Pheathers – Osprey

Osprey Nest in Fortescue, New Jersey.

I was delighted when I bicycled past this beautiful home built alongside the Delaware Bay. I wonder if the ospreys and their chicks are noisy. I saw at least one chick, and most likely there is another inside the protective barrier of sticks. We also saw a Bald Eagle flying over the bay on the day I took the photograph.

Althought I’m a bit late, this post is part of the Skywatch Friday Challenge.

Phlowers & Pheathers – April 30th, Growing in the Garden/The Hummingbirds Return

We have been seeing a small ruby-throated hummingbird for two weeks. It has been visiting the feeder of nectar I have outside the kitchen window. Every other day, I bring the feeder in, soak it in hot, sudsy water, and refill with newly boiled sugar water. (2 Cups water, 1/2 Cup sugar) Hummingbird feeders can spread disease or become contaminated with mold. A great article on feeding hummingbirds can be found at EcoSystem Gardening.

NOTE: Thanks to a reader for the great comment about cleaning with vinegar. I did a bit of research on it and this is a good choice for cleaning the feeder. Also, another good idea is to use a brush to thoroughly clean all the nooks around the feeder openings. Here’s a link to more ideas for cleaning a hummingbird feeder. How to Clean a Hummingbird Feeder.

Mandevilla Vines come in a variety of colors. I chose to grow the pink flowers this year. These vines are beloved by hummingbirds. The vines bloom from Spring until Autumn, they do well in full sun, but also need to be shaded from the hottest late afternoon rays. I am growing the Mandevilla in a pot so that when summer is over I can bring it indoors for the colder months.

My mandevilla flowers are part of Cee’s Flower of the Day and also an entry in this week’s Skywatch Friday.

I have three hanging baskets a yard or two away from the hummingbird feeder. These are filled with plants I know hummingbirds adore. Blue Suede Salvia and Vista Red Salvia, also called sages, have the trumpet-shaped flowers that perfectly fit a hummingbird’s beak and tongue. These plants do great in full sun, but also can take a bit of shade too.

My beautiful Vermillion Cuphea, also known as Firecracker plants, are always a favorite with the hummingbirds. I grow them in the ground and also planted in pots. Last Autumn, the Firecracker plant I grew in a pot easily transferred to the house. It grew well all winter, and this week I placed it outdoors on the patio again. It is doing well, although some of the uppermost leaves, after growing in the lower light of the house, promptly became sunburned. Since I pinched the tops of these stems, new branching will soon leaf out and cover up the scorched top leaves.

Cuphea plants in a row will make a nice seasonal hedge. This plant is perennial in warmer climates.

Pheathers – Robins in Snow

It snowed again this week. February has lived up to it’s cold reputation in southern New Jersey. For two years in a row we had little snow; we are wishing for those days back again as more icy rain is on the way tomorrow, and then another storm could arrive a few days later.

Recently, at the start of another bout of snowy weather, I looked out the window and spotted a flock of birds. I couldn’t tell by their silhouettes what type of bird they were, but thought I saw a flash of orange breast.

Sure enough, they were robins. Poor things, they looked miserable hunched against the snowflakes and wind. When I took a close-up photograph I chuckled, but also felt some sympathy, one robin had an icicle beard. Brrrr…I’m with the robins, I want Spring to come and Winter to quickly end.

This photograph is part of Skywatch.

Pheathers – Timely Tip

Fresh water is essential for the health of backyard birds in the winter. In cold weather my usual birdbaths are retired to prevent ice damage. To offer the birds water I spent two dollars at the local dollar store. I use an oil drip pan, on top of a deli tray for stability, and place this set-up on my bird bath fixture. It works great. To keep the water flowing through icy temperatures and snow I pour a pitcher of water on top about three times a day. Even in heavy winds the plastic birdbath holds firm.

Here’s a dove during yesterday’s snowstorm, getting a drink from the makeshift birdbath. I hope you can see through my window screen. No matter how quietly I try to sneak that window and screen up to photograph the birds, they are always wise to me, and quickly fly away.

*Added this tip after posting: My water pan (oil drip pan) is a 5. This plastic is considered safe for food storage. More info can be found here: Which Plastics are Safe for Food?

