Tag Archives: Backyard Birding

Carolina Wren

13 Jul

My Take

DiVoran Lites

Photo provided by Pixabay

While shy of people, Carolina Wrens seem to like being where people are. If your home is in the suburbs and close to woods and shrubs, you may have the honor of hosting them when they nest in springtime. 

When you hear a sweet clear call that insists you stop, look, and listen, you may be entertaining a Carolina Wren. One of our neighbors had a hanging planter on her front porch with a Carolina Wren nest in it. She greeted the family coming and going and could look out the big plate glass window to keep an eye on them.

We had a Carolina Wren family at our house, too. Our pair decided they liked our back yard. As you know, our yard adjoins a Diceranda refuge, so they didn’t have to go far to find items for the nest. For some reason, we had placed a small plastic table under the kitchen window. It had a plant in a terracotta pot in it. We kept seeing the Carolina Wrens when we looked out the window, but we didn’t know they were building a nest that would be so close to the ground.  We started in right away to worry about cats, snakes, hawks, and any other dangers for the babies we could think of. 

The mother and father worked together on the nest. It looked like a woven bowl with a big enough opening for the eggs and could accommodate parent-sitter taking his or her turn. The one that wasn’t sitting searched for food and brought it home.

 I read that the Carolina Wren eats caterpillars, moths, and roaches, along with other delicacies. For a treat, sometimes they catch a lizard or frog. They get plenty of protein, but they also consume plant material such as fruits and seeds from various wild plants. I don’t think they ever get any chocolate, poor things. Oh well, it’s probably not suitable for baby birds anyhow.

The one thing that surprised me most after seeing three tiny babies was that that the parents not only flew in with something in their beaks, but they flew out that way too.  We talked it over and decided that we probably knew what it was. It looked like a tiny white capsule. What do you think it was? Here’s a hint, it’s something we all have to clean up.

DiVoran has been writing for most of her life. Her first attempt at a story was when she was seven years old and her mother got a new typewriter. DiVoran got to use it and when her dad saw her writing he asked what she was writing about. DiVoran answered that she was writing the story of her life. Her dad’s only comment was, “Well, it’s going to be a very short story.” After most of a lifetime of writing and helping other writers, DiVoran finally launched her own dream which was to write a novel of her own. She now has her Florida Springs trilogy and her novel, a Christian Western Romance, Go West available on Amazon. When speaking about her road to publication, she gives thanks to the Lord for all the people who helped her grow and learn.  She says, “I could never have done it by myself, but when I got going everything fell beautifully into place, and I was glad I had started on my dream.”

Screech Owl

6 Jul

My Take

DiVoran Lites

I saw a screech owl no bigger than a pint carton standing in our birdbath the other day. I’m so glad they have come back. We had them in the back when we first moved into our new house in Florida. 

When we first moved to Titusville, where Bill had a job at the Space Center, we were thrilled with the quietness and the jungle-like terrain. Driving into town on Highway 50 in our Corvair, we crossed the St. John’s River in a rainstorm. It was raining water all right, but it also seemed to be raining frogs. They were all over the highway, and we could see them leaping in the headlights and hear them crunching as we ran over them. There was nothing else we could do. The heavy rain, the darkness all around, and hoping we were getting closer to our destination, but not knowing where overwhelmed us. Fortunately, our two children, one three years old and one eighteen months, were sound asleep in the back seat. 

We finally landed at a motel reserved for us by the company and dragged our bedraggled selves in for a rest. We were in the motel for three weeks while daddy went to work, and mother established a routine with the little ones. We walked down to the river early in the morning. The heat and humidity were like nothing we had ever experienced or even knew existed. Then we went back to the motel room and read books and played with toys until lunch, blessedly they had air conditioning. We took naps in the afternoon after the fierce and loud thunderstorms. We hadn’t experienced that kind of weather either.

