Just the back yard!? Nah, I want the front and side yards landscaped in natives too.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

What a Difference a Day Makes

...Well, two days, really.

It snowed today while I was at work. I think is only the second snow we had this month--and if it were not "leap day" we'd have only had one significant snow in February. The drive home reminded me how beautiful snow can be--and reminded me that we need more evergreens in our yard.

That Time of Year Again

I'm a week late...at least based on the past two years. The other day, I finally planted the wildflower seeds I'd collected...and some that a friend sent me. Thanks Glenn.

Last year when I got around to planting my seeds, I realized that it was exactly one year ago to the day that I planted my first batch. Without checking the date until today, I figured it had passed. No biggie, I'm just glad I'm getting them done before it gets too warm--I want them to experience the freezing and thawing that should help them germinate.

With such mild weather, I thought I'd have planted them over Christmas break, but I never got around to it. After planting them, I realized I didn't see any of the "magic ingredient" around. Not that I'm superstitious, but I'd covered the last two batches with snow--partly so it would melt and water them and partly to help prevent birds from getting at them (not that I expect them to go after them). Surprisingly, after looking around the front (north facing) yard, I found a little bit of snow from where I'd shoveled the sidewalk.

Here's hoping I'll have a lot to plant come this spring--or fall (remember, I'm a procrastinator...and didn't get them planted until very late this year).

Sunday, February 26, 2012

House Hunting or Moving In

On this beautiful, sunny day, I spotted a bluebird pair checking out all three nest boxes. :) I took several pictures through a window...none of them terribly well focused, but one does show a bit of grass in the males beak, so I wonder if their decision was made and they are moving in.

It is sunny, but rather cold today--at least based on the temperatures we have been getting. Today is high 30s, but tomorrow should be around 50! ~smile~ Maybe I'll get out and get some better pictures that aren't taken through glass or at such a distance.

If the dried grass is actually an indication of their final choice and not just a part of the mating ritual, then they seem to have picked the box closest to the house.

Great Backyard Bird Count Update

I never got around to posting the other two days of the bird count. The only difference in the three days was that a hairy woodpecker showed up the second day (the first I saw all winter)...and that there were more mourning doves on the third day--a full dozen.

No cardinals showed up during the count, but I do have one male and one female every once in a while.

Monday, February 20, 2012

House Hunting Continues

This morning, I spotted a pair of bluebirds checking out that same box. Perhaps the others were around too, but I didn't notice them. By the time I grabbed the camera they were gone. However, just a short time later, I spotted them checking out the nest box nearest to the house. It is not the best photo, but I snapped this through the window.

This is the same house that the tree swallows tried using last year. The nest and eggs were abandoned, due to the loss of the mate, I believe. I hate to admit that I'd yet to clean it out--something I normally do in the dead of winter...this winter seems to have no "dead" in it...if feels like we went from November to March with no steps in between. So, I decided to go out and remove the old nest, so that the bluebirds have another option for nesting...and one closer to the house!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

House Hunting

Although I listed them in the bird count results, they deserve a post of their own...the bluebirds!

After spending so much time looking out the back window counting birds coming for the seeds I put out, I looked out the side window, and there in the distance, I spotted movement around one of the nest boxes. Grabbing the binoculars, I was thrilled to see that there were five--count them--five bluebirds hanging out around the nest box. While counting them, one (a female, I think) came out of the hole in the box. This is the same nest box that has been used every year--and the one farthest from the house (and from any perches). It seems to me this must be the family of birds that were here in the fall--two parents and three of their offspring, I'd guess--all grown up.

Although I have two other boxes set up, I'd like to add one or two more--I just have to figure out *where* to set them up. Between the bluebirds and the tree swallows, I'd like to see all of the boxes used.

Unfortunately, the battery on the camera was being charged, and by the time I had it ready, the bluebirds were gone, but, since I hate to post without a photo, I'll post the pictures I did take when, with the unaided eye, I imagined I saw something dark perched on the box.

I put some dried cranberries out later in the day in hopes that they'll find them and maybe I'll attract them to a feeder with fruit.

Getting Something Done

Lest it seem that all I did was sit around counting birds today, I'll post some pictures of some of what I did in the yard. I finally got around to spreading some of the mulch that I got this summer. My goal is to smother the grass that is growing there and replace it with native grasses and wildflowers. Unfortunately, I noticed a few shoots of grass coming up through the thick layer of mulch even before I spread it around making it even less thick, but I still hope it puts a damper on the weeds.

Although I don't have a "before" picture handy, this is basically what I'm smothering in this section (Can you believe this was taken today--in February) :

The Great Backyard Bird Count 2012

This is my second year counting and submitting my results to http://www.birdsource.org/gbbc/.

I'm hoping to make this an annual thing and post my results here as well, so that I can look back, and, hopefully, see a marked improvement of both the numbers and varieties of birds that I see from year to year. As I improve the quality of the habitat our property provides, I would expect to see a greater variety of species that can make use of our yard.

Today's count:

Number of Species: 10

Mourning Dove - 4
Red-bellied Woodpecker - 1
Blue Jay - 3
Black-capped Chickadee - 2
Tufted Titmouse - 2
White-breasted Nuthatch - 1
Eastern Bluebird - 5
White-throated Sparrow - 5
Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored) - 3
American Goldfinch - 13

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Jury is Still Out on This One

Today, I spotted what I thought was a turkey vulture--I'm not good with bird IDs I guess (I learned that years ago when I mistook a turkey vulture for a hawk)--after uploading the pictures and cropping them for close-ups, I realized that I'd need some help with identification, so I posted these in Wildlife Gardeners...so far, with two responses, we are thinking it is either a golden eagle or an immature bald eagle.

I have seen bald eagles around here twice before...that still amazes me as I think of them as being out in the wilderness. Just the other day I saw something large (like an eagle) fly across the field below us. Perhaps I'll see them more often in the coming years.

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Throw in a Little Snow

Promises Kept

In December, I posted some bird pictures with a promise of more to come. Although I have posted a few more, it seems there are fewer this year than last--maybe I'm just more discerning in what I post, but I think there have been fewer birds (or I've spent less time watching and photographing them). Today, with sustained temperatures lower than it has been in quite a while, I've notice a lot more birds and more of the variety I'd gotten used to.

At last, a nuthatch showed up today...as well as a chickadee...but not in the numbers I'm used to from past winters. Finally I have more photos to share--I think I spent more time cropping and adjusting them than I did taking them. Here's hoping that I get a lot of visitors next week when I do the Great Backyard Bird Count. :)