A Few of My Favorite Birds (40): Hairy Woodpeckers—BBFs

“I always wonder why birds stay in the same place when they can fly anywhere on the earth. Then I ask myself the same question” (—Harun Yahya). Does that speak to you? It made me smile, because I love to fly almost anywhere on earth when given the opportunity, so I must be more like the migratory birds!

Pair of hairy woodpeckers out my window

Still, there’s no place like home, and there’s definitely a special place in my heart for the hardy feathered friends who keep company year-round in Michigan.*

Hairy woodpeckers love feeders, especially those with sunflower seeds and suet

Among homebody birds, woodpeckers stand out as some of the most colorful and constant fellows feasting at our feeders, particularly during the winter months when bugs are harder to come by!

Red-bellied woodpecker (note the bright red head and reddish belly feathers)

There are three types of woodpeckers that are on our daily dining plan: hairy woodpeckers, downy woodpeckers, and red-bellied woodpeckers. All three are brightly robed in rich black and whites (some with red highlights).

Flicker resting by our dock

For some reason, it took me a while to distinguish between red-bellied woodpeckers and flickers, although they’re quite different!

Downy woodpecker on left and hairy woodpecker on right at bird feeder

Hairy and downy woodpeckers—on the other hand—are almost identical in markings, so they’d be very hard to distinguish unless you remember that hairy woodpeckers are roughly twice as big.

Hairy woodpecker sitting on our railing

Also, hairy woodpeckers have proportionately larger beaks: The beaks on hairy woodpeckers are approximately as long as their heads!

Downy woodpecker on left, sparrow in middle, and Hairy woodpecker on right
View of underside of Downy Woodpecker’s tail feathers

Finally, downy woodpeckers have black spots on their white, inner tail feathers,

View of underside of a hairy woodpecker’s tail feathers

whereas hairy woodpeckers do not.

Patches of red at back of male woodpecker’s head

The males of both species have a flashy red patch behind their heads to catch the eyes of their missus, which they apparently do with great regularity, because both types of woodpeckers number in the millions in America and are not in any danger of extinction as of now!

Tiny tufts of brown feathers screen hairy woodpeckers’ nostrils from wood dust!

Other unique characteristics of hairy woodpeckers include the little tufts of wispy, brownish feathers right above their nostrils, which I’ve read helps protect them from inhaling wood dust. (Isn’t God a brilliant designer?)

They also have fluffy feathers (which I’m guessing is how they got their name), so they look very soft! Although they are one of the largest birds that frequent our feeder—up to 10 inches in length and up to a 15-inch wingspan—they really only weigh about 3 ounces . . . so that’s a lot of fluff!!

The hairy woodpeckers that come to my feeder (which is just three feet in front of me through a window as I type) are quite used to me, but they are fairly photophobic, so as soon as my big black camera peaks above the edge of my computer, they usually take flight. Therefore, although I’ve been trying to take family portraits of them for years, I have hundreds of bad shots and only a few dozen good ones! This makes me think of some of my kids, who are great companions but don’t appreciate my posting photos of them online! 🙂

Pair of hairy woodpeckers sitting in our cherry tree

Seriously, in trying to characterize birds, I found it hard to think of just what it is about hairy woodpeckers that make them special to me, and I decided that it’s their constancy. They come to the feeder every day of every season. I often assume that the birds who come to my feeder from year to year are the offspring of earlier generations of birds, but I recently discovered that hairy woodpeckers can live many years! (One of the oldest made it to almost 16.)

Hairy woodpecker just soakin’ up the sun on our balcony railing
one warm spring day!

So, I decided to label them as my BFF birds: As we say in America— “Best Friends Forever!” I mean really, how many of your best friends come over morning, noon, and night just to hang out with you? 🙂

Hairy woodpecker and sparrows feasting together

Thine own friend, and thy father’s friend, forsake not; neither go into thy brother’s house in the day of thy calamity: for better is a neighbour that is near than a brother far off” Proverbs 27:10.

Female Hairy Woodpecker

A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24; speaking ultimately of Jesus, our true Best Friend FOREVER!!)

(*Hairy woodpeckers are common throughout the deciduous forests in the Northern Hemisphere, the Caribbean Islands, and as far south as Central America.)

A Few of My Favorite Birds (44): New Neighbors? Sandhill Cranes

Although I’ve seen these very large and impressive birds
roaming Kensington Park near Detroit and along Michigan highways —as well as sauntering through quiet parks in Florida— I’d never seen a pair of  sandhill cranes at Tanglewood Cottage until yesterday!

