wordsfromanneli

Thoughts, ideas, photos, and stories.


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Why Didn’t They Migrate?

As I look out my window and it starts to get dark, it is still lighter than usual outside because of the snow. It has been falling all last night and all day today and will probably continue all night tonight. Big avalanches of snow are falling from the fir branches that have now bent as far as they can under the weight of the snow. I hope no little birds get caught in the cascades.

In the previous post I told of having to thaw the hummingbird feeders alternately to keep the sugar water available for these tiny birds. They are very hungry and I’m sure they’re cold.

Here is a very short clip of one of them slurping a last drink before night sets in. You can see the ice beginning to form again in the middle of the feeder.

A hundred times today, I’ve thought about the little hummingbirds and asked myself, “Why didn’t they migrate?”

 


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Lincoln Guards his Lunch

It’s snowing furiously and the wind has made a mess of the yard, littering it with fir branches.

It’s cold enough to freeze the hummingbird feeders. I alternate between two of them, thawing one in a jug of warm water while the other is available to the birds.

The squirrels, Lincoln and Della, have been getting walnuts (partially shelled) and sunflower seeds and the odd peanut. But now the jays have discovered the goodies in the woodshed and are giving the squirrels competition.

The video below is about a minute long. I took it from inside the house through the window. The snow is blurring the scene as much as my dirty dining room window is, but I didn’t want to miss the show. It’s not Oscar quality, but it might be mildly entertaining to watch as Lincoln defends his lunch.


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Aching Bones

The cold snap has hit us. The suddenness of the bitter cold was a shock to us west coasters. We’re tough when it comes to wild winds and torrents of  rain, even crashing trees and power outages, but drop the mercury a tiny bit and most of us coasties are wimps. We don’t like the cold.

That wind is supposed to be southeast. Every day, every day, all through the winter, it’s southeast. What a shock when it switched to northwest. I swear I could smell polar bear fur in the wind.

Ruby, our 13-year-old springer spaniel has done some retrieving while duck hunting in the last couple of weeks, using joints and muscles she hasn’t used in a long time. Now, old age is catching up to her. She’s been having trouble with the stairs, not wanting to put weight on her left shoulder.

Just now she is soaking up the warmth of the tiles in front of the woodstove in our family room.

She does have a nice soft dog bed, but the tiles have been warmed by the fire and it’s just what her shoulder needs, while she dreams of duck hunts of the past.

 


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The Chill Moves In

Mrs. Flicker is in a panic.

“Did you say the ‘S’ word? Did you say snow?”

 

The Steller’s jay mouths off as usual.

“Oh, I highly doubt that!”

The rufous-sided towhee is trying to be cool. Soon he’ll wish he weren’t quite so cool.

“Now what did I tell you about that? Getting the flocks all alarmed over something that may not even happen?!”

 

The hummingbird, also rufous, is hungry.

“I’m not taking any chances. Anneli doesn’t put this food out just because she’s bored. I think she’s trying to be sure we don’t starve.”

 

The chestnut-backed chickadee gets busy, eating all he can.

“Me too! I’m eating my breakfast to build up my strength. It’s dee-dee-dee-damned c-c-cold and it might snow.”

Above him, the nuthatch is getting impatient.

“Will ya hurry up, Chickie? There’s not much time before that hog, the starling moves in, and I haven’t had a turn at the suet block yet —– Oh too late. Here he comes, the bully!”

 

The starling isn’t shy. Far from it!

“Errr-hem! Move out you little squirts. That suet is mine, all mine.”

The golden-crowned sparrow does his best, singing about spring, but finally I heard him admit,

“I don’t think it’s working. I might have to move south — and fast!”

 

I hope the birds are wrong, but it sure feels like it will snow. I remember how cold and snowy it was last January, so I have plenty of birdseed and suet on hand, and of course I have walnuts and sunflower seeds for Lincoln and Della.

Last January! Brrrrrrr….

But someday it will be spring again.

(No, don’t get excited. This photo is from last May. I just wanted to remind myself that this cold weather won’t last forever.)

 


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Stood Up

Before I let you in on their conversation, I must introduce the northern red-shafted flickers (of the woodpecker family). Mr. Flicker has a red slash on his “jaw” while Mrs. Flicker does not. So let’s listen in:

“Hmpf! Where is she? She was going to meet me at ‘The Suet Block’ for lunch and now she’s stood me up.”

 

“I’ll just have to have lunch alone. Oh, I saw him there at the feeder. I was only a few minutes late and he just couldn’t wait. Had to go ahead and eat without me. Some date!”

“Where were you? I’ve been waiting on this post so long, it’s a wonder a hawk didn’t come by and snap me up for HIS lunch!”

 

“Waiting for me? Hah! While I was waiting over here, you were already filling your face — I can see it all over your beak.”

“Oh Lord, give me strength!”

“Oh my goodness. Folks, did you see that? The Flicker family are at it again. There’s so much food for all. Such a shame they have to bicker … Haha, bicker … flicker … hahaha. The Bicker Flickers!”

“Oh well, it must be the stress of Christmas. They’ll get over it. Sure hope they have a happy new year.”

And you too, folks! Have a happy new year.

Remember, don’t sweat the small stuff or you’ll end up like the Bicker Flickers.

Think of all the blessings in your life, be thankful, and enjoy.

By the way, you see all this food around me? Someone brought it out here, thinking of me.

Why not do something kind for someone else every day? What a better place the world would be.


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Under the Double Eagle

I was looking for a glimpse of a great blue heron who once visited this marshy area. This is him about three years ago.

No luck. Just a lot of bullrushes and mist.

Two eagles about half a mile away, reminded me of a poster I saw in the 70s, of two vultures sitting in a snag, looking down at the ground, waiting for something to die.

The caption said, “Patience, my ass! I’m gonna kill something.”

But they were definitely eagles, not vultures.  I zoomed in and tried for a shot but it was really far away. Still, I could see that the smaller one was a mature bird while the bigger one was not. They don’t generally get the white feathers on their head until they are in their fifth year. Since the female birds are usually larger than the males, I thought this might be a case of a father and daughter having a conversation.

 

My daughter you’re a big girl now,

No boyfriends will I yet allow,

But soon you will be old enough,

Make sure the man you choose is tough.

 

The world out there can be quite harsh,

But keep your eyes upon that marsh,

A crippled bird might try to hide

Behind the rushes at the side.

 

Be careful when you swoop to kill,

Stay safe so you can eat your fill,

Don’t let the rushes tangle you

And hurt your wings, or that you’ll rue.

 

I see the heron stalking frogs,

Just at the back behind the logs.

When you fly down he’ll get a scare

And hurry to get out of there.

 

He knows that we could tear him up,

And then on heron we could sup,

But he’s a watchful kind of guy,

And he can soar up very high.

 

A heron circles in the sky

Much higher than we eagles fly,

Except for that, he’d be our meal,

You must forget him, no big deal.

 

For now we’ll take the sickly duck

That’s hiding in that swampy muck,

And we’ll be doing him a favour

As we both enjoy his flavour.