It was July when we got into our house. It’s a fine house, but at the time, we had no AC.  The only times we got cool were when we laid out flat on the stone terrazzo floor, stepped into a cold shower, or took our supper down to the river where a pleasant breeze blew. 

There were many frogs at our house, too. They covered the sliding glass doors and were all over the cement pad that would one day become a full-sized patio. These were green tree frogs; sometimes, they were called tree peepers. You could compare their color with a Key lime, which is small and bright. Golden racing stripes ran down both sides. I figured it was genuine gold because why would God use anything else? 

We lived in Imperial Estates, which was surrounded by scrub and pines. At night when we were sleeping with our windows open, we heard the castanet sound of cicadas so loudly we sometimes put our pillows over our heads. But sometimes we heard other creatures, too. Every evening we listened to the nocturnal Chuck Will’s Widow whose call had three notes. The call is unique, but that was a long time ago, and apparently, all the Chuck Will’s Widows from around here have gone someplace else now. 

Another thing we heard in the night was the baying of hunting dogs in the woods behind our house. Oh, yes, it was a lovely jungly place to be, and we loved it and love it still. To me, the calls of the screech owls were long and varied.

None of the other birds or animals stayed around with that owl there. They are voracious. They have many ways of sounding out. Some of them sound like a cry of agony. It scared us all when we first heard it in the night, but then we asked some old-timers what it was, and they said, “screech owls.” Once we knew, we slept right through it. I like knowing that the screech owls’ nest in hollows in trees and sometimes in the larger woodpecker holes. It reminds me of the stories I read as a child where everybody lived in hollow trees and holes in the ground. 

DiVoran has been writing for most of her life. Her first attempt at a story was when she was seven years old and her mother got a new typewriter. DiVoran got to use it and when her dad saw her writing he asked what she was writing about. DiVoran answered that she was writing the story of her life. Her dad’s only comment was, “Well, it’s going to be a very short story.” After most of a lifetime of writing and helping other writers, DiVoran finally launched her own dream which was to write a novel of her own. She now has her Florida Springs trilogy and her novel, a Christian Western Romance, Go West available on Amazon. When speaking about her road to publication, she gives thanks to the Lord for all the people who helped her grow and learn.  She says, “I could never have done it by myself, but when I got going everything fell beautifully into place, and I was glad I had started on my dream.”

Red-Shouldered Hawk

29 Jun

My Take

DiVoran Lites

Photo by Melody Hendrix

For years I didn’t pay much attention to the birds in our yard and around the neighborhood. Then one day, our friends who lived on a marsh invited us over to admire the hawk nest in a big tree near their driveway. I was thrilled to see one of the parents settle down on the nest to feed the babies.  When our friends moved away, we didn’t think much more about hawks. That is until our Pastor, Bill began to track a pair of courting hawks on the church campus. 

As it happens, we live within the same mile square the church is in, so soon, we began to watch and hear the hawks over our house, too. They were so busy flying around calling to each other or doing air aerobics that we couldn’t ignore them. And when the nestlings grew big enough to leave the nest, we enjoyed watching them fly over or set down on the top of a lamppost. 

About eighteen days before incubation, the adult hawks go into a frenzy of happiness. They become singers and dancers in earnest.  Their loud, short cries fill the air.  One soars straight up then zooms back into the airspace of the other. They chase across the sky, calling as if they are telling the whole world about God’s goodness.

The first time I saw a hawk standing nonchalantly under an oak tree in someone’s yard, I was startled, but he wasn’t. Yesterday, one flew low, then zoomed in and perched on the lamppost in front of our house. He sat quietly with his back to me, and I think he listened as I told him how beautiful he was. 

Pixabay

Hawks are too large to take a bath in a home birdbath, but one afternoon I looked out in the back yard and saw a Red-shouldered hawk perched on our chain-link fence. I felt a bit sorry for him because it was raining, but as I watched, my sympathy turned to good cheer. He didn’t need a bath; he needed a rain shower. He opened his wings and flapped them, and he shook himself vigorously. That was when I thought again about God’s provision for all His creatures and remembered the Louis Armstrong song, “What a Wonderful Day.” 

