Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The birds

We have an amazing amount of birds that visit our yard and the yards around us. We have several mature trees in our yard as do our neighbors. We see many "common place" birds, but sometimes see the more unusual as well. 

This little one is about as common as you can get - a simple House Sparrow.

Daddy bird waiting. Humans, please go away.

We have watched as they add bedding to their nest each season. They are very protective of the nest after the eggs are laid and even more so after the eggs hatch.  We often get "yelled" at by them when we are too close. The parents, if intent on feeding the babies, will either leave without feeding or wait until we are suitably far enough away for their comfort before they will feed them.  These pictures were taken from about halfway across the yard.

Mama feeding her babies.

This particular little house usually has 2-3 clutches of eggs each year with 2-3 . We can hear the little ones in the house because of its location between the upper and lower bathroom (I know, TMI, but really, that is why we are as aware of them as we are when we are inside - especially when we are potty training, lol). My clothes line is in the area where this nest is on the outside, so it give me (and the older ones who help at the line) plenty of extra observation time.

As they get bigger, they get louder. Eventually, if we are lucky, we get to see 1 fly for the first time.

3 beaks - the one on the right looks odd.
As they get bigger, it is also fun to try to figure out how many little ones there are in the nest. This clutch resulted in 3 birds. At this size, besides being hungry, they are curious and peek out to see what is going on. We have noticed that if they see or hear us nearby at this age (ie hanging clothing), they do get quiet. They still look, but are careful not to call attention to themselves.

3 beaks, but the 3rd is harder to see this time - just barely there on the upper left.
House sparrows don't have a fun call like the chick-a-dee does. It is essentially a cheep cheep sound. 

We do have cardinals, black-capped chickadees, hummingbirds, grackles, crows, the occasional red-tailed hawk, house finches, gold-finches, mourning doves, a couple kinds of woodpeckers, orioles, robins, and a couple more that I know I have forgotten. We have had an owl in the area, but I have not hear it this year.

Watching birds in your yard can be this simple. If you want to encourage various kinds of birds to visit your yard, putting out food/water for them will encourage them to visit. It may take some time for them to realize there is food there, but once 1 or 2 of them find it, the word gets around quickly. Keep in mind, while birdseed is good for some, others like fruits & nuts. I encourage you to visit a nature center or your local library to find out what birds are in your area and what they like to eat. 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

What is it?

I grow this in one of my flowerbeds. Most people don't. But, the flowers on it are spectacular in smell. They actually grow right by our patio door because they have such a great smell and because the plant itself has a very specific purpose in our garden. They don't need ANY special care at all. They don't get direct sunlight in our yard but they are currently around 5 ft. tall.

Because of its specific purpose, it gives us a dual benefit for nature study (and not just the little ones!). We all enjoy it.

Do you know what it is?