Monday, January 21, 2008

Wood Thrush Memories

The temperature plunged to 7 degrees this morning--too cold for me to go out. In looking back over some pictures I took last week, I came across a photo of a Wood Thrush nest. On that walk, I counted 6 Wood Thrush nests on one side of our driveway. Two nests were still here from the summer of 2006 but unused because wood thrushes never use the same nest twice. The rest were from last summer. Most were out on a limb only about 10 feet from the ground. But one was at least 50 feet up in a yellow poplar tree. I only discovered it late last summer because I found a piece of an eggshell below and then looked directly above me to discover the nest. When I took the shell piece back to the house to identify (via Peterson's Eastern Birds' Nests), I determined that it was a Wood Thrush nest.

I remember discovering one nest in particular on a walk down my driveway in July. Suddenly, a Wood Thrush landed only a few feet in front of me, frantically trying to get me to chase him. So, I looked in the opposite direction and up in an Eastern Redbud tree. There, I saw a Wood Thrush on a nest. Luckily, I had my camcorder with me and took video. Click on play button or ">" below...

The sound from the video is of wood thrushes but earlier in the summer. The first picture was from last week while the video is from July, 2007.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

5 inches of snow!

About 5 inches of snow fell since early this morning resulting in a mad rush of birds to the feeders.

This female Northern Cardinal, two male Purple finches, and a male American Goldfinch wait patiently for their turn at the feeder.

These Mourning Doves are not waiting for the feeder since they feed on the ground. I guess they are just trying to keep warm.

This is the best photograph I could get of the Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker feeding on suet. He has been around for the last month. He will not eat sunflower seeds so I am trying to keep the suet there all the time.

Chris--here are my 7 random facts about me. I don't have anybody to tag since I think everyone's blog I read has been tagged. This might be more than you wanted to know...

  1. I have 9 brothers and sisters, 20 nieces and nephews, 40+ great nieces and nephews, and 2 great-great nephews.
  2. For future retirement, my parents bought an Ozark farm when I was about 11. I loved the woods, the vegetable garden, and especially the creek where I swam almost everyday during the summer.
  3. When I was a rising high school senior, I went up in the workmen’s elevator on the outside of the Gateway Arch in St. Louis before it was finished (actually about two-thirds done). I was the second woman to go up in the Arch (after my boyfriend’s father’s girlfriend) but officially the mayor’s wife was the first but her ride was the easy way on the inside train after the Arch’s completion.
  4. I lived on a sailboat in St. Thomas Harbor in the U.S. Virgin Islands for six months in the 70s. It was rent-free because my husband’s and my best qualifications were that we didn’t know how to sail; and so, we would not be tempted to take the boat out of the harbor.
  5. In 1999, I spent a week in Kuwait presenting at a conference. One evening at the hotel, I received a special delivery letter from the U.S. Embassy warning me to be on guard for kidnappers because President Clinton had given an ultimatum to the Afghan government to hand over Osama bin Laden. At the time, I had no idea who Osama bin Laden was.
  6. I love to play pool and compete in an area billiards league.
  7. Nature is my refueler and my best source of inspiration (also inspiring are other nature bloggers).

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Naked Woods 2

Yesterday was the last warm day (50s) so I took another walk in the woods to identify trees. My dog, Kookie, and cat, Sophie, usually accompany me on these walks. I could see more birds and other wildlife without them but they are good company.

Sophie doesn't miss a chance to walk on a pile of rocks. These rock piles are scattered throughout the woods. I marvel at the amount of work it took the farmer to make them. From talking to neighbors, I know this part of our land was a potato field in the 1920s and 30s. I have probably hauled a ton of rocks back to our house for use in gardening but this pile is so far from a road that I can't get to it easily.

The shagbark hickory is probably the easiest to identify by its bark. Little brown bats are supposed to use the hickory to roost by day. But, the the baats around here may prefer to use our wood siding or a large bat house we installed years ago.

We have quite a few small American Beech trees which are noticeable because they retain their leaves all winter. We have only a couple of large ones which only retain their leaves on their lower branches.

The bark is very smooth, light gray and tempted a Henry Turner to write his initials on this tree in 1953. I wonder if he was the son of the farmer that piled up all those rocks.

This tree, over four feet in diameter, grows just a few feet from our fence line, making me covet my neighbor's land. Oh well, I will admire the beautiful colors of the gray and light brown leaves from afar.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Naked Woods

Yesterday, the temperature reached a record 71 degrees at 3:00 p.m while it was 65 degrees earlier this afternoon. The warm temperatures prompted me to walk in the woods the last couple of days.

I can see and hear more woodpeckers after the leaves have fallen like this downy woodpecker.

Identifying trees by the bark is a skill I have been acquiring over several years. The trees have to be mature because the bark of young trees of most species vary greatly in pattern and sometimes color.

The easiest one for me is Black Cherry because it is dark grey and has a distinctive pattern.

Sourwood is also easy to identify because the deeply-furrowed bark is light grey. The bark is very hard as well just like the wood which was used by the pioneers for sleds to bring supplies up into the mountains.

This morning, an Evening Grosbeak came to our feeder. I first noticed him during the cold spell last week but I did not expect him to stay. I don't remember ever seeing one before here even though we have had Rose-Breasted Grosbeaks during migration.

Another unusual bird at the feeder is the Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker. So far, I haven't been able to catch a photo of him. So that makes 4 woodpeckers (Red-Bellied, Downy, Hairy, and Yellow Bellied Sapsucker) coming to the suet feeder.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Happy L.E.D. New Year!

I can't bear to take my Christmas year down yet. I replaced all the mini and pepper lights with L.E.D lights this year. Last year, I used the LEDs outside and was so impressed I scooped up the remaining ones at Home Depot at half price after Christmas. No more incandescents--I figured I am only using about 42 watts (per hour) for the 8 strings of lights versus 360-420 watts for the mini incandescents I had before. What's more, I gave my husband not one but two LED flashlights and lanterns this year. With replacing all the other incandescents this year with compact fluorescents, I figure we are saving some on electricity. It's more than made up for by computers and televisions but still....

Before the severe cold spell (it's only 21 degrees at 5:00), I took a walk and found this fresh mushroom (Witches Butter?) on a log. Picture was taken on December 30.

I've been busy with travel to Belize over the holidays. If you would like to see some of my pictures from this beautiful country, check out these photos on Flickr: