Birds Archive

I’m alive!

Posted April 20, 2019 By Ruth

Really!  Just very brain dead.

The co-worker who had medical issues is back to work, however he shouldn’t be.  I’m not entirely sure if he didn’t explain his job very well to the doctor, if the doctor didn’t believe him, or if the doctor is an idiot.  To be fair, I’ve found that when you tell your doctor that you work at “big box store with orange aprons” they hear “I’m a cashier” no matter what you say afterwards.  I now tell my doctors that I work in a warehouse.  It’s a much more accurate description of what my job entails when it comes to physical demands.  So yah.  At any rate, I’m still working his job, hopefully only for another week, but I’m not holding my breath.  I’ve now found that the management’s apathy in regards to the folks on the sales floor is totally beaten out by their apathy towards the folks working in the receiving department.

At home I’ve been experimenting with sourdough bread again.

As much as I like a good homemade sourdough I’ve struggled with it in the past.  Struggled to keep it alive, struggled to use it, gotten frustrated by the discard-feed cycle.

This time around I armed myself with King Arthur Flour’s list of recipes for discarded sourdough.  Reminded myself that even if I didn’t want to do a true sourdough bread I could always add a scoop or so to my regular bread recipe.  And made a very interesting discovery about keeping it alive.  Every sourdough recipe out there says that once you get past the initial buildup you can use white flour to feed your sourdough.  And this is technically correct, you can.  However, feeding your sourdough starter with whole wheat results in the happiest sourdough starter EVER.  Wow.  So my sourdough starter is whole wheat.  It was an accident, I ran out of white flour and somehow forgot to buy more at the store, so shrugged and fed it with whole wheat, and wow!

isn’t that pretty?  That is a true sourdough bread, no added commercial yeast.  Specifically its KA’s No Knead Sourdough.  This particular loaf will be going with me to the family Easter party tomorrow.  Yum.

On the subject of spring: FB reminded me that on this date last year I got snow, so I’m delighted by the green grass I’ve got today.  In addition the Bluebirds are definitely nesting, though as of yesterday afternoon there were no eggs yet.  And I’m back to trapping House Sparrows.

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I have good news, and bad news

Posted April 5, 2019 By Ruth

Good news: Yesterday I spotted several Osprey and a huge flock of Tree Swallows, which means that the birds, at least, think spring is here, regardless of what Mother Nature might say

Bad news:  Mother Nature is still confused.  This is my front yard right now:

 

Good news: the coworker who was out for emergency medical is planning on returning to work next week!

Bad news: with my usual impeccable timing I have managed to come down with my spring sinus crud just exactly at the same time as when there’s zero extra coverage to cover my absence.  I spent several hours yesterday bundled up in ALL THE LAYERS shivering with a fever before the meds kicked in enough that I could cut back.  The only good part of this is that I found another doctor at my regular doctors office who believes in KILL IT WITH FIRE, and I feel noticeably better today.  Hopefully I’ll be able to go back to work tomorrow.

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Odds and ends

Posted March 27, 2019 By Ruth

My work has gotten a bit complicated.  A full time coworker had to go out for a medical emergency and will be out for a span of months, how long exactly to be determined.  He has, so far, avoided major abdominal surgery, but only barely, and apparently the doctors haven’t ruled it out completely.  In the mean time he’s in the hospital on massive doses of antibiotics and IV nutrients and not allowed to take much of anything by mouth.  Why does this affect me?  Well, it turns out that I’m one of 3 people in the store (who’re not already working in that department) who have a clue as to how to do his job.  The other two people are department heads in other departments, which means that there’s limits to how much they can be pulled out of their departments long term.  Not that I can be yanked out of my department with no warning either, next week is Spring Black Friday (yay) which is the “traditional” start of our crazy season, so I still have to cover most of the hours I was originally scheduled for.  But every hour they can sneak me out of the Garden Dept, and every hour they can add onto the schedule, I’m now working in Receiving too.  In about two weeks the schedule should catch up with the new employee status and I’ll be in Receiving full time through the end of April at least, and likely for the summer.  And while I normally consider myself to be pretty flexible about switching tasks on no notice, for some reason my brain is not handling the switching back and forth this time, and I’m coming home at the end of each day very mentally fried.  Posting may be extra light for a while.

I got most of the seedlings out to the greenhouse on Sunday, now to I have to find energy to start the tomatoes.  I splurged on a temperature controller for the greenhouse this year.  $50, you set the “ideal” temp, and then you set how low it should allow the area to get before turning on the heater (Christmas lights in my case), and how high it should let it get before turning on the cooler (which will be computer case fans wired to blow out the vents as soon as I can get them ordered).  I’m very glad now that I did this, as my new hours make it harder to monitor the greenhouse temp properly.

I’m in the process of switching CPAP suppliers (from here on out referred to as DME), as the one I was originally assigned is struggling with the concept of sending out replacement parts and filters on schedule.  The pulmonary doc was NOT amused.  On my model of machine I’m supposed to change a filter every 30 days, and we’re now over 2 weeks past that and they’re still giving me a run around about getting me the filter in question.  Which is dumb as hell because I can go buy a 6 pack on Amazon for $10.  They’re trying to blame it on my insurance not getting back to them, but when I called my insurance (to see if I could speed things up), my insurance said that they don’t require or expect DMEs to request clearance to issue said parts, and the pulmonary doc agreed that the insurance shouldn’t be involved at this point, clearance was given when the cpap machine was issued, they should just be sending me a filter.  I may be buying a pack from Amazon anyway, just to have the spares, but really, the whole point of this process was so that I shouldn’t have to.  Plus replacement mask parts are more expensive.

I ran out to run a quick errand last night, just after sunset, and of course didn’t bring my camera with me.  I mean, it was way to late for hawks or really any of the birds I’m likely to want to photograph, even if there was enough light to do so.  So what do I see?  A big white owl perched on a telephone pole, lit up and glowing in the last trailing rays of sunlight.  There had been reports of a Snowy Owl in the immediate area earlier in the month, but its been at least two weeks since the last sighting.  *sigh*

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Bluebirds! And snow, of course

Posted March 18, 2019 By Ruth

I don’t really consider seeing Bluebirds to be a sign of spring, they frequently hang out here all winter (as do Robins), but it still gives me a bit of a thrill to see them start investigating the nesting boxes.

As you can see, we got more snow.  If weather predictions hold it won’t stick around long, but still, everything is white again *sigh*

I’m hoping to get my little plastic greenhouse set up today, with an eye towards getting the pepper seedlings out into it this week.  I need to get the tomatoes started, and I can’t do that till the peppers are out of the way.

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Birds update

Posted June 17, 2018 By Ruth

The last picture I took of the Song Sparrow baby:

 

Two days later it was gone.  I didn’t think it was far enough along to fledge, but maybe it did.  Or maybe whatever predator that feasted on its siblings finally got it too.

The last picture I took of the BlueBird babies:

They fledged early by my count.  Either I was off on exactly when they hatched, or only having to feed three babies meant they were able to grow faster.  The parents don’t appear to be setting up for a 2nd clutch, so I’ll probably pull down the Sparrow Spooker this week.

While I was getting annoyed at the House Sparrows for killing the Bluebird babies I missed them attacking a Tree Swallow nest.  That box is in a harder to see location, and I didn’t realize what had happened till I caught a House Sparrow going into the box with nesting materials.  The good news: no dead bodies.  The bad news: several destroyed eggs below the box.  *sigh* I’ll have to decide where I want to setup the trap this time around…..

 

F*@#ing House Sparrows!

Posted June 4, 2018 By Ruth

Not an hour after I finished typing the last post.

Stopped to look out my back window, which faces the Bluebird house.

See the male Bluebird fly out carrying a fecal sac.

See a little brown bird fly into the house.

FUCK

Storm out and head for the Bluebird house and sure enough a female House Sparrow bursts out and away.

Opened the box and took this picture:

 

Storm back to the house, dig out the Sparrow Spooker and my drill and head back out to put it on the box.

The female House Sparrow was in the box again!!