Pixabay

Learn more about hawks at All about Red-Shouldered Hawks

What a Wonderful World

DiVoran has been writing for most of her life. Her first attempt at a story was when she was seven years old and her mother got a new typewriter. DiVoran got to use it and when her dad saw her writing he asked what she was writing about. DiVoran answered that she was writing the story of her life. Her dad’s only comment was, “Well, it’s going to be a very short story.” After most of a lifetime of writing and helping other writers, DiVoran finally launched her own dream which was to write a novel of her own. She now has her Florida Springs trilogy and her novel, a Christian Western Romance, Go West available on Amazon. When speaking about her road to publication, she gives thanks to the Lord for all the people who helped her grow and learn.  She says, “I could never have done it by myself, but when I got going everything fell beautifully into place, and I was glad I had started on my dream.”

Mourning Dove

22 Jun

My Take

DiVoran Lites

Photos by Melody Hendrix

I have a confession. I love all wild birds, but I had a mix-up in my mind about doves. We have two kinds that come to our yard day after day, week after week. They never fail to visit, and we are so used to them that we don’t have much to say about them. I guess you could say we ignore them or we take them for granted. Unlike the painted bunting, they stay all year. The only difference between the two types is that the mourning dove is bigger than the other one. 

My problem was I like bright colors on birds and copious amounts of song, and that’s why I never gave the doves much attention.  Of course, if we didn’t have so many beautiful birds on our feeders and using our water bowls, I would appreciate even the doves.  

So, when I looked up doves on Bible Gateway, I discovered that God loves them very much, all of them. Noah loved his dove when it came back to the ark after being set loose to find some land. He took her gently into his hand and put her in her safe, wooden cage. Seven days later, he sent her out again. You’d think that if the dove had found a perch for the sole of her foot, she would have stayed there. But she didn’t.  She was faithful and went the extra mile to make Noah happy. 

I can understand why the people kept doves for food and why they used them for the required sacrifices. The book of Leviticus has nine references to dove sacrifice. But one-day, Jesus turned over the chairs of the sellers of sacrificial doves. I always thought he did that because he didn’t want people doing business in the synagogue on the Sabbath. And maybe that is the only reason Jesus did it. Reading about doves, though, has convinced me that it meant something else to our Lord as well. By this time, he knew he was going to be the last and ultimate sacrifice, and there would be no more need for doves or cattle or sheep in exchange for forgiveness of sin. He knew he was the only sacrifice ever to be required. When He went to the cross to die, he went so that God would adopt us. When we acknowledge our sinful nature, God sets us free to join God’s family. That is the greatest wonder and privilege a human can ever know. 

From the list I was looking at, the last reference in the Bible about doves was John 2:14 that meant no more sacrifices,  no more doves, and nothing more killed in the name of the law.  

Isn’t it wonderful that all of nature teaches us about God and his love for us?

DiVoran has been writing for most of her life. Her first attempt at a story was when she was seven years old and her mother got a new typewriter. DiVoran got to use it and when her dad saw her writing he asked what she was writing about. DiVoran answered that she was writing the story of her life. Her dad’s only comment was, “Well, it’s going to be a very short story.” After most of a lifetime of writing and helping other writers, DiVoran finally launched her own dream which was to write a novel of her own. She now has her Florida Springs trilogy and her novel, a Christian Western Romance, Go West available on Amazon. When speaking about her road to publication, she gives thanks to the Lord for all the people who helped her grow and learn.  She says, “I could never have done it by myself, but when I got going everything fell beautifully into place, and I was glad I had started on my dream.”

