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Wild Bird Wednesday

Hi everyone! Wow! Did we have an exciting day last week. On Tuesday, May 19th a pair of male Ruby-throated Hummingbirds waged a fierce all day battle for the rights to our backyard. I noticed them first thing in the morning when I took the dogs out for their bathroom duties.

Let the games begin!

Let the games begin!

Throughout the day I would glance out the window and see them still going at it.

Get off my feeder!

Get off my feeder!

Occasionally they would both land on the feeder and both would take some sips from the feeder.

A temporary truce for refueling

A temporary truce for refueling

But that wouldn’t last long and they would be at it again.

Who will be the first to give up?

Who will be the first to give up?

They were so consumed by their turf battle that I was able to get within about 8 feet to take these pictures. I also took some video of the action that you can see below. The video is a bit long but that was after I cut it down from the 20 clips I took of them. I apologize that the birds aren’t always in the best focus but I wanted to demonstrate how fierce some of the action was. The camera had difficulty focusing on the small birds and instead would focus on the background. If you listen closely you can hear when they hit each other. You can also see that they seem to take turns being the one on the feeder and the one trying to knock the other off.

[vimeo https://vimeo.com/129004352]

If you can’t see the video you can go here to view it.

At times one of the birds would be on the feeder.

Whatcha looking at?

Whatcha looking at?

While the other was on top of the hook holding the feeder. It seemed that the one on top would not see when the other flew onto the feeder.

Where did he go?

Where did he go?

There were brief periods of rest between skirmishes. I caught this picture of them both preening while sitting on the trellis in the perennial garden.

The arrows show where the hummingbirds are sitting.

The arrows show where the hummingbirds are sitting.

I was getting exhausted watching this battle going on. It continued all day long until after sundown. (Yes, I turned off the lights in the kitchen and looked out at about 8:30 pm to see them still going at it) The next day only one male hummingbird remained. I would like to think the loser of the battle flew on to find his own territory.

I hope you have enjoyed this edition of Wild Bird Wednesday and will take some time to stop by the blog hop host too.

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Wild Bird Wednesday

Hi everyone! Sorry I haven’t been around the blogs much the past few days but I was hit with a stomach bug late Saturday night and I’m just starting to feel myself again.

While I was down for the count we had a first ever avian visitor to our yard. I was feeling so bad that I didn’t even get out of bed to see it so I had to rely on Charlie’s photography skills to verify his find.

Northern Saw-Whet Owl on suet feeder

Northern Saw-Whet Owl on suet feeder

He appeared to be sleeping and Charlie was able to sneak up fairly close. With his long lens he got some great pictures.

No other birds are coming to the feeder for a while.

No other birds are coming to the feeder for a while.

He was still in the yard later in the afternoon when Charlie took the dogs out for a play session. The owl was tucked into the scrub behind the feeder and Charlie said the owl kept a close eye on the pups but never moved. The dogs had no idea he was there.

Northern Saw-Whet owl

Northern Saw-Whet owl

By the next day he was gone. Maybe he will return and bring a friend. According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology All About Birds online guide we are in the year round range of the Northern Saw-whet Owl. We may never see him again as they are usually nocturnal. Judging by the fact that he never opened his eyes while Charlie was photographing him he certainly seemed to be trying to catch some “z’s”. Maybe we will hear them at night when the weather is nicer? We will keep you posted.

I hope you have enjoyed this edition of Wild Bird Wednesday and will take some time to stop by the blog hop host too.

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Wild Bird Wednesday

I thought I would give you a little birding update from our yard. You may remember a while back when I reported that our bluebird box had been under attack by some House sparrows. Sadly the first brood of babies was lost but since then our bluebird couple have been working hard to raise two more broods. The last couple of weeks the babies from the final brood have been coming to the feeder and we have been able to watch them grow.

Please note that all the pictures in this post were taking through our windows so the quality isn’t very good.

A baby bluebird spotlighted in our linden tree

A baby bluebird spotlighted in our linden tree

At first the babies would land in the tree above the dried meal worm feeder and call to be fed.

Baby bluebirds huddled together

Baby bluebirds huddled together

Feed me mom! I'm starving here!

Feed me mom! I’m starving here!

Eventually they got up the courage to land in the feeder but still wanted to be fed by mom or dad.

Hurry up mom! I don't care how big the worm is.