Having just parted with my son Jonathan’s family, who’d been visiting with us off and on for a couple of weeks, I was feeling a bit lonely, so having some new visitors come up my driveway was most welcome. (We have a whole flock of turkeys who are already a part of the neighborhood, but I wanted this photo to illustrate how much taller the cranes are.)  If you’ve not met any sandhill cranes yet, you’re in for a treat, because they’re very large, peaceable, and beautiful! For Michigan, I believe they are the biggest birds around, standing up to four feet tall,  weighing 9 (females) to 10 pounds (males) and enjoying a 5.5-7.5 foot wing span!  I think the pair who visited today may have claimed some water front property,  because they joined us while Alan and I were out for our nightly swim around the lake. (Photographer alert: Never go anywhere without a camera!  😦 ) From a distance, we thought they were a pair of swans, but up close, they are really brownish grey. They have very long, grey necks, red foreheads, white cheeks, long, black beaks and brownish bodies. Once you’ve seen one, they’re easy to remember and petty hard to forget! They don’t have webbed feet, but they have extremely long legs and toes, and we were surprised how fast they could swim…always away from us!  When they got close to our end of the lake, three families of geese came out with their little ones as a flotilla to “defend” their territory (our waterfront), but although the cranes were larger, they politely headed back to the far end of the lake, so they must not be very aggressive. Our swans used to intimidate the geese, but I think if the sandhill cranes stay, the other waterfowl will have nothing to fear.  I watched them happily as they meandered all over our property and sauntered down our lane. In fact, I was so pleased that I invited them to stay…and I hope they do! It wasn’t until I woke up this morning that I realized that I’m more charitable toward the cranes than I am my neighbors. Because we live in a fenced and gated property (built by order of the police because our German shepherd once bit a stranger), I don’t think I’d be “delighted” to have a strange couple walking all over our property as if deciding whether or not they wanted to take up residence with us. Could I possibly trust birds more than people…or am I just more selfish than I realize? I’m afraid, some of both. I need to work on loving my neighbors more!  “And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:29-31).

A Few (Dozen) of My Favorite (African) Birds (42): A Pictorial Guide to Exotic African Birds

Last fall in Africa, I saw dozens of gorgeous birds. (Okay, some were really ugly too.) Many were familiar, but even more of them seemed exotic and strange. I took photos until I was dizzy from my head spinning ’round, and although our guide was an able ornithologist, after we returned home, I couldn’t remember the names for many of my new-found feathered friends. Worse yet, there’s no Complete Idiot’s Guide for Identifying African Birds, so it took me a long time (too long to admit) to figure out their names. For any of you who’d enjoy a birds’ eye view of African exotics, or for any of you who’ve been to Africa and are trying to figure out what you saw, I’ve catalogued 30+ birds alphabetically by name and where I saw them. Some of them have interesting stories, but that will have to wait for another day… Hope you enjoy!  🙂

African Fish Eagle (Choebe River, Botswana)

“The first law of success is concentration – to bend all the energies to one point, and to go directly to that point, looking neither to the right nor to the left.” ~William Mathews


African jacuna (Also known as “Jesus Bird.”Choebe River, Botswana)

“Perseverance is not a long race: It is many short races, one after another.”

~Walter Elliot   African openbill stork (Choebe River, Botswana)

“We must accept finite disappointment,
but never lose infinite hope.”~ Martin Luther King, Jr.  Black skimmers (Choebe River, Botswana)

“Who, being loved, is poor?”
~Oscar Wilde 
Red-winged starling (Cape of Good Hope, South Africa)

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”

~Henry David Thoreau  Blacksmith lapwing (or “Plover.” Choebe River, Botswana)

“I am a leader by default, because nature abhors a vacuum.” ~Desmond TutuCape Glossy starling (Swaziland)

“I remind myself every morning: ‘Nothing I say this day will teach me anything. So if I’m going to learn, I must do it by listening.'” ~Larry KingCape Weaver (South Africa)

“Blessed are the flexible, for they shall never be bent out of shape.”  Egyptian Geese (South Africa)

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes,
but in having new eyes.”~Marcel Proust
Golden-breasted bunting (Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe)

“The invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common.”
~Ralph Waldo EmersonGoliath heron  (Zambezi River, Zimbabwe)

“Beautiful light is born of darkness, so the faith that springs from conflict is often the strongest and best.”~R. Turnbull  Great heron (Zambezi River, Zimbabwe)

“Concentrate all your thoughts on the task at hand.
The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.”~Alexander Graham Bell  Hadada Ibis  (aka/Threskiornithidae, Zambezi River, Zimbzbwe)

“The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid,
but he who conquers that fear.”~Nelson Mandela   Blue Helmeted guinea fowl  (Kruger National Park, S.A.) 

