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Sunday, January 14, 2018

Cedar Waxwing

I forced myself outside to take a walk in the windy cold yesterday and I was rewarded with a cedar waxwing sighting. Look at that smooth sleek masked and crested beauty. There were two of them sitting in a tree that was covered with dry berries, which is what they eat in winter along with cedar berries from which they get part of their name.
The waxwing part of their name comes from their bright red wingtips. The red parts actually are wax, a bright red waxy secretion thought to play a role in mate attraction. Click to enlarge. I'm attracted.
Their yellow tail tips are lovely, too.

The sighting reminded me of this poem, WAXWINGS, by Robert Francis.

Four Tao philosophers as cedar waxwings
chat on a February berry bush
in sun, and I am one.

Such merriment and such sobriety--
the small wild fruit on the tall stalk--
was this not always my true style?

Above an elegance of snow, beneath
a silk-blue sky a brotherhood of four
birds. Can you mistake us?

To sun, to feast, and to converse
and all together--for this I have abandoned
all my other lives.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Wendy's Crows

Today I stood outside in the cold for a while watching this crow forage in the trash behind a Wendy's fast food restaurant. I like the way it is puffing up its feathers. Click to enlarge. 

Another one flew over and then both left when I got too close, making dramatic silhouettes as they went. They are so sharply contrasted against the light sky that they made me want to turn them into Photoshop brushes. (Click here to read how I do that.) 

And here they are! Wendy's crows.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Happy New Year!

The Creature of the Year award for 2017 goes to the Chincoteague wild ponies that were featured in the May Mother's Day blog. Congratulations to the ponies for outstanding cuteness! Click to enlarge. 
In the event that the ponies are unable to fulfill their duties, the runner up peacock fly from June 4's blog -- pictured here reacting to the announcement -- will step in. Happy New Year and good wishes to all for 2018.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas!

I am as light as a feather, I am as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a schoolboy. I am as giddy as a drunken man. A merry Christmas to everybody! A happy New Year to all the world!” -- Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Another Backyard Bird

The tufted titmouse, Baeolophus bicolor, is a frequent visitor to my seed feeder, summer and winter. Males and females look alike, so this one could be either. The crested head and big dark eyes make it adorable, right? Click to enlarge.
Tufted titmice hoard seeds against the uncertainties of finding food in winter. They are "scatter hoarders" that tuck seeds away in numerous small caches, an approach that gives some insurance against catastrophic pilferage by raiders. They hide seeds under bark and in tree crotches and similar places. I see them taking seed after seed, one at a time, flying away and then flying back for more.
Birds that hoard seeds like tufted titmice are famous for having well developed spatial memories that allow them to remember hundred to thousands of hiding places. Smart!
I'm a scatter hoarder, too.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Little Woodpeckers

This female downy woodpecker, Picoides pubescens, seems to like my new suet feeder. She's about 6 inches long. Click to enlarge.
Before she flies to the feeder, she sits in a nearby tree for a few moments. I assume she is checking the area for dangers.
A male came by soon, too. You can tell the difference by the red patch on the back of his head. I often see a male female pair pecking in the trees together. Handsome couple!

Sunday, December 3, 2017