Thursday, June 18, 2009

Range Housing

While I cleaned up the porch and yard last weekend after a week away I took notice of a number of things. One, the huge thistle that sprung up in a flowerbed where I had a bird feeder (not a good idea). I missed it when I cleared out its brothers, and ignored for a few weeks it grew. And grew. So now it is so big that my shooty friend, scientist RobD, who climbs large pointy mountains like K2 without fear, took one look at its spines and offered to bring over the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch, some WD40 and a BIC lighter to help slay it.

I also noticed the number of birdhouses that seem to have sprung up around the range. As well as the number of birds.. There's this number - purchased pre-made, then hand stenciled, to be occupied by a couple of sparrows.

Then there is the Habitat for Humanity birdhouse which was made by hand. Not luxurious perhaps, but out closer to the woods, providing a well built, albeit plain, home for someone that needs it.

But no matter what you provide, there are those that just loiter. Just hanging around the front porch to see who might give them a handout, or a vacant pond of water.

Of course, there are the squatters. There in my Southern Living planter on the front porch. (she hatched two eggs a few weeks ago). It's bird central around here now.

But like my friends, those freshly hatched or battle scarred, residing in new houses or just scraping by where it's warm, I look at what is central to them. Not the outward feathers, squawks or trappings, but what it is that drives them home, what it is that makes them unique, there beneath the sharp beak and defensive colorings. What makes them part of my daily life.
Birds fill my horizon, and surround my home Most of the birds I can recognize, sparrows, my favorite the Cardinal and the occasional dove. Birds vary in more ways than species and color. Study them long enough, and you'll see the different ways in which they eat, and what they won't eat. Look where they sleep, is it high up in a tree, or snuggled down in low covering, with the small tender plants pulled in around them like a blanket. You can study them by when they eat the most, a hearty breakfast or a quick bit of avian fast food and a late day buffet in a field. So many ways, the shape and size of the nest, if there is one, their connection to the nearest body of water, or a broad patch of open sky, if there is one, and to what degree that nearness is necessary for survival. To some the nearness is more important than we realize. Yet in all their differences they all fly on the same winds, that takes them to their desires. As do we all.

17 comments:

  1. When life is streaming by at what seems like warp speed, it's important to occaisionally stop, close your eyes and enjoy this moment. Your posts help me do that.

    Thanks

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  2. Very nice pictures, especially the dove. She is watching you too! Sorry for the anonymous but I am at work.

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  3. :D
    I love the bird photos, Brigid! Also, it would be awesome to see that Holy Hand Grenade in action...

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  4. Thanks for sharing pics of your feathered companions and your thistle story. We've got a TON of thistles around here. I never appreciated the differences between Canadian thistle and bull thistles until I faced a few hundred of them jockeying for space in the yard (no joke - disturbed ground = unbelievable amount of thistles). The latter made me appreciate the former. Sounds like you have a bull thistle. Take your friend up on the offer of the hand grenade - leather gloves offer no defense.

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  5. We have a mom-and-pop little finchy-sparrowy things living in a cozy homebuilt nest under our balcony. It's made of twigs from a lacy little tree outside my window. My wife has forbidden the use of the ShopVac on the balcony now. Each year they have a birdlet who learns to fly.

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  6. Here in near suburbia, there aren't too many birds around other than Starlings and Robins. We did have a mating pair of Cardinals hanging out in our backyard for awhile, but now none remain except for the Starlings.

    We keep a small book, "Birds of Missouri" next to our deck windows---just in case.

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  7. It is the Killer Thistle of Caerbannog, I'm telling you!

    That's the most foul, cruel, and bad-tempered thistle you ever set eyes on!

    Look, that thistle's got a vicious streak a mile wide! It's a killer!

    hehe

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  8. Great thoughts & observations; great photos. Thanks for this reminder that we often lose sight of what's right under our noses.

    The struggle for existence is more than just our striving for a paycheck; the world is bigger than we are, and many of us forget that too easily.

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  9. For the hummingbird fans. The color red in the water is redundant, most birds will be attracted just to the feeder. But I add a natural coloring made out of beets to brighten it up, that's totally safe for the birds. I don't think Red Dye #7 is something those little guys want or need.

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  10. That appears to be either a Downy or a Hairy woodpecker in the last pic. Not much difference except the size. I am a lifelong bird watcher what with being taught by one of the greatest ornithologists of the last century and living in the middle of the Atlantic flyway. Great pics except for the Canadian Pests! When I was a kid, a anada Gosse took his life in his hands if he dared to fly over this little Island. Now they have become so numerous that they have become pests! We now have a federal dispensation to eliminate by gunfire all that we can to thin them out. Actually breast of CG is very good in a stew or cut up fine in a spaghetti sauce. Being the fine chef you are, how about another suggestion other than as a landfill item?

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  11. Great photos! The dove is awesome. I've got a pair of Mourning Doves who hang out around my deck and provide a backup alarm clock. I've never figured out where they're nesting though.

    For the thistle, pour roundup on it. Burning it won't kill the roots and it'll grow right back.

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  12. Hello Lass,

    Great post, great pictures. I assume the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch triumphed over the thistle, How could it not? It's great that you have so much wildlife around you. Here we do have the assorted birds to include Humming Birds, and the Turtle Doves that take over the cabinet for my dart board We have many Coyotes, Gamble Quail, and two families of Javelina. None of the beautiful large birds like the Canada Geese. Too far from water. Your post is a reminder not only to slow down, and smell the roses, but also slow down, and enjoy the wildlife, and the cacophony of sounds that come with them.

    Glad you are back safely. Pleasant dreams, and a pat for the hopefully recovering Barkley.

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  13. Do not forget that the number thou shall count to is three. ;)

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  14. Great pics! The hummingbird picture is amazing. I have several of those little friends that come visit my place from time to time. And every time they scare the crap out of me. Why is that they always seem to come straight to the head?

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  15. the little hummingbirds are the most welcome of all the migratory species...

    Since I was a child I've interacted with them in one way or another. I used to sit with a feeder in my lap during the migration and have them perch on my shoulders and arms. I was actually worried about my eyes for a while.

    But, that proved silly.. Being the acrobats that they are, I had no reason to worry. I just had to sit and hold my breath, and be amazed..

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  16. Thanks for giving us a glimpse of the range. It's a joy to sit on your own porch, watch the birds and not be in a hurry to do anything more "important" or "productive".

    No sitting here tonight--we were out cleaning up downed trees. Many birds were rendered homeless after the last storm. The mockingbird has been lost ever since his maple toppled. The bluebirds will no longer peek out of the hollow cavity in the east side of the old black walnut tree, either.

    My favorite chain saw is in the shop, and the repairman is running two or three weeks behind. A lot of people waited until this storm to fix their chain saws. I usually have one or two that will run out of three.

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  17. Wonderful photos and writing. Thank you for sharing.

    Being far out in the boonies here gives a real chance to pull in a large variety of birds.

    The yard is full of 8 feeders and 3 hummer feeders. We have had a number of first or second sightings in the record books for this part of the state.

    Last Tuesday night provided a new visitor who proceeded to wreck a sunflower seed feeder, steal a wire feeder, and perch in three different trees. It also took a swim in the backyard pond after I went out to try to move him out of the yard.

    No feathers, though. He had four legs, was all black, probably two years old, and weighted well over 200 pounds. Fast, too.

    (The 12 gauge "defender" pump went with me. Order of ordnance
    : #6 shot, 000 Buck, 000 Buck, Slug, Slug)

    The dog WAS NOT amused.

    Yoop

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