“Integrity is never being ashamed of our reflections.”~David Cottrell  Little bee eater (Very little! Choebe River, Botswana)

“Don’t let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.” ~John Wooden  Marabou stork (Very big! Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe) 

“An optimist sees an opportunity in every calamity; a pessimist sees a calamity in every opportunity.” ~Winston Churchill  Ostrich (The biggest! Cape of Good Hope, South Africa)

“Humor is our way of defending ourselves from life’s absurdities by thinking absurdly about them.” ~Lewis Mumford   Spotted Eagle Owl and Owlet
(Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, Capetown, S.A.)

 “There is only one time when it is essential to awaken. That time is now.”
~Buddha  Yellow-billed oxpeckers on a warthog’s back
(hitchhikers! Chobe National Park, Botswana)

“He who assists someone up the hill cannot help but get to the top himself.”
~Chinese Proverb  Peacock (most beautiful…as if you didn’t know! South Africa)

“God is a prolific artist. His paintings are everywhere.”  Penguins  (Boulders Beach, Cape of Good Hope, South Africa)

“Look at a day when you are supremely satisfied at the end. It’s not a day when you lounge around doing nothing; it’s when you had everything to do, and you’ve done it.” ~Margaret Thatcher  Pied kingfisher (eating an insect along the Choebe River, Botswana)

“Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.” ~William Jennings Bryan   Trumpeter hornbill (aka/Zuzu!  Chobe National Park, Botswana)

“You’re only given a little spark of madness.
You mustn’t lose it.”~Robin Williams 
Red-headed weaver bird (Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe)

“When you arise in the morning, give thanks for the food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself.”
~Chief Tecumseh 
Reddish egret (pair of them! Kruger National Park, South Africa)

“In the confrontation between the stream and the rock, the stream always wins… not through strength but by perseverance.”
~H. Jackson Brown  Saddle-billed stork (Mbabane, Swaziland)

“I’m far from perfect, but I’ll be perfect for
that imperfect person that’s perfect for me.”  ~Amanda Bynes  Southern masked weaver bird (Choebe River, Botswana) 

“If you want things to be different, perhaps the answer is to become different yourself.” ~Normal Vincent Peale  Trumpeter Hornbill (Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe)

“Why not go out on a limb? Isn’t that where the fruit is?”   White-backed Vultures (drinking water in Chobe National Park, Botswana)

 “We determine whether something will be a blessing or a curse
by the way we choose to see it.”~Kate Nowak  Whydah (Widow?) bird (Hluhluwe Imfolozi Game Reserve, South Africa)

“Life engenders life. Energy creates energy.
It is by spending oneself that one becomes rich.” ~Sarah Bernhardt  Yellow-billed egrets with an openbill stork (Zambezi River, Zimbabwe)

“You can tell the value of a man by the way he treats his wife,
by the way he treats a subordinate,
and by the way he treats someone who can do nothing for him.”~Ken Babcock

Hope you enjoyed the “tour” of African birds. Africa is by far the most exotic place I’ve ever been, and I love being able to share with you a little bit of the blessing wherewith I’ve been blessed.

 “I will praise thee, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will shew forth all thy marvelous works. I will be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing praise to thy name, O thou most High” (Psalm 9:1-2).

A Few of My Favorite Birds (37): Would You Rather be a Chicken, a Hen, or a Rooster?

