wordsfromanneli

Thoughts, ideas, photos, and stories.


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.


16 Comments

Flicker

What is he thinking?

Anybody home?

This house is for a gnome,

Inside what will I find?

Something left behind?

Perhaps I’ll find a stash,

Hidden oh so rash,

A home that’s for a squirrel,

Behind this bumpy burl?

Perhaps a juicy bug,

I’d better give a tug.

Shelter from a storm,

Although it’s not the norm.

Good to find this hole,

Might someday save my soul.

Writers, please have a look at my other blog for the occasional writing tips and book posts. You never know if there might be something to help you with your writing.


24 Comments

Hugging Trees

Okay, Junior, forget about pecking at houses. This is how we find the best bugs — on the trees. You hold on with your toes and hop around all sides of the tree. The tree doesn’t mind. It thinks we’re hugging it.

And keep an eye out for hawks. They like to snatch up flickers, especially young naive little morsels like you.

You got that? Look, I didn’t mean to frighten you, but we have to watch out for them at all times.

Okay, Mom.  Sheesh! It sure is a long way down!

Oooooh, look! A rabbit!

Yikes! So it is! Keep looking up, Junior!

Never mind the rabbit!

 


27 Comments

Persistence

For at least a week I heard this red-shafted flicker pecking at something. I thought he must have found his favourite fir tree. Finally, camera in hand, I went looking for him and zeroed in on the sound. Here is where I found him, on the wall of an empty house.  I zoomed in from afar to see what he was up to.  It seems that the siding of a house was more appealing to him than any of the many trees surrounding it. Why is  he so determined to peck through this siding? Apparently he prefers the density of cedar to fir but flickers don’t eat wood, so he must be after something else.

If you look closely to his left, you can see a patch from where he made a hole last year. Above and below him also on the left are patched places where he had picked at the edges of the wood.  There must be something very tasty inside those walls. Maybe a delicious lunch awaits him.

 


31 Comments

Woodpecker Line-up

Woodpeckers seem to like our area. Maybe the attraction is all the rotten wood of broken limbs and stumps left behind from wind damage or logging. It all provides a smorgasbord of insects for them. Sometimes these pileated woodpeckers  really get into their work, hammering at the wood, and the chips just fly off the decaying trees, exposing insects who were enjoying a nice decaying breakfast only to become breakfast themselves.

Red-shafted flickers basically do the same thing, but they don’t have the long beaks the pileated woodpeckers have, so you won’t see the chips flung quite as far afield. Flickers are happy enough to drill holes and do small-time chipping of wood, all in an effort to expose insects. Of course, if there’s a suet block around, they’ll take the lazy way out. It’s like having pizza delivered once in a while instead of cooking from scratch.

The sapsuckers don’t care about rotten wood so much. They like to peck holes into healthy trees (frequently being responsible for the eventual demise of the tree) and wait for the sap to fill the holes with the sweet liquid they love. Insects are attracted to the sap and often become dessert for the sapsuckers. The insects are also taken to the young when it’s nesting time.

 

The woodpeckers in my line-up are getting smaller. I’ve tried to line them up from biggest to smallest. This one is the downy woodpecker, another suet eater, but he likes bugs he finds in wood too. One thing I’ve learned about the downy is that they have a very loud voice for such a small bird. I once stood below a downy’s nest. The young birds stuck their heads out of the hole in the tall tree snag and shrieked so loudly I had to cover my ears. It wasn’t that they were afraid of me and they were screaming for their mother. They were just screeching at her to hurry up and bring more food. The only time they stopped was when they had a full mouth. At least they had “some” good manners and didn’t talk with their mouth full.

And then there was Harry the hairy woodpecker. He was most elusive. I was coming along a small road from a lake where we’d been trout fishing, and Harry flitted from tree to tree, keeping away from my camera. Once he stopped for a rest I zoomed in and got the only shot I could. I didn’t see if he had any red on top of his head, but in many other respects (except for the longer beak) he looked very much like a downy. He was much quieter though.

So there’s the line-up of the possible perpetrators of wood damage around here. Please be sure he’s the right one before you accuse an innocent woodpecker of the damage to your yard. I’ll try for fingerprints (or maybe beak prints would be more useful) next time for a more positive I.D.

PS   Be on guard if your house has wood siding. They’d be happy to check it out for insects like the pest control guys do, except the woodpeckers don’t fix any holes they leave behind.


20 Comments

On Retreat

Ahhh! Peace and quiet, and even a ray of sunshine as a bonus. What a lovely moment’s reprieve from Mrs. Flicker’s bickering.

Uh-oh! I may have spoken too soon.  I was SO enjoying a moment on my own.

You say she wants me to get home and help with the dishes? Can’t you see I’m on retreat?

You’ve got a nerve, taking her part. You go back and tell her …  tell her …. Oh, heck! Tell her I’ll be there in a minute.

And like Mr. Flicker, I’ll be away for a few days on retreat, quilting up a storm. Back soon.

Meanwhile, check out my website for more about my books. Three of them with love and drama on the west coast of British Columbia (The Wind Weeps, Reckoning Tide, Marlie), more love and drama on the Baja Peninsula (Orion’s Gift), and a love triangle in postwar Europe (Julia’s Violinist).

Find out more at http://www.anneli-purchase.com


39 Comments

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.)

 


36 Comments

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.


30 Comments

Trouble Down the Road

Hey, Emma. Will ya look at the goings on over there?

This may be my third helping of hors d’oevres today, but I’ve had to work hard for them.

Getting right into it for the tastiest morsels.

What do you mean, I should stop? I’ve found a treasure trove.

 

Oh Lordy, Lordy! I see what you mean, Ruby. I don’t think he should be doing that. This will not end well. We’d never allow that at OUR house. Not with us backyard supervisors on duty.

 

***

This is not my house and I had to use the zoom for a very long distance when I found the source of the pecking noise, so the flicker is blurry (I had hoped to see him in a tree). I will be on the watch for this guy in case he flies over our way though. Thank goodness our backyard supervisors do a pretty good job of watching for trouble.


30 Comments

A Flicker of Light

Sitting in the dark in my living room at about 6:30 this morning, I was surprised by the contrasting colour of the two levels of clouds — one layer of light gray and one of very dark gray. It gave me the shivers to think of the wind and rain that were coming our way.

I was not disappointed. It blew and dumped rain on us. Once the moisture had been thrown into our faces, the clouds lifted (that’s not the same as going away) and the sky brightened up.

The flicker looked up from his perch in the black walnut tree and called to his buddy who had just flown away, “What do you think, Dear? Is this it for today, or is there more coming? Should we find a more sheltered tree to peck on?”

 

Flicker eyes the roiling sky

Shakes himself and gives a cry,

Shudders at the force of storm,

Sodden feathers, not the norm.

Hoping sun comes shining through,

Flicker asks, “What will I do?

If the next storm is as wild

While I’m wishing it were mild.

Friends will fly away from here, 

I’ll be left alone, I fear.

Wait! I see a glimpse of sun.

Surely I’m the happy one.”