Thursday, January 31, 2008

Project FeederWatch Post

Project Feeder Watch
Sponsored by Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Just look at this cute little Red-breasted Nuthatch below.
He's only about 2/3 the size of the White-breasted Nuthatch more commonly seen.
I try very hard to watch my bird feeders for periods of time on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
Below you can see a Flicker, a Black-capped Chickadee and a White-breasted Nuthatch.
Project FeederWatch is a good outlet for people who like to feed birds, learn about them, and keep track of the different variety at their feeders. In other words, it gives a legitimate excuse for taking time to watch the bird feeders! :-)

Below is a male Northern Cardinal.
Project FeederWatch depends upon volunteers in Canada and the United States to monitor the presence of the Winter birds at their feeders from November through April 4. Much information is gleaned from the weekly/biweekly observations as to the numbers of birds, changes in the population, unusual sightings, etc. There is a nominal fee to join, meant to defray expenses. Participants also receive an informational journal by mail.

Here are two White-breasted Nuthatches and a Black-capped Chickadee.

I've just downloaded the a copy of the Winter Bird Highlights 2006/2007 publication. After breaking the continent into zones, they compiled graphs listing the top 25 birds sighted within each zone and the average numbers of each variety sighted at a feeder at a time. There is so much more information, as well.

Reporting upon the variety of birds at your bird feeder means that you monitor the number of birds of each variety that you see at or around your specific feeder/s at one time. If the number of these particular birds increase (or decrease) at any one time, you indicate the greatest number you've seen at one time together, that day of that variety. After a two-day recording time, you Never combine the numbers. You only report the highest number of each variety of bird seen at your feeder/s on either of the two days. I thought I'd give you an example of what I've seen these past two days. Bear in mind that due to the fact that I've only a total of less than an hour for my observations this time.

January 30/31
Flicker: 1 Downy Woodpecker: 2
Blue Jay: 3 American Goldfinch: 10
Northern Cardinal: 5 Black-capped Chickadee: 3
Tufted Titmouse: 1 White-breasted Nuthatch: 2
House Finch: 3 Red-breasted Nuthatch: 1
House Sparrows: 20 Dark-eyed Junco: 15
Mourning Dove: 6 Red-bellied Woodpecker: 1
Hairy Woodpecker: 0

I was a late-comer to this project. My first report was the first week or so in January. Never let it be said that you can second-guess anything! I remember thinking, during my second week of FeederWatch, that I probably wouldn't seen anything new... just more or less of the birds I usually see. Boy, was I wrong. The Lord, in creating the great diversity of bird, smiled at me the next week. I saw a Rufous-sided Towhee! And the next week, another surprise: A Sharp-shinned Hawk. There you go. Don't take anything for granted - be ready for those pleasant surprises! LOL!

Nothing "Shady" here! ;-)

Oh! I might add that just as I was ready to photograph a squirrel drinking from my Heated Bird Bath, he jumped off. I'll try again.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Yippee! I'm Stuck at Home!

This morning at 8:30 a.m. it was 30 degrees Fahrenheit. At 10:30 a.m. it was 6 degrees F. I don't know where it is now. The wind has mounted and it's snowing quite a bit, now (and the wind is blowing quite briskly). The ice returned to the birdbath, so I plugged in that new heater. ;-) I placed another small stone on the other side for weight.So far, I've captured a photo of a sparrow.While visiting with my dad on the phone, a house finch, a sparrow, and a junco each enjoyed a drink. So, it's worth the effort.
Why don't you try your hand at adding a final stanza to the Beverages poem at this posting?

School was called off this morning and children were taken home. Organizations have canceled meetings. In celebration of the weather, I've decided to try my hand at bread-baking. I haven't done anything like that for years, I think. If you're interested in seeing a recipe, I'll post it here. Later, when I'm done, I'll post a photo of the finished product. Hopefully it turns out! :-)

There's Been a Slight Change in the Weather
(sung to "My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean)

There's been a slight change in the weather.
The wind has brought cold temp'ratures.
The snow is all swirly and twisty
and indoors pursuits provide cures.

Perfect for staying indoors, indoors!
Bread Baking beats scrubbing floors!

The temp'rature's now close to zero.
The wind chill must be mighty cold.
And Shady's the birds' brand new hero,
'cuz her water will never get cold.

Perfect for staying indoors, indoors!
But how do I get to the store?

Just hold the applause. ;-)

PS: A couple more photos:
The wind is wilder,
the snow is snowier,
and the birds are moving in

Look for 3 - 4 cardinals at
the feeder,
several on the ground,

and one on the bird bath! :-)

Monday, January 28, 2008

January 23-29 A Winter Image

I couldn't stray outside the yard yesterday, but here are some reminders of either days gone by or those yet to come. ;-)

A variety of low-growing sedum

Heuchera "Lime Rickey"
And I know these aren't wildflowers, but it is evidence of plant life in Winter. And the amended rules tell us we can enter domestic flowers or plants during this season. ;-)

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Wow! A Balmy Day in January!

It was fifty-two degrees Fahrenheit today.
Wearing a light jacket and armed with a telescoping pruning saw/bypass cutter combination, I was a woman on a mission! Look out unwanted tree branches!
This is a photo of a backyard tree trunk where I'd done a little surgery.

This is the refuse at the base of this same tree.

And this is an expanded view of the backyard with limb refuse everywhere!
I'd begun this demolition duty in the front yard, on the north side of the driveway.
I just piled the limbs onto those still lying there waiting to be hauled away.
(Remember the ice damage in December?)
It felt so good to be working outdoors! :-)

The first thing I did today had to do with
bird-pleasing. After all, Shady's Retreat
Restaurant isn't any good without beverage.
(see Garden Author)
If it's beverages they want, then beverages they'll get! ;-)


Chirping and flitting,
and fluttering about,
they all found the seed to be tasty.
Unrest was contagious;
Their thirst was outrageous.
Providing fresh water's not "wasty!"