handsome-rooster-kauai-01-2017According to Merriam Webster rooster-on-path-at-waimea-canyon(whose dictionary is the gold standard for literary editors, so I’m told), hens-in-hawaiia chicken can be a type of common domestic fowl used for food…or a coward. colorful-kauai-henA hen can be an older female chicken…or a “fussy, middle-aged woman.” rooster-in-kaloa-kauai Rooster refers an adult male chicken…or a cocky, vain man. chick-hen-roosters-togetherNow I ask you, who wants to be any of those?? rooster-tee-shirt-kaloa-kauaiAnd, how did chickens get such a bad rap, anyway? rooster-in-kaloa-mill-ice-cream-and-coffee-shopAmong my list of favorite birds, chickens never really made the grade…  rooster-by-captain-cook-memorial-kauaiuntil I came to Hawaii, but now I have a new fascination for these fine fellows. regal-rooster-reigns-at-kalalau-lookout-kauaiI saw a gorgeous rooster with iridescent green feathers as well as the usual kaleidoscope of reds, oranges, and yellows rooster-crossing-road-kauaitrying to cross the highway in Kauai not long ago, and I thought to myself, rooster-waimea-canyon-kauai“If I didn’t know what that was, I’d be agog with its size and brilliant plumage!” kauai-love-chickens-teeshirtIndeed, these cocky specimens of male finery are all the rage in Hawaii. couple-at-waimea-canyonRoosters adorn baseball capsrooster-napkin-holder-kaloa-coffee-shop-hawaii and napkin holders. rooster-walking-through-kaloa-mill-ice-cream-and-coffee-shopThey rule the roost, make themselves at home cleaning up waffle cone scraps in ice cream parlors, and slurp up puddles of shaved ice spilled from kiddie cones. rooster-posing-at-kalalau-lookout-hawaiiThey announce the coming dawn…
sometimes as early at 2:00 am but definitely by 4:00 am hawaiin-cock-rooster(and throughout the day whenever they’re startled). rooster-mating-dance-kauaiI noticed this ad today accompanying the photo of a rooster:
“Diamond Head home for sale with pool and built in alarm clock.” menu-offering-feral-chicken-in-kauaiMenus offer entrees of feral rooster stuffed with cactus. rooster-in-kauai-one-of-hundreds-copy(That one might be a joke; I’m told the reason they’re everywhere
is because they have parasites and aren’t fit to eat.) amazingly-colorful-plumage-on-rooster-in-kauaiDespite being the brunt of jokes and a synonym for a lame-brained coward, rooster-by-wet-cave-kauaiI think chickens are worthy of respect, and here are my reasons:  chickens-everywhere-in-kauai*They are the most common bird in the world (50 billion). rooster-near-wailua-falls-kauaiCompare that to the most common wild bird in the world,
sparrows, at 1.5 billion!  (Huge difference, huh?)cock-and-hen-feeding-in-grass-by-ocean-kauai* They are historically famous, called the “bird that gives birth every day”  (Thutmose III, 1500 BC). regal-rooster-near-a-bush-kauai  *They are the most prolific birds: In 2009, an estimated 62.1 million metric tons of eggs were produced worldwide from a total laying flock of approximately 6.4 billion hens. (That’s over a trillion eggs!)  gorgeous-plumage-on-rooster-kauai *Besides being beautiful, cocks aren’t afraid to crow!  rooster-on-a-fenceJesus answered him, Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake?
Verily, verily, I say unto thee, The cock shall not crow,
till thou hast denied me thrice
” (John 13:38). mother-and-chicks-feeding-in-grass-kauai * Besides being plucky, chickens make wonderful mothers:  mother-hen-with-chickens-under-her-wingsO Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together,
even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not
!”
(Matthew 23:37).  dont-feed-the-chickens*And last, but most significantly, chickens provide more sacrificial lives for meat than any other animal (even if the feral flock aren’t feed by humans).  lovely-hens-mottled-brown-and-white-kauaiIn 2008, 9.08 billion chickens were slaughtered in the United States according to the United States Department of Agriculture data, and that’s just the U.S.! cock-and-hen-looking-for-water-kaloa-kauaiWorld wide, over 40 billion broilers are raised and killed every year. sign-dont-feed-the-chickenOnly the sacrifice of Jesus has provided life-giving food for more people!

rooster-by-sign-for-kings-chapel-in-kauaiFor the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world” (John 6:33). Jesus said: “I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world” (John 6:51).

(All photos were taken in Hawaii, although the one of the rooster crowing at dawn was taken at my son’s home in Oahu.)

Coyote Hills Regional Park in Spring: Vibrant with Poppies, Rocks, Planes, and Turkeys

