Blue Jay

Blue Jays are fairly large birds, at least compared to many of the other song birds that are wintering over here. They are obvious in their color and their calls which can be quite loud and varied. However, I consider these curious and clever birds to be very elusive when it comes to catching them for a photo opportunity.

I’m not sure how this species fares in more urban environments. Perhaps they are like the Great Blue Herons that frequent our pond during summer months. Once they spot me (and they have amazing vision – so that happens usually before I see them), I can’t get within fifty yards of them before they take flight. Yet, travel to coastal Florida and the stately heron fits well into the busy environment of a waterside restaurant where it routinely begs for tossed scraps from patrons of the establishment. Perhaps, the Blue Jay is more gregarious around hundreds of people, too. But, here in my neck of the woods, it is wary of getting too close to people which increases my motivation to get a good image of these handsome birds.

To improve my chances of snapping a photo, we offer peanuts or suet at the feeder. It helps draw these striking birds into range.

Maybe it’s because I was absent from the platform feeder for a few weeks that the Jays became more comfortable visiting it. Robert had taken the time to refill the station a few times during our bout with the respiratory virus, but otherwise there was no human activity in the area. Yesterday, which was my first time filming birds there, three Blue Jays stopped by and hung out a bit longer than their typical fly-in-and-out-to-nab-a-nut behavior.

I enjoyed the opportunity to get a few photos of these brilliant birds.

An Apple A Day

As we did last year, we hung some juicy apples in a barren apple tree that sits at the corner of the corridor (a 200 foot long lane between two sections of new growth scrub and mature trees) and the alley (which is a mowed area which sits next to what was once our herding arenas and is now quite over grown with tall weeds.) The apple tree seems to be a stopping point for birds moving through the open spaces of the corridor and alley, so it’s a good spot to sit and wait for avian visitors, especially during migration.

After a couple of days during which, in my opinion, the birds stay back and observe the new situation for potential threats, we captured a few takers on a trail cam. A Tufted Titmouse and three female (or young male) Rose-breasted Grosbeaks visited the tree and checked out the fruit, but only briefly.

The following day I endured the 15 mph winds and much cooler weather to wait for activity. It turned out to be well worth my time. A juvenile male (in transitional plumage) arrived and took his time to nosh on the sweet treat.

It made me happy, especially when the sun came out and illuminated the bird’s beauty.

Nature’s Color Wheel

In a high school art class many years ago, I learned that colors which sit opposite on the “artist’s color wheel chart” tend to complement each other.

My favorite color is purple. It’s known to enhance creativity which is why the walls of my office are a soft shade of lilac. I love seeing splashes of purple around our farm; like the deep purple color of the the native Ironwood that grows wild, here.

Purple’s complimentary color – the one that sits across the color wheel – is yellow! Yellow is such a cheerful color, that I think it compliments nearly every other color. Still, pairing it with purple is often a magical combination.

How splendid that I have an image of a yellow butterfly on the deep purple Ironwood! I think they do look great alongside each other.

Another purple wildflower which is more traditionally referred to as weed, as it can become quite invasive and isn’t pleasant to encounter as it has some irritating thorns, is this Swamp Thistle. Still, i find it very beautiful, thorns and all.

I took a few shots of a bee on a blooming Swamp thistle. I find it dramatic with the back-lighting of the late, sun highlighting it’s spines.

Speaking of bees, here is one that looks amazing on the Goldenrod that is in bloom all around our farm at this time. Although my inner animal-self is beginning to feel the impending shift to winter, seeing all this brilliant yellow quickly takes the edge off those thoughts.

And, speaking of colors that create an emotions response, look who sneaked in for a cameo! This wasp dons colors that evoke a bit of fear in me – regardless of how amazing I think it is in so many important ways. Maybe that’s because (per “Black and red. In western culture, these are the two most sinister colors, as red typically conveys the meaning of blood or anger, and black is that of darkness or death… Sticking to these two colors is common for designers who want to create something as sinister as possible.”

