Entries in bluebird (8)


Searching for a New Home

A flash of blue wings outside the kitchen window caught my attention this week, and I stopped what I was doing to look. At least a half dozen male bluebirds were flying about, taking turns checking out a new birdhouse mounted only a few feet from the glass doors to the kitchen.When I bought the flashy red abode with metal roof and grand iron columns on each side of the entrance, I thought only about its decorative value. I already have birdhouses scattered over the property, and most of them have been occupied in past seasons by a variety of birds, including bluebirds, wrens, titmice, and chickadees. But this one was primarily ornamental, and I gave little thought to what critter would be attracted to it.

Nevertheless, the bluebirds were checking it out, and they completely ignored another birdhouse a few feet away, also decorative but not as ostentatious. Bluebirds do see colors, and I know they are drawn to the cobalt blue house next to the arbor garden. I did not know they also love red! 

I was amazed that all these male birds took turns looking it over, having heard through avian real estate channels about the latest addition to the neighborhood. No one tried to chase another away, and they were quite orderly. They even allowed a little yellow warbler to have a turn! This was obviously an open house affair. Perhaps the rusty bird on the back of the birdhouse was a draw.Maybe, like a lot of humans, they were curious after hearing rumors about a new house and wanted to see details for themselves. It was remarkable to me that the bluebirds not only arrived together, but departed all at the same time, too! 

Birds often choose their nesting boxes ahead of time. They may select several sites and then allow the female to make the final decision. It will be interesting to see who actually ends up in the red house come spring. 

It may not be a bird! I once had an anole lizard lay claim to a birdhouse, and he stayed there throughout the summer. So I was not surprised later that day to see this fellow, with his chameleon-like body assuming the exact colors of the rusty accessories.:An anole lizard checks out the new red birdhouse.

Of course, not all birds nest in boxes. Many are do-it-yourselfers, preferring to make their own nests. I caught this hawk with talons full of leaves, destined to be used as building material:With winter yet to come, these birds are already planning for spring. Or maybe those bluebirds were thinking of winter after all. During severe winter weather, birds often will crowd together in a sturdy house for protection from the elements. Whatever they do, I will have a front row seat from the comfort of my kitchen.



February Frozen Finger Shots

I am weary of the dreariness. There. I have broken my rule to never complain. ( I break it often.) This past week we escaped the ice and snow that hit most folks who live north of us; but we did experience temps down into the low teens, along with days of grayness that stretched endlessly so that daytime never quite seemed to get here. Well. Yesterday we warmed up, all the way into the upper 50s, and it rained all day. Today is more of the same.

The day before yesterday, I left a warm house, seeking inspiration for this post before the rains arrived. The temp was hovering right at freezing, but with the wind chill it seemed much colder. I can't take pictures with my gloves on, so I call the following images my "frozen finger shots." I hope you enjoy them! 

Despite the weather, I saw a lot of bluebirds. This one is perched in a dogwood tree, Cornus florida. Dogwood is only one of many berry producing plants in the garden that attract bluebirds.

Later in the year this squirrel's nest will be hidden by greenery, but now it is easy to see, perched high in a tree.

My Hellebores were unprotected during the coldest part of last week. They were in full bloom, and I worried about them. I need not have. These hardy plants hunkered down low to the ground, then popped back as soon as the temps climbed.

A lot of my camellia blooms have already turned to brown mush this winter, daring to bloom right before a freeze. I was sure the same was going to happen to 'Red Candles,' whose buds were beginning to open before the arctic air arrived. I was surprised to see the following colorful sight in the woodland garden; 'Red Candles' was drooping a bit, but I saw no brown, mushy blooms! 

Juniperus media 'Sea of Gold' is reported to stay gold through the winter. Here it is, in front of Juniperus squamata 'Blue Star.' Do you see any gold? The frosty air has turned it an odd, though not unattractive, color. It is reaching for the sun. I know how it feels! Above is Pittisporum tobira 'Variegatam.' It is growing in front of Camilla japonica 'Gunsmoke,' whose buds are very tight and nowhere near opening.

Here are Pieris japonica 'Cavatine' and Trachelospermum jasminoides, AKA Confederate Jasmine. I wrapped the jasmine in sheets earlier in the winter when the temps hit single digits. I risked it this time, and it seems OK. I knew the pieris would be fine.

The great hairy vine on this pine tree is the notorious poison ivy. It is not adjacent to a path, so I leave it alone. It would be a monster to kill, and the birds love it.

I love the detail of lichens and moss on this tree bark:

Some shots taken through azalea bushes near the front lawn:

Finally, don't forget to look down! Here are some images taken of rocks and moss and leaves and other things one sees when looking at the ground in my February garden:

It took a while for my fingers to thaw out, but a hot drink and a blazing fire on the hearth did the job. So here I am: watching it rain, thanking God for the good things of winter, and waiting for spring!