Coyote Hills Regional Park PoppiesIf you’ve ever wondered why the golden poppy is California’s state flower, Golden poppies. Coyote Hills Regional Parktry visiting the Golden State in spring! Coyote Hills Regional Park Amid the poppiesWhile on a tour to see our numerous West Coast rels
(which included the families of 2 sons and 3 siblings), Coyote Hills Regional ParkAaron took us with his crew for a hike near
San Francisco in the East Bay’s Coyote Hills Regional Park, Spring Wildflowers in Coyote Hills Regional Parka vast stretch (978 acres) of marshlands and rolling green hills that are carpeted Poppies in March at Coyote Hills Regional Parkwith flowers—most gloriously poppies—in early spring. Boardwalk through marsh in Coyote Hills Regional ParkIt’s been so rainy this year that part of the boardwalk through the marsh Alemeda Creek Ponding Areawas submerged by overflow from Alameda Creek, Wetlands in Coyote Hills Regional Parkso we had to retrace our steps along the Muskrat Trail. Gorgeous wildflowers in Coyote Hills Regional ParkHowever, the hills were phenomenal! Coyote Hills Regional Park poppies bloomingThe bedrock of Coyote Hills is part of the Franciscan Formation, Greenstone and chert outcroppings at Coyote Hills Regional Parkand half of that is composed of sheared greenstone,
which varies in color from shades of green to even reds and yellows. Franciscan Formation. Coyote Hills Regional ParkWhere the rocks have not been weathered, there are some stunning outcroppings with vibrantly colored veins of recrystalized red and yellow chert (jasper). Wildflowers and vibrant rock formations. Coyote Hills Regional ParkAt the top of one hill, the rocks had some strikingly blue coloring so beautiful Greenstone in Coyote Hills Regional Park that I feared people might think I was just “turning up the color” on my photos! Hiking in Coyote Hills Regional ParkFrom the tops of the Red Hill Trail, you can also catch vistas of San Francisco, Evaporation Ponds in Coyote Hills Regional Parkand the southwestern side of Coyote Hills is bordered by tidal mud flats that have been landscaped to create evaporation ponds for salt water from the Pacific. Radio-operated airplane pilots at Coyote Hills Regional ParkThis area is also popular with radio-controlled airplane operators, Coyote Hills Regional Park Oops. Shouldn't pick the flowers!and on the balmy day of our visit (Oops! It’s pretty, but don’t pick the flowers!), Radio-control airplane operatorone friendly pilot shared some of his expertise and delight in flying with us. Climbing the Trail in Coyote Hills Regional ParkThe only downside of this perfectly good day for UP Testy Tom Turkey in Coyote Hills Regional Parkwas a close encounter with an IFO…an identifiable flying object
which turned out to be a testy tom turkey. 16 Turkeys in our fieldWe have a flock of about 2 dozen turkeys in our Michigan woodsy backyard,
but they shun humans and won’t pose for close up photo ops, Turkeys 2 Coyote Hills Regional Parkso I was delighted that these turkeys seemed more than happy to accommodate… Turkeys by the Red Hill Trail in Coyote Hills Regional Parkuntil I realized the hens were simply feeling secure Tom Turkey at Coyote Hills Regional Park 2because their gorgeous but irascible tom guarded his harem Tom Turkey defending harem in Coyote Hills Regional Parkby  aggressively accosting interlopers, Coyote Hills Regional Park 2including my small partners Poppies in Coyote Hills Regional Parkwho—if a bit taller—were not nearly so wide! Green hills carpeted with wildflowers in Coyote Hills Regional ParkAnd so, I would advise prospective hikers to expect a fabulous day at the park, Testy Tom Turkey in Coyote Hills Regional Parkbut beware the jabberturk, my son! Tired boy after big day of hiking“I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep:
for thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety”
(Psalm 4:8).Little Boy Shoes after big day of hiking

 

 

 

A Few of My Favorite Birds (33 ): Turkeys—and not Just at Thanksgiving!

Turkey. Wild 4.29.13Turkeys are the largest game bird in North America and their existence helped the pilgrims survive their first year in America, which is doubtless how they ended up as the centerpiece of our Thanksgiving dinners yesterday. Turkeys in October 2015As turkeys haven’t been globe trotters, I don’t know how many people on other continents like turkey, but my son Joel became the turkey donor for his house, because even though many of his fellow graduate students are Asian and didn’t  actually want to roast a turkey…they all wanted to eat some turkey! 🙂  Turkeys grazing in our fieldSo, turkeys are popular birds. Turkeys not only the biggest of our game birds (2-4 ft. in length and up to 50 pounds for domesticated turkeys), many people think they’re the best! There are now about 200 million raised every year for food in the U.S. and another 7 million running wild throughout North America. Turkeys 21 of them! 9-15            We have a flock of 21 (last count) that roam our woods and fields. Turkeys in Field I was surprised to learn that wild turkeys actually prefer woodland areas and are especially fond of acorns but are omnivorous, eating fruits, seeds and nuts of various varieties, insects, and even salamanders!Nest of Wild Turkey eggsOne hen laid her nest of 13 tan-speckled eggs right up against the sunny, southern wall of our home hidden behind a thick patch of day lilies this summer. Turkey eggs                                                      (They can lay 4-18 eggs.) Autumn Flock of Turkeys This would have been an ideal spot had it not been for an influx of 4 curious grand sons and 4 curious coon kits during the month it would have taken to properly incubate them. Sigh.Flock of wild turkeys                                                 Still, a flock of 21 isn’t bad. Turkey Male showing off copy        The males are aloof parents…mostly interested in strutting and breeding.Male turkey displaying                                 (I’ll refrain from any snide comments.)