Hurry up mom! I don’t care how big the worm is.

Nom, nom, nom, nom......

Nom, nom, nom, nom……

Eventually the babies started coming to the feeder and helping themselves and sometimes would even start to forage on the ground for themselves.

Anything good to eat down here?

Anything good to eat down here?

I always love the call that the male bluebird makes (click on the link to find a recording). He sweetly calls to his family to keep them all together. We sure are going to miss these bluebirds when they are gone for the season but we will always have the welcome mat ready when they come back next spring (and make sure to keep the sparrows away).

I hope you have enjoyed this edition of Wild Bird Wednesday and will take some time to stop by the blog hop host too.

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Wild Bird Wednesday

Hi everyone it’s Cindy here. There has been so much bird action around our yard this past week that I had to do a Wild Bird Wednesday post.

I was hoping to be able to tell you about our Eastern Bluebird fledglings by now but sadly the first brood of babies were attacked by a House Sparrow and did not survive. This is not an unusual occurrence for bluebirds and many other cavity nesting birds but it is a first for our property. Prior to this year house sparrow sightings in our yard were very rare but for some reason this year we had a couple try to nest in our spare bluebird box. Usually the other box is inhabited by a House Wren but the sparrow started taking over the box before the wren arrived for the season.

The sparrows also started harassing the bluebirds who, by this time, were feeding their hatchlings. One day last week while Charlie was working in the yard both adult bluebirds were out hunting for food when sadly a sparrow entered the box and killed the babies. We removed both nest boxes immediately and set about looking for ways to prevent this in the future. After a quick search on the internet we found plans for a “Sparrow Spooker” and quickly added it to the box.

Bluebird House with Sparrow Spooker

Bluebird House with Sparrow Spooker

The reports indicated that these funny devices were very effective in deterring the sparrows but didn’t bother the bluebirds. Ours is a simple design of a large diameter dowel with two smaller dowels near the top sticking out at right angles to each other. We stapled strips of Mylar to the smaller dowels and the large dowel is screwed to the back of the house. The renovated house was put up by the end of the tragic day so we hopefully wouldn’t loose our bluebirds. We are happy to report that the bluebirds have stayed, the house sparrows have left, and the bluebirds are working on another brood already. We haven’t seen or heard any house sparrows in our yard since.

Grey Catbird on meal worm feeder

Grey Catbird on meal worm feeder
(Picture taken through window)

In happier news we have had a huge rush of migratory birds to our yard. Some are on their way further north but many are here to stay for the season. The Grey Catbird is always one of my favorite summer residents in our yard. I love listening to their cat like calls and laugh at how they try to mimic other birds.

American Redstart
(Image Source)

We had a huge explosion of warblers in our yard. A few of these such as the Yellow Warbler, Common Yellowthroat Warbler and American Redstart are some that stick around for the summer. The warblers are very difficult to photograph since they move quickly and hang out in thick trees and shrubs. I was able to capture an American Redstart (male pictured above) on video looking for bugs in our Leatherleaf Viburnum.

If you can’t see the video you can go here to view it.

Baltimore Oriole
(Image Source)

The second bird that is often heard long before we see it is the Baltimore Oriole. I found ours hanging out in one of the apple trees on our property. Here is a brief video where you can catch a glimpse and hear his piercing call.

If you can’t see the video you can go here to view it.

You can also hear the Common Yellowthroat call in the oriole video (you can find a sample of the call at the link for reference).

Okay I know this post is already a bit long but this is a busy time of year for birds. I have one more thing to tell you about. For years we have heard but never seen a Hermit Thrush on our property. These birds often hang out in dense woods and forage on the ground but this week we have had one regularly visit our perennial garden where he discovered the meal worm feeder!

Hermit Thrush on meal worm feeder

Hermit Thrush on meal worm feeder
(Picture taken through window)

We are thrilled to see him return often to partake of our meal worms and hope to see him much of the summer.

I hope you have enjoyed this edition of Wild Bird Wednesday and will take some time to stop by the blog hop host too.

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Wild Bird Wednesday

I know what you are thinking. Why is she posting Wild Bird Wednesday on Tuesday? Well the Wild Bird Wednesday blog hop is hosted in Australia so if I wait to post on Wednesday the blog hop is at least half over by the time my post goes up so here it is.

