Category Archives: Hawk

Young Cooper

This young Cooper’s hawk came to my birdfeeder. I apologize for the number of photos, but he had so much to say.

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How rude of them to all leave the second I arrive on the roof of the feeder. They’ve got my feathers ruffled now! I have as much right to be at the birdfeeder as anyone else. After all, I plan to feed on birds. Isn’t that what a birdfeeder is for?

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It’s hard to find friends when you’re a bird of prey. I’m not even good at catching birds for my supper yet, being just a youngster.

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I have a better view from here. And I think … yes … a few of those delicious finches are returning.

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Eyes front! Play it cool. Pretend you don’t see them.

Oh no. Wouldn't you know it? My mom is calling. Should I stay or go?

Oh no. Wouldn’t you know it? What a time for my mom to be calling. Should I stay or go?

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Meanwhile the birds took off again. Darned dogs running around scaring off my meals. Can’t you just sit still for a while?

Another night of going to bed without supper.

Another night of going to bed without supper.

But just you wait until I get my claws into you tomorrow.

But just you wait until I get my claws into you tomorrow.

I'll pretend I'm not looking. That usually works.

I’ll pretend I’m not looking. That usually works.

I might have to settle for that mouse down there.

Or … I might have to settle for that mouse down there.

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Don’t judge me for hanging around the birdfeeder! What did you think? I gotta eat!

 

Things Take a Turn

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I love the quietness of the prairies, and yet, when I thought  back on the morning, it wasn’t all that quiet. On my approach, the sharptail grouse jumped up out of the grass and flew low over the land cackling with that laughing call they make. I scared up two sleek and well-furred rabbits – not at all feeble like ours at home on the coast. Could they ever run!  I could almost hear their thumping feet as they bounded away.
Twice, I almost walked on hen pheasants that held tightly to their hiding places in the grass, hoping I wouldn’t come their way. But when I was about six feet from them, the hens shot up into the air and flew away, leaving me with my heart pounding in my throat.
Hawks flew overhead shrieking and then diving down on coveys of sharptail grouse.
No … I guess it wasn’t quiet after all.
Almost done for the morning, my husband thought it would be good to check out a small copse of trees and bushes
and give Emma, our English cocker spaniel puppy, a chance to find out what a pheasant smells like. To get there, I assumed we would walk. After about six miles of walking, what’s another half mile?
But no. The man in charge thought he would show what his four-wheel-drive truck could do. Down into the dip he drove.
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 And there we stayed!
“But I went through here twice yesterday,” he said.
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It doesn’t look so bad, except the wheels just kept on spinning into the muck. We were going nowhere but lower into the ground.DSCN2474
  Notice how close to the muck the bottom of the door is.
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Mr Four Wheeler walked for help.
The farmer who kindly allowed us access to his land, was busy working on it elsewhere, so his very capable wife and daughter came out in their truck.
If you noticed in the second photo, there is a farm gate (an extra post with the barbed wire wrapped around it). This is where the smart farmer’s wife drove through, to go around the muck and tow us out on the other side of the mudhole. Mother and daughter got right into rescue mode and pulled the Man-no-longer-in-charge out of his predicament.
To his credit, the grateful man gave the farmer’s wife a very heartfelt thank-you-hug.
Then he and Emma went for one last walk. Notice Emma’s legs? None of them are touching the ground. She was one happy dog.
And I was happy to get out my Kindle and wait in the not-stuck-anymore truck.
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By the way, happy Thanksgiving to all Canadians. I almost forgot it was Thanksgiving weekend because of being in Montana where they have Thanksgiving in late November.
We really do have a lot to be thankful for, whether we live in Canada or the United States.

Snacks, Sadly

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Just outside my bedroom window is a rhododendron that has a little history of its own. Twenty-two years ago, my neighbour planted several small rhodos in front of his fence on the road frontage. Our soil is very sandy here and when the deer came along to nibble on the leaves, they would invariably pull out the whole plant. The scenario goes like this: I’m arriving home and across from my driveway I see a rhodo uprooted, lying there dying of thirst and heatstroke on my neighbour’s frontage. I get out of the car, pick up the rhodo and go knock on the neighbour’s door. I present him with his casualty, he thanks me, and I go on down my driveway.

Next time I come home from town, the scene is repeated. The deer have nipped the newly planted rhodo and pulled it right out of the sandy soil. I get out of the car, pick up the rhodo and go knock on the neighbour’s door. I present him with his casualty, he thanks me, and I go on down my driveway.

The third time this happened, I brought the rhodo to his door and his son was visiting. He took the rhodo from me, grumbled, “Thanks,” and tossed the plant to the side of the house.

I felt bad for the poor rhodo. I’m sure it died.

Next time one of the neighbour’s rhodos was pulled out of the ground, I picked it up, put it in my car, and drove the rest of the way down our long driveway. I planted it in front of my bedroom window and watched it grow for twenty-two years. Sadly, none of the neighbour’s rhodos survived. My rescued rhodo thrived.

Here is what it looked like last spring.

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A couple of weeks ago my husband discovered a robin’s nest inside the foliage of the rhodo, and today I upset the parents long enough to steal a photo of their home and children.

