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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

About to Go

And in the middle of our garden tour this weekend, (of course!) the baby robins in a nest on the barn spot lights, decided to fledge, adding much to the entertainment of our garden visitors, who believed we orchestrated it for their benefit. One jumped out of the nest and landed in the crabapple tree next to the barn. The other two, pictured here, stayed in the nest for a few more hours, getting up their courage. It was interesting that they changed their calls and began to make the fledging calls before they fledged. Just after I took this photo one jumped and followed the mother robin into the bushes. The last one soon followed. Whew! I was worried, but they all made it to safety. Now they are well into the woodland cover and the parents are hunting all over our garden for food for them.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Stokes Garden Tour

Us with some garden visitor friends from MA. I'm holding Abby, Don is holding Phoebe.

Long border with gazebo and hummingbird feeders. We sit and watch the hummers.

Garden entry leads to the garden and beyond, down to the pond and mountain

Don talking to some birders. Lots of our visitors brought their binoculars.

Across the entry garden

A view from the entry garden to the urn from lunaform. "Goldflame" Trumpet Honeysuckle vine (Lonicera heckrotii), a magnet for hummingbirds, tumbles over the wall. Prairie Fire crabapple is above it and provides fruit for robins and Cedar Waxwings in fall. We plant lots of bee balm and salvia "Lady in Red" for the hummers.

We have many hummingbird feeders scattered throughout the garden.

View to the mountain, pond and fields, across the kitchen garden.

I was inside and saw two visitors enjoying themselves by sitting in the kitchen garden. The view is to the 'pinnacle rock' viewing area and alpine garden

Our bird gardens were on a garden tour (of The Garden Conservancy, a national organization that protects historically important gardens) this weekend, here are some photos. I do all the design of the plant material and Don and I do all the garden work. Our landscape architect, Gordon Hayward of VT, helped design the hardscape and layout of the garden rooms. We're avid about birds, but we're also avid gardeners. Don grew up in Philadelphia in a gardening family and my grandmother was my gardening inspiration. Even though the garden rooms are formal, with interesting plant material, they're also full of plantings that attract birds and butterflies.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


This week we are too busy to blog, will get back to you next week. Too much work and events at our house, etc. Here's a male Evening Grosbeak photo, taken recently at our feeder, for you to look at. Love those knock-out colors.
On the plus side, we are seeing color proofs of our new Stokes Field Guide To The Birds Of North America and the photos are stunningly beautiful. The color reproduction is excellent and the photos are crystal clear. The book will be available everywhere this October. We will see advance copies earlier. By the way, you can order your copy now, here.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Down the hatch

White-breasted Nuthatches are coming to our feeders regularly now and have babies out of the nest. Makes the blood rush to my head to think of hanging upside down, but it's natural for this bird. Nuthatches can go down tree limbs as easily as they go up. This enables them to probe into tree crevices in search of insects from any angle. They also have a habit of wedging a seed in a tree crack to hack (hatch) it open, hence their name. They also store seeds in tree bark, including our bird seed!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Bee Happy

Bumblebee with pollen on it's legs.

The Bumblebees are coming to the catmint blooming in our garden. I watched in fascination and tired to get a photo of one in flight, not easy! Bumblebees drink nectar from the blossoms with their long tongue and store it in their crop and collect pollen on their bodies which is then groomed into their pollen baskets. They then carry the pollen and nectar back to their hive, and feed it to their larvae. Their nest, depending on the species of bumblebee, is underground or on the ground or in grass.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Scarlet Beauty

Scarlet Tanager, male, way high in a tree next to our house. Whenever we hear him nearby we run and get the binoculars just to get a look at all that scarlet beauty. We stand there and ooh and ahhh. Scarlet Tanagers stay in the tree canopy, not always visible among the leaves, and if you don't know their song you will not know they are there. Some say the song of the Scarlet Tanager sounds like a robin with a hoarse voice.
The female is olive yellowish with brown wings and thus more camouflaged, a good thing, as she has to sit on the nest and incubate the eggs. The males sings throughout their breeding period and occasionally the female sings also. In winter, the male looses his scarlet coloring and becomes bright olive-green on the body.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Overload antidote

Monarch Butterfly

This morning Don and I we were talking about how in today's world we are all bombarded with so many digital things. Cell phones, computers, TV, radios, blogs, twitter, facebook, the internet, are all places that divide and compete for our attention. Many of these are essential to our work and life. In the course of a day we use all of them and sometimes we feel overloaded.

What helps diminish that feeling? For us, it's nature, birds, gardens and being outdoors. Just, even for a moment, watching a butterfly, seeing our bluebird, having a hummingbird come to sip nectar from our feeder just feet from our nose, smelling a rose in our garden, making a point to go out on our deck at night and watch the wonderful firefly fireworks going on right now — renews us, relaxes us, connects us and is the antidote for overload.

