Well this was unexpected. I’m out in the backyard (as usual) and I suddenly hear the familiar call of a Purple Martin. There was only one. I need to check my previous blog entries from last year, because I think it was about 3 weeks later that the first appeared.
**Update: The first Purple Martins appeared February 6 of last year, so mentally I was clearly off. They are right on time:-)
I thought I would provide a little update on my dogs as they have been featured throughout my blog for a number of years.
Maggie, the Golden Retriever, turned 12 years old on January 10, 2014. From what I have read, the average age of a Golden Retriever is around 10-11 years old, so I’m happy that Maggie is still around. Health-wise, Maggie is quite healthy. Yea, she’s a little slower than she used to be, her teeth have worn down a bit, her face has really turned gray, and she has some cataracts in her eyes, yet she’s basically the same dog I have always had. Her energy level is good. She still loves to roll around in the grass (or mud) to scratch her back, and when it is warm enough, I still cannot keep her out of the pool:-). Probably the biggest change for Maggie recently is her vision. She can still see, but the cataracts do impair her vision. If I drop a piece of food in front of her, she no longer snatches it out of the air. That doesn’t mean she can’t sniff it out once it hits the ground. Maggie, like most Golden Retrievers, thrives on being petted. She would make a terrible guard dog.
Sascha, the German Shepherd, is 10 years old. She will be 11 on July 26, 2014. Sascha too has some very minor cataracts, just a little gray on her chin, and some worn down teeth. Like Maggie, her health appears just fine. She still loves to eat her own poo, birdseed and paper towels. Sascha, at her ripe old age of 10, is quite the sweetheart in her own way. Whereas Maggie has to be by my side and constantly petted, Sascha doesn’t require as frequent of petting, but I do have to be in her range of vision. She watches me like a hawk.
I took a couple of recent pictures of both dogs, and just to show the effects of aging and time, pulled up some old photos of when I first got them.
Maggie The Golden Retriever At 12 Years Old
Maggie The Golden Retriever Staring At Camera
Sascha The German Shepherd In January
First Night Maggie And Sascha Were Introduced
Maggie The Golden Retriever On Her First Day Home
I’m going to assume that this is the same Rufous Hummingbird that visited last Winter. I’ve seen this little bird for about 1 month now, and it is a real challenge to get a quality picture. I actually pulled out my bird blind to get these pictures I captured today. This bird is very skittish. Normally as soon as it sees me, it flies off. It acts completely different than the Ruby Throated Hummingbirds which appear to care very about my presence.
Rufous Hummingbird Showing Gorget
Rufous Hummingbird At Feeder Showing Tailfeathers
Rufous Hummingbird In Flight
Rufous Hummingbird Tongue Sticking Out
Well, it’s been a long time since I have posted any pictures. Quite honestly I was just taking a break, and running a little short on time. Despite the dreariness of Winter, I do have quite a few Winter birds in my backyard including American Goldfinches, Pine Warblers, Pine Siskins, House Finches, Northern Cardinals, Tufted Titmouse, Brown Headed Cowbirds (yuck!), Carolina Chicadees, Yellow Rumped Warblers, Blue Jays, and a lone Rufous Hummingbird (I’ll post about that separately).
Here’s a few pictures I took today (Saturday).
Pine Warbler Eating A Nut
Tufted Titmouse Eating Peanut
Pine Siskin Surrounded By Goldfinches
American Goldfinches Crowding The Feeder
American Goldfinch Perching
Brown Headed Cowbird Perching
Tufted Titmouse Hiding In Bottlebrush
Recorded another video tonight of the Ruby Throated Hummingbirds. The light was not that great, but if all goes well I should be able to record some good videos over the weekend.
Are you ready for the Fall Migration of Birds and Monarch Butterflies? Fall officially starts on September 22, but the migration for many animals and insects have already begun.
Journey South (for the Fall migration. For the Spring migration it’s called Journey North) has published it’s second update for the annual Monarch Butterfly migration (http://www.learner.org/jnorth/monarch/fall2013/update090513.html). So far, it doesn’t look good. All year folks have been reporting lower than normal sightings on Monarch butterflies, and their migration towards Mexico is proving no different. If you haven’t signed up for Journey South, I’d recommend doing so if you are interested in the Monarch butterflies. (http://www.learner.org/cgi-bin/jnorth/jn-register). You’ll receive a weekly email regarding the Monarch migration sightings and news.
