Phriday Phads, Pheathers & A Photo Challenge – Pull Up a Seat

I was pulling the trash cans to the curb when my neighbor across the street called out to me, “Look up.” I did, immediately ditched the trash can, and ran for my camera. I was lucky and the bronze and brown hawk wasn’t disrupted by my motion beneath him. He sat prettily for his portrait against the overcast sky. He’s a beauty, and I believe he is the same hawk I’ve written of in past posts.

For some reason he brought to mind pole-sitters. I’m assuming that in the generations born after me, most people have no idea what constitutes a pole-sitter. Pole-sitting didn’t take a lot of skill, just a bit of bravado and endurance.

Wikipedia says: “Pole sitting is the practice of sitting on top of a pole (such as a flagpole) for extended lengths of time, generally used as a test of endurance. A small platform is typically placed at the top of the pole for the sitter. Led by the stunt actor and former sailor Alvin “Shipwreck” Kelly, flagpole sitting was a fad in the mid-to-late 1920s, but mostly died out after the start of the Great Depression.”

If you have never heard of pole-sitting, take a look at this quick Youtube video:

This post is part of Pull Up A Seat Challenge.

Pheathers – Russets

Autumn walks are glorious. I enjoy looking up and finding sunlit leaves to photograph.

Yesterday, I noticed an especially tall tree with brilliant color in the distance. In a patch of barren branches glowed one shining leaf. When I zoomed in with my camera lens, I found my single leaf was a robin basking in the sun, his feathers perfectly matching the russet of the leaves. Robins, like geese, don’t seem to fly south anymore, but winter over in many northern areas.

Journey North has an excellent article on why robins winter-over in the north. One reason I might see so many in my area is the abundance of natural food source trees and bushes in our area.

Here’s a few of the Autumn trees in my area of New Jersey this week. I can’t wait until the leaves lay ankle-deep on the sidewalks like a gigantic potpourri of color. What fun it is to kick through the piles, enjoying the inimitable fragrance and crunch of the dry leaves beneath my feet. This post is part of Skywatch Friday.

Pheathers – Lustrous Leaves and a Bit of Bird-Watching

Before my morning walk I checked the thermometer. It read forty-one degrees. I prefer warmer weather and wonder where Autumn went. New Jersey is supposed to be experiencing average temperatures of 50-55 degrees at this time of year. When I put on my winter coat for the first time this season I felt a little cheated.

My quick plummet of mood immediately lifted when I looked up. The sky was brilliant blue. Leaves in the distance were crowned with a golden luster, and I am sure by week’s end most trees will be producing a bit more color. I spotted a blue jay among the greens and golds and was able to capture him with my zoom lens.

I take my camera with me on most of my walks, it enables me to capture birds from afar and identify them when I download onto my computer. I photographed one more jay and thought I found another to form a nice trio for this post, but when I brought the photo up I saw it was a mockingbird in disguise, its white breast and size fooling me into thinking it another jay. I wish it had sung me its repertoire of songs, but I will have to wait for another day when feeding on the holly berries is not his priority.

Pheathers – Backyard Hawk

It’s always a thrill to look out the window and see a hawk in one of our trees. The songbirds aren’t happy and scatter for hours when the hawk visits, but the beauty of the bird thrills me, especially when he poses for me so prettily. 

“A skilled hawk hides his talons.” 

                                                ~ Japanese Proverb

Pheathers – Diagonal Lines of Swallows

A Swallow on a diagonal line is my choice for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Diagonals.

The swallows living near the Delaware Bay were everywhere, swooping through the air to eat greenhead flies and other insects. I also saw several in the heat of mid-day cooling themselves by fluttering and lifting their wings in the breeze.

Another choice for Cee’s Challenge was this little getaway spot underneath the deck of a beach house. A stack of lobster buoys hung nearby, the stairs a perfect diagonal from deck to the ground.

Pheathers – Oddball Lovebirds Revisited

I walk almost every day and on my rounds around the streets where I live, I came upon the vulture lovebirds I posted on a few weeks ago. They were sitting on a neighbor’s rooftop. The neighbor, standing in her front yard watching the birds, told me they have a nest nearby.

The birds as if on cue, opened up their wings to bask in the morning sunshine. Oh my, they might not have pretty faces, but their wings are spectacular when illuminated by the sun’s rays. I’ll not soon forget the sight of those beautiful wings, perfect for this week’s Cee’s Oddball Challenge.

A little glimpse into my Place in the World.

Pheathers – Lovebirds

I love to take morning walks. This week when I opened the door I immediately saw the silhouette of two large lovebirds on a distant tree. I grabbed my camera and actually jogged toward them, intent on getting a photograph before they flew away. I was sure they must be a pair of eagles. We have spotted one flying high overhead in our vicinity more than once. Perhaps the lone eagle had found a mate.

