Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Bird Sign Cards: The Mockingbird

After visiting Vickie Henderson's site (see my complete profile to link to her site), I was inspired to check my Bird Signs book and see what the Mockingbird's message might be. She stated it was the first bird to appear at her new bird bath which was part of her Winter Solstice celebration.

Whenever birds appear at odd or special moments in my life, it makes me curious about a possible message. I sometimes feel as though they are messengers.

Over a year ago I spotted a set of Bird Signs Cards, like Tarot Cards, in my local Bookstore. I pounced on it as something I might really enjoy. I have not found any particular way to share these cards with others before, but this blog might be a way. So, after learning about Vickie's Mockingbird appearance, I dug out my cards and here's what that particular Bird Sign Card has to say.

"The Mockingbird Card is associated with Adaptation. It's message is...Adaptation can help you accomplish your mission. It's Healing Colors are Gray and White. Here are some things to ponder from the ways of the Mockingbird: .....Have you always wanted to go on that Dream Vacation? If you have been pondering your vacation plans, entertain thoughts of a Southern climate, where Mockingbirds are numerous. If you prefer a Northern climate, consider Alaska, the northernmost range of Mockingbird. In either place , your body will adapt to the environment and you can have a great time, rather than feeling miserable and out of place.
.....Mockingbird's ability to learn new songs tells you that it is never too late to learn another language or relearn an old one. If a foreign language is beyond your time frame at the moment, then learn one lullabye in another language that you sing softly to your little ones."

......or to yourself as you go throughout your day or on a walk?

http://www.lullabies-of-europe.org/DK/DKFlash/DKSong.htm is an address to a cute one I found on YouTube.

The above is an excerpt from Bird Signs, Guidance and Wisdom From Our Feathered Friends Written by G.G.Carbone, Illustrated by Mary Ruzicka.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Bird Count

Saturday, the 20th was my area's Christmas Bird Count. I promised I would watch my feeders that day and report on the number and species of birds that visited that day. It was the first day in many weeks that I spent so much time just watching like I used to. Those kind of days were "pre-bird business" days. Since my business started to "fly" back in June of this year, I haven't really allowed myself too much relaxation with my backyard birds. One was long overdue.

And because this was promised, I reveled in it. I started out with a leisurely cup of coffee with my honey. He asked what I actually had to do for the CBC. I told him that I had to count as many birds of a specific species that came at a time, to get as true a count of how many are actually in my groups in my area. So, once he knew he started to help me. Now, this is like the fourth year I've done the Count, but this is actually the first year he assisted me.

It was nice and companionable doing the count with him in the house with me. I would be in my sunroom/office while he was in the kitchen or living room doing tree decorating stuff. He would spot some birds and say his count, that would cause me to turn from my computer and look out my room's windows and start counting my view of that particular specie. Then we would compare notes or chat about what else we were seeing. It was a wonderful way to spend the day together. I will have fond memories of this year's Christmas Bird Count.

Now for what we actually tallied:
15 Mourning Doves, 1 Red Bellied Woodpecker, 2 Downy Woodpeckers, 1 Hairy Woodpecker, 3 Blue Jays, 5 Black Capped Chickadees, 2 Tufted Titmice, 2 White Breasted Nuthatches, 1 Robin, 10 Cardinals, 14 Dark Eyed Juncos, 5 House Finches, 14 American Goldfinch, and 2 House
Here's the Titmouse at the feeder, if you can find it. Sorry about my pix. I have a letter into Santa for a better camera to take bird pix with.

And a couple more shots I took on Saturday.
One Bird, One Bill.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Today's Blog Tunnel

Went on a new adventure today. Went linking from other's blog sites. I dont' always know how I get to places on the web anymore because I just seem to wander with words (blog titles) that strike my fancy at the time. How freeing is that? So, back to my adventure, I found some neat jewels among the many, many blogs that are listed on sites I discover by links from other sites. A person could spend all day just wandering the web of blogs. I never knew. I'm sure there's plenty more I don't know about blogging and the web, but those things are for another wandering day.

So anyway, I was able to copy their blog addresses and put them on my blog page as blogs I'm following. I haven't had one person leave a comment on my new blog since I started. I'm afraid no one has found me yet. So I went exploring myself to maybe leave an imprint on their blog that maybe the blog author or one of their readers might also do some wandering of their own and discover me and my blog. Who knows?

And you know what? I just remembered that as I wandered I didn't once leave a comment on those blogs I read and enjoyed. Hmmm.....maybe I ought to do that next time.

