wordsfromanneli

Thoughts, ideas, photos, and stories.


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Dinner at the Diner

I wonder if there’s a restaurant up there. They dropped some food here on the floor, but maybe there’s fresher stuff up top.

Ah … this is more like it. A real borgasschmord of meaty worms and grains. Looks like a zinnia dropped some seeds here, and a bunch of other weedy things left promises of more weeds in the spring. I could help Anneli out by eating the weed seeds. But it might be easier to go dine at The Suet Block today.

Uh-oh! Looks like Mr. Darling Starling is already tucking in.

“Hey, Star! Don’t you know Anneli doesn’t want you here?”

“And why might that be, you little piece of Junc-o?”

“Well … she says you gobble too much food and don’t share, and anyway, she doesn’t like feeding baby killers. You know you’re a nest robber.”

“Harrumpf! Watch it, Twirp, or I’ll peck your eye out. And anyway, you’re not social distancing.”

“OMG! OMG!” said Harry, the hairy woodpecker. “I’d like to go down there, but – sheesh! That starling is star-k raving mad! … and-and-and he’s m-m-mean too.”

“I’m being good, Mr. Starling. See? I’ll keep my distance. I’ll just sit here and watch until you’re done.”

“Well, Twirp, you should have brought a chair. I’m gonna be a while.”

“Heh, heh, heh. Here comes Anneli. Look at that coward fly. He’s a “star” at running away. Coward! Heh-heh-heh. Wish Anneli would sit out here in the rain with us … sigh….”


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Good Ole Mother Nature

You’ve seen pictures of my woodshed before, but take a closer look at the wood. It is dotted with birds, most of them Oregon juncos and pine siskins all trying to find shelter and food to keep enough warmth in their little bodies to survive until the fury of the storm has passed.

The rain lashed out in torrents and blew into all shelters sideways. The feeder is blurry, in constant motion, blown by the howling wind. The Captain and I made up a hanging cage for yet another suet block and moved two birdfeeders farther into the woodshed under cover. As we worked in that screaming wind we noticed more than one tiny bedraggled siskin huddling under pieces of firewood, feathers soaked, desperate to get out of the piercing wind that slapped icy water onto their wee little bodies. I could have cried. But we did what we could and had to let “good ole Mother Nature” do what she does best – kill off the weak. Survival of the fittest is hard to watch sometimes.

I took two quick videos of the storm from the deck of our house. In the onslaught of the wind and rain, I kept pressing the wrong button to stop the video and as I lowered the camera I caught an ugly picture of my slippers and an empty flowerpot. Not Academy Award film quality, but you’ll get an idea of the force of the storm. What you won’t see are some of the gusts that were way more violent than what I captured here.

If you turn on the sound, you’ll hear only the music of nature.

Today the birdfeeders are empty again. I’m refilling them a lot but if it will help some birds survive, I will keep on filling them as often as needed.

These little birds make me happy all year, so I want to do what I can to help them out when they need it.

No poem today. I’m too unhappy about watching them suffering yesterday.


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The Challenge of Change

A new birdfeeder presented unexpected challenges for some birds. The seeds were visible, but access to them was different from the way it was done in the old feeders. All the outlets for the seeds are near the bottom of this new feeder.

Very simple for most of the birds. The sparrow has it figured out. “Come on down,” he calls, but the towhee, on the top right, is still puzzled.

“Nice seeds, but how in the heck do you get at them?”

“Whatcha doin’ up there, Rufus?” the Oregon junco called.

“ARRRGGHH! These are the darndest things. I can see them. Why can’t I get at them?”

“You just stick your head in the red dish … look … like this!”

“I just don’t get it. I’m looking right at the seeds, and I can’t get them.”

Honestly, I don’t know what else to say to him. What a dimwit.

“I guess you could always have some suet, Rufus.”

Brand new feeder, brand new seeds,

Specially made to suit their needs.

High-tech model, high-tech spout

Way too hard to figure out.

Rufus hammers, Rufus picks,

He’s exhausted all his tricks.

Junco coaxes, junco shows,

Why is it that junco knows,

How to get them, how to eat?

Rufus must admit defeat.

He can’t get it, he can’t do it,

Junco points up at the suet.

Don’t go hungry, don’t despair,

Eat that suet over there.

Feeling stupid, feeling dumb,

What a birdbrain I’ve become.

Rufus gorges, Rufus gobbles,

Now so fat, his flying wobbles.


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Pine Siskins and Friends

I don’t know why the pine siskins all got thirsty at once, but they seemed happy, to judge by their twittering, to find this makeshift birdbath. Siskins are tiny birds of the finch family. These days they are swarming around in large flocks, feeding as much as possible, probably building up their strength for flying farther south for the winter.

Several of them are hiding in the overgrown, neglected garden. I think I see six of them hiding.

An Oregon Junco decided that he needed a bath. Being a bit bigger (not much) he took over the whole bath. One brave siskin was left at the edge, wondering if he could get a sip.

He decided to go for it and managed to get a good slurp of water.

But that sneaky junco flexed his muscles to show who was boss. Siskin didn’t like it. Hear him shrieking, “HEY! You’re splashing me!”

“Oh you think that was a splash? Just watch this,” the junco says.

If you click on the video, you can see how brazen the junco is about having his bath. The siskin reacts just the way I would, backing up from being splashed.

Please visit my other blog, Anneli’s Place, for writing tips posted in small doses so as not to be overwhelming.


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Treats for All

These Oregon juncos are probably wishing they were in Oregon, but they have been wintering on Vancouver Island, as usual. I felt very sorry for them when that last snowfall covered most of their natural food sources. Sitting beside a well filled bird feeder, they can’t be starving, but they must be feeling a bit chilly. Their feathers are fluffed out for more insulating power, and I suspect they are not expending any more energy than necessary.

Feeling the same shivery chill, the Captain said, “This is the perfect weather for smoking some salmon.”

It was a lot of work, but after hours of preparation, and timing the brining and smoking process, he brought in a wonderful treat for us. Smoked spring salmon, or as the Americans call it, king salmon. It is properly called a chinook salmon, or if you want to get technical, Oncorhynchus tshawytscha.

Here is what it looked like once upon a time. This is an old photo from MANY years ago. You can only guess how seasick I felt, but catching this big spring salmon made me happy. If I don’t look overjoyed, well, that’s as good as it got for me as long as the boat was moving.


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Bathtub Banter

Even birds need a bath now and then, but¬† Mrs. Golden Crowned Sparrow is astounded that her privacy is being invaded.“Go away, you junkie from Oregon,” says Mrs. Golden Crown, “and stop staring while I have my bath.”

“Such rudeness!” says the Oregon Junco. “Calling me a junkie!”

“Oh good. He’s gone. Now to wash behind my ears….”“Oh, for heaven’s sake! How can I blend into the tub when you come along and attract attention with your black soldier’s helmet?”“I can see that I’ll have to ask Mr. Golden Crown to come over to stand guard.”

“Come on, Mrs. G.C. Will ya hurry up and get out of the tub? Can’t you see this guy needs a bath? His face is quite black. You come on down here with me. I’m sure you already¬† smell as pretty as these flowers.”