wordsfromanneli

Thoughts, ideas, photos, and stories.


42 Comments

Getting Rid of the Evidence

Orson, the Oregon junco, has found a sunny spot to rest.

“Ooooh! This is so toasty on my body. The sun has warmed the railing. It feels glorious after so much cold wind.”

“Ahh … this is SO nice! I’ll get some of that warmth on my throat too. Oh, my goodness, that is so wonderful.”

“Oops! Excuse me. Nature calls. I’m trying to be modest, turning my back, but why do I have the feeling I’m on Candid Camera?”

“Hmm … the evidence … it’s still there. What to do? What to do? Oh, no! I’m such a birdbrain.”

“I just can’t have anyone pointing an accusing feather, saying it was me. They’ll probably put it on Twitter.  Still, I needn’t worry. If they put anything on Twitter, the birds would be canceled for expressing an unpopular opinion. Meanwhile, only one thing to do and that’s flee the scene of the crime.”

The evidence was left behind, but before a half hour passed by, the heavens opened up and the whole deck was full of evidence. Well … it looked like more evidence.

Loads of evidence covered the railing as a freak hailstorm blew in and then out again as quickly as it had come. Orson was spared many accusations, and he felt a lot lighter.

 


51 Comments

Chilly Days

With a switch from southeast, the northwest wind brought that breeze that smells like polar bears. It breathed on the local hills and shocked the birds who had thought wind and rain were hard enough to endure.

(Bird pictures taken through my dirty windows. Sorry.)

Cold and hungry, they search out any source of food. Sure I have suet out, and the birdfeeders are always topped up, but something more is needed today.

Saskia, the pine siskin, catches a few rays of sunshine, out of the wind.

“Ahh! That feels so good on my feathers.”

She sits on a fir cone and decides that she likes the one next to her better.

“It’s a stretch,” she says, “but so worth it. Yikes! Nearly fell off.”

Orson (top left) mutters, “I don’t see anything.”

Saskia calls to him (bottom right), “Come on down here, Orson. Plenty of cones over here. Great bunches of them!”

Brother Sasha’s found a good one. “But whoah! The blood is all running to my head.”

What a showoff he is! “There’s plenty of cones down here,” Saskia calls to him, “and you don’t have to be an acrobat to get at them.”

“Ooh! Yum! Kind of like sticky caramel candies. I’ve got a good one here.”

The nights have suddenly gone cold,
If we don't eat, we won't get old,
With sunny rays, though they are rare,
The cold is easier to bear.

The fir trees shelter from the breeze,
And we can find the cones with ease,
Inside them is a sticky snack,
We eat them fast and then come back.

Our squirrel, Lincoln, loves them too,
But kindly he has left a few,
The polar wind is such a beast,
We hope it switches to southeast. 

A few more days of icy toes,
And then we hope that winter goes,
Around the corner, spring awaits,
Take heart and let's hang in there, mates.


43 Comments

Carving the Bird

It’s not a turkey that needs to be carved, but Fletcher the Flicker is getting creative as he dines on a snack of suet at the feeder.

“I’m going to carve you into a little duckling. Who knows? It might improve the flavour.”

“Oops! What was I thinking? I’ve eaten your bill, my little duckling.”

“Hmm! You’ve got a problem there, Fletch.”

“Well don’t just sit there and criticize, Orson. Do you have any bright ideas?”

“I guess not. Unless he’s gone to think about it….”

“Well, Fletch, I … er … let’s see …. For one thing, his bum’s too fat.”

Fletcher closes his eyes and counts to ten. “Lord give me strength.”

But then Orson has an idea.

“You pick away under his chin – that will help – and I’ll pick away at his fat tush. And by the way, it’s great working with you, Fletch. That snarky starling is not nearly as nice as you are.”

“I’m keeping my distance when he’s around. Get a load of that spearing beak and those mean, beady eyes. Not to mention that grabbing set of claws he’s got. No, Sir! I’m not doing anything to draw attention to myself. No sneaking a bite while he’s there.”

Fletcher carves a duck of suet,
Asks his friend for help to do it.
Orson's happy to oblige him
Least he knows he won't get bludgeoned.

Snarky starling, meanest birdy,
Doesn't share, and oft plays dirty.
Orson spends his time with Fletcher,
Both are happy, yep, you betcha.


25 Comments

The White Stuff

“Eh? Orson? What’s that you said?” That Oregon junco knows everything that’s going on around here.

It's a chilly wind today,
My fur coat is on to stay,
I'm so happy to be warm,
With the temps below the norm.

“If you’d pay attention, Lincoln, you’d know there’s been a big change in the weather.” Him and his big fur coat. He probably hasn’t even noticed. But just look at Emma. She’s still trying to figure it out too.

Look now, Lincoln! See the ground,
See the flakes fall all around?
Food will be more precious though,
Covered as it is with snow.

“Sheesh! This is just like in the movies where Bambi says, ‘Mother, what’s all that white stuff?’ and she says, with her soft, stunned voice, like some naive housewife out of a 50s sitcom, ‘Why … it’s snow!'”

Emma snarfs in deep, long sniffs,
White stuff gives off special whiffs,
Did a raccoon pass by here?
Did a rabbit scratch his ear?

Licking, tasting flakes of snow. 
Tries to bite it, where'd it go?
Funny flakes of wetness fall,
On her head and over all.

Emma gives her coat a shake,
Leaving just one lonely flake,
Sitting on her pointy nose,
Then into the house she goes. 


39 Comments

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….”


44 Comments

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.


34 Comments

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.


33 Comments

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.


33 Comments

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.”