Put up the Spooker, check the babies.  As far as I can tell they’re all breathing, but whether they’ll stay that way…..at least the one is definitely injured.

The Bluebird parents aren’t enthused by the Spooker, but after a few minutes of swooping back and forth they figured out they could still access the opening.

Cross your fingers…..

Garden and general update

Posted June 4, 2018 By Ruth

The garden is FINALLY all planted!

Now to get some straw down for mulch and water retention.

I’m growing several new varieties of things this year.  The one interesting looking one so far is the Japanese Black Trifele Tomato, which is a “potato leaf” variety.  I’d never seen a “potato leaf” tomato before!

I still need to cage up the Black Plum tomatoes.  At the end of last year I tossed all the cages into one aisle of the garden.  This year, as I started working my way around to planting I noticed that I was getting yelled at by a Song Sparrow.  Turns out there was a reason for him or her being pissy:

While the nest is nicely snugged in the wedge between two tires, it’s also in the row with all the cages.  I pulled out what I had to for the less sturdy varieties, but I’m leaving the Black Plums as long as I can, in hopes that the cages will help protect the nest a bit.  Unfortunately the Song Sparrow may be out of luck.  As of yesterday the number of babies had dwindled to 1.  Not sure whats happening to them, but I’m crossing my fingers the last baby will survive!

Speaking of birds, there are wild turkey’s ALL OVER this year.  These two wandered across my front yard the other day, to Apollo’s disgust:

The same day, while I was hurrying to an appointment, I hit a not small bird that lunged out the road side ditch as I passed.  All I saw was a flash of a not small wing over the front passenger corner of the hood, felt the thump of the bumper smacking the bird, and looked in my rear view mirror to see a cloud of feathers in the air, but no bird.  It was raining, and I was late, so I didn’t stop.  When I got where I was going I took a minute to check the front of my car, no dents, can’t a been a turkey then, if I hit a turkey it would have left one hell of a dent…..except there were feathers caught in the corner of the hood, and they sure look like turkey feathers:

At a guess the impact was glancing enough to push the bird sideways instead of into my bumper.  There was no body on the roadside when I checked on my way home, so maybe he or she even survived it!

The Bluebird babies are still there:

Last spring/summer, between being sick for a month, plus the broken arm, plus life, I never got the strawberry tire weeded.  Hell, we ate like two strawberries out of it.  So this last week I set out to get the weeds out of the tire.  Unfortunately the neglect may have done in the strawberries.  After pulling all the weeds there was barely any strawberry plants at all!  After some back and forth I spent a couple hours today digging up the remaining strawberry plants, as well as the flowers that were also planted in that tire, and planting them elsewhere in the yard.  The tire needs a refill of dirt/compost, and then I’m going to cover it with black plastic and burn out the weeds.  I’ll plant new strawberries next year.

I also did a half-assed weeding of the hosta bed:

They’re filling in nicely, can’t wait till they fill in enough to cut down on my weeding!

Anyone know what these big ferny things are:

They’re trying to take over that corner, not sure if I like that or not……

 

 

Bluebirds!

Posted May 30, 2018 By Ruth

If you remember, last year I decided I’d had enough of the House Sparrows killing the Bluebirds and Bluebird eggs.  We trapped House Sparrows all summer and through the fall till it started snowing.  When the weather started turning nice in the spring we got back out the trap and caught a few more.

It seems to have worked.

 

I think they actually hatched a couple days ago, but yesterday was the first chance I  had to actually check the nest.

They’re not out of the woods yet, my first experience with House Sparrows killing Bluebirds was in 2013 when they killed not only the several day old hatchlings, but also momma Bluebird.  But so far we’ve seen essentially no harassment by the House Sparrows.  They’re definitely around, but they aren’t competing for the nesting box.

In another month or so I’ll start trapping again, should be just about right to catch the first crop of this year’s House Sparrow babies as they venture out on their own.

