Thursday, May 2, 2013

If You Groom It, They Will Come

{A shot from our back porch taken during the storm before it got too bad to look out.}

We moved onto our property the week before hurricane Katrina.  Our house was not finished yet, the landscaping not even started.  There was still red clay everywhere from the fill we used to build on.  With the fast approaching storm and the rush associated with it, we had no idea what lay ahead of us. We boarded up the house and picked up anything that may have become flying objects when the wind would begin.  Soon we had 19 people hunkered down in our home, and we were in the direct path of one of the worst storms to ever hit this area.  One tree after another began to fall.  When we emerged from the safety of our house after the winds died down enough, it was a sea of green.  The oaks leaves that had just been towering above our heads were now eye-level.  We had so many trees down that the Corps of Engineers assessed our property and approved to bring in equipment to help remove the downed trees and help fill holes created from the large tree stumps.

  The trees that were left standing had been stripped of their leaves and left with many broken branches.  We noticed we hardly ever saw birds, and no squirrels at all.  We not only were starting from a new-build, but with a new-build that was scarred from the ravages of wind and rain.

  We began to get busy bringing in topsoil, and decided from the start to avoid chemicals in our yard.  After lots of research we slowly built up a few flower beds, using compost and chopped dried oak leaves for mulch.  Then we got our chickens, and began our foray into veggie gardening.  Slowly each year we added more flowers, and the small patch of grass that we planted around the house began to creep out and down the yard.  So much work, but the rewards are greater each year.

Now, after almost eight years, the remaining trees have filled out so beautifully and have made a canopy of shade around our house.   For the past several years we have had the pleasure of seeing more and more birds come to share our property, and the squirrels have also arrived.  (We could do without so many squirrels, but they are still welcome.)  We had no idea how much we would enjoy watching the birds through our windows, and how excited we would get when we discovered birds we had never seen in our lives visiting our feeders and taking a refreshing sip of water out of the bird bath on their journey to some unknown destination.  The different colors, patterns, and sizes never cease to delight us. After all of this rain we have been having, it is dazzlingly green and lush here, and the birds have made our feeder like a busy airport.  Here is a glimpse of some of the birds that have been passing through on a daily basis.

This bird is so bright that a photo does not show the true colors.  When Mamie saw it she was so excited!  We have never seen this species before.  The camera was grabbed and put into action and this post was soon hatched.

 We did some research and believe this to be a Scarlet Tanager.   He must be migrating through, and stopping for a rest and a drink.

Isn't he stunningly handsome?

Here we have two Rose-breasted Grosbeak, and a female Cardinal.

A female Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Now a Brown-headed Cowbird and a little one we haven't identified as of yet...

You have heard the saying 'Birds of a feather flock together'?   To some extent this is true; but our feathered friends sure can teach us humans a thing or two.  They seem to get along with whomever may be passing by. Some birds are on their normal trip to the north (or south depending on the time of year), so they stop by for a fast food snack.  Others are here year-round.  Yet, even if they twitter with an accent or their feathers or beak colors are different, they will eat side by side.  To Mamie and Poppy this is a good lesson for the human variety; how beautiful they are with all of their different colors, sizes and chirps!

We think this cutie on the right is a Tufted Titmouse; if anyone knows what these are, please let us know!

As to our Cardinals that are knocking on our windows all day long, they can teach you a lot about loyalty in a relationship.  These little couples will be together for a lifetime. This morning we were watching a couple and the male was feeding the missus some of the tasty treats he was finding.  She accepted with appreciation, not having to worry if he was thinking about the other pretty cardinal that just flew past.

This is just some of the activity at one feeder we set up out the back of our home. Some of the other birds we see are Blue Jays, Robins, Mockingbirds and Thrashers, and Doves-just to mention a few.

As for watching the birds, we do have one guy that we watch closely, because he watches them for a different purpose.  He is fed properly so usually he'll just lay on the back deck and watch the fly-zone from a distance.

Here we are explaining to Pickles and Stella that they are to be nice to our feathered friends.  We were sure they learned the importance of this lesson.

Does this look like the face of a bird killer?

Well, there is some evidence otherwise.

Please use discretion as you view this last photo.  (We already cleaned up the guts that were spread all over the place and we could not find its feet.) 

Poor Duckie.
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  1. Great pics! I've been doing a lot of bird watching lately. Every now and then a couple of unknown birds will stop by and by the time I grab my camera, they are gone! Hilarious pic of the duckie...been there...

  2. Hehe! Yes, you do have to be quick on the draw with the camera! Mamie was screaming to Poppy-"get the camera- get the camera!" If one only knew half of the synthetic animals Pickles has dispatched...sigh..but at least she leaves the ones with heartbeats alone!

  3. Ha Ha! Did that innocent looking doggie really do that?
    I thoroughly enjoyed this opportunity to see the birds that you see in your area. I have only seen Scarlet Tanagers in books and would be thrilled if one appeared in my yard. I think you are correct about the tufted titmouse and I think the other one is a chickadee.
    Hope your weekend is a good one.

    1. A chickadee! Love that! Thanks for the your comments :)