a 'Green Woodpecker'.

Lovely little thing hops around the garden getting food etc - we have quite a few birds come into our garden as we feed them very well, they certainly have their fill!

:D

carl h. sr. said...

Hi Don.So much to see in your post there. I think the only thing you left out was,a partridge in a pear tree.
I will have to copy and paste your birdhouse photos. They are an inspiration for me to build some more.
It sure is a treat to see the 'real' Woody Woodpecker,isn't it? I usaully see them once or maybe twice a summer. Sometimes I just hear their unique 'jungley' calls. I once saw a very large owl in the woods behind my house.I can't remember his name now,but he is THE largest in the U.S. I believe. He was sitting on a limb and he looked as big as a medium sized dog!
Oh,and I certainly know the thrill of finding awesome things in someone else's trash!
Oh, and I have seen a pure white vulture flying over my home on two different occasions.

A Bite of Country Cupcakes said...

Oh good golly your blog is becomming so all the moreinteresting with every olderpost I read!!!
I love my hens...Obsessed in fact but birdhouses are my other!!!
The photos you have shared of your various bird houses are great!