Speaking of Monarchs, I’ve had 1-2 flying around the yard lately, but these aren’t the migrating Monarchs since they have been laying eggs (on their Migration South, they do not lay eggs). As a result, I’ve seen a few eggs, caterpillars, and chrysalises around the yard.
My milkweed looks fantastic with lots of full leaves. I took this picture the other day of a Caterpillar chewing on the end of a milkweed stem.
Monarch Caterpillar Chewing On End Of Milkweed
I’ve commented before about how I’ve seen a higher than normal population of Ruby Throated Hummingbirds, and as of today, my population grew even larger thanks to a strong wind.
Whereas before I had 1 adult male, and several juvenile males, now I have quite a few adult males, who are all battling for position at the Hummingbird feeders. Below is a video I took this evening, showing just part of what the competition can be like. I should have probably switched to a smaller lens so you could have seen how many were flying around outside the range of the lens.
Ventured out in the heat to take some pictures of the Ruby Throated Hummingbirds.
A juvenile male Hummer volunteered as my subject. He was feeding on the Bottlebrush, Coral Honeysuckle (always a favorite), and just the regular hummingbird feeders.
Young Male Ruby Throated Hummingbird Feeding On Bottlebrush
Juvenile Male Ruby Throated Hummingbird Feeding On Bottlebrush
Ruby Throated Hummingbird Feeding On Coral Honeysuckle
As I’m watching my multitude of wildlife cameras positioned throughout various places in the backyard, I notice a raccoon raiding my bird feeder. It’s actually a nightly occurrence, so I’m rather used to the invasion. I occasionally spray hot pepper sauce on the food, but this was one of the days that I neglected to do that.
As I go out to the backyard and shine my flashlight at the raccoon raiding the feeder, I notice a pair of golden eyes staring at me from the trees. Actually make that 3 pairs of golden eyes staring at me. Two young raccoons were in the trees, as well as a young possum.
Anyway, one of the young raccoons in the trees I recognize. It’s the one with an injured foot. For having an injured (and it appears completely useless) foot, it has amazing strength to climb.
With one hand I keep my flashlight trained on the injured raccoon, and I slowly walk back towards the house to grab my camera. Surprisingly I make it back out with my camera and flashlight in tow and position the lighting towards the injured raccoon. Keep in mind, it’s pitch dark outside so I have zero light other than my flashlight, and the flash from the camera.
Below is a picture of the injured raccoon. You can see how it’s right front paw just dangles as it’s climbing down the tree. I tried to zoom in on this picture to see if I could find any obvious wound or injury, but there was nothing obvious.
In theory I could try and capture the animal and take it to a wildlife rescue, but I have yet to see a raccoon who has a pleasant demeanor once captured and I really don’t want to get attacked. And no, I’m not going to shoot it to put it out of it’s misery, that’s not really an option for me.
Young Raccoon With Injured Foot
I’m continuing to see Ruby Throated Hummingbirds. It’s still about 3 weeks early from when I normally see large numbers of them, but I always welcome their visit. Right now, I think I have about 5 hummers.
It’s not uncommon for them to hang out around this large Chaste tree that I have. It provides good cover, and they can see all the hummingbird feeders around the yard.
Young Male Ruby Throated Hummingbird Looking Left On Chaste Tree
Young Male Ruby Throated Hummingbird Looking Right On Chaste Tree
This is actually the fourth seed pod from a single Queen Palm tree that I have in my backyard. I haven’t done anything different this year versus the other 7 years that I have had this tree, but for whatever reason, the seed pods are just emerging like crazy. Even though this is the fourth seed pod this year, there is still one more that has yet to open.
I didn’t realize it previously, but apparently these seed pods are loaded with pollen. When I went out this evening, the seed pod was just covered in honeybees, and their legs were so full of pollen, they could barely fly.