By the time I neared the tree where they roosted, I was a bit out of breath, but able to zoom in with my camera and check out the photo in the viewfinder. Oh, the pain of it! I was out of breath and wildly disheveled just to get a picture of a pair of old turkey buzzards.

Oh well, I guess buzzards can be lovebirds too. They are very prolific in this area. There is usually not a day goes by that I don’t see a few gracefully circling high in the air. Maybe next time I’ll be able to capture that elusive image of our neighborhood eagle. For now, I’ll have to enjoy the buzzards.

This post is part of Skywatch Friday.

Pheathers – Alone

Our local wetlands have several stands of snags, dead trees that form homes for various types of wildlife. Recently, we saw one of these snags with a big bird on top. If he hadn’t briefly raised his wings, we would have never seen him.

He was alone, perched like a statue against the sky. I zoomed in with my camera, close—

Closer—

Closest—

When we saw his image in the camera’s window we realized he was a great blue heron. I am hoping he wasn’t alone at all, but has a partner and a nest in the wetlands, and will soon raise more baby herons to fill the sky.

This post is part of Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Alone. It is also a testament to hope for the clean-up of toxic sites all around the country and world. This area, running parallel to Lipari Landfill, was once in the top ten of worst Superfund sites in the US. The toxic chemicals have been cleaned up and now the wetlands nearby are home to many birds and other wildlife.

Perspective, Pheathers and Phascination – Hello Friends!

Today I conceded that WordPress Blogs are the most user-friendly, and paid the fee for my blog’s overabundant media library. This will give me another year blogging at WordPress. I suppose I should say…I’m back.

I’m sharing the Cornell Lab Bird Cams as a start-up post. I’ve been especially intrigued with the Hawk, Fruit Feeders, and Savannah Osprey Cams. I’ve included them in my post. The bird cams are one of my favorite places to visit online. Enjoy!

Pheathers – Oh Happy Day!

This morning I spied him/her for the first time. The hummingbird circled around the shepherd’s hook where the hummingbird feeder hung last year. I shouted out the happy news to my husband. When I’m finished this post I’ll take my feeder off the garage shelf, soak in hot sudsy water, rinse it well, fill it with boiled sugar water, and place it back on the hook. Oh Happy Day…the hummers have returned.

While I’m readying my yard for hummingbirds, take a look at the Cornell Lab West Texas hummingbird feeders in Live time.

Photographs & Pheathers – After the Storm/Skywatch Friday

It’s rainy and overcast again. In our area ‘April Showers’ are usually a reality and not just a cliché. I took a few photographs of the sky as the sun came out and broke through the storm clouds. I enjoyed the way the light illuminated one side of the trees with the backdrop of grey sky still behind them. The birds looked a little rain-weary, not really moving around too much, giving me a chance to zoom in and get a few interesting photos as they dried off.

If you have a chance take a peek at the Skywatch Friday BlogSpot for some stunning sky photographs. My photographs were taken within a half hour’s time, the storm cleared out quickly, the sun and wind are miraculous at breaking the clouds up and blowing them away.

Pheathers – Nesting Materials

Birds are beginning to forage for nesting material in our yard. My grandsons helped me fill a suet feeder with bits and pieces that the birds might like to use for lining their nests. We were careful to use string that was cut very short. I’ve read a recommendation of no more than six inches long, but we halved that to three inches to be sure baby birds would not become tangled.

At first we added some colorful feathers in hopes of spotting them within the nests, but then I had second thoughts about the dye they might contain.

Sure enough, when we soaked a feather the water soon was tinted with excess dye. We pulled out all the dyed feathers and only used natural feathers with no color added.

Other items we added were dry grasses cut short, shredded cocoa liner, cotton clothesline casings, bits of tightly-woven nylon netting, and some moss.

We hung our finished project alongside the bird feeder. I saw a bird land and take a look by the end of the day. Hmmm…looking at that nylon netting I’m imagining baby bird feet getting stuck. I think I’m going to take the whole contraption down and remove the netting…just in case.

Pheathers – Frosty Sunbathing

Betwixt and between the snowstorm and the beginning of the melt, was an enchanted period of ice-bejeweled landscapes and sunshine. The birds, exhausted after battling the wind and precipitation for food and foothold, seemed to find a few moments rest amid the glimmer, or should I say glamour, of icy diamonds.

In the past robins were one of the harbingers of Spring, but I see them all through the year now. I wonder if this one is scolding himself for not flying to warmer states.

The mourning dove seems to be resigned to waiting out the bad weather.

A gorgeous lady cardinal surveys the bird feeders atop her perch of pine.

Wow! The brilliant sunshine showed off this grackle’s bluish hood. What a handsome gent. I’m going to name him as my answer to Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge of a view from the side. When we picture birds in our mind, it is usually their side view we imagine.

This grackle is beautiful both ways.

Pheathers & Pages – The Life of Birds and Bird Cams

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I can’t remember where I found this book on ‘The Life of Birds,’ written by David Attenborough, most likely on a library, thrift shop or yard sale treasure hunt. I’ve read through the first chapter, and have found the accompanying BBC/PBS series available on Amazon. This weekend I’ll watch the coinciding show of the series and then read another chapter in the book.

