Search This Blog

Friday, May 29, 2009


I'm Abby, Don and Lillian's puppy (and Phoebe's cousin). Here I am at the Memorial Day picnic playing with puppy Blaze. He sure is cute. Can you tell I'm having a good time? I smile a lot. I'm also less-than-perfect. I leave that perfect thing to Phoebe (who thinks she's perfect but, truth be told, she's really not).
This week I ate dandelions, ate a moth, ate ants, ate a hole in Lillian and Don's new carpet and just had a whopping good time. Tonight I graduate from Basic Dog Obedience class. Lillian thinks I'm doing very well there, except the part about talking back to the teacher. I can do sit, down, stand, come and I've got a killer down-stay. Lillian says it's a good thing I'm so cute, it makes up for my less-than-perfect qualities. Don't tell Phoebe I'm blogging, she thinks she's the only blogging Corgi.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Orange Treat

We put out oranges and it's amazing how many birds like them. Here's a Red-bellied Woodpecker I photographed in FL, coming to oranges. There's more red on its head than belly, but it was still named Red-bellied Woodpecker. A great way to offer oranges, or even other fruit, is to use a suet basket feeder, like the one in the photo. Red-bellied Woodpeckers are not at all common here in NH and we have only seen them on our property several times, but there's some indication they may be expanding their range into here. That would be nice, they're such a handsome and rather tame woodpecker.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Wow Bluebirds!

After no nesting bluebirds for several years we have them (yeah!) and are they going to town. Here's the male presenting a tasty morsel to the female. This is "mate-feeding" an essential part of bluebird courtship and pair-bonding.

Photograph of Eastern Bluebirds © Lillian Stokes, 2009

Friday, May 22, 2009

Orange treat

Here's the Gray Catbird that's been coming to the oranges we put out. Orioles will often come to oranges and grape jelly, but a lesser know fact is that Gray Catbirds will also. We have even had catbirds eat hulled sunflower. We just love to try new foods and see what birds we can attract. We get great joy, on a daily basis, watching all the birds in our yard and knowing that many of them are there because of our efforts.

Here are some things you can do for the birds this weekend:

1. Put out bird baths filled with clean water. It's been hot weather, for the last few days here in NH, and the birds have really appreciated a cool drink and a bath. We put the bird bath near the garden hose, so it's easy to clean the bath and refill.

2. Put up more bird houses, it's not too late. Bluebirds, chickadees, titmice, nuthatches, Tree Swallows and wrens and more all use houses. Late nesters, or birds having their second brood, are always on the look-out for an available house.

3. Put up more hummingbird feeders. Cut down the competition between hummers by placing feeders on opposite sides of your house.

4. Plant annuals to attract hummers. Salvia, "Lady in Red" is our favorite pick. Verbena Bonariensis attracts hummers as well as butterflies.

Have a great Memorial Day weekend! See you Tuesday.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Warbler fun

This morning we had a Black-and-white Warbler singing it's "wee-see-wee-see-wee-see" song as it moved through our woods.

Then we heard the Chestnut-sided Warbler's "pleased-pleased-pleased-to-meetcha" song.

We also heard a Magnolia Warbler singing and heard Northen Waterthrush near our pond. Warblers have been moving through here in southern NH every day. We have had lots and lots of Black-and-white Warblers, less numbers of some others. It's such a rich time of year for birdlife. We love to sit with coffee on the deck, first thing in the morning, and just listen and watch with our binos. It's my favorite time of day and I feel like I am connected to nature and in touch with the birds, even though I have to "go to work" and spend the rest of the day behind the computer.
It really helps if you learn the songs of some of these birds so you will know who is there. You will always hear more birds than you see at this time of year. Start with the easy songs, such as those of the Chestnut-sided Warbler and Black-and-white Warbler I mentioned above.
Try our Stokes Field Guide To Bird Song CDs to learn the bird's songs. You can even put them on your ipod.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Catbird "meow"

Sorry we were too busy to blog much last week. It's a busy time of year for birding, gardening, etc. plus we are finishing a book. The other day I heard the familiar "meow" call coming from the shrubbery near the bird feeder. It was one of the calls of the Gray Catbird. I looked with my binos and saw a Gray Catbird sitting in a shrub at the edge of the bird feeder area. It had a very good vantage point for seeing out, watching for any potential predators, and checking all the bird activity that was coming and going from the feeder. I was thinking that must be what the phrase "sitting in the catbird seat" was all about. It does refer to being in "an advantageous position."
When sit on my adirondack chair with binos, watching the feeder and our property, I feel like I am in the catbird seat, birding-wise at least.

Monday, May 11, 2009

They're back!

Bobolink, male

The Bobolinks are back! Hooray! 2 males arrived last friday and this morning we counted 5 males in our field. We provide a safe nesting field. We have an agreement with the farmer who cuts our hay, not to cut before the end of July. By then the Bobolinks have fledged from their nests. If farmers cut too early, they will wipe out the nests and young. So we are doing our part for Bobolink conservation.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

American Goldfinches

American Goldfinches are finally living up to their name. The males are getting their buttery breeding plumage, a welcome change from the drab gray-brown plumage of American Goldfinches in winter.
People often say to us, "you must get tired of looking at common birds" assuming that only rarities hold our interest. Not true! I am thrilled each time I look at these beautiful birds.
FYI, American Goldfinches breed throughout most of the country, but not the approximate southern third of the U.S,. so if you live in that area and are looking for your goldfinches, they left to go to their breeding areas.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Amalanchier Cloud

Our garden entry

Amalancier trees connect house and barn

Amalanchier is also called "Shadbush", "Serviceberry" and "Juneberry."

In bloom now, our Amalanchier "Autumn Brilliance" trees, which frame the entry to our garden and run along the path that leads to our door. We highly recommend them as a bird attracting tree. They bear fruits in mid-summer, long before crabapples have ripened. Cedar Waxwings come every day, near when they are ripe, to test their readiness, then feast when they are just right. Many other species of birds eat the fruit as well. A plus for gardeners is the cloud of bloom now, and great autumn color just when you need it.

Monday, May 04, 2009


A male Pine Warbler

and female Pine Warbler, most likely a mated pair,

came down into our apple trees while I was photographing the Indigo Bunting migrant.

Yesterday we were outside trying to catch up on the gardening and were treated to a symphony of migrant birds continuously passing through the woods around us. We were doing birding by ear and knew who was there. We heard Black-throated Blue, Black-throated Green, Black-and-white, Yellow-rumped and Pine Warblers, lots of Blue-headed Vireos, an Eastern Towhee and Indigo Bunting. Also, our first hummingbird showed up and went right to the feeder. This morning there was a Warbling Vireo by the lake and an Eastern Meadowlark in our field. I just love this time of year.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Corgi Blooming

Corgis in the daffodils! That's our Abby on the left and Phoebe on the right, and that's our field of daffodils down by the lake we call "daffy meadow."

Corgis in the kitchen! The back two are ours, the four in front are visiting from Llandian kennel (where Abby and Phoebe came from, these are their relatives), and they all get along great.

Enjoy your weekend and look for some birds. We still have tons of Yellow-rumped Warblers coming through. Just heard a Blue-headed Vireo. We're waiting for our Bobolinks to arrive, our property is named "Bobolink Farm" in their honor.