Well earlier this week I showed you how our Bluebirds and Blue jay fared during our most recent snow storm. Here is a look at a few of our other visitors to our meal worm feeder this past Sunday. The weather might not be very spring like but the bird activity indicates that spring is in the air.

Mr. Cardinal waits his turn and then feeds his mate.

Mr. Cardinal waits his turn and then feeds his mate.

The cardinals are exhibiting common pair bonding behavior by having the male feed the female. I love watching them do this and hope to catch it on video someday too.

An American Robin samples the worms.

An American Robin samples the worms.

This is the second year we have ever had robins using the meal worm feeder. These (there are two of them) are early arrivals and seemed to have staked a claim to our yard. With the ground covered with snow there isn’t much for them to feed on so they welcome the meal worms too. Once their usual feeding supplies become available the robins stop using the dried meal worms.

Who put this snow drift on our feeder?

Who put this snow drift on our feeder?

One of my favorite birds in our yard is the tufted titmouse. They are so fast that it can be a challenge to catch them in a picture.

For those of you that are curious, we have been feeding dried meal worms for many years with great success. Some people will tell you that bluebirds won’t use them but ours love them and later in the season bring their young to the feeding platform. As you can see we have many other species of birds using the feeder too.

If you are interested in getting some we purchase ours from DriedInsects.com. You can’t beat the price of the 11 pound bag especially if you order more than one (there is usually free shipping too). Most local stores only sell small bags that cost much more per pound. You might go that route if you wanted to give it a try but if you think you will be using them for the entire feeding season I would recommend the large bag. We go through two to three 11 pound bags per feeding season which runs from March to September.

I hope you have enjoyed this edition of Wild Bird Wednesday and will take some time to stop by the blog hop host too.

Note: the pictures above were all taken through a window so the quality isn’t quite up to par. Even with a long lens I can’t get this close without spooking most of the birds away nor did I want to sit out in the cold to get these. 😉

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WTF? We came back to our nest box because you said it was Spring! Thanks for the worms.

WTF?
We came back to our nest box because you said it was Spring!
Thanks for the worms though.

Yeah...where did Spring go?

Yeah…where did Spring go?

Okay so I’m taking a little liberty with B & W Sunday and instead of black and white today it’s blue and white. That’s right folks we woke up this morning to about a foot of snow! Let me repeat that…A FOOT OF SNOW!!! And it’s super heavy wet stuff. So far our driveway hasn’t been plowed but lucky for us we don’t have anywhere to be until tomorrow (I just hope they aren’t on vacation in Florida or something like that). The temperatures are expected to be above freezing later today and continue for the next week so this should be fairly short lived. Needless to say Millie and Walter have been out playing in it and having a blast.

Our bluebird couple arrived as usual this week and have staked claim to the nest box we have for them. This feeder is a platform that Charlie made a few years ago. We fill it with dried meal worms and a wide variety of birds feed from it including the Bluejay in the second picture. This time of year in these conditions I’m sure the birds are grateful for the help.

Sorry we’ve been a bit quiet lately. My (Cindy) back has been bothering me so I haven’t been spending much time sitting at the computer. I’ve been able to keep up reading all of your blogs using my Kindle, but I don’t comment as much since it is a bit of a pain. There will be more photos of different birds using the feeder later in the week.

 

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Hi everyone it’s Cindy here to tell you about one of the crafty things I’ve been up to in the past couple of months. During November and December I had quite a few crafty things I was working on. Some were gifts, some were orders from my Etsy shop, and some were just for us to enjoy at home. Today I will tell you about a wall hanging I made for us. It might not be very big, but a lot went into making it so sit back and grab a cuppa because this post is not short.

A Bird's Eye View of Winter

A Bird’s Eye View of Winter

This wall hanging is a perfect fit at about 28 x 52 inches for a skinny wall we have in our family room. It is made up of 7 large embroideries that I found at my favorite source Embroidery Library. You can see my stitch outs for each block below. You should click on each block for the full size to be able to enjoy all the amazing details in them.