One of the joys in my life is the birds that I see and hear throughout the day. This week I took my camera with me on a walk around the block. The trees were filled with red-wing blackbirds, grackles, starlings, and other birds that flock with them.

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I have included the Cornell Lab of Ornithology bird cams in my posts many times, and will probably point the way to them in the future also. They are amazing, and just about now some of the birds might be ‘feathering’ their nests in preparation for new life.

Take a look at the Sapsucker Woods Bird Feeder. I enjoy the sounds as much as the sights of these live cams.

All the bird cams can be found here: Cornell Lab of Ornithology Bird Cams. Some aren’t online now, but will probably be back soon.

Pheathers – Screech Owls

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“How many are your works, LORD! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.” ~ Psalm 104:24

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On our travels around the Delaware Bay yesterday we stopped at the 2017 Cumberland County Winter Eagle Festival. These two screech owls were breathtaking in their beauty. They were so perfect, at first glance they didn’t seem to be real; I actually thought they were mechanical toys. God’s world is amazing!

Photograph & Pheathers – Marsh Ice & Buzzards

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It’s never too cold to take a day trip to the Delaware Bay. The scenery definitely has a chilly appeal, the salty marsh areas freeze in the cold temperatures.

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The gathering of ice around the stems of the Phragmites was beautiful.

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As we drove we saw a buzzard sunning himself with wings outstretched, I missed a photo of that amazing sight, but was able to get a close-up of his strange features. These birds make up for their lack of loveliness by their ability to soar on the wind. The buzzard is a scavenger, and does his job well.

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We spotted this large nest of twigs in a tree on the way to East Point Lighthouse. It appears to be in good shape, it will be interesting to check on it again and see if it is revisited in the Spring.

Pheathers – Bird Biscuits

I’ve been wanting to create a ‘bird biscuit’ of some kind to feed the birds this winter. Our snowy weather is the perfect time to try; the ground and many other food sources are covered under six inches of the snow.

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I searched through some recipes, and found a few I liked, but didn’t have the exact ingredients on hand. I fiddled around and came up with my own mix of ingredients. The biscuits baked up nicely. Give this recipe a try, adapting it to your own easily available ingredients.

1 1/2 Cups White Cornmeal (Yellow is called for in most bird recipes, but I had white on hand.)
1 Cup bird seed, dried fruits, etc. (I used dried cranberries, hulled sunflower seeds and mixed bird seed.)
1/3 Cup Vegetable Shortening. (Other recipes use bacon fat.)
1 Cup Water

Mix cornmeal, seeds, fruits with shortening.

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Add the water and mix well. Dough will be very stiff.

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I used an ice cream scoop to place dough on silicon pans. A cookie sheet would work also.

Bake in a 400 degree pre-heated oven for 20 minutes. While the biscuits were still hot I punched a hole in the center with a plastic straw. Most held up fine to this…a few crumbled.

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I strung the most intact biscuit with a string. I gathered up a broken biscuit, a piece with good form, and the strung biscuit and took them outside to the bird and suet feeders.

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I put the firm biscuit in the suet feeder. Before I even went indoors a woodpecker visited the feeder. I don’t know if he touched the bird biscuit, but I think not.

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Within minutes a small flock of grackles found the biscuit, they pecked away, and the crumbles fell to the ground…to the delight of the grackles waiting below. The fallen crumbs were quickly eaten.

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I placed the crumbles on the bird swing, and tied the strung biscuit to the rope. An hour later all the crumbles are gone, but the biscuit on a string seems untouched. I predict this treat will disappear in a few hours when evening draws near.

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This dove quickly made use of the fresh water I placed outdoors. A reminder to change it daily, maybe even twice, while the freeze continues.

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This bear of a dog is one of the reasons I tried to place all the biscuits off the ground. Yesterday I threw some stale English Muffins out for the birds only to see this smart beast hunting and scooping them out with his snout. He’s visited the yard on other occasions when I’ve thrown bread out. I don’t mind, but he is definitely well-fed and the birds need all the sustenance they can get in this weather. I’m hoping the birds eat the biscuits before the hungry dog is tempted to visit our yard again.

Pheathers – Bird-Watching Cams

I enjoy the many bird cams Cornell Lab of Ornithology offers on its website and Youtube Channel. Even now, as I write this post, I have another window open on my computer and I’m listening to the live chirping of the birds feeding at the Ithaca New York bird feeders.

“This FeederWatch cam is located in the Treman Bird Feeding Garden at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Perched on the edge of both Sapsucker Woods and its 10-acre pond, these feeders attract both forest species like chickadees and woodpeckers as well as some species that prefer open environments near water like Red-winged Blackbirds.”

Watching birds outside your window, or on one of these cams, is guaranteed to brighten the dreariest winter day.