The color pallet of nature has clearly impacts our emotions. Colors have also influenced our sense of design and how we can influence an audience by using certain hues to convey a mood. Nonetheless, I strive to see the importance and sheer beauty of that wasp, regardless of how he is dressed. But, I’m not gonna lie. It’s hard work after having been stung when I was filling a hummingbird feeder earlier this summer! Those colors tell me, “steer clear” and I will happily oblige.

The Authentic Appearance of Spring

When I think of signs of Spring, I typically imagine green grass, flowers, bunnies… you know, all that bright, cheery stuff.

However, of the first day of Spring this year, I was reminded that beginning of Spring is very close to the end of Winter, and all it’s drab, overcast-ness.

Still, on that first day of the season, I saw a hint of a change. Even in all that sedge brown and steel gray imagery, there were signs that warmer weather will be here soon.

Here are some photos I took as Spring arrived.

The Magnolia Bush in our front yard promises its brilliant blooms very soon

The Dogwood tree is just budding out

The Robins have returned

A Mourning Dove has built a nest on the window ledge of our old house

American Tree Sparrows remain active here, before their long migration into northern Canada

The spent cat tails at the pond’s edge will soon be used as bedding in some birds’ nests

A Red-bellied Woodpecker, that spent the cold winter here, will find a mate soon

A pair of red squirrels are bundled up in their fluffy tails

There’s still no sign of green grass, but rather the sedge brown, spent stalks of Autumn blanket the fields

I became aware of a Meadowlark when I heard it sing and only captured it as it flew off

A Song Sparrow, first hidden in the branches, flitted to an open branch for a better photo op

The most charming sign that we are on the cusp of Spring; a handsome Blue Bird was singing in the branches to his mate

Grumpy Start to the Season

It’s Spring and that means that many wild birds that spent their winter somewhere warm and tropical, are headed back to spend the summer breeding season up north. The tracking of migrating birds is a big deal for ornithologist around the globe. Some species are tracked more intensely, like the lovely Purple Martin. I’ve read on many bird sites that the Purple Martins that live in the eastern half of the United States rely completely upon housing that is offered by their human stewards. This is not the same as Blue Birds or Tree Swallows that take advantage of the nest boxes humans offer them. Those species also seek out natural sources for their nest sites – such as abandoned woodpecker holes. Purple Martins, a social species that breeds in colonies, rely exclusively on the communal homes provided by people!

Four years ago, I decided to take on the job of avian housing director for this social, swallow species. On a whim while shopping at the local farm store, we purchased a barn-red, 12 compartment, metal Purple Martin apartment house. Surprisingly, just days after we erected the house, these amazing birds with the cheerful chortle arrived and set up shop! I suppose that we have some prime PM Real Estate with vast open spaces over trimmed pastures and a large, three acre farm pond which is probably the most critical factor in a Purple Martin’s decision regarding where to raise their brood. I was happy to see them move in and I’ve chronicled their activities in many posts in this blog.

The following year, I purchased some basic gourds on Amazon. Robert set up a tower on which to hang them and erected it just in time for the Purple Martins’ arrival in March. Last year, we added another apartment type house which we refer to as the white house, because it is, and to differentiate it from the red house since they are essentially the same model only different colors. Several couples used the new white house to fledge their chicks last year while the red house remains quite popular and the gourds were almost full to capacity.

Each year the colony of birds that spend their summer here has increased in size. For that reason, and because I was just itching to do something ‘birdy’ during the drab days of January this year, I purchased twelve”fancy” gourds; the kind that I thought were only for those really serious Purple Martin People. These gourds have front porches and easy access ports for cleaning and observation. I put them together and then constantly nagged Robert to create a new tower and put it up before the birds arrived. And, he did.

Then, earlier than we expected, Purple Martins showed up on March 12th. It was cold, dark and rainy but I could still recognize that chortle sound and we were able to see two birds on the new gourd tower – going in and out, perching and flying about.

