Busy Finch on a Morning Filled with Birds

Busy Finch on a Morning Filled with Birds

This morning I was able to watch a female purple finch work on making her nest. She caught my eye as I looked out my kitchen window and saw movement in the garden below, near an ornamental Korean Lilac tree close to blooming. Busily, she kept adding pieces of mulch and plant debris to the clutch in her beak, obviously approving of the quality and availability.

Not making the connection at first, I soon realized her nest was being made in tightly woven confines of branches in the soon to flower lilac. She nearly disappeared when she entered the rounded crown where her family would  grow.

After a brief period, and maybe realizing I was watching, she flew out of the tree, off to another place to collect treasures of twigs that might strengthen her soon to be nest.  In the time I sat waiting for her return, now with camera in hand, I noticed other birds were checking out Miss Kim II (fond nickname of the Lilac Tree). Several robins visited, barn swallows, and at least one tiny black-capped chickadee.  The swallow, or at least what I thought was a swallow, was really checking out the tree and sat in it for several minutes. The lady finch had returned, now only ten feet away, sitting on our deck railing, again with a mouthful of the newest nest components. She patiently sat, waiting for the other birds to leave. Again, I assumed she could see me, now the lady with the camera, and wanted to be sure I was there to do nothing more than take pictures.

Eventually, the purple finch flew back onto the very top branches of Miss Kim II, still holding her precious oral cargo. There, she very obviously checked around the yard for what I imagine she thought were any signs of potential predators. After looking thoroughly, I saw her fly into the tree once again to add to her nest.

There was a flurry of song bird activity in our yard this morning. My observations all started with noticing a very plump Eastern Blue Bird siting on our deck rail, in the very same spot the finch subsequently patiently waited to return to the popular, odiferous, and soon to bloom lilac tree.

The beauty of the birds, the color of the tree, and the persistence of the finch, all attracted my attention today. It’s the little things in life. Notice them.

The Great River Road – Three Hours By the Numbers.

The Great River Road – Three Hours By the Numbers.

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Yesterday I drove I -35, otherwise known as The Great River Road that runs parallel to the Mighty Mississippi and divides the state borders of Minnesota and Iowa with Wisconsin.  There was a time in my life that I thought I would never see Bald Eagles or even Great Blue Herons other than the one that resided on a pond near my college campus. The Mississippi and surrounding bluffs are awash with wildlife this spring. It is a fitting Earth Day Post to write how much I reveled in the beautiful surrounds near my home yesterday. Having completed a writing challenge in March, I saw many clever ways to catalog observations rather than writing a narrative.  So, here we go:

On A Sunny Spring Day on the way to Iowa I saw:

Ten Trains Rolling

Nine Boats Rowing

Eight Cranes Standing

Seven Seagulls Gliding

Six Mallards Quacking

Five Barges Moving

Four Motorcycles Speeding

Three Great Blue Herons Wading

Two Eagles Soaring

One Turkey Vulture Perching

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What a Hoot!

What a Hoot!

Friday, my boys were off from school for the Easter holiday break.  About mid-afternoon, I looked out our back window and saw a white patch in a tree at the edge of the field behind us. The landscape is slowly greening up but the trees have not leafed out yet so seeing something pure white mid-way up a tree was odd.  I wondered what it could be so I got out my binoculars and look a long look.  Ah, it was still too far away.  We have another pair of binoculars – a “real” pair, not the child’s pair I was using initially, so I dug those out of their resting place in the front closet.  Back at the window, the white “thing” was still in the tree, but its shape had shifted.  Now, I knew it was alive, just as I thought!

Staring, dialing in and out of focus using the binoculars, I stood at our living room window for 10-15 minutes, looking for clues about what was in that tree behind our house. This also required a lot of blinking, as my contacts did not respond to being shoved up against a glass lens as I peered into the eyepiece.  In the meantime, my fifteen year old asked what I was up to. When I told him, I spilled what had been on my mind.

“I think there might be a snowy owl in that tree back there, by the edge of the field,”  I told him, excitedly!

“Seriously? Mom.”  he replied, shaking his head. But, he got up off the couch to take a look.  My boys are used to my nature–based escapades and frequently indulge my thoughts, if only to prove me wrong, as time permits. At this point, I went to get my camera to try to zoom in close enough to prove it was indeed an owl, a snowy owl!

The camera didn’t help, but then my son said, “Do you want me to go out there and take a closer look?”

“Sure,” I said. “Take the binoculars with you.”

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A few minutes later, he was waving to me.  I went outside, taking the camera with me, hopeful.  He shouted something. I couldn’t hear it.

“What is it?”  I shouted back.

“Well, it’s not an owl, mom. It’s our neighbor’s cat!”

A half hour spent – looking, wondering, snapping photos, enlisting the help of a reluctant teen and hoping, just to find out the white patch in the tree behind our house was our neighbor’s cat!

What a hoot!

Oh, yeah. Our neighbors do have a white cat. Obviously, I was hoping for something more exciting.