 

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Now for the sad part. Every year the robins try to raise their chicks in our yard because we have a lot of trees and shrubs. Every year I have to watch as the crows steal the eggs or worse yet, the chicks once they’re hatched.

crowThis year, the crows have been hanging around as usual, even nesting in some of the tall fir trees next door, just waiting for the robins to hatch so they can snatch the babies to feed to their ugly nasty children. I would agree that everything has to eat, so the crows should be forgiven, but crows will eat anything, they’re scavengers, so they don’t have to eat robin babies.

The other sad thing is that this year the sharp-shinned hawks have been nesting in a grove of trees nearby and they also love to kill small birds. It upsets me, but I can accept this as they are limited in what they can find to eat. They’re not scavengers.

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 Still, I hate to think that these poor baby robins will most likely become snacks. It has been several years since a robin has been able to bring off a hatch here and have chicks survive. One couple even nested three times last year in an attempt to raise babies. Only the crows were happy.

This Place is for the Birds

I love seeing birds in my yard. The shrubs have grown into each other over the years and there is plenty of cover, so I felt it was safe to put a birdfeeder out without too much danger of exposing the guests to hawks. These predators invariably come along when they see a lot of unsuspecting songbirds chowing down, and they like to take them for their own snack. I know hawks have to eat too, but I don’t feel right supplying birds for them. Let them get their own if they must.

I’ve also put a birdbath nearby. Some wash before eating, some afterwards, some not at all. The water seems to attract a lot more birds than the feeder alone would do.

About two weeks ago, I discovered red crossbills at the birdfeeder. They’re rather unusual around here, and one of my blog visitors commented that they don’t stay around long at his place. I wasn’t surprised when “my” crossbills disappeared a few days later too.

But Guess Who Came to Dinner a couple of days ago? Click on the photos for a larger picture.

DSCN0082What’s that swimming in my bathwater?

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And now there’s another new visitor. He hasn’t been to the feeder before. Or I should say “she.” I think it’s an immature female hairy woodpecker. That’s what they’re called. It doesn’t mean that this female is immature and hairy. It’s a hairy woodpecker, I think she’s a female and I think she’s young.

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And just now Mr. Harry has come along.

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There is another special bird hanging around that I think is an albino type of towhee. It’s the colour of a pale chanterelle. I stood in the drizzle for about 15 minutes trying to get a photo of it, but it was very camera shy. If I ever get a picture of it, I’ll post it. Meanwhile, I keep on the lookout for other visitors. No time for housework here. This place has gone to the birds.

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*Don’t forget to visit Anneli’s Place and leave a comment. This week, two little prairie boys are bored.

What’s New Out There?

This seems to have been the longest winter in history. At last the weather warms up. Early flowers pop up. Seasonal birds arrive. The first tough plants pop up in the garden.

Here are my  brave radishes. They peeked out of the poor soil and looked around. I know they shivered last night, but they toughed it out. Today was cool and breezy except for a few moments when the sun came out. I’m sure the radishes grew a few millimeters in that short sunny time.

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The potpourri of volunteer perennials was cheery this year. You can tell I’m not a regimented gardener. Things are allowed to grow pretty much wherever they want to. Do you see the evidence of a nocturnal visitor? He’s chewed the tops off many of the leaves and stems of the muscari (those blue flowers). Just think how many there would have been if the mysterious long-eared visitor would stick to eating carrots like he’s supposed to.

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Nearby is a birdbath – you can see its base in the top right corner of the above photo. A birdfeeder stands among the rhodos. It’s a perfect place for the birds, having all their requirements: food, water, and shelter. They can duck into the thick bushes easily to escape the odd hawk, eagle, or owl that hangs around here.

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The robins have been here for several weeks now, but they aren’t seed eaters so they won’t be wasting time at the feeder. What I do see there often are chestnut-backed chickadees, house finches, and pine siskins which, like the other finches, are light brown, but they have  yellow patches on their wings and tails.  The towhees scratch around on the ground – the place they like best, and that’s a good thing. Someone has to clean up the mess the others make.

The latest visitors, golden-crowned sparrows, don’t usually stay long. Maybe two weeks or so and then they’re gone. They stop here again on their way south at the end of the summer.  I love their song. They’re so patriotic, singing over and over again, “Sweet Cah-nah-duh.” In the next picture, three of them are each sitting on the tip of a mugo pine branch. The bright pink rhodo on the right is one my sister gave me about twenty years ago. It gets more beautiful every year.

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The last thing I want to post here today is my lovage. I love the name of it. In German it’s Liebstoeckl, which is also about love. This plant needs to be weeded, but it’s growing nicely in spite of me. Mainly it’s used for flavouring soups and gravies. It’s like the organic part of OXO flavouring.

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My mother gave me this lovage, dug up from her backyard on Vancouver Island. I was living in the Queen Charlotte Islands at the time and she felt sorry for me not having a nursery handy. She sent me all sorts of plants, which miraculously survived the week to ten days in a box in the postal service. When I moved back to Vancouver Island I dug up the plant and brought it with me, but first there were several friends who wanted a piece of the plant so I gave them chunks of it to start their own plants.

When I moved into my place on Vancouver Island, I again gave away pieces of the plant to friends who seemed interested in having some of it. I moved three times over the years and took that plant with me each time. The lovage offspring thrive in many gardens now.

My mother died 31 years ago, and still I have that lovage plant that she sent me 37 years ago. It has become a treasure over the years. I can’t  imagine being without it.