"Okay!"replied Shady as she
plugged in the heater,
"This decision's never been hasty."

(I think that has to be the end of that!)
Or perhaps YOU have another stanza? ;-)

Green Thumb Sunday

I must admit to it. You might have caught me wandering from room to room, stroking and cajoling my indoor plants to "Please bloom this Sunday." The effort hasn't completely been for naught. My Zone 7 Shooting Star Hydrangea was able to coerce a new blossom or two. :-) They aren't shooting yet, but they may.
My hibiscus is getting ready for several days' worth of blossom.
And just look at the effort these three bargain amarylis are making!
I've been enjoying this balmy, sunny day.
It's now 4:20 p.m. and it's still 52 degrees Farenheit outdoors!
Soon I'll post about some of the projects I worked on outdoors.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Wildflowers in Winter Meme

I just discovered this new meme on site by Mr. McGregor's Daughter! I love wildflowers, however I didn't purchase my digital camera until late last May. My husband has been working on restoring a prairie over the past 10 years or so, and we'd been out walking most of the afternoon. But my very favorite prairie photo is this one. I also like the golden sunlight.

The plant is a gray-head (or gray-headed) coneflower or Ratibida pinnata. They have large yellow flowers with drooping petals that surround a gray/brown seed head. Plants bloom profusely all summer, and birds eat the seed if old flowers are left on the plant. It will self-seed and spread. It is good for prairies and meadows and it is great for erosion control (as most prairie plants are).

And, there you have it! ;-) Not at all shady.

at 9:00 A.M. it was - 10 degrees Farenheit

Brrrrr! The birds are gathering at the birdfeeders. (Actually today is a sunny day, but these photos were taken yesterday when it was not sunny.)

Wait a minute! Did I hear the doorbell?
Or perhaps a timid knock?

Maybe it was Mr. Tufted Titmouse. Actually, there are two of them!
Do you call them "a pair" or "Tufted Titmice? ;-)

Here's a Redbellied Woodpecker and a Blue Jay
with a Nuthatch on the suet feeder.

A little flurry of activity. ;-) On the feeder we see
a Black-capped Chickadee, a Red Breasted Nuthatch, a male Cardinal
with (I think) a female that's looking at the incoming,
late-braking sparrow!
One last look around shows the feeder and the ground covered by Cardinals.
I think I see four in the saucer and another several on the ground.
Sorry for the poor quality of the photograph.
You know... I was sure I only turned my back for a moment.
But there's an awful racket in the other room!
So, which one knocked on the door?

If I could get some closer photos, I might post them later.
(And if someone would please turn that Jade plant around.)
Have a good day! :-)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Forget that Winter scene outdoors! It's plenty "balmy" indoors! :-)

Catch a whiff?

In the meantime, I'm off to take a sunny stroll with my walking buddy! :-)

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Green Thumb Sunday

I always forget about doing this. I'm not "subscribed." I tried to get the image posted... and I did once, but it didn't "go anywhere" or do what I thought it was supposed to. Oh, well. I can show what's blooming here, anyway! ;-)
My beautiful poinsettia!
I thought I'd turn the photo, but it looks better this way - I think.
Can't resist a close-up! :-)

These are my "bonus" calla lilies. I guess I'll be snipping their blossoms today.
The plants probably need to rest awhile before I plant them outdoors.

Here's a nice close-up of my Shooting Star Hydrangea.
Since it's Zone 7, I'll enjoy it through the Fall, at least!
Hence the name. :-)
I know, my hybiscus isn't quite blooming. But it ALmost is.
It's been awhile, and I've missed it!
Walking on the "Sunny side" today! ;-)

Saturday, January 19, 2008

My Mom has a Very Green Thumb!

Last weekend I traveled 4 hours north of here (Clear Lake, Iowa), where it was suitably more cold and wintery, to visit my parents for a couple of days. This next photo shows one sight I relished! Walking into their little sun room where, no matter the temperature outdoors, I found it was certainly balmy indoors! Thought I'd share this pleasurable sight. :-)

Now. Wasn't that satisfying? ;-) Pull up a chair and enjoy a nice warm cup of tea, cocoa, or chai. Put your feet up and smile at that fella across the room. This is a little slice of heaven.

Friday, January 18, 2008

New Additions to the "Family!"

I returned home from a short visit with my parents on Tuesday. Mom sent this baby bromeliad with me. The parent plants were in full bloom. The leaves are streaked with red. I'm so excited!

On Friday, Jan. 11, I found a plethera of amarylis bulbs marked at $1 each. What a great surprise! I came home with 6 bulbs, five of which were only beginning to sprout. I had purchased a "half-price" bulb a few days earlier. You can see the line-up below. (Next to my cactus that sorely needs dividing and my friends' Norfolk Island Pine.)
Here are the two bulbs that have a good start. The hidden amarylis in the green pot is one I purchased before Christmas. It's stuck in "neutral."
Yesterday,while at the grocery store, I found two calla lilies that had been forced ($2 each). I brought them home. Shouldn't they get a rest before Spring? What's the advice, here?

And last, but not least, is a crazy thing I did! This next plant is a Hydrangea macrophylia-Lace Cap." Shooting Star. I purchased it because I was absolutely swept up by the blossoms... and thought the sale was a bonus! :-) This is a Zone 7 plant. Could it be a houseplant? I haven't spent much time looking for information. Could I put it outdoors in a somewhat larger pot this Spring and bring it indoors in the fall? Would it ever bloom again? Would it get too huge? Could it be trimmed? I'm thinking that would be a challenge... or is the $5 investment best enjoyed for the moment?