Two days later the weather took a significant turn and the temps dropped to well below freezing. I worried for the Purple Martins. It was just 20 degrees F when, as I was sitting at my desk, I saw two very dark birds land on a shepherd crook plant hanger outside my office window.

I had never seen Purple Martins come up to the house just to perch. I figured they were seeking refuge from the extreme winds which were blocked by the house. They definitely didn’t look terribly happy. In fact, they looked downright grumpy.

I worried for them as the temperature plummeted overnight to a wind chill of 11 degrees F.

Then, after a couple of frigid days, the sun finally came out and I saw the Purple Martins flying about. Whew!

Today, it is rainy, windy but above freezing and I spotted five, perhaps six, birds flying around and landing on our housing options! How Exciting!!!

With the rain and overcast conditions, I was only able to shoot through a window and across the yard about 80 feet. BI was only able to capture a couple of fuzzy images showing the deep purple swallows laying claim to their summer digs.

I am truly looking forward to observing our growing colony of these amazing, cheerful swallows.

Back for School

Chirp is a home-bred pup out of Kindred and Norma. He just turned a year old 3-19-23. When he was a puppy, I was able to do a little fun work with him before he went to his new owners, who took him home when he was 16 weeks old.

Chirp returned to us in January to begin his formal Service Dog training for his future handler, a 16 year old girl who will use him to gain independence and confidence as she negotiates the world with her disability.

Here is a photo of Chirp on his birthday! His owner sent us some fancy dog treats and a birthday hat for his celebration.

We’ve been working with Chirp as he grows his skills to become a wonderful Service Dog.

Here are some short videos of some public access work.

Here’s a video showing one way that we help to impart trust and confidence in a dog.

Here’s Chirp showing his self restraint around the toy isle at the department store!

As we have been training Chirp, his mannerisms have reminded me of both is mother, Norma and his father, Kindred. I can honestly say, that he seems to have inherited their best qualities. Chirp is a wonderful, kind, willing partner. We are excited to teach his owner how to handle him so that she can benefit from his wonderful energy and organic devotion.

Norma is due to whelp in just over two weeks. It’s a repeat breeding, so we can expect some really remarkable pups just like Chirp!

Here’s the link to the upcoming litter info: PUPPIES!

Don’t Be A Stick In The Mud – Or Do!

Around mid-February Robert and I took advantage of a sunny day with temps above freezing to do a bit of tree pruning. We didn’t get around to it last year, except for the fruit trees, so we drove around in the golf cart visiting each tree and trimming as necessary.

Robert used the saw while I over-saw his work and directed him to the branches which required removal. It’s a good partnership. He has learned to make the cuts close to the trunk, but without getting too close. I have learned to keep my mouth shut while he is handling the power tool.

When we arrived at the Weeping Willow tree on the north side of our front yard I realized how much of a hot mess it was. Having skipped a year of necessary pruning, the tree was left with quite a few long hanging branches which were taking the tree to the point of becoming a massive bush, rather than a nice tree with a sturdy trunk that provided the main support for branches. It was still a young tree, as all of them are in our yard since we only moved in the day before Christmas 2016, and before that time the land had been a 20 acre hay field. I suspect we only planted that Willow tree in 2019.

We began at ground level and I pointed to several branches which had to go. After dispatching nearly a dozen limbs, the tree finally appeared as it should – with the lowest branch positioned high enough to leave room for mowing around the base. What remained was a large pile of discarded limbs of various sizes.

I looked at all those branches scattered on the ground and recalled a fun botanical fact.

“You know, this ground is soft enough that if we push these branches into the soil, they might just survive and grown into trees in the Spring,” I said. “But, we’d have to do it quickly to avoid the ends from drying out, ” added.

Robert was a bit skeptical, but since the job was fairly easy, he obliged. Pacing off about 20 feet, he pressed the first branch into the cool, soft soil. Then, he repeated with two additional branches. These were not twigs. They looked like little trees, and stood about 5 feet tall! If it worked, the trees would be quite substantial even in their first year of existence.