You can’t tell from these pictures (because I had too large of a lens to capture the full pod), but the seed pods are really huge and covered in little tiny seeds. If you’re curious if these are edible, I really don’t know. I’ve tasted one before and it was awful!
Queen Palm Seed Pod With Honeybees
I included this next picture, not because it’s such a great picture, but because it almost looks like I captured some of the pollen in the air (bottom left of the picture) while the picture was being taken
Queen Palm Seed Pod With Pollen
I’m a little late in posting this picture. I actually took the picture on August 12, but I guess I never created a post about it.
Anyway, this is the remaining pair of Eastern Bluebird siblings I had from a nest earlier this year. The father continues to visit occasionally, but the mother has not appeared since shortly after everyone fledged.
These are the siblings who were basically raised on mealworms that I put out for them in the afternoon.
Eastern Bluebird Siblings Waiting For Mealworms
In addition to my recently discovered mystery regarding Wrens and Cardinals eating mealworms, I also seem to have an influx of Ruby Throated Hummingbirds. Traditionally, I might see one Ruby Throated Hummingbird in the Summer months, but so far I have counted four. It’s way too early for them to have already started migrating (typically Sept, Oct for my area), but they are definitely here and feeding from my feeders, bottlebrush plants, and butterfly bush. While four Hummingbirds doesn’t seem like much, I only had two a week ago and I thought that was unusual.
Male Ruby Throated Hummingbird Feeding On Bottlebrush
None of these pictures I’m going to share are that great, but since I haven’t posted in a while, and I’ve witnessed something I think is a little unusual, I hope you’ll bare with me.
If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you know that I put out live mealworms for the Eastern Bluebirds. By the way, two of the recent fledglings from the Bluebird nest are still hanging around. The one fledgling with the deformed legs, I haven’t seen, nor have I seen the mother Bluebird (I hope she didn’t die, but I have a feeling something happened to her). The father still hangs around as well, just not as often. Below are the recent fledglings (I hate the picture, had to use flash, etc).
Young Eastern Bluebirds Feeding On Mealworms
Back to the mealworms. So one thing I have never seen before is a Sedge Wren (at least I think that’s what it is), or a Cardinal, eating mealworms. Heck, it’s hard enough to see any Wren since they are so secretive, so I’ve certainly never seen one eating mealworms.
Sedge Wren Eating Mealworms
Nor have I seen Cardinals eating mealworms, but there is a young male who is eating mealworms daily. I have lots of Cardinals, but only this one eats mealworms.
Male Cardinal Eating Mealworms
For the record, Bluebirds, Titmouses, Mockingbirds, Chickadees, and Cardinals all seem to enjoy the mealworms in my yard.
Well if it’s not one thing it’s another. Today while putting on mealworms for the Bluebirds, one of the recent fledglings decided to pay a visit. I could tell when it first arrived something wasn’t right. For one, it’s tail feathers haven’t grown in, although that’s a minor issue. It appears this fledgling has splayed or paralyzed legs. I’ve sought some advice from Bet over at Sialis.org, but what I’m thinking of doing is trying to capture the bird, and take him to the wildlife rehab place. If it’s splayed legs, I think they can fix that. If it’s paralysis, well that wouldn’t be so good.
What’s rather amazing about this little guy is he can fly, and despite not being able to use his feet to grab on to anything, he has learned to land on his chest and flap his wings for balance. Obviously he won’t last long in the wild if a predator sees this, but for now he is able to eat and drink.
These pictures were not taken for their beauty, and they are heavily cropped, but I wanted to show what the legs looked like.
Any advice or guidance from the bird experts out there?
Baby Bluebird With Splayed Or Paralyzed Legs
Baby Bluebird With Splayed Or Paralyzed Legs Looking At Me
Male Baby Bluebird With Splayed Or Paralyzed Legs
I saw some shedded snake skin in my bird stream today. After looking around for just a bit, I saw who the skin belonged to. It’s a Gulf Coast Ribbon Snake. Really a beautiful snake as far as snakes go. I just took some pictures and left it alone. It might eat a few lizards or frogs, but nothing substantial.
Gulf Coast Ribbon Snake By Bird Stream