Quote & Pheathers -The Hummer

Saturday evening, we watched two hummingbirds battling for rights over a firecracker plant. We were amazed at how long they dove and swooped at each other in the air. Finally, only one remained, and exhausted, he took some respite in the back yard pine tree. After the big battle with another wondrous flyer, an earthbound human didn’t seem very threatening to him, and he let me take at least a dozen or more photographs of him. What a wondrous little bird God fashioned when he created the hummingbird.

O LORD, how manifold are your works! In wisdom have you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.
~ Psalm 104:24

This photograph is part of Skywatch.

Pheathers – Beauty & Rest

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” ~Matthew 11:28-30

Even in the midst of all the upheaval in 2020, there is beauty to be found, there is rest. May God bless you this day.

This photo is part of Skywatch.

Pheathers – Birdwatching

I saw so many beautiful birds this weekend. On the drive to Fortescue and the Delaware Bay an eagle flew over our car. Alongside the road, beside a small pond, we glimpsed a large heron with raggedy feathers on it’s chest. I looked up ‘heron with a feathery chest,’ and realized we saw a Great Blue Heron. While we were fishing I watched an osprey dive into the bay and come up with a fish, easily flying while clutching the meal in it’s talons. I also spotted a small sparrow, picking among the grains of sand for food. He was the only bird I managed to capture with my camera. I enjoyed seeing the large birds, but it was the small bird that reminded me of a favorite Bible verse, and although I have used it before in blog post, considering our crazy world right now, it’s a good reminder of how God watches over us, cares for us, loves us, protects us, and even though we aren’t always aware of it, intercedes for us. May God watch over you and bless you this day.

“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God.” ~Luke 12:6

Pheathers & Phlutters – On the Wing

I was able to photograph a few favorites this past weekend. The butterfly with the beautiful orange wings is an Eastern Comma Butterfly. I don’t see many of these and was pleased to find it posing prettily in my front yard.

Cabbage White butterflies are plentiful, but not easy to photograph with wings outstretched.

I saw the first Monarch Butterfly of the season at Fortescue Beach. I didn’t know I had captured it in flight until I downloaded the files. This photo is part of Skywatch.

I love the seagulls in Fortescue. They haven’t learned the bad habits of raiding picnic hampers and snack bags. In neighboring beach towns the gulls are formidable. Never walk across the boardwalk with uncovered French Fries. You will be dive-bombed and might lose them.

The funnel on top of the piling is there to keep the gulls off. The pilings without funnels are usually occupied by a gull.

I watched this Osprey fly over the bay, descend, and come up with a fish in its talons. They are excellent at fishing.

I enjoyed my weekend full of flyers of all types…except maybe the Greenhead Fly who bit my ankle. That flyer is now lying beneath the sand I kicked over it after I swatted it. Happily, the Greenhead was a solo flyer, and no others visited me while I fished off the beach.

Pheathers – Cornell Lab Live Bird Cams

Every year I like to include links to these amazing bird cams courtesy of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Nesting birds, feeders with frequent visitors, exotic locations, bird lovers will find these sites addictive. Enjoy.

If you have Youtube through Amazon Fire TV, or another means, you can watch the Bird Cams in large-sized format. My cat watches quite often and is so content if he finds a patch of sun to lay in while the bird feeder cams are on the television. Fun!

There are many more bird cams available on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website.

 

 

 

Pheathers – Shore Birds

Sea Gulls

We were able to do a little weekend fishing at the Delaware Bay in Fortescue. There were hundreds of shore birds on the beaches eating the eggs of the horseshoe crabs. We saw many varieties, and I hope I have the identification correct. Horseshoe crabs, once endangered, are a major source of food for migrating birds. “The fate of some species is tied to these horseshoe crabs.” ~Sea Around You

Ruddy Turnstone and Sandpiper

This was the first time I’ve photographed the Ruddy Turnstone wearing it’s breeding colors. The birds almost resemble calico cats. Their colors are bright and beautiful.

Ruddy Turnstone

 

Sanderling

 

Sandpiper

This cormorant seemed to be craning his long neck to search for food in the water beneath him.

Cormorant

An informative article on shore birds can found at New Jersey Shorebirds.

Pheathers – Moth

One bonus of spring and summertime are the moths I find on my front door screen in the morning. Drawn by the porch light, they seem to be at rest in the early hours before moving on. The moths are usually at eye level giving me a good look at the complexities of their feathered antennae and the scales that mimic fuzzy fur when seen with the naked eye.