Along the same lines, a few years ago we put up a Purple Martin box in an attempt to lure them into nesting in the yard as well, I’d love to see a reduction in flying insects.  Unfortunately the House Sparrows claimed it and drove away the Martins every time they showed up to check the box.  The trapping has also fixed that House Sparrow problem.  Only for us to discover another problem…….Starlings.  The Martin house we got has the half circle openings which are supposed to be Starling resistant.  And certainly up until this year I’d seen no sign of Starlings being able to go through them, though I’d seen Starlings checking it out on occasion.  But this spring, with no House Sparrows to guard the house, the Starlings descended.  And proved that those half circle openings are indeed not Starling PROOF.  I attempted to get video showing the Starlings going in and out with nesting materials, but wasn’t able to get close enough.  So we reblocked the holes with paper cups.  So the Starlings pulled the paper cups out.  So we duck taped the cups in place.  So the Starlings pulled the tape lose.  *sigh* Currently the cups are taped in place with multiple pieces of tape.  I’m hoping that in another couple weeks, when I usually start seeing Martins around, I can safely open the house back up without the Starlings trying again……

MY garden!

Posted June 25, 2017 By Ruth

I have Tree Swallows nesting in the nest box closest to the garden.  I had to move that box a bit further from the garden a few years ago, when the nesting pair got fussy about me being in the garden while there were chicks in the nest, but haven’t had any issues since.  Well, not seriously, they get fussy about me working the row closest to the nest when there are chicks in the nest, but that’s manageable……

Till this year.

As I was planting those pepper plants last week (Wednesday) the Swallows started fussing when I walked the row closest to them.  I figured the babies were hatching, tis the season.

Friday I had a few minutes and headed out to do a little weeding…..and got driven out of my garden by dive bombing Swallows before I’d gotten the furthest row done!

Dammit, its MY garden!  I was here first!

I like Tree Swallows, they eat mosquitos, and deer flies, and the like.  But they don’t get to claim my garden either.  Once this set of babies leaves the nest I’m going to have to move the box again……..

Birds

Posted May 25, 2017 By Ruth

There were no babies from the pink Bluebird eggs.  The House Sparrow struck barely a day before they’d hatch.  There is another male Bluebird (not the same one I think) scouting the nest box yesterday, so maybe we’ll still get lucky this year.  I’m not holding my breath though.  My local House Sparrows aren’t deterred by the normal methods used to keep them away from the Bluebirds.

I’ve decided its time to do some religious trapping of the sparrows.  Before someone freaks out, House Sparrows aren’t a native USA bird, they are infact an English native (and if it was legal I’d happily box them all up and ship them back), and they’re highly destructive to natives, as I’ve had to learn the hard way.  Trapping and killing (or even shooting and killing) is legal as long as local laws on the subject are followed and the killing is done in a humane fashion.  I’ve done casual trapping before, as well as had some luck with the pellet gun, but they were one bird at a time methods.  This time I’ve ordered a repeating sparrow trap, which is capable of holding a large number of birds.  We didn’t need to spend the money, the trap isn’t cheap, but my husband isn’t arguing with me, he’s as frustrated with the House Sparrows as I am.  I’d happily leave them alone if they’d leave my local natives alone, but they aren’t.

In more amusing news, this is the location of one local Robins nest this year:

That is the top of our solar panel meter and shut off.  In an emergency that nest will likely be destroyed as the firemen shut down our solar panels.  In addition the nest is between our garage door and the front house door.  And my dogs are absolutely willing to munch on baby bird if given a chance.  As a result we’ve tried hard to keep the Robins from nesting there.  The first summer I hung shiny spinny ribbons above it (you can see the remains in the picture).  The 2nd summer the Robins wove the ribbons into their nest (I didn’t get a picture, I should have).  The 3rd summer we stacked odd shaped irregular items on top of it.  They nested on top of the irregular shapes.  Then I hit on the bird spikes, you can get a 10ft pack from Amazon for not to much.  They worked for two years, it was awesome.  Then, in the mess that has been this spring, I left for work one morning and spotted the above image, and of course had to snap a picture.  The nest is built up enough none of the spikes poke through.  It was probably there for a day or two at least before I spotted it, it generally takes them a day or two to build it.  I feel like it needs one of those motivational captions about overcoming your environment.  I guess I need to come up with a new solution for next year……