Posts Tagged With: birds

Target Practice for Birds

Lovely shade tree with potential messes abounding.

Lovely shade tree with potential messes abounding.

Bird droppings! One of the hazards of a lovely shade tree that covers half of your driveway.  Installing a bird bath with daily fresh water probably adds to the number of birds that visit my yard and tree and consequently, my red vehicle. I know, I know, six months ago I had cleared my garage enough to park my little truck inside it. But we got a different car and MSH (and, yes, I) have once again helped fill up most of the garage, this time with an ancient couch we recently replaced with a newish one.

Looks like a fierce specimen, yes?

Looks like a fierce specimen, yes?

As I was hosing off some bird deposits from my car today, the spray ricocheted off the windshield and gave the cactus a pretty heavy pelting. A small bird head popped up among the spines and gave me the evil yellow eye. Clearly he or she meant to indicate ‘I’m an idiot getting the nest and resulting eggs inside wet and could I move on to doing some other chore.’

Apologizing to the bird, I aimed my hose a different direction. I did my best to avoid disturbing the cactus and said nesting critter while finishing my little chore. After polishing up the windows of the car,  I explored a bit to see if I could get a good view of the nest. On closer approach the bird flew off to a tree two houses down and looked on. Old nests and new nests look the same to my untrained eye and that cactus apparently serves as a roost for many a bird, or it has at some time.

Not sure if this is the current nest or not.

Not sure if this is the current nest or not.

I want to know how they, the birds, manage to fly in and out of that prickly, spiky, spiny spot without getting impaled. Seems downright impossible if you ask me. Do they have special radar or something? Or does getting poked and pierced multiple times a day come with the job description?

Look how sharp those needles are! Ouch!

Look how sharp those needles are! Ouch!

I’m going to avoid sermonizing here. I’m not even going to mention the parenting parallels. No symbolism, nothing at all. I’m simply wondering how birds do it. I guess I could Google it, but that would take away some of the mystery and the magic of nature that I so adore.

Categories: Nature, Outdoors | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Bird in the Hand and a Few on the Line

English: Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis hyema...

“Hope is the thing with feathers

That perches in the soul

And sings the tune without the words

And never stops at all.” – Emily Dickinson

Way back in the time of the dinosaurs, I learned this poem. Once in a while it pops back into my head, unbidden, but clear as a bird song in the early morning air. It’s something I’ve held on to lately, hope, not the poem. Hope for what? I’m not sure. Hoping for good things to really happen. Hoping for the impossible? Hoping I don’t fall short.

Maybe I shouldn’t over-analyze it. Maybe I should simply enjoy the way the words trip over my tongue and roll out. Maybe I should just let it work its magic on my subconscious.

Speaking of birds…

Isn’t this a fun picture?

Birds in a row

Birds in a row (Photo credit: The Wren Design)

The Most and the Least

 “The very least you can do in your life is figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under its roof.” – Barbara Kingsolver, from Animal Dream

I like the thought of living under hope’s roof. I can visualize myself not simply being hopeful but living a life under and protected by hope. Something has to counteract all the negatives, right? 

Killdeer Broken Wing Display

One more word image of a bird

“Hold fast to dreams,

For if dreams die

Life is a broken-winged bird,

That cannot fly.” – Langston Hughes

Some days, for some of us, hope is elusive. But there are always dreams, aren’t there? That’s something.

Looking for a good day ahead where I can. It’s out there, just gotta keep my eyes open.

Happy Monday!

Categories: Hope | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

Pleasant Peasant Pheasant

Bird feeder

Bird feeder (Photo credit: Matt Peoples)

There is a Pheasant in my backyard.

Or a Grouse.

It comes and goes, from backyard to backyard. The one behind ours has a bird feeder, so it visits there often. And from what Jim, my neighbor two doors down says, it’s taken up residence behind an Oleander in his yard.

I took photos, to document this odd phenomenon in the dry desert. But the photos show what looks like a pile of rocks amid a bunch of rocks. Desert landscaping will do that.

Either way, Pheasant or Grouse, it just isn’t normal to see a bird this size, here in the crazy heat  part of Arizona.

“Pheasant populations persisting in Arizona are largely confined to agricultural areas having a relatively high humidity (e.g., citrus orchards in the Yuma and Mesa areas) or high enough in elevation to escape the desiccating heat of Sonoran Desert summers. In such locations, a rooster will acquire a harem of from one to three hens, with mating commencing in early April. By mid-May most of the hens are nesting and of no further interest to him, and he will abandon his territorial patrols by the end of the month. The peak of hatching is during the last week of May, the most arid time in Arizona, which is one of the reasons why pheasants have not become established here”

Female pheasant 3

Female pheasant (Photo credit: scyrene)

Based on photos, a bit of research and some common sense, I’ve decided this odd duck of a bird is a female Pheasant. Grouse tend to hang out up on the Mogollon Rim, high country as we call it here.