It will happen if it's meant to. The important thing is that I've found lots of nature themed blogs. I've learned that I prefer the wonderment aspect, the art and poetry views to the more scientific slants. But what's cool is I went on an interesting trek and learned and discovered right here at my keyboard. I was lifted away to others' lives for a few moments this morning and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I encourage any blog newbies like myself to go explore and see what you can discover in the nature of blogs.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Mary Oliver's Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees, the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air, are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting -over and over
announcing your place in the family of things.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Protected Bird Feeding Sites

NE Wisconsin has been pounded with snow lately and now today it is frigid with single temps and a bitter wind. I'm glad I found the time to fill my feeders before this weather hit.

A couple tips I'd like to share regarding feeding birds in the Winter with weather such as we're having in Wisconsin right now. For those of you that have open platform feeders (which are very popular with the birds) you know that snow covers the feed. So let me recommend in addition to sweeping the feeders of snow with a whisk type hand broom, that you find a covered spot like a patio table, or deck where there is open space beneath, that birds will be able to access snow and rain protected feed. To the right here, you will see my version of a UK bird feeding table. I read about feeding tables in the many published bird feeding bits from the UK that I get from my Google Alerts to my e-mail. And actually, I believe their's are standing upright in the yard. But here in Wisconsin this is more what we may need in the Winter.

This is my patio table stored upside down underneath my backyard deck. It is a great place for me to throw some of my bird feed. It is a nice open spot that birds (and critters like deer, squirrels, and rabbits) feel comfortable feeding at. It is underneath the deck so it is protected from rain and snow. At this particular time that I took the picture, last week, we had just gotten about 6 inches of snow and you can see that the front edge of the table is only sparsely covered with a thin layer of snow and the back is entirely clear of it. Yet you can also see it is quite open, so this makes an ideal protected feeding spot for birds, and other animal yard visitors.

The orange cord is an extension cord Bill, my husband, set up for my heated bird bath that he attached to the top of the deck railing for us to view from inside our kitchen area. House finches were just bathing in it after the last snowfall! I don't see as much bathing from it, as I do drinking by the birds. In fact, woodpeckers have even visited lately to "wet their whistle".

Now to the second suggestion I have for winter feeding, and this is primarily for when the temperatures dip to bitter single degrees, and below, with windchill. I have taken to using Hulled Sunflower in my feed, especially during the Winter because I really dislike the black mess the Sunflower shells leave around my feeders on top of the white snow. Because their are no hulls on the sunflower, using it in hopper type feeders is best. Protecting it from the rain will deter it from spoiling. But the hulled Sunflower not only is a neater feed to give the birds, it also allows them to get the high oil and energy provision without having to take the time to shell it first. So when the birds are stressed with the cold temperatures, they can access the food quicker and don't have to take the time to get the shells off. So for me it is a win-win situation. It helps both me and the birds when I use the more expensive hulled sunflower this time of year. And that is in addition to the fact that I'm not paying for the shells, but for only sunflower meats.

That's all for now. Stay warm, and Midwest Feeders, find a protected spot for those bird friends, for you know how their visits can warm your heart!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Bird Feeding Ethics

I recently read an article questioning the ethics of luring birds to feeders where they can easily become targets for predators. Yes, I have wondered about the ethical nature of this as well at times and it does concern me.

In my bird feeding business, Feathered Friends Bird Feeding Service, I often look for businesses that could benefit from my service. One such business is a fairly new building with very little landscaping and natural habitat near. That is one pet peeve of mine with commercial and residential building, but I digress and may expound on that another time. But, back to this particular business which happens to be a medical office. I go by it frequently and have not gone further in pursuing them for my service because of my concern for the wellbeing of the birds that may be attracted to feeders in the "middle of nowhere" with no place to hide.

So what is the answer then? Do we not put out feeders to attract beautiful creatures to our windows where we can admire and learn about them? I hope not. I love to watch them and marvel at those fascinating animals too much to stop begging them to come to my yard. In addition, I have experienced way too much euphoria at helping my customers also experience this great joy and passion of bird feeding.

Well, first of all, I believe before we even put the first feeder out, we as conscientous bird lovers need to provide a haven for birds so they will be safe and comfortable while eating the food we attract them with. That means we have as much natural cover as we can afford when we begin this endeavor. If that means that thosepeople with little financial resources need to scavenge as much littered branches, leaves, twigs, etc. that we can to make a brush pile near where we hope to put a feeder, then that is the least we can do. Yet, even that inexpensive gesture provides an excellent place for birds to hide from any predators that may come. Don't construct it too close to the feeder where a feral or roaming cat may hide to attack the very birds we wish to protect, either. Place it approximately 15 to 30 feet away where birds can quickly access it, but can't be pounced on by a cat while dining. And make it as large as you can to provide a good size haven for the birds, with lots of nooks and crannies to hide in should a hawk come swooping in for lunch.

