Saturday, July 29, 2006

Finch parents

A couple of weeks ago a nice girl (who reads my blog) came up and bought this beautiful blue-backed female gouldian finch from me.

When she emailed me, she asked if I also had a non-crested female society finch available. I thought I had 7 society finches - 4 males and 3 females, but when I went in the aviary to search, I only found 2 females and they were both crested. I was puzzled, but decided that my missing female must have been one of the two that I gave to a neighbor. Naturally, the day after the gouldian was picked up by her new owner, my "missing" female society finch showed up. She had been sitting tight in one of the nest boxes. I dragged the ladder into the aviary to peek at what she had going and there were 2 brand new hatchlings in the nest - one society finch and one gouldian finch. Even as new hatchlings, it's easy to tell the difference between the two. Gouldian babies have very unusual blue mouth spots which society finches don't have. I didn't take a photo of them that day, but the photo below shows some newly hatched gouldian finches & you can see the mouth spots.

Well, even though one of the kids was obviously not hers, I was fully confident that my society finches would take good care of both babies. They are wonderful foster parents and many gouldian finch breeders also keep society finches on hand to raise abandoned gouldian finch babies (gouldian parents are sometimes a bit undependable).

Fast forward a couple of weeks - both babies doing fine - photo below...

Two days ago I saw a pair of gouldians going in and out of this same nest box. Hmm, this might not be good. If they had taken over the nest (and it looked like they had), I was pretty sure they wouldn't be feeding the society finch baby. Society finch babies have a much smaller mouth, no bright blue markings and they do a very strange twisting of the neck thing when they are begging for food. I couldn't imagine that the gouldians would handle that wierdness.

So, again with the ladder and sure enough the gouldian baby's crop was full and the society finch was empty. I mixed up some baby bird formula and fed him. I left him in the nest box, hoping that the society parents would get back in to feed him. No luck - that day I went in every couple of hours and fed him. Today I gave up hope that the society parents would re-claim the nest, so I removed the society baby and took over as mommy.

He's very cute, as you can see!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

For the record

Cleaning out the rain gutters is not my job.

Hmmm, too bad my husband never reads my blog.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Some like it hot

Our daytime temps have been in the 90s, but when it comes to fleece blankets, Pup1 just can't resist...

chihuahua under blanket

Monday, July 24, 2006

Lake Gaston Balloon Fest

I took these photos in June of 2001, which I think was the last year that the Lake Gaston balloon festival was held. I think the festival spanned 4 or 5 days, but that year almost all of the launches were canceled because of rain. When they finally did launch on the final evening, only about half of the balloonists (if that's a word) were still there.

Lake Gaston Balloon fest

Lake Gaston Balloon fest

Lake Gaston Balloon fest

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Mingling with the mallards

We have some friendly mallards that visit us at our dock. Yesterday, when we were swimming (and I use that term loosely - our swimming usually consists floating with swim noodles) they floated along with us, less than 10 feet away.

mallard ducks

This young male (you can just see the green feathers starting to come in on his head), will eat from our hand.

mallard ducks

They aren't a bit shy, as you can see by the way they "mooned" us.

mallard ducks

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Sunset over Lake Gaston

I took all of these photos last Wednesday evening during our boat ride to Eaton's Ferry Marina.

Lake Gaston sunset

Lake Gaston sunset

Lake Gaston sunset

Friday, July 14, 2006

Monkey tales

A few months ago I started putting out food for the squirrels in our woods. I wanted Monkey to have lots of friends to choose from when I released him. Now our lot seems to be the neighborhood squirrel gathering place, and I can often see 10 or more squirrels at a time from our back deck.

Last week one of our visiting friends asked me how I tell Monkey apart from the rest of the squirrels. When I first released him, I dabbed his tummy with blue food coloring, because I couldn't bear the thought of not knowing which squirrel was "mine". You can see the blue in the above photo that I took the day I released him over 2 months ago. The blue color only lasted about 2 days, but no matter, because I could tell which one was Monkey, since he was the only squirrel that would come and eat out of my hand.

Well, that method may not be as foolproof as I thought. This morning I was sitting on our porch stairs feeding Monkey when a second squirrel ventured over. He watched Monkey chowing down squirrel food from my hand and I guess he decided it looked pretty good. He came closer and closer (with Monkey growling at him the whole time) until he was just an inch from my toes. Monkey continued to growl and added some threatening clicking noises. I decided that I didn't want to find out what it was like to be a human in the middle of a squirrel fight so I threw some food on the ground for squirrel #2, so he would leave us alone. He hopped down, ate some sunflower seeds, then buried 3 kernels of corn in 3 carefully chosen locations. Monkey watched intently while he continued to eat from my hand, but he finally couldn't contain himself any longer. He jumped off my lap and chased the intruder away.

Monkey returned and I watched him dig up all three kernels of corn that squirrel #2 had buried, then he buried them in 3 new locations of his own choosing. Smart??? Mean??? What kind of squirrel have I raised?

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Gouldian finch nestlings

These gouldian finch nestlings are probably about 2 weeks old - one more week in the nest. One green, one yellow. The yellows are my favorite mutation (at least this week). Even as juvies, they look very pretty.

gouldian finch nestlings

Monday, July 10, 2006

Visiting teenagers

My husband's 13 year old granddaughter and her girlfriend are here for a one week visit. They are both adorable, but they sure bring a lot of stuff! I took these photos 5 minutes after they "moved in" to their room...

The collection of teeny-tiny bathing suits didn't take up much space in the suitcase. Good thing, because they needed the space for their "products".

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Squirrel wrestling

I had never paid very much attention to squirrels until I started raising Monkey. I noticed how playful the outdoor squirrels were, and I wished that Monkey had a sibling to play with as he grew. I felt that he was really missing out, so I started to play with him like I would a kitten. He loved it and even though he's been out on his own for over 6 weeks, he still likes to visit - mostly for walnuts, but wrestling with my hand is still fun for him, too.

Friday, July 07, 2006



I snapped this photo of my little friend, Stephanie, when she fell asleep on one of our long boat rides around Lake Gaston. Stephanie and her family always spend the 4th of July weekend with us. She is a real dog lover and has spent many hours playing with our pups. A few nights ago, she was following me around as I did "bird chores" and here is a little snippet of our conversation:

Steph: "You really like birds, don't you?"

Me: "Yes, I'm an animal lover, just like you."

Steph: "Yea, but I like animals with more legs."

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Picky eaters

squirrel eating corn

We put up one of these corn cob squirrel feeders a couple of months ago. We've found that the first squirrel that gets there in the morning will polish off all of the corn in one sitting. So we added a second feeder and used one of these fake "cobs" made out of pressed corn meal. It was advertised to last as long as 25 corn cobs or something to that effect. And sure enough, it does because the squirrels won't touch it! At least the red-bellied woodpecker is enjoying it.

red-bellied woodpecker

red-bellied woodpecker