I feel bad for this bird. Clearly, she’s out of her element and won’t do well when the heat really settle in, unless she can find her way to a citrus orchard somewhere in the area. The nearest ones are about five to eight miles away.

I’m always amazed at how wildlife adapts itself to the intrusions and weirdness of humans.

English: taken at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

At the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When we first moved to Arizona fifteen years ago, it was fairly common to see a Fox trotting through an open field. It was much more common to see open fields that many years ago. The housing boom hit Phoenix with a vengeance  and most of the open areas around us disappeared in about four months, give or take a year or two.

I often saw Jackrabbits of a substantial enough size that I’d do a double take. I’ve seen a Mountain Lion at the Riparian Preserve. The “Rip”  borders a canal which is significant. Lined with a dirt road or even asphalt or concrete paths, the canals here are like an open invitation to wildlife from the foothills to come on down and play the city game. Poor misguided critters!

I’ve noticed some people seem to have wandered from their normal habitat into the suburbs and cityscape. These are people who prefer solitude , silence and privacy. I think sometimes I am one of those misplaced creatures.

The sound of sirens, the constant hum of traffic, crowds, stress of every hue, all combine, sometimes, to make me wish I lived in the mountains in a secluded cabin with a well hidden dirt access road.

I feel a bit misplaced and out of my element.

But I’ve adapted. I grow wildflowers. I have a backyard garden. I have a hummingbird feeder. I disappear into other worlds through books. I enjoy what music I can find in the suburban bird chatter of Dove, Grackle, Finch, Towhee and Mockingbird. I visit nearby open spaces and green areas. I walk. I ride my bike. I dream of the mountains.

I wonder if the Pheasant in the backyard feels the same way.

Wish I could help her find her way back to where she belongs without upsetting the natural order of things.

It could happen.

Categories: Nature, Outdoors | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Two Verses On the Sounds and Sights of Sunday

Early Sunday mornings around here are drenched in silence.  It’s a decadent feeling.  You might even call it serene. There is the occasional sound of a car in the distance, the odd background hum of an air conditioner, but for the most part the birds have the Sunday morning playlist covered.


Hummingbirds zzzzzz through the air, darting and dancing among the various blossoms and edible insects.  They have a short chipping call that I find endearing.

The coo of mourning doves lends an undertone of reverence to the mostly silent morning.  Towhees get their name from the sound they make and I can count on a pair of them, at least, to add their notes to the quiet Sunday melody.  There is the sweet peep peep of house finches and the cheery chirrup of sparrows.  Not surprisingly, the Grackles seem to sleep in on Sunday mornings; which is fine with me, as their brackish caw adds little to the peaceful atmosphere.  The mockingbird provides the variation in this quiet Sunday song, as its call will vary with its latest exploits.

Sure, the birds are singing every morning, not just on Sundays, but they are the predominate sound on Sundays.  Today, the birds’ soft symphony is not a thing one has to search for amid the cacophony of traffic, dogs, horns, sirens, alarms, bells, construction, freeways, airplanes and people.  Today, I get to enjoy the clear tones of nature, the morning breeze across my skin, the refreshing silence of a Sunday.

A Different Kind of Music

What a contrast this is to what will be later this afternoon.  The park across the street will be alive with Frisbees, walking barking dogs, squeaking swings, thrown balls and children in their element.  There might be a picnic in the ramada with an extended family or group of friends.  The benches will fill with relaxed bodies, blankets spread out on the lawn. Babies will tentatively touch the grass and pull that sour face.

Girl Belly Button Upside Down Monkey Bars Weal...

photo by: stevendepolo

The sprinklers will surprise someone when they come on without warning and then a new game will occupy water-fascinated children.  Tummies will get a taste of sunshine as a few people hang upside from the monkey bars.  A tussle or two will result in tears.  Bicycles will whiz past, scooters will clack, clack, clack across the sidewalk bumps, a longboarder will slouch past, beatnik like, relaxed and too cool for words.

Shoes will fill up with sand.  Knees will get scraped.  Faces will get dirty.  Hands sticky.  Souls saturated with the perfection of a Sunday afternoon.

Sundays were made for silence and sanctuary.  They are ideal days for naps, friends and family, and good food.  Sundays are perfect for contemplating the miraculous and the ordinary.  The sacredness of Sundays manifests in so many ways.  There’s no other day like a Sunday.  It’s like a mini-holiday every week..  I guess that’s what it is, or can be, if we choose to make it so.  It is a Holy Day, something simply divine.

Categories: Joy, Music, Outdoors, Relationships | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

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