Mockingbirds

8 Jun

My Take

DiVoran Lites

Photo Pixabay

Mockingbirds live in the lower half of the United States, going a little north to breed. We have always had them in our subdivision in Florida, which is semi surrounded by woods. When I put on my white hat and sunglasses and take up my trekking poles to go on a walk, I usually come near a mockingbird or two.

Many times, they seem to follow me and then fly a bit ahead to the top of a low tree to stage a concert. One day I stayed to the end of the beautiful music, marveling how many different songs the Mockingbird knew. The research I’ve read majors on their singing, and I major on it too. During such a song, they will be sitting like an angel at the top of a Christmas Tree.

What I love, is to see one lift his wings and pop up off the tree and quickly land again. It seems he is so full of happiness that he cannot contain it. That is to me, a sign that God gives his winged creatures joy just as he does His people.  

I believe God gave Mockingbirds the gift of singing as an example for his sons and daughters on earth. He wants all his people to love music as much as He does. He wants us to sing and play instruments as praise to him and all He does for us. Our Lord likes to hear us making praise noises, whether we can sing or not. When we read the Bible, we see how much God loves songs. 

All about Mockingbirds

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Psalm 100 The Passion Translation (TPT)
Praise God100 A poetic song for thanksgiving
“1 Lift up a great shout of joy to the Lord!
Go ahead and do it—everyone, everywhere!
As you serve him, be glad and worship him.
Sing your way into his presence with joy!

 

DiVoran has been writing for most of her life. Her first attempt at a story was when she was seven years old and her mother got a new typewriter. DiVoran got to use it and when her dad saw her writing he asked what she was writing about. DiVoran answered that she was writing the story of her life. Her dad’s only comment was, “Well, it’s going to be a very short story.” After most of a lifetime of writing and helping other writers, DiVoran finally launched her own dream which was to write a novel of her own. She now has her Florida Springs trilogy and her novel, a Christian Western Romance, Go West available on Amazon. When speaking about her road to publication, she gives thanks to the Lord for all the people who helped her grow and learn.  She says, “I could never have done it by myself, but when I got going everything fell beautifully into place, and I was glad I had started on my dream.”

The Robin Story

21 Jul

Patricia Franklin

A Few Thoughts

I think I mentioned that the mother robin left a little egg shell by my door.  Since that time, I noticed she had two babies.  I watched them both and worried that they had left the nest too soon.  She tried to keep them in the branches of the lilac bush.  The young one pretty much listened to her, the other one was a little more independent.  (I’m using my imagination here).
One morning I went out and found one of them dead on the back lawn.  It did not look damaged, so I did not know what got to it…. either a cat or a very angry black bird??   It seemed to be the bigger one that was dead.  I kept track of the little one, who thrived, and learned to fly pretty well.  He discovered our birdbath, and loved it.  Whenever he got in it, he had so much fun he did not want to leave.  He would splash around, then just lay there, then kept repeating it.  He was fun to watch, as he loved it so much. Then he would fly up on the fence and shake out his feathers.  No other bird has ever spent that much time bathing there.

I lost track of the birds for about 3 or 4 weeks while we were gone, and busy running around.  Several times since, I have  seen birds in the back, and several were robins with the spots on their breasts, so I knew they were brand new in the neighborhood.

This morning, I was sitting outside and there were quite a few birds around, some still being fed by their mamas.  Then a robin flew into the birdbath and splashed and played for the longest time.  I was sure it was the one from our lilac, especially when he finally got out and flew on the fence to shake out his feathers.  I noticed he was bigger, but still had some of his baby spots.  I’m sure it was him, and I hope he will be our neighbor for a long time to come. I think I’ll always recognize him by his antics in the birdbath.

 

From Flickr

Do Birds Bond with People? 

