Goldfinches!

Probably everyone who puts out a niger (thistle) seed feeder will attract Goldfinches. Their range extends from Mexico to Canada. But, despite their common occurrence, they are still delightful to see. I took these photos on April 6-7, 2020. Some of them appear to still don their more drab coloring that keeps them safe in winter months.

Purple Martins

Last spring we put up a Purple Martin house and within a few days, we had tenants. These birds are social, and live together in colonies. The more the merrier is their mantra. Their song is a quite complicated chortle that, once you hear it, you will always recognize it. It is cheery and musical. Purple Martins are in the swallow family. They prefer to roost near a body of water, as they actually drink on the fly – skimming the surface of a pond or lake. Good for us, we have a large farm pond that is within 300 feet of where we erected the first house.

This spring, I hoped to attract more of the aerial insect eaters. We put up a tower of eight gourd shaped houses that were specifically designed for Purple Martins. The Gourd Tower sits just 16 feet from the existing red house, which we purchased at the local farm store for a good deal last April. The red house is very traditional, with two stories of side-by-side dwellings, plus two nest boxes in the dormer level on the ends. The gourds are stand-alone homes hung in close proximity to each other. The way I see it, we are offering housing to the artsy Martins and their more contemporary friends.

Female Purple Martin (top right) and a male (bottom right) arrived on April 7, 2020 and immediately checked out the red barn house.
A few minutes later the same pair landed on the north side of the house and inspected a couple of options there.
Female Purple Martin lands on the north side of the red house.
A male Purple Martin scopes out the view and flight pattern from the north side of the red house.
A female Purple Martin perches atop the new Gourd tower.
A female Purple Martin navigates around the Gourd Tower. She actually landed on one and peered inside, but I wasn’t able to catch that.
A male Purple Martin prepares for a landing atop the Gourd Tower. he looks like Superman!
It appears that this male Purple Martin likes the view. He remained on the top of the tower for several minutes.

House Finches

The House Finch is a fairly common species in my area of the country. But, it’s still a delight to catch a glimpse of the raspberry red flash of color when the male comes into the yard. The female doesn’t don any bright plumage, but she is still beautiful.

More Bluebird Magic

The sun finally came out and I was able to shoot some images of our Bluebird pair as they continue to make their home in the birch stump box on the south fence of my office patio yard.

The first two images are a comparison of what I can see from my patio location where I photograph the birds, and the cropped image that enlarges the images.

Here is the female Eastern Blue Bird sitting atop a post on the south fence near her nest box (which is attached to the next post over to the left.)
This is the same photo, but cropped to show the details of the bird’s textures. This is taken with a 300 mm zoom lens. I wish I had something larger, but once you get to an auto focus zoom over that length, they get pretty pricey.

Building a Nest

On March 27, 2020, I ventured out to the patio, again without a tripod and again on a cloudy day. Hence, these photos are not as clear as I would like. But, I couldn’t resist capturing some shots of the female Eastern Bluebird while they complete their courtship and move onto raising a family. The male tends to woo the female by identifying a suitable location to raise a brood. The female has the final say (birds, too!) Once she chooses the abode, it’s up to her to furnish the place. For E Bluebirds, that’s a nest of fine grasses, perfectly assembled to form a soft resting place for their 3-5 future eggs.

Here is a series of images that I captured as the future mama painstakingly arranged her nest and eventually got her hubby’s final approval.

Once the female begins building the nest, they will protect it against other species that attempt to steal their real estate. below, shows a House Sparrow (which is not an North American native – and can be quite invasive and have a negative effect on our native birds) flying into the Bluebird’s nest territory.

Bluebirds – action Shots

The header photo is a female Eastern Bluebird (the one that is claiming a nest box on the south fence of my office patio yard.) She took flight from her position near the box and I just snapped. The box is over 50 feet from where I sit on the patio with a 300 mm zoom lens. So, I can’t really tell what I’m going to capture until I download the photos onto a desktop computer. I can’t believe that I snapped as she was going after a flying insect! I wish I had been using a tri-pod and that the sun had been shining, because the image would have been clearer. But, it’s still amazing that I caught that action.

This is the same photo but with more height.

Tree Swallows!

On March 25th, Robert and I were working on a project in my office patio yard when birds beckoned to be filmed. I ran to get my camera and was able to capture these photos of Tree Swallows. We have four nest boxes on the far (East) end of the yard. Each year, two or three Tree Swallow pairs used them to raise a brood. This year, a pair became interested in the center box. Enjoy the photos.

Bluebirds in Spring!

For the past few days I have been fortunate to capture some inspiring images of a pair of Eastern Bluebirds. They have come back to a faux birch wood nest box that we hung on a fence. Last year, they fledged their young from that same box. The year prior, which was our first year at this home and so the first year we erected nest boxes, they used the box in the center of my office garden yard.

Below, you will find photos taken on March 25, 2020.

Hydroponics – Mung Bean finale

I’ve drained, dried and put the Mung bean sprouts in the refrigerator for later use in a recipe that I have yet to determine. The countertop sprouts project was a fun first attempt at hydroponics. I will definitely do it again.

I have just received a packet of 8 different herb seeds. I plan to start them like the lettuce greens and will update as it seems valuable.

One other note. We took a couple of Service Dogs In Training to Hobby Lobby last night. It’s relatively new in the area and I had never been to that shop before. OMG! There’s so much good stuff in there. The photo above includes a wall decor painted metal sign that I purchased. I plan to hang it in the dining / living room area – so I can read it every day. The saying really speaks to me. So, I decided to add it to this post.

Training a Dog To alert To a Sound

I’m compiling videos we have taken over the past several weeks to prepare for a Handler Instruction class this weekend. The dogs’ owners are coming to partner with their newly trained Service Dogs. This video is showing Mordecai alerting to a sound by jumping up on his handler.

In the beginning, we teach a dog to perform some sort of response behavior (like jumping up.) Then, after the dog is performing reliably, we swap out the verbal cue for the alarm sound. It takes time and patience, but eventually, the dog learns to perform the response behavior even when distracted by things in the environment.

Truman, my senior Border Collie makes a cameo appearance. We weren’t sure he would still be with us when he got ill a few weeks ago. So, that he’s walking about is truly a miracle.