About a week later we had a terrible wind storm. The little future trees had been blown over and were laying flat to the ground. Being the good man that he is, Robert trudged out in the soggy yard, pounded a stake at each plant’s base and secured those little trees back in the upright position.

A day ago, I took a jaunt around the place for the first time in weeks. Business constraints and terrible weather had kept me away from the places that I love the most around our property.

I was so excited to see that our three new Weeping Willow trees had taken hold and were leafing out. Amazing!

My vision for our front yard had always been to plant trees along that line between where we mow a yard and the hay field to the North. The trees would become a windbreak for the cold winds that sometimes blow from the northwest. In a matter of minutes we were able to move that project a couple of years further along than I would have ever imagined.

These are photos of the “parent” tree that we pruned in February. It’s doing well and the close-up shows how it’s leafing out now.

Here are photos of the “baby” trees! Their leaves are almost identical in growth to the parent tree’s growth!

Isn’t Nature awesome!

Farm Gone Wild

There’s an unfinished book in my “BOOKS & WRITING” folder on my computer. It is titled Farm Gone Wild. It’s the story of how, over the past 10+ years, I have watched and even encouraged Mother Nature to grace our acreage with her charms and spells. I struggle finishing that book because I don’t yet know the ending. But, I know it will be a good one.

When Robert and I decided to build more of our Bluebird (and Tree Swallow) houses to prepare for this year’s tenants, a moment came when we both realized that we could, and in fact we should, offer our uniquely designed bird houses to others. It was a scary thought since our gifts to the world have always been the services we provide. We have never focused on a product. Fortunately, was designed just for folks like us; very small businesses that make unique products for niche markets.

We are happy to announce that our shop doors at are now open!

Please come and visit us!

We currently have three designs available; Hand painted FLORAL, Hand painted WOOD-LOOK, and WHITE. We plan to offer a forth color of medium brown, soon.

Building A Better Bird House

About a decade ago we graciously accepted Mother Nature’s bit to assume control of our farm in rural Illinois.  After raising sheep for years, we retired from competitive herding trials with our Border Collies.  We sold the sheep and turned our efforts to training Service Dog for people with disabilities.   To prevent our pastures from becoming overgrown with scrub brush, we hired a ‘Hay Guy’ to cut the fields a couple of times a year.  However, other than that occasional intervention – which supports a prairie-like ecosystem –the flora and fauna which would likely have existed here before the land was first plowed by early settlers were granted rights to the natural resources that abound on our property.

Now, our Farm Gone Wild is home to an abundance of wildflowers, birds, bees, butterflies and other native animals which I enjoy filming and sharing here on my blog.

After starting out with a single bluebird house that we purchased at the local farm store, we now maintain a few dozen nest boxes around our fifty acre farm.  Eastern Bluebirds and Tree Swallows use these boxes to raise up to three broods during the summer breeding season.  House Wrens also use some of the boxes, especially those which are located close to brushy plants. This blog is filled with posts about those birds.

As an amateur wildlife photographer, I have thoroughly enjoyed having the opportunity to get to know the various couples as they work together to fledge their chicks.  It’s hard to avoid becoming deeply attached to these birds that, day in and day out, in freezing rain or blistering heat dedicate nearly all of their energy to raising their young.  It goes without saying, then, that I feel obligated to provide the best quality nesting places for these special birds. 

Each Spring we have had to replace a handful of the wooden nest boxes.  Some lasted only one season before the wood cracked, the hinges failed, or screws rusted causing the sides to pull apart from each other.  I feel responsible for the birds to which I offered housing for their most important deed of their lives.  Mother Nature provides plenty of reasons for failure, including inclement weather, predators, disease and competition from other birds within the species and with other species. I certainly don’t want to be responsible for another reason that a pair of lovely birds doesn’t reach the goal of fledging healthy chicks because of choices I’ve made about nest boxes I’ve offered.