27 May

 A Few Thoughts

Patricia Franklin

 Our friend Patricia Franklin wrote me this week. Here’s what she had to say about the robin that nests in her back yard-DiVoran

robins

Sorry I have not answered your newsy letter…. and thanks so much for the interesting article on birds!  I guess they live and thrive by instinct, but I think they have a built in intelligence too, that we do not understand.  I think I mentioned that we have a robin’s nest in our back yard.  I have been waiting and watching for a couple of weeks for the 1st hatchling.  I usually sit out on the patio chair, I water my flowers, etc. and sometimes I talk to the robins if they are around.  They have found out that we do not bother them, in fact, I chased some intruders away the other day.  Do you think they bond with us in some way?   Here is what happened today.

We were sitting in the kitchen having a cup of tea after supper, with the patio door open, when I heard this scratching and tapping on the patio cement right outside.  I turned my head, and there right in front of the door was the mother robin tapping a little blue eggshell on the cement.  I got up and walked over to the door and said something like, ” Well, I have been wondering when you were going to hatch the first one.  I’m so happy for you.”  She actually strutted around, back and forth in front of me for a little while and then went flying off to her nest, leaving the eggshell for us.  Is that uncanny or what?  Am I reading too much into this?  I do feel a bond with them, and maybe they feel it too. It was the highlight of my weekend!  (Hey, I’m pretty simple and easy to please!)

The Snow Bird Shuffle

26 Feb

Our friend, Patricia Franklin is back to share a story about Snow Birds and if you live in Florida or Arizona, they aren’t people from up north!~Enjoy,  Onisha.

A Few Thoughts

Patricia Franklin

I don’t know what the bird’s official name is, but I have always called them snow birds. They show up outdoors in the winter when everything and everyone else runs for cover from the snow and cold.   Late December or early January they show up to spend the winter near our birdfeeder. They are hearty little fellows and very striking against the white snow with their dark heads and back, buff colored bellies and black little “snow boots.” They are about the size of a sparrow and join the little red headed finches and sparrows at the feeder.

I watch the little snow birds trying to find  food while the snow is coming down and covering everything in sight.  The snow piles up on the bird feeder.  When the other birds run for cover,  the little snow birds come soaring in, land on the feeder and start shuffling their little feet back and forth and dig up the seed that is buried in the snow.  They are doing their little dance which I call the “snow bird shuffle.”  They are so flamboyant  and enthusiastic it lifts our mood and carries us on through the dark bleak days of winter into the light of spring.

Ruby Crowned Kinglet

Nuthatch

The Robin Diaries- Part 6

28 Jul

Speak Up Saturday

Patricia Franklin

Our yard is becoming popular real estate for birds now. Besides the two nests in the yard, some little red finches were inspecting our satellite dish. They did not come back though. I noticed a hummingbird sailing around in that heavy wind yesterday. I don’t know how they do it. I put out our hummingbird feeders now. They like zeriscape. After noticing that the robins really like the millers, which are migrating to the cool mountains now, I released a bunch of millers from under the BBQ cover and watched the robins catch them.

I was worried a couple of days ago about the robins. One got in a big fight with robins and neither of them would quit. They ended up chasing each other all around the neighborhood. Then I only saw one robin for the rest of the day. I kept watching and finally, just before I went into the house that night, I saw both of them at the nest again. That meant I could sleep without worrying about them. The same evening we took a walk around the block and ran into a neighbor we had never met before. He was coming out of the house with his son-in-law. We said hello and he told us he was going to show his son-in-law the robins. So of course, we inquired about it. He showed us a nest, and, surprise, they had all flown away. So the man ran into his house to get his camera and show us the close-ups he had taken of the three babies. I was excited to hear he was so interested in them. He said he had been off work, and so he watched them all week.

Frank sneaked a peek into our nest and said there was nothing there, but I know there is. They must have scrunched down. I said, “No more peeking in the nest.” I want to stay out of their way. I don’t want them getting anxious and leaving prematurely. They are still small. I have not heard them chirping yet, but the adult robins sit on the fence and sing to them so they will recognize their voices and learn how to chirp back.

Robin nest

Robin nest (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

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