My Dear Friends

My Dear Friends are you (as well as the birds). Sometimes we talk in person. Sometimes we share emails. Sometimes you comment on this blog. Sometimes I just know that you are looking at these posts. Always, you let me know that these birds and this sharing is meaningful to you. Thank you! I truly love it. I care about my neighbors and where I live. I care about my country. Our politics and controversies concern me, and often I’m asked “What can I do?” Sharing these birds is a powerful tool for building a better society. I’ve tried door belling and writing my congress-person but I’ve not found a better meeting place than these birds. Yesterday, after repairing a broken seed dispenser, Carole and I just sat in the yard for an hour or so with the birds literally surrounding us: the Jays cautiously snatching up their peanuts, the Chickadees going boldly where no bird has gone before, and the Downys and Juncos, Bush-tits, Towhees, and Sparrows all joining in the throng. It was truly mesmerizing. So many of you send me notes to tell me “The Rufous, or the Swallows have arrived,” or “O’M’ Gosh there is a swan in our lake.” If the “Lib-tards”, or the “Right-wing nut cases” are getting under your skin, remember the House Finch sitting on your deck railing, in all his beauty, just being Mr. House Finch. His head is red and his sky is blue – and to him, it doesn’t matter.

Clever, These Birds

Gulls and [Seaside] Crows feast on the abundance of clams living in our sandy beaches. When the find a morsel, they fly hi above and drop the hapless clam onto a hard surface, like rocks or pavement, cracking it’s shell so they can get at the meat inside. I always wonder how they can find their lunch after dropping it into a morass of similar sized and colored beach rocks, but they usually do. Better eyesight than mine.

This is the second BirdBlog post for today. Don’t overlook the first. See the link below. There is a Season

There is a Season

Just wanted to acknowledge Spring. For quite some time the Bird of the Day has been focused on what’s new and exciting out there. At other times I’ve made comments on “ordinariness,” but anything can be ordinary if its presence is common. There are lots of birds on Whidbey that I have not encountered, but there also lots that I have encountered. They are becoming old friends that I am getting to know better each day. They can be considered common, even ordinary, but old friends become very precious, even extraordinary when you share time with them.

With the advent of Spring, the Winter birds are moving on and the Summer ones are arriving. I have had reports of Rufous Hummingbirds (actually had a fleeting glimpse of one). There are Swallows, Pine Siskins, and House Finches now when there wasn’t a few weeks ago. When I see them, you will see them. If you haven’t met, I will introduce you. If you have met I’m happy to share. In spite of all of the awful things happening in the world today, the universe is full of creation and life – beautiful life.

The One that Got Away

For the last couple of days, I have been engaged in searching for my misplaced cell phone. Just short of apoplexy I found the offending phone and decided that my supply of birds had suffered. The day was waning, and rain was threatening, but by golly, the Bird of the Day must go on. I donned my tree suit (camo) and sat for a half an hour or so under Carole’s feeder. The usual neighborhood showed up, Juncos,Towhees, Jays, Gold-crowned, House, and Song Sparrows, Chickadees, even a Woodpecker, but there were two (I know that I said one, but – journalistic license) that eluded my shutter finger; two that would have been the chocolate frosting on the cake. While I was setting up in Carole’s yard, she told me that she thought she saw a Red-breasted Sapsucker just leaving; and a Bush Tit sat long enough for me to get two irretrievably underexposed frames before it was gone. Oh well, they’ll be back.

Albert in his Tree Suit. Just about had a Chickadee land on one of his branches.

Every Day

If you are like me, and I will bet that you are in some respect, some days feel very ordinary. Many days are very ordinary. My Barn Owl this last week was an extraordinary day. My Chickadee days have been much more ordinary. What do we do for Bird of the Day for today? Well, there are hundreds of Chickadees in my yard, but no Barn Owl. In my earlier years as a Washington resident, a Great Blue Heron or a Bald Eagle would have been an extraordinary day, but I drive by them all the time now because they have become so ordinary. At the same time, ordinary can be really good stuff. It’s like the old sweater that you can’t give up. As Carole and I share our coffee in the morning, I am so warmed by the puppies snuggled in her lap. That lap and her every day presence are what matters. It’s what they know, and can depend upon. We can all get excited about the Barn Owl, or the White-winged Crossbill that’s not supposed to be in this neck of the woods – but is, but the comments that I get are more likely to be “I remember the Red-shafted Flickers from my childhood” or “. . . the Spotted Towhees on the farm with my new husband.” I get frustrated a bit when I’m not finding the next best wonderbird, but, my goodness, it’s not “Just a Robin.” Robins are a special part of what’s right with the world.

BirdBlog Developments

It’s all I can do to keep up with the birds. It has been brought to my attention that there needs to be accommodation for BirdBlog visitors to comment on things in general and not be restricted to individual posts. With that in mind look in the upper right hand corner of this post and you will see a little note that says comment. Click here and comment away. Thanks Carole.

No Bird Doctors

Male Barrow’s Goldeneye

I see lots of birds with injuries or diseases that are quite disturbing, but with no way to treat them in the wild, they continue on as best they can. My guess is this poor fellow got too close to a hunter with a shotgun, a beautiful bird with a big chunk of his beak missing.

Finches are quite susceptible to Avian Pox which inflicts ugly tumors on their feet and around their eyes. I remember vividly, watching a handsome House Finch that entranced me totally until he turned his head. Most of the opposite side of his face was missing. I was glad that he was at our feeder and didn’t have to compete for his food. A year or so ago we had an outbreak of Salmonella amongst our Pine Siskins that killed a lot of birds. The grim side of birding.

You Never Know

Gold Crowned Kinglet Jason Pryde

Jason sent me this little guy. He was just walking down a street in Langley, when this little fellow decided to join him. Gold Crowned Kinglets aren’t rare, but they are elusive. I’ve seen a couple in my yard, but have yet to get a photo. When I see a little brown speck flitting in the bushes, I get my camera on it. They all look the same from a distance, but you just never know until you can get a close look. More often than not it will be something that you have seen a million times. But you never know.