For those that are fortunate enough to spend more on our natural plantings a suggestion in planning the design would include multiple height levels of plants from tall trees, to tall, medium, and small shrubs, and also different heights of types of wildflowers and grasses. The messier the landscape, the more protection it probably provides. That is, messy in the traditional landscaping mindset. Fortunately, our current tastes are becoming more naturalized as well, and the community in general is becoming more attuned to a newer idea of landscaping both in our yards as well as our area parks.

As more and more of us look to increase the "wildness" of our yards and communities, the more protection we can provide animals that enhance our homes and everyday lives. Go Wild....for birds!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

How To Throw Wild Bird Party

Ever hang up a bird feeder and wonder why the birds don't come to it? Well it could be for several reasons, but one of the reasons is because it isn't causing a stir. It's my philosophy that in order to attract birds you need to throw a bird party. That means just one dish of chips and dip isn't going to do it.

I believe you should have at least three feeding stations filled with quality bird feed in order to make a bird party. Keep 'em filled, have a water feature, and multiple levels of bird friendly plants, shrubs, and large trees, and you will have one serious bird party happening every day. But the feeding stations need to be made up of feeders in styles that birds like to eat from and feel comfortable at. They need to offer enough room for multiple birds to eat at from one time. Such as screen feeders where birds can cling all over, or a platform where they can feel safe landing. Perches are ok for smaller birds, but even they limit the number of birds that can eat at one time. Therefore, no party can happen, and if no party, no other birds will want to stop by.

I've seen people choose bird feeders because they like the way they look....to them. Sometimes the most darling looking feeder will have no birds come to it unless the neighbors ran out of the good stuff and the birds are desperate. That's why birds may come occasionally, but would rather eat from the one down the street and won't show up regularly at your feeder (or it's because you use the cheap feed and the man two doors down puts out the caviar). See how it's a combination of a few different things going on at the same time? Bird friendly feeders, quality feed, natural bird habitat, and fresh water. With birds enjoying all the atmosphere these elements provide, other birds want to get in on the fun, too. And they will.

But why multple feeders? Because a few of them within 50 - 100 feet of each other will cause a stir. Birds will fly by, see other birds stopping, this will peak their curiosity, they will stop by and check it out too. When you have good quality feed (high portion of Black Oil Sunflower and other seed mixed in depending on the birds in your area and what they prefer to eat as a first choice, or what birds you want to attract) they will return often and will attract more birds with them. Then you have a bird party every day!

And you get to enjoy the show. Hooray for you.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Winter Birds of Color

I don't know. Whenever I see a male Cardinal, Blue Jay, or a pair of Chickadees on a bright sunny Winter day surrounded with snow, it's always a moment for me to stop and be in awe. It seems those male Cardinals get brighter and bolder in color during the cold of Winter. I just marvel.

One of my favorite things to do with Blue Jays is put out peanuts in the shell along my back deck railing. It is a sight to see when they come swooping in for a cache of those morsels. Bill, my husband, shakes his head when he observes them picking one up, and then a different one, to take the one that is heavier, or has maybe two vs. one peanuts inside. It brings a smile to my face as well. It is so much fun to observe and appreciate these wild visitors to my backyard.

That's why I am so thrilled to be able to bring that kind of joy to people in my newly discovered service work. I went out this morning to fill feeders of two customers of mine and I was loving every minute of it. 25 degree temperature, sunny, and no wind. It was gorgeous and I get paid to be out in it and bringing joy to the people inside (or who will be inside) during this coming Thanksgiving weekend. I love my job.

Birds of many colors and sizes just seem more beautiful when I get to feed them for a living. I'm happy and give thanks. Now I wish you and your loved ones a Happy Thanksgiving and a hope you can find something to be grateful for as well.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Go Wild Hello

Hi All. My first attempt at a Blog here. Thought I'd join the flow and share some thoughts about wild birds, wildlife, and outdoors in general and get some conversation going with my fellow companions along the way.

I'm hoping this can be a place we can discuss bird feeders, bird feed, what works, what doesn't, and what we're all seeing in our Wisconsin Wonderland. Whoa...that's a lot of W's. I'll be whistling before too long......"Willlllllburrrrr!" Wasn't that from a tv show featuring a horse in the 60's or 70's? I forget the name.

So Welcome (oh no, another W), I'm glad you stopped by. Please post a note to me or others if you're Willing. Wahhhhlllleeee! (Leave it to Beaver?)

Apparently, this may also be a place to be silly. Marie