Northern Cardinal (click image for full detail)

Northern Cardinal
(click image for full detail)

The bird embroideries average about 8″ x 8″ each which if you aren’t familiar with machine embroidery you might not realize that is a large size. Here are a few more statistics:

  • Average Number of Stitches for each embroidery = 105,225
  • Average Number of Unique Thread colors = 29
  • Average Number of Thread Color Changes = 40
  • Average Number of Hours to Complete each Embroidery = 6
Eastern Bluebird (click image for full detail)

Eastern Bluebird
(click image for full detail)

Now let me interpret those statistic for the non-embroiderers. Each embroidery had about 29 different colors of thread used and some of them are used more than once. The way it works is the machine tells you what color thread to load in your machine. When it is done with that color it stops and then lets you know what the next color is. So the number of thread color changes is the number of times the machine stops so you can re-thread it.

White-breasted Nuthatch (click image for full detail)

White-breasted Nuthatch
(click image for full detail)

Some of the color changes were for less than 100 stitches to make some of the smallest details. Think white dot in the birds eye or the steering wheel on the tractor below.

Dark-eyed Junco (click image for full detail)

Dark-eyed Junco
(click image for full detail)

That last number was probably the hardest one to deal with and the Junco embroidery above was the biggest endurance test of them all. That embroidery didn’t even have the most stitches, but it had the most colors and 49 color changes. It is extremely detailed and even though it felt like it was never going to be done stitching it is one of my favorites.

Downy Woodpecker (click image for full detail)

Downy Woodpecker
(click image for full detail)

Sitting and watching these stitch out for 6+ hours each was a marathon. I could take some breaks at the beginning of each embroidery when it did large areas, but if I didn’t want them to take any longer than they had to I needed to be there to change the thread as soon as it stopped.

Black-capped Chickadee (click image for full detail)

Black-capped Chickadee
(click image for full detail)

In addition to just stitching these out it took about an hour to set up each one. It did get easier the more I did since I would repeat thread colors for similar elements like the poinsettias, leaves and evergreens. All of the embroideries are done as close to what is called for in the files except for one of them.

American Goldfinch (click image for full detail)

American Goldfinch
(click image for full detail)

If you check out the Embroidery Library link above you will see that there isn’t a goldfinch in the set. Since we don’t have Pine Grosbeaks around here I changed the colors to yellow to make a goldfinch instead. All of the embroideries were done on white fabric that has tone on tone snowflakes on it to fit the season.

Okay, enough about the embroideries. If you hang in just a little longer I will finish this up. I just have to show you some of the quilting I did on the wall hanging. Lucky for me I had all the fabric I needed in my stash left over from the Christmas Tree Quilt I made a couple of years ago.  I wanted to frame the blocks with the black and the olive green fabric worked well with all the embroideries. The nice thing with using that fabric is that the quilts coordinate with each other especially since  they are both part of our winter decor now.

Poinsettia Quilting Around Chickadee Block (click image for full detail)

Poinsettia Quilting Around Chickadee Block
(click image for full detail)

I did stitch in the ditch quilting around each of the black frames first. To fill in around the Chickadee block I added some quilting embroideries from Anita Goodesign’s Winter Quilt for All Seasons.

Pointsettia Cluster (click image for full detail)

Poinsettia Cluster
(click image for full detail)

I had to combine some files and modify others to create what I wanted for all the quilting on the wall hanging.

Poinsettia Detail on Bottom (click image for full detail)

Poinsettia Detail on Bottom
(click image for full detail)

Since I wanted to fill in the area around the chickadee block I did the quilting with one of the dark red threads I used on the poinsettias in the blocks to make it visible.

Holly Quilting Between Blocks Poinsettia Detail on Bottom (click image for full detail)

Holly Quilting Between Blocks
(click image for full detail)

At first I wasn’t planning on doing any quilting between the blocks but after it was all together and I did the stitching around the black borders I thought it needed a little more. The Winter Quilt for All Seasons set also had some blocks with holly leaves and berries. With some minor modifications I was able to create this nice border embroidery. These are done vertically next to each of the blocks and at the top of the wall hanging also. I used a matching thread since I didn’t need these to stand out as much as the poinsettia quilting.

Doing the quilting with the embroidery machine gave me exactly the same stitch out every time, but also meant I had to put all three layers of the quilt into the embroidery hoop which isn’t easy. I also had to line up the border embroideries very carefully as there was only about a quarter inch of space on either side. Thankfully my machine has a great function for doing this fairly precisely and I didn’t mess any up.

Obligatory picture with Walter the Super Model

Obligatory picture with Walter the Super Model

I hope you enjoyed reading (or at least skimming the pictures) about this wall hanging. It was like running a marathon to get it done but I really love how it came out.

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