I have purchased many different models of bird houses and have been immensely disappointed with the inferior quality of many of them.  I also question the design of most of the boxes. I wonder why the door that is supposed to provide the nest box steward an opportunity to make unobtrusive observations, swings from the bottom upwards.  That design facilitates the disruption of the nest and its contents. Then, once the door is lifted, the observer is left without a clear view of the eggs or chicks.  Taking a photo requires inserting a phone into the box.  If it is inadvertently dropped it can damage the nest, eggs or chicks!   

The nest box models which have front doors which swing from the top typically have latches which fail over time. That means the door can flop open leaving the nestlings in peril.  Those latches rely on a sort of pressure of the door upon the latch. When the latch loosens, the door can drop open. I purchased a PVC based model made of soft material which is designed to be squeezed from a permanent mounted roof. I struggled to have the hand strength to open it, and I don’t like that the top cannot be removed from the pole.

After a few years of offering several types of boxes, I decided to design a model which alleviated many of the problems I experienced with other products.  I put bird safety first when creating the prototype and then partnered with my husband, Robert, who helped me hone our design.  When we installed a few of our newly designed bird houses around our property, Bluebirds and Tree Swallows moved in within a couple of days and successfully fledged their broods.

These are a few of our prototype boxes and the birds which reared their chicks in 2022. Below, you’ll see the description on how to create your own box using our design, which includes several updates, like a PVC roof.




One, 10″ piece: PVC Sch 40 DWV Plain End Cellular Core 4″ Pipe

Two, 4″ PVC Inside Pipe Drain fittings

One, 6″ piece: 1/2″ x 6″ PVC trim board (choose the color you want for your roof.)

One, 5/8″ piece: 1/2″ x 6″ PVC trim board (cut from the same board as the roof piece above)

One, 2″ piece: 1/2″ x 6″ PVC trim board (cut from the same board)

One, 8″ piece: 1.5″ PVC pipe

One, 1.5″ hard hat PVC cap

One, 3.5″ diameter circle cut from vinyl tile (we used Armstrong Commercial grade)

One, 8″ long eye bolt with wing nut

Two, 1″ long bolts with nuts

One, 11/8″ wood screw

PCV Cement


Exterior paint or stain for finish (solid spray paint color, or acrylic stain for wood-look, or acrylics for floral design)


This image includes one “Wood look” and one “White” (10″ L, 4″ diameter PVC pipe for the house body), the materials required for the vented bottom and the removable vented top, the PVC board for the roof and the 1.5″ PVC pipe for the mounting tube, as well as the minimal hardware which is required.


Sand cut edges of the 4″ PVC body and the 1.5″ PVC mounting tube.

Measure and drill a 1.5″ entry hole 6″ from the bottom end of the 4″ PVC pipe. Sand to a smooth finish.

Use a dremel tool with a rotary blade to etch foot-hold grooves into the 4″ PVC pipe below the hole.

Using the dremel, etch similar grooves on the interior of the tube, below the hole, to provide foot holds for the chicks.


Apply PVC cement to the vinyl tile circle and press it into one of the Drain pipe fittings. It will be the bottom of the nest box and will provide vents for drainage along the edge of the circle and through the center hole which was created by the drill bit.

Apply PVC cement to the bottom drain pipe fitting and the inside of the 4″ pipe. Insert the fitting and press it tight. Allow to dry.


Draw a line down the center of the 6″ cut of PVC, running the direction of the length of the board. This will be used to position the top drain cap to the roof.

Using PVC cement, glue the rough side of the 5/8″ roof spacer board at one end of the 6″ roof board, making certain that it lines up plumb to the corners of the roof. Use clamps to hold it in place as it dries.

Using PVC cement, glue the rough side of the 2″ roof spacer board at the other end of the 6″ roof board, making certain that it lines up plumb to the corners of the roof. Use clamps to hold it in place as it dries.

