Tag Archives: backyard

First bird of 2009


Ooooo, lookee.  It’s an American Tree Sparrow.  What a great first bird of 2009.  It is not a rariety by any means but I only see them in the depths of winter.  One showed up at the nyger feeder during the first big storm (remember that 17 incher) a week or so ago; then disappeared.  And here it is again when the fridgid arctic air pushed our high today to 4F.  It does not come to the heated bird bath for a drink, but like the Chickadees can eat snow for the liquid.  I saw both birds eating snow today.  My resident backyard Chickadee flock drinks from the heated bird bath.  So, does that mean the snow-eaters are migrants from further north?  Interesting.  Have you seen birds eat snow?


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Arborvitae Hedge

While I was out in the backyard trying to decide if I needed to rake or not, I noticed that the arborvitae hedge screening me from the back neighbor looked thin and was turning brown in places.  In horror, I peeked through at the neighbor’s cluttered backyard.  Ugh.  I paced up the entire 150 feet of the hedge stopping to peer at the brown spots.  Maybe it was a bug of some kind.  Yes, I had neglected it all of last year but I did pound in the Jobe’s Spears for Evergreens back in the Spring.  It appeared, however, not to be helping.  I know the trees are stressed because of the lack of rain and I promise to put soaker hoses down in the Spring.  But what to do?  I need that hedge.  The birds need that hedge.

Several days later I had a nightmare where someone had come in and cut down the 20-foot shrubs leaving only stumps.  I could see the neighbor’s house and yard but worse than that, they could see mine.  And the birds were fluttering about in confusion.  I got up and looked up the number for the local tree-spraying man.

The tree guy was great.  He came and looked.  Said it was normal not an infestation of something dreadful.  He told me many people had been calling.  The leaf drop was cyclical.  He also said the hedge was not getting enough light because of all the other trees in the yard and recommended taking some of them down.  Gulp.  I hate taking down healthy trees.  I told him about the spears.  He just laughed and said it was not enough.  I needed 20 or 30 pounds of Hollytone.  20-30 pounds?  I had only seen Hollytone in tiny 5-pound bags.  Oh well, if that is what it needs, Ok then.

As luck and the tree gods would have it, when I mentioned my dilemma to DJ from Oak in the Seed she said she had a 20-pound bag of Hollytone languishing in her shed that she no longer needed.  She is a gem!  I lugged the bag home and scattered the granules under the trees.  Hopefully we will get enough rain and snow this winter to soak it into the ground.

In the meantime, the cold weather is here and the birds are using the hedge to shelter in as a windbreak. It is full of migrating flocks of warblers, sparrows and finches as well as my backyard residents.

I am so on top of this now.


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Young Downy Woodpecker

I sat gazing out the big colonial windows in my kitchen with my cat, Winkie perched on one knee.  She saw the bird before I did.  A disheveled young Downy Woodpecker landed on one of the green metal lawn chairs.  She pecked at the metal repeatedly, trying her darnest to get a meal.  She obviously hadn’t got the whole wood part of woodpecker down yet.  After several minutes of jabbing the chair then hitching up to try again she gave up and flew to the nearest oak.  She pecked at that for a while, before flying off to try another oak.

Now, I know that woodpeckers will peck at houses and I have heard of them banging away at eaves and drainpipes…but metal chairs?  Huh.  The things ya see.


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Wordless Wednesday

Flurry of Finches

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