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. 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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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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Humming and Buzzing

Who’s that humming such a happy tune? Oh! It’s my friend Humphrey.

“Thanks for planting these red hot pokers,” he says. “I love the sweet nectar in them.”

“My long beak and even longer tongue are ideal for reaching down into  these petals shaped like tubes.”

“But, look out Humphrey,” I call to him. “A dangerous character is heading right for you.”

“Eeeee! Thanks for the heads up,  Anneli. These guys usually mind their own beesness. Still, I have to be careful or I could get stung.”

“Maybe he’ll pass right over my wings.”

“Look over your shoulder, Humphrey!”

“Oh no-o-o-o! Here he comes again. Buzz off!”

(You’ll have to look hard to see what’s over Humphrey’s shoulder.)

“I know you’ll think I’m a coward, but I’m going to hide for a minute. These guys can be dangerous. Their sting can pack quite a wallop for a little guy like me.”

“You can come out now,” I tell him. “I think he’s gone.”

“Thanks for watching out for me, Anneli,”  Humphrey hums between slurps of red hot poker syrup.

“Well, take it easy on the dessert, Humphrey. You’re starting to get a little belly.”

“Ha ha, very funny.” Humphrey sips  as fast as he can, then suddenly stops and glances down to his right. “Oh no-o-o-o-o. I thought I heard him buzzing. Here he comes again!”

“Bzz-bzz-bzz,” says the little critter. “I’m just beeeeing a beeee.”

Do you see him?

 

 


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Does Size Matter?

Which is bigger? A butterfly or a bird? Without seeing pictures, you would probably say a bird. But take a look at this Eastern tiger swallowtail, having lunch with Phil  and Adele (philadelphus) who are feeding it mock orange.

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Taken by yours truly on Vancouver Island.

Seems my friend Juanita had the same idea today. She was out capturing giant butterflies today too! It’s a big one. Bigger than a bird?

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Taken by my friend Juanita Kelly in Washington State.

Well, take a look at this hummingbird. She’s so happy to find this red hot poker.

“Where have you been all my life?” she asks, arms outstretched. “Come to Mama, baby!”040a

Maybe the bird is not bigger than the butterfly after all. Hard to say. Neither would stick around long enough for me to go get a tape measure.


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An Exotic Visitor

I heard him before I saw him, and before I finally found him, sitting high up in a fir tree at the edge of my property, I knew what kind of bird it would be. He visited here two years ago with such an unusual song and bright colours that he was quite unforgettable. The Bullock’s oriole is not a bird you often see in our area on northern Vancouver Island.

He is the reason I got no work done this morning. Instead, I prowled around the deck, camera in hand, searching the trees for movement and sound. When the oriole landed in the treetop about 100 feet away, I hoped no early morning walkers would look up and see the old lady in her housecoat, and zoomed in on the bird. I took a little video too and spent the rest of the morning trying to figure out how to isolate the part where he sings to us. So far all I’ve got is a headache, but no short sound clip. Maybe another time I’ll be able to post it.

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I phoned my neighbour, who loves birds too, to tell her to watch for the oriole as it had gone over to the trees on her place. I almost threw the phone down when I saw that it had come back to check out my red hot pokers. I didn’t dare run out onto the deck this time and scare it away, so unfortunately this photo is taken through the smudgy glass pane of the railing.

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Oh! He’s nervous. A second later, he was gone.

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But now that Big Bird was gone, the tiny ones returned to their favourite snack.

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I tried to get him to slow down as I didn’t have the camera set up for super-high speed for hummingbird wingbeats (does the camera setting even go that high?), but he wasn’t to be held back.

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With the Spanish lavender so prolific right behind him, you would think he’d go for that, but he prefers the pokers.031aI know the bees love the lavender so maybe that has something to do with it.

I didn’t get much work done this morning. The time spent was “for the birds.”032a