Position the second drain fitting over the roof spacers so that the center hole lines up over the center line that was drawn earlier. Position the drain fitting so that it lines up just at the edge of the 5/8″ spacer, but does not exceed the edge of the roof. This will leave the other side of the drain fitting to sit atop the 2″ roof spacer towards the front of the roof. Use a pencil to trace the radius of the drain fitting at each side where it sits on the roof spacers. Then, remove the drain fitting and apply PVC cement on the roof spacers within the arched spaces and also on the corresponding top of the drain fitting. Press together and hold until the cement provides a good seal.

Using the wood screw, secure the drain fitting to the roof board through the center hole of the drain fitting. You may choose to slide a small piece of Tygon tubing under the fitting and line it up under the center hole, before drilling in the screw. It has no function, but hides the look of the screw – which is already quite hard to see.


Sand the 4″ PVC tube with 220 grit paper inside and out. Then wash with acetone to remove any manufacturer’s inked marks and other dirt. The sanding and acetone wash opens the PVC so that it will accept paint.

Paint the interior of the box a dark brown color. Use spray paint for plastics or acrylic stain.

Paint the exterior of the box to your liking.

For a Wood-Look appearance, you may use an acrylic stain directly onto the PVC pipe.

For solid colors, use spray paint designed for plastics. Krylon brand is most often recommended for PVC coverage.

Let dry completely.


Once the roof assembly has dried, insert the roof cap into the top of the 4″ pipe. Center the front over hang over the entry hole.

Drill a hole half way around the left side of pipe from the entry hole, and drill a second hole half way around the right side of the pipe from the entry hole – directly across from the first hole. This will hold the 8″ eye bolt, to secure the roof in place.


Remove the roof. Drill two holes in the rear of the house body directly across from the entry hole, and below the location of the bottom of the roof assembly. Stand the 1.5″ Pipe adjacent to the 4″ pipe body, and mark it where the two holes exit the house body. Drill two holes through the 1.5″ mounting tube. From inside the house body, insert a bolt into the lower hole and through the body wall and into the mounting tube. Using a small wrench, tighten the first nut, then repeat with the top bolt.

The new FarmGoneWild Bluebird house is ready to be mounted to a standard T-post or a metal conduit pipe up to 1.5″


You may purchase one of our special bird houses from our shop at

We just opened the store and would love to share our awesome bird house design with you.


  • Nearly indestructible. Will last a lifetime.
  • Handmade here in Illinois
  • Made with Made-In-America materials (everything but the three bolts.)
  • Proven to be a nesting box that Eastern Bluebirds, Tree Swallows and House Wren have used to rear their chicks.
  • Provides exceptional ventilation.
  • Can be taken from the shipping box and mounted over your pole with no additional hardware.
  • Easy to open for quick observations without disturbing the nest or its precious contents!

Holding a camera over the top is easy and yields great photos without disturbing the nest or chicks. (always knock before opening to allow the mama bird to exit.)


Sunny Sunday

I’m so happy to share this video of a Northern Harrier hunting over our pasture. I got some marginal photos of a male Harrier in the same field earlier last week, which I posted. But, they just didn’t do it justice.

This is a female that I captured with video rather than still shots, as I’m just not very good catching birds in flight. Turns out, I struggled keeping focused on this bird in video mode, as well. But, I think it’s worth the 50 seconds to see such a lovely animal in her element.

It’s quite interesting how the bird flies back and forth across the pasture as she hunts – as if she is following a pre-planned grid pattern. The video is comprised of clips from a 2:10 minute video (to limit the dead space) but there’s one segment where I left in the bird-less material to show how she returns from the right hand side, after having traveled from left to right just a few seconds earlier.


Not Exactly Perfect

For the past couple of weeks, just around 2:00 PM, I see it. At first, it’s just a glint of white moving quickly across the pasture that stands behind my yard and the pond meadow – a good 700 feet from where I sit at my desk. I see it soaring just above the golden colored, spent grass – moving south to north. It disappears behind the massive Ponderosa Pine trees, and sometimes I will catch another quick view as it continues northwards and behind the stand of Osage Orange Trees that separates our yard from the pond meadow.

