Friday, July 29, 2005

No photo available

There are 3 things that I wish I'd been able to photograph today:

  • In the aviary this morning, one of my juvenile gouldian finches (only 3 months old) was feeding a young baby that had just fledged. I guess he remembered how it was to beg for food and not have mommy or daddy accomodate him right away. I've read about juvies who help raise the next clutch of babies, but I'd never seen it before.
  • The mockingbird nestlings in a bush next to our church - I tried to photograph them, but I gave up because of problems with raindrops, my auto-focus not focusing on the babies, and the warnings from the nearby not-too-happy parents.
  • The huge snake that was inside our house when we returned home today. No time to run for the camera, what with freaking out about how to get him out and trying to tell if he had been dining in my aviary (I was looking for finch-sized lumps in his long body). Well, he slithered out the same hole (presumably) that he had entered by, my husband (hero) filled the hole with gobs of caulk, and I took attendance in the aviary - all present. Now I really wish I had a photo of it for identification. I think it was a black rat snake, which according to the internet can grow to 8 feet. So, maybe my description of "huge" was slightly exaggerated. This snake was about 30 inches long and a little over an inch thick. If I had come in and seen an 8 foot snake in our house I would have been worried about our chihuahuas, not our finches, not to mention the fact that I would have never been able to sleep again.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Some big lips

Feeding the large carp at Eaton's Ferry Marina is a favorite activity for visitors (and residents) at Lake Gaston. They eat just about anything, but we usually feed them dry dog food.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

A "cool" photo for a hot day

The daily temperatures here have been really high even for North Carolina. So I thought I'd post this ice storm photo that I took a couple of years ago to remind me that it could be worse.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Road trip with Vernon

Our little pet of 8 years is fading, quickly I'm afraid. A tumor under his wing has grown so large that he can no longer fly and can only hop up onto the lowest of perches.

This is so incongruous with the bird:

  • who as a tiny hatchling that I held in my hand, stretched his neck and looked around in amazement at the great big world, while his brother Nolan beside him cowered and hid and his parents fretted about his momentary absence from the nest
  • who had at least twice as much energy as any of my other parakeets and would fly at warp speed from shoulder to lampshade to ceiling fan to another lampshade to another ceiling fan to another shoulder, and yet
  • who, when I took him with me to visit my animal-loving hospice patient, instinctively knew that he belonged on the shoulder of W, that soft-spoken man sitting in the recliner. And bonded with W so quickly on that first visit that I didn't have the heart to separate them, so he moved into their home for the last few months of W's life, then stayed on with his wife for another year.
  • who, after W's wife adopted a puppy and felt it was no longer safe to let Vernon out of his cage, returned home to us with a whole new vocabulary and a southern accent
  • who quickly reunited and made up for lost time with his best friend Juneau, and
  • who, whenever visiting children would ask "Can I hold one of the birds?", was always the one that cooperated.

Now our little pet no longer enjoys the company of his bird friends and almost never sings. But he still likes to come out of the cage, climb up my arm, and rest on my shoulder. So, when we headed north for a long weekend, Vernon rode with us. And we found one more thing that Vernon enjoys - country music - loud!

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Great Blue Heron

After a busy week, there's time for some bird watching again ...

Monday, July 11, 2005

Usually if I find such a tiny baby out of the nest box, I assume she has fallen out accidentally and I put her right back in.

But Daddy was keeping her fed and she seemed to be enjoying her freedom, hopping all over the aviary. If I returned her to her nest box, I feared she would just jump right back out to join her much larger clutchmates -- and it's a long way down for a baby who can't yet fly.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Baby flickers

She's not over here...

She's not down there...

I don't see her anywhere!


Thursday, July 07, 2005

Baby wrens

For the third year in a row, a pair of Carolina wrens has nested in the potted Christmas cactus on my deck. She layed 5 eggs, but in this first photo, it was hard to tell how many babies hatched - it just looked like a jumble of body parts.

I took the next photo two days later. Here I could clearly see 3 babies, but suspected that there may be more underneath.

I waited another 2 days and took this photo - all 5 babies, eyes open, mouths open, ready to eat!

Monday, July 04, 2005

A silver surprise

In my June 11th post I talked about the laissez-faire approach that I'm using in my aviary this year. One thing that I didn't mention is that I have all of the nest boxes hung so high that it's impossible for me to do nest checks without bringing in a ladder and totally disrupting the birds. So, I don't check them. Each day I spend some time sitting in the aviary, observing the activity. I listen for peeping chicks, ensure that the peeping grows louder each day as the babies grow, try to guess how many are in each nest, and wait for them to fledge.
So, the first time that I saw this little one sitting on the floor of the aviary, it was quite a surprise. Green is the normal body color for gouldian finches. There are also yellow and blue mutations. This white gouldian (actually called "silver") is a fairly rare mutation with 2 blue genes and a yellow gene. Her mom is green, split to blue. Her dad is yellow, and apparently is also split to blue (I had no idea).


I've named her Pearl, and here she's pictured with one of her siblings.

Sunday, July 03, 2005


No, it wasn't midnight when I snapped this photo of a purple martin. It was just the first time I ventured away from the automatic program mode on my new camera & attempted to adjust aperture and speed manually.

Friday, July 01, 2005


Here's a photo of Big Red. He's not the biological father of these two juveniles, but he's been the one to feed them ever since they fledged. Now Big Red has brand new babies of his own in the nest, and he's not so inclined to feed his adopted children - which is OK, because they really can eat on their own.

On to the haiku:
The Binghamton (NY) Press ran a haiku contest for area school children. They asked students to send in their best haiku poem about either the end of the school year or what they most look forward to during summer. There were over 600 entries and my nephew's poem was one of the few printed in the paper:

Locked within these walls
The clock seems to be frozen
The bell rings -- we're free!

So, inspired by my nephew, I thought I would write a haiku about Big Red and his adopted children:

Daddy please feed me!
An unwelcome response - "No"
New babies come first.