Mother Turkey with Poults But, the hens make excellent mothers, fiercely protecting their young poults during the first two weeks before they can fly. Hen Turkey with PoultsHowever, once the poults can fly, the entire flock roosts relatively high up
in trees during the night. Turkey Tracks+ 3.28.13                   Hens watch over their young even through the first winter, Wild Turkeys 8.25.13 and our flock seems to stick together year round,
roaming freely all over our yard, driveway, lane, woods, and fields. turkeys-in-our-driveway                    I think they think they own the place…and maybe they do.Turkey on waterfront 2015 copyGiven the specialness and succulence of turkeys, you may wonder why
“You turkey!” is considered an insult. I addressed that issue some years ago (https://kathrynwarmstrong.wordpress.com/2009/03/28/you-turkey/ ), Wild Turkeys   but since that time I’ve also learned something from a professional hunter that’s made me rethink my compliance with the present P.C. turkey slurs. Wild TurkeyTurkeys aren’t just big; they’re fast, running up to 25 mph and flying up to 55. Furthermore, they don’t fly in a straight line,
making them extremely challenging for game hunters.Turkey. Wild by fenceSo, even if some birds would rather try to bust their brains
through a fence than fly over it, they’re worthy of respect
…and I think that holds true for all God’s creatures.  Turkeys on our lawn 10.15            We all have some weaknesses, but we all need and deserve respect. Turkeys+20 pix 9.2.15     So, sorry, big birds. You won’t be hearing anymore turkey slurs from me.    🙂 Turkeys in yard 9.2.15“Behold, God is mighty, and despiseth not any:
he is mighty in strength and wisdom” (Job 36:5).

 

A Few of My Favorite “The Birds” (32): Budgie Mania

Curious budgiesLast week the budgies were pretty much “out of control!” Budgie in lady's hair In all my years of feeding the budgerigars (aka parakeets) at the John Ball Zoo,  Budgie "attacking" ladyI’ve never seen them so aggressive and eager to eat! Budgies everywhere! I don’t know if it was the cool weather, Lady with budgie on head being morning, Girl with blue budgie or just luck of the draw, A Good Day for Budgies but they were landing on everybody and everything, Budgies everywhere 2  fluttering around, and fighting over “territories” atop innocent visitors! Yikes! Aggressive budgiesOf course, we loved it, Budgie on girl's head but it was a little disconcerting Budgies trying to eat leather neck strap when six “attacked” the leather strap around Joel’s neck, Budgie on baby's head landed on my grandson’s head Sleepy baby and budgies (while he was trying to sleep soundly)Budgie Pecking at Mirrored decorations attempted to peck the decorations off my top, Lots of budgies! gathered in groups on our arms Budgies fluttering around and fought over landing space! Feeding budgies 2 Usually we leave before all the seeds on our sticks have been eaten, So many budgies but this time we went back and bought more! Little boy excited to feed budgie Well, let’s just say it was the high point of our trip! Budgies love to land in hair Did you know that budgies are also called “love birds”? Trying to pet a budgie They are the world’s third most popular pet (just behind dogs and cats),  Budgie on a purse so they’re not just one of my favorite birds, Popular budgie stand they’re one of everybody’s favorite birds! Budgies on girl's arm Budgies (parakeets) are wonderfully social
and among the animal world’s finest “talking” champions. Feeding a budgie seeds (The world record-holder had a vocabulary of 1,728 words!) Green budgies being feed seeds on stick  They’re actually small members of the parrot family and native to Australia.  Hungry Budgies!The original coloring is (was) green and yellow with black scallops, Line of budgies!although they’ve now been bred into a veritable rainbow of colors.Little boy with blue budgie (However, the blue cere at the base of the beak always denotes a male.)Birds and kids So, if you’re looking for a small friend who talks a lot but doesn’t eat too much, New fashion budgiethink budgie. Come to think of it, Budgies interested in baby now that I’m an empty-nester…maybe I should get one! 🙂

“A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”
[or closer than a bird…that would be Jesus, so maybe I can live without a bird…]
(Proverbs 18:24)

A Few of My Favorite Birds (31): Timid Little Titmice?