Enjoy your weekend and try some antidotes.

(Okay, okay, I am getting sucked into bloggers new templates and trying a new look for our blog, so our blog format and colors looks different than yesterday. I cannot resist. It's still the same blog. Blogger, still part of the overload.)

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Bluebirds, how many mealworms can he stuff?

Our male bluebird is coming to our feeder and stuffing his bill full of mealworms to take to his 4 fledglings. So much stuffing, you won't believe how many he can stuff!! The more he stuffs, the more he can take to the 4 hungry mouths waiting for him in the tree. What a good Dad.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

Brown Pelicans are being very affected by the oil spill.

We are as heartbroken and sick about the Deepwater Horizon uncontrolled oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico as you are. It is devastating to watch TV, as we did last night, and see birds, almost unrecognizable as birds, completely covered in ugly, gooey oil. It is even more devastating to think that the spill is not stopped, and continues. This will be a menace for years to come to wildlife, the ocean and land environment, to humanity, the economy, and the states affected. Some days it is hard for us to focus on our work, which we must do.

Here are some places to keep up with the news on wildlife:

Spearheading some of the bird rescue efforts are experts from Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research, whose response team has been on the Gulf Coast since the last week in April and is working with their colleagues, International Bird Rescue and Research Center and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to manage the rehabilitation of oiled wildlife. They all are working with many other rehabilitators and wildlife and environmental organizations as well.

- For weekly updates about the wildlife response efforts go here
- For how you can help Tri-State, go here
-To get daily updates on the consolidated number of the collected (including both rescued, rehabilitated and dead) birds and wildlife that have been reported to the Unified Area Command from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, go here
- To report oiled or injured wildlife in the area, call 866-557-1401
- To get the latest news from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service about what they are doing and the potential oil impact on the 33 wildlife refuges that line the coasts of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida, go here

There are also many other environmental and other organizations involved, support those of your choice.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Feeder Friday, Red-breasted Nuthatch

This little Red-breasted Nuthatch female (male has darker cap and redder breast) has been coming to our feeder for hulled sunflower. She also takes it and feeds it to her fledglings. Definitely on the short list for cutest bird. Red-breasted Nuthatches make adorable, nasal, little "meep, meep" calls to keep in contact. They breed in northern parts of the country and the West, but can be found in much of the country in the non-breeding season.
This little female flew into our house accidentally, and hit a window as she tried to get out. She was stunned and we put her outside on the grass. Thankfully she recovered and was at the feeder today. Whew!

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Purple Finch survey participants needed

Purple Finch, male

Purple Finches are beautiful birds that breed in upper eastern and mid-western parts of the country, the West Coast and Canada. Here in NH they are the state bird. A graduate student, Sarah Knutie, is starting a long-term monitoring study of Purple Finch population status and distribution and needs volunteers that are interested in monitoring Purple Finches, House Finches and Pine Siskins at their feeders. This will require only 1-2 hours a month between March and Sept. If you would like to participate in the study get in touch with Sarah at with your name, city and state, and the months of the year you see Purple Finches.
We'll be doing it, we are lucky to have Purple Finches in our yard. As a matter of fact, as I am writing this a Purple Finch is singing outside.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Goldfinches, where are they

American Goldfinch, female

Someone just asked us where their goldfinches were, they weren't seeing any now. Goldfinches begin breeding later than other birds and may go to breeding areas away from your feeders, if you have no good breeding habitat nearby. They nest in small trees and shrubs, often near wetland areas and place the nest 4-20 ft. high. They build a nest of strands from weeds and vines, downy filaments from wind-dispersed seeds, such as thistle, and bind the nest with caterpillar webbing. 3-7 light blue eggs are laid and incubation takes 12-14 days. The young fledge in 11-15 days. The young are out of the nest by mid-August and then, at least for us, our feeders are descended upon by newly fledged goldfinches.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Yellow Warbler sweeetness

Recent photo I took of a male Yellow Warbler on Bobolink Farm, our 48 acre NH property. He was singing, "sweet, sweet, sweet, I'm so sweet." What a gorgeous bird and such a common breeding warbler all across much of the U.S and Canada. Look for it in shrubs and woodlands near water.
When we paddle around our large pond we see flashes of buttery yellow in the shrubs along the edges, a sign of the breeding Yellow Warblers. Males sing loudly when they first arrive in order to attract the females then quiet down during breeding, as they are now. This is warbler that leaves at the end of the summer, one of the earlier migrating warblers. So take your binoculars when you hike, canoe, kayak, or picnic on a lake and look for this golden jewel now.