This moth on my front door is part of Norm’s Thursday Doors.

Pheathers – Spring-Cleaning

An ‘oddball‘ place to find a piece of Easter Grass.

The days are lengthening, the temperature is rising, the gardens are beginning to thaw, time to clean the birdhouses before birds begin nesting again. We removed the bottom of the birdhouse and discarded the debris left by the previous occupants. Two of the birdhouses were rather empty, causing me to wonder if birds have already begun renovating and tossed out the twigs inside. One house was still full of sticks and a small nest. We spotted a single sprig of Easter basket filler woven into the dried grass.

We rehung the birdhouses with new strips of leathers. The knots harden and don’t loosen up once they are wet by rain. Although they might hold up another year I like to change them when we clean the houses. The three birdhouses are ready for new life. I might add another one on a tripod near my back window as I have in the past. Birdhouses 101 advises to place houses at least five feet above the ground and keep each house twenty-five feet away from the others.

“Make yourselves nests of pleasant thoughts. None of us knows what fairy palaces we may build of beautiful thought-proof against all adversity. Bright fancies, satisfied memories, noble histories, faithful sayings, treasure houses of precious and restful thoughts, which care cannot disturb, nor pain make gloomy, nor poverty take away from us. ~ John Ruskin

This post is part of Weekly Photo Challenge hosted by Traveling at Wit’s End: Feathered Friends.

Pheathers – Phriday Pheathers/Bird Cam Time

It’s time to watch nesting hawks, cahows, hummingbirds, eagles, owls, etc.

PANAMA BIRD FEEDER LIVE CAM

You can find many more links on the Cornell Lab Live Cam pages across the top bar.

Cornell Lab of Ornithology Bird Cams

HUMMINGBIRD NEST LIVE CAM

Explore Live Cams also has many links to live animal and bird cams.

Explore Live Cams

ISAIAH AND MRS JEFFERSON – EAGLE CAM AT DOLLYWOOD

CAUTION: You might find yourself addicted to these amazing cam sites. ❤

Pheathers – Lion or Lamb

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“It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.” ~Charles Dickens

Beneath the blue skies of midweek it appeared March might come in cold, but beautiful and clear. I admired the migratory flock of birds dotting my neighbor’s tree. Host to an iridescent mix of grackles, red-wing blackbirds, cowbirds and starlings, the tree was the stage for a twittering cacophony of bird talk.

Unfortunately, winter has not reached its turning point, and March arrived wrapped in a mantle of snowfall. Regardless of its chilly start, I know warmer, radiant weather will eventually ensue and appease my winter-weary mood. March days will soon find me in my garden turning over the soil to once again welcome spring.

Pheathers – Monochrome Monday Mockingbird in Snow

Mockingbirds are a favorite of mine. I captured this beauty outside my window today, perched on a branch of the Bald Cypress tree. The beautiful snow is reason enough to gaze out the window, making eye-contact with a mockingbird is an added bonus. Is it possible to develop friendship with birds, moments of real trust? Possibly this morning was an inroad to even better relationships with the backyard flock. I trudged out in the snow to throw a bit of seed on the ground, and into the feeder hoping to give them a few minutes of nourishment before the snow covered my breakfast offering over again.

This Monochrome Monday post is part of Skywatch.

Pheathers – Did You Know?

Did you know February is National Bird Feeding Month? These were birds at my feeder yesterday in the small snow squall that came through New Jersey.

It’s also groundhog day, but because of my problems with those pesky groundhogs, it’s definitely not on my list of celebration days. I didn’t know there was a site dedicated to informing those unaware of what national day you can commemorate, but there is and you can find it here: National Today.

Quick Tip & Pheathers – A Gritty Helping Hand

Today while running some errands I stopped at the local pet store and bought some bird grit. I don’t have pet birds, but recently was reminded while reading through Country Wisdom & Know How that birds are vulnerable to digestion problems when they can’t scratch up and ingest grit from the frozen earth.

“Grit is necessary for birds to grind the food they eat and for some mineral value. Offer ground oyster shell, sand or ground eggshell either alone in trays or mixed with seed or recipes." Country Wisdom & Know-How

We had snow yesterday, and while it is pretty and seasonal, it also makes life a bit harder for the backyard birds. When I fill the feeders I will add a bit of the grit to the tray. When the snow melts I’ll sprinkle a small amount beneath the feeders each day where the birds can easily find it.