Tufted Titmouse Fluffed up in coldNo fair-weather friend, the little songbird known as the tufted titmouse Nuthatch rainy fall day is a year-round resident of lower Michigan (where I live) & much of Eastern U.S. Tufted Titmouse in tree 3.13.15Even though they’re one of the few birds with distinct head crests (hence the name “tufted”), don’t be tempted to confuse them with female cardinals,  Female cardinal 2who are a good third larger and have brown with red-tinged feathers as well as very prominent orange beaks.Rainy Fall DayHowever, like cardinals, they can lower their crests so that they don’t show,  Rain-drenched Titmouse 11.6.13which seems to happen most often when they’re wet, Tufted Titmouse with seed; crest down anxious, or in a hurry….and that seems to be much of the time! Tufted Titmouse Back 1.15.10Unlike cardinals, the little tufted titmouse has completely grey upper parts, Underside of tufted titmouse white underparts with just a touch of rust color on the flanks,Profile of Titmouse at Bird Feeder  bright black eyes, a short, black beak, and black markings above the beak.  Titmice. Two at feederThe males and females are indistinguishable in size and coloring, Two tufted titmice at feederand like most birds, they are devoted mates and parents. Tufted Titmouse Singing 2.20.15All during mating season, titmice have a clear, whistling chant they useTufted Titmouse singing in tree 3.13.15to call their mates that sounds like, “Peter, peter, peter!…Here, here, here!” Tufted Titmouse 5.13.14They tend to nest in old woodpecker holes or other small tree cavities, and one rather charming aspect of the couple’s relationship is that during the month Titmouse in a Cherry Tree 5.13.14while the female incubates and broods over the young, the male will feed her, but he often gives a cheery call so she’ll come out of the hole to pick up her lunch! Tufted Titmouse in tree. Cold 2.20.15Although the titmouse’s favorite diet is primarily animal rather than vegetable, Tufted Titmouse eating seeds 2.20.15they are inordinately fond of sunflower seeds Tufted Titmouse +1.15.10 and definitely enjoy feasting at or under our feeder. However…Back of tufted titmouseunlike many birds, who will sit contentedly and gorge at the feeder until full,  Tufted titmouse on railingtufted titmice wait patiently for their turn on a railing or nearby tree, Tufted Titmouse 6.28.12 back feathers and when they perceive that the road is clear, Tufted Titmouse+ 6.28.12. Singing they swoop in, Face and under wing Tufted Titmouse 5.13.14 grab a single seed (a sunflower if they can find one fast enough), and thenTufted Titmouse 6.28.12 with food  retreat to a safe distance before cracking it open and devouring its contents. Tufted Titmouse 6.28.12 Dancing 1Their unusual timidity about feeding seems strange, because many bird-lovers think of them as brash, feisty little fellows. Titmouse in flight They are brazen enough to pull hairs right out of small mammals in order to line their nests, so why are they so unable to relax at our feeder? Tufted Titmouse 6.28.12 2Come to think of it, how can we be bold about some things but so antsy about others? A peck here and a bite there…why not sit and feast at the Lord’s table on the Word of God until we’re fully satisfied?Tufted Titmouse+ 9.18.14

I am the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt: open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it…Oh that my people had hearkened unto me, and Israel had walked in my ways!…He should have fed them also with the finest of the wheat: and with honey out of the rock should I have satisfied thee.”
(Psalm 81: 10,13,16)

A Few of My (Mother’s) Favorite Birds (30): Bluebirds—Busy Beauties!

By GloNegret Morgue File Free PhotoBoth my own mom and Mommu (spiritual mom) adored bluebirds, and so do I! 110 Bluebird They’re gorgeously arrayed in bright blue jackets, rust-colored vests, white trousers, and shiny black shoes. IMG_1970Eastern bluebirds are common throughout America east of the Rocky MountainsBluebird+30 1.10.14but typically breed in the North and winter in the South.Bluebird in tree 1.10.14 These beautiful little thrushes sing sweet, melodious cadenzas from treetops, Bluebird in tree 2.13.14 and often (like this one) return from the South just in time for Valentine’s Day, Bluebirdsbringing with them the promise of another spring and renewed hope for life. Bluebirds waiting their turn at feeder 2They are very social little creatures and migrate in flocks of up to 30 or more, Bluebirds+30 . 02.1.13although they pair off for breeding season and will defend their territory. Female Bluebird at FeederThe females have a more greyish tint to their heads and backs; Bluebird fluffed to keep warm. 2both male & female chicks have somewhat mottled breasts and shorter feathers, Bluebird fluffed to keep warmbut no matter how you cut it, you’ve got to admitFledgling Bluebird they’re pretty much adorable at any age, don’t cha think? IMG_8508 Bluebirds prefer insects and other invertebrates, but in early spring they’re  IMG_8516 happy to come to our feeder until the ground thaws & such tiny wildlife emerges. IMG_8517Other favorite foods include seeds, berries, and fruits, such as Close up of bluebird eating from feeder wild grapes,  black raspberries, sumac, honeysuckle, Virginia creeper, etc., Snowy Day  Bluebird and our woods is pretty much overflowing with a tangle of what they love. Blluebird fluttering by feeder The only thing that’s not perfect about our woodland accommodations is that Bluebird 1.10.14bluebirds prefer open  fields, so they build their nests and rear their young IMG_8519 down by our field rather than where we get to see them every day Bluebird on snowy day and only come back to feed with their young if the weather is unseasonably cold Fledglin Female(which sometimes happens, and can severely reduce the bluebird population). Bluebird on top of feeder 2.13.14So, although we get to enjoy their antics at the feeder in early spring, Bluebird at feederit’s always a rare and transient treat… Bluebird on top of feeder 2 like a friend we love dearly and who visits regularly…IMG_1984 but can never seem to stay very long! Bluebird 2.13.14I’d love to be as pretty and melodic as a bluebird, but I sometimes wonder if I’m a bit too much like a bluebird when it comes to friendships! Bluebirds waiting their turn at feederIt’s so easy (and natural) to come and go as we please, appreciating friendships at our convenience but then being off again in a flurry of frenetic activity! IMG_1986Even worse, do I treat the Lord like that? Am I happy to enjoy his bounty when life’s too hard to survive on my own…but then quick to flit off and try doing it
“by self” whenever I think it’s possible?IMG_8509

“Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”
(Luke 10:38-42)

A Few of My Favorite Birds (29): Nuthatches…Don’t Get Your Pinfeathers Ruffled!

Nuthatch about to defend his right to feederI’m not sure which bird first inspired the saying, Nuthatch. Ruffled Pinfeathers copy “Don’t get your pinfeathers ruffled,”  but of all the birds in our backyard, Nuthatch. Hackles up! 3.5.15+ that saying is most apt for our white-breasted nuthatches! Nuthatch trying to drive off pigeon 3.6.15  Albeit grouchy about defending their right to the bird feeder, Nuthatch Dance 3.5.15 and all the antics they go through to discourage other contenders Pigeon Fluffed up (including birds 4 times their size who are totally unimpressed), Nuthatch dancing 2 I think nuthatches are delightful little birds, and I enjoy them every day! Nuthatch on tree branch Nuthatches mate for life and live year-round in southern Michigan.  Nuthatch 11.4.13 They are compact little birds—only about 6 inches long—with short legs, Nuthatch long claws, long, very sharp beaks with a slight upward turn, Nuthatch Backview a beautiful pattern of bluish-grey and black feathers on their backs, a black cap, Nuthatch Profile  bright black eyes that look like they’ve been enhanced with black eyeliner, Nuthatch Cold and Sleepy and  snowy white breasts. (This one was fluffed up for the zero-degree weather.) Nuthatch The females are almost indistinguishable from the males, Nuthatch Summer profile although males have more distinct chestnut coloring on their underside, Nuthatch Tail feathers 2.23.15especially around their tails. Nuthatch head down with seed If you have any doubts, you can also recognize them by their propensity Nuthatch upside down on tree for landing upside-down and working their way down trees Nuthatch working way down tree 03.12.15 in search of insects and seeds. Nuthatch breaking see in wood Nuthatches also have the somewhat unique habit of stuffing a seed or nut into a crack and hammering it with their sharp beak Nuthatch pecking like a woodpecker “woody-woodpecker style” until they “hatch” the nut! Nuthatch cracking seed We have a crevice on our old wooden railing that’s a favored spot for industry, Nuthatch 4.24.12and as we also live in a deciduous woods at the edge of a lake Nuthatch 5.15.14 (an especially appealing nesting ground for nuthatches), 2 Nuthatches at Feeder 3.18.13 …and because we try to keep our larder full, Nuthatch landing we always have a plentiful supply of these feisty little guests! Nuthatch waiting turn 3.9.15As with all the birds in our backyard, I learn life lessons from observing them, Nuthatch long beakand what’s obvious to me from watching white-breasted nuthatches is that Nuthatch Ruffled Pinfeathers! 3.9.15I should be more understanding and not get my pinfeathers ruffled by others! Nuthatch defending feeder 3.6.15There’s room for everybody in our Father’s world, and He provides amply for all  Pigeon not interested in moving(even for those who are very big and appear threatening).  Nuthatch 5.23.14Instead of getting all excited trying to defend ourselves or becoming anxious,Nuthatch Baby let’s keep calm and pray on! NuthatchBut I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust (Matthew 5:44-45). Nuthatch landing 2.23.15