Monday, February 27, 2006

Society finch (hungry) babies

Just a photo from the past - society finches that I hand raised a few years ago.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

If I were a carpenter

Daytona has been diligently building a nest behind a photo his "love shelf". He's been wandering around the floor collecting anything that he can find for nesting material. Tonight I took pity on him and gave him a bunch of sisal fibers which kept him busy all evening. What a cutie!

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Lunch time entertainment

We had lunch at our favorite Naples restaurant - Buzz's Lighthouse Inn (grouper reuben sandwiches ...yum!) and our pre-lunch entertainment was this grackle ...

Above - her silhouette as she stood on top of the umbrella over our table.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

A little change in the routine

Our morning routine usually goes something like this - whoever feels like getting up first lets the pups out of their crates, encourages them to do their "potty duties", hops back into bed with Pup1 in arms. Pup2 doesn't need a lift - she leaps into our bed under her own power. Everybody (2 humans, 2 pups) cuddle under the covers. Eventually the two humans get out of bed. Pups remain under the covers until they hear the rattling of breakfast dishes.

This morning only Pup2 showed up for breakfast. Odd. I returned to the bedroom to find Pup1 trapped inside a pillow case and struggling to get free. I thought it was funny, but I don't think she saw the humor in it.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Red bellied woodpecker

When it comes to volunteering at Habitat for Humanity, there’s always a choice to be made (that’s after the choice of actually getting out of bed at 6am & showing up for the work). Do I want to learn something new or “just paint”? My husband and I often choose to “just paint”. The first time because it was 38 degrees and windy outside, and painting indoors seemed like a good alternative, even though it would most likely result in turning a perfectly good fleece top into “paint clothes”. After that day I decided that I like to paint — it’s a job that I can do just as well as the men, I'm able to listen to my iPod while I work, I don’t come home exhausted and the chance of injury is slim.
But today we chose a different task - floor tiling. I enjoyed it a lot - the woman (also a volunteer) who supervises the tiling was knowledgeable, helpful and even let us newbies use her brand new tile cutter. The downside - I did come home exhausted and my legs ache ... a lot.

I know these photos don't jive with my post, but this guy is a lot prettier than our tiling job anyway.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Great Backyard Bird Count

I listened to Julie Zickefoose's NPR story about the Great Backyard Bird Count and decided to participate this year. It turned out to be very easy. Our backyard here in Florida consists of a patio, a patch of grass and a small lake. I did about the same thing that I do everyday - spend lots of time outside or looking out the windows and watching birds. The only difference was that today I kept a written list. And as I added to my list I thought "I should keep a list every day". I love lists. I live by lists. And tonight when I hopped on the website to submit my report, I noticed a link to eBird where I am now registered to submit sightings on any (or all) days that I choose. And there were all kinds of interesting statistics. And I love stats ... almost as much as I love lists!

Here are a few of today's cast of characters:

So, gazing at the lake and around the shore I saw 10 species:

  • Snowy egret
  • Little blue heron
  • Tri-colored heron
  • Great egret
  • Double-crested cormorant
  • Northern mockingbird
  • Red-bellied woodpecker
  • Turkey vulture
  • Mourning dove
  • Common grackle

This list is quite typical of my daily "looking out the back door" sightings. Except the red-bellied woodpecker - I've only seen him a couple of times this year.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Pelican patience

Our bicycle ride along the Naples Gulf Coast yesterday took us to Loudermilk Park,

then the Naples Pier.

We saw this sign, and obediently followed the request...

But it didn't matter to the pelicans - they waited patiently nearby anyway, just waiting for some food to drop ... much like our pups when we're eating dinner.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Gouldian finches in love

Daytona and Lana have taken their friendship to the next level. She has now moved into his apartment. They have 3 roommates (2 parakeets and a cockatiel), though, so there's not much privacy.

But each evening when they go out, they hang out on their own private shelves.

Daytona is building a nest behind the picture with tissues and any other nesting material that he can find.

Now he's trying to "get her in the sack" ... typical male!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Black-crowned night-heron

Here's a photo of a black-crowned night-heron. I took this photo a few weeks ago at Shark Valley in the Everglades.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Friday, February 10, 2006

the Fleamarket

Our Florida weekend activities often include a stop at a fleamarket. My husband usually shops for nothing in particular, but always returns with something. I shop for fresh strawberries, veggies, and fresh cut flowers.

I've gotten two different tips from two different flower vendors which help the flowers last longer.

  • One of the vendors told me to add a little bit of bleach to the water in the vase. When I started doing this, it seemed to extend the life of the flowers by a couple of days, and usually the carnations would last about 10 days.
  • The next year a different vendor gave me another piece of advice - only keep an inch of water in the vase - the flowers only absorb water from the cut end of the stem, and extra water just causes the stems to disintegrate. Now my cut flowers usually last about two weeks.

flowers in vase

This is day 9 for these flowers and they still look pretty.


Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Raising parakeets

Before my foray into gouldian finch breeding, I raised budgies as a hobby. I used to keep about 20 of them in my aviary and would usually have a few pairs set up in breeding cages. I was looking for some photos of my pet budgie, Juneau, who passed away last summer and came across a bunch of old photos from those days and thought they were too cute not to post. So, my post about Juneau will come at a later date, and instead I'll fondly reminisce about breeding these little cutie-pies.

Looking through the photos reminded me how dependable parakeets were as parents. They would usually lay 5-7 eggs (one every other day). Unlike gouldian finches (who wait a until 4 eggs are laid before starting to incubate so they all hatch on the same day), budgies would immediately start incubating the eggs, so the babies hatched every other day. So, with a clutch size of 6 birds, there would be a huge size diffence between the youngest and oldest baby. The above photo shows a single clutch of babies. Somehow, the little ones never got squashed by the larger ones, and in my 4 or 5 years of raising these birds, I don't remember any of the babies ever dying in the nest. I can't say the same for my finches.

As a biology major in college, my favorite class was genetics. (Ironically, my least favorite class was ornithology - I hated getting up at 5am for those bird watching field trips.) Anyway, the genetics for budgie colors is quite complex and I loved it! So many possible combinations and I spent countless hours deciding who to pair with who to achieve a specific result. Which reminds me of another thing - even with those "arranged marriages", the pairs always "fell in love" and raised a family. Again, not so with my gouldian finches, which is why letting them breed freely in the aviary works so much better than pairing them off into cages.

I used to hand feed many of them so they would be nice tame pets for their new owners. The birds in the above photo apparently didn't realize that there needs to be a hand connected to the syringe in order for it to dispense food.

Pup1 was always around for cleanup duty.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

A couple more photos from Corkscrew Swamp...

Green Anole - one of the three types of lizards that live at Corkscrew.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

The ibises

Last week we went biking on Sanibel Island with a group from our park. We rode in single file on the bike trails of the island. Every once in awhile I noticed that I was lagging far behind the person ahead of me. Too much time spent looking upward. I guess it could have been worse - I could have crashed into the person ahead of me while looking into the treetops.

It was an enjoyable ride, but I didn't get a chance to take nearly as many photos as I would have if it had just been me and my husband biking along. One thing that I wished I'd been able to photograph was a bunch of ibises that I saw feeding in a canal. Well I made up for it this week at Corkscrew Swamp Santuary. I took lots of ibis photos...

Saturday, February 04, 2006

A nice ending

We looked out the window a few minutes ago to see a beautifully colored sky after a rainy, cold day. I almost didn't bother bringing out the camera, because my sunset photos never seem to come close to showing the natural beauty. This photo didn't accurately capture the colors that we saw, but I think it's pretty just the same.

Friday, February 03, 2006