Quite often, I see it again flying back to the south, again very close to the earth, as it sails on its long wings that are tipped in black. The brilliant white of it’s chest and under wings flash as it moves – the telltale markings of a male. It’s a Northern Harrier. It comes to hunt over our fields, and based on the frequency of its visits I suspect it is quite successful.

Unlike the Red-tailed and Red-shouldered hawks with which I am more familiar because they are year-round residents, the Harrier has a distinctive, almost owl-like head and a striking hunting style. When it spots a meal it hovers with those exceedingly long wings pulled up in a V shape to keep it steady in one position. It’s quite remarkable to me.

The winter weather and work life have kept me from traveling about the property for weeks. But, that Harrier has still entertained me by flying directly over our backyard – even when our dogs are exercising outdoors. Truly, I’ve become quite familiar with the bird and its comings and goings. I know, for example, not only when it typically arrives but I also know that its destination after hunting here is to the southwest, which is the direction I see it depart.

I thought about how wonderful it would be to get some great images of the Harrier hunting the pasture, but I knew that was probably outside of my aptitude as an amateur photographer. I simply could not fathom both being able to keep the small image of a fast moving bird within the frame and more so, getting and keeping it in focus while tracking its movement. I thought that the brilliance of this bird would remain merely in my mind’s eye and memory.

A couple of days ago I went for a jaunt for the first time in a long while. I knew that the Harrier would probably be around, as it was just about the time I usually saw him arrive. But, I went to the south end of the pond rather than where he would probably be hunting. I am still trying to get a good image of the Swamp Sparrows that hang out around the pond and, now with the foliage dead and gone I have a better chance of getting the shot. It was a better bet than trying and failing to film the Harrier. I sat by teh pond for a while. I didn’t see or hear the Swamp Sparrows, but I saw the Northern Harrier soaring across Jaye’s Pasture of the far other side of teh pond. It was a long way off, but I was able to watch his amazing flight, his incredible hovering, and on a few occasions his drop to the ground in the tall grassed where, if he was lucky, he caught what he was seeking.

I toyed with the idea of moving closer. Maybe I would be lucky. Maybe he would stick around. Maybe I could get his image in the boundaries of the view finder. Maybe. I determined a path that I could take to remain fairly hidden until I reached the edge of Jaye’s Pasture. And, although there was little chance to get a photo, I still felt fortunate that I could get a closer look at the remarkable bird.

I stayed low, along the pond’s edge, to hopefully hide my arrival, albeit I am quite cognizant that a hawk that hunts little mice that weighs less than 50 gm / 2 ounces can probably see a woman in a golf cart approaching from white a ways off. Pair that with the fact that Harriers actually use their sense of hearing as well as sight to catch their dinner, and I assumed I wasn’t as stealthy as I hoped. Nonetheless, I chose to remain in the shadows of the massive pine trees that sit just outside of Jaye’s pasture, to limit the bird from being scared off by my presence.

Then, not more than five minutes after I arrived, I saw him. He was flying directly towards me. I aimed my lens and held down the shutter. I had no clue if I captured anything more than a blur. But, to my sheer joy, I actually caught the Northern Harrier with enough clarity to, well, know it’s a Harrier. The photos are not National Geographic worthy, and I suppose even most amateur photographers might question why I would even post them on my blog. But, I’m quite content with the pictures – even if it was overcast, the camera was unsteady, and I can’t see anything close to the glint in the bird’s eyes. For me, they are shareworthy.

In the third and forth photos below the bird has begun to hover over prey that it has spotted. You can see it looking downward. I did catch hovering behavior, but those photos are just a bit too hazy to be worth adding here.

In the last photo, above, the Harrier is gaining altitude from the lower hunting zone just over the top of the grass, and he’s flying off. It’s hard to pick him out of the background. Look for the “seagull” in the middle of the image. That’s what I think the Harrier looks like from that angle – with the white belly and black tipped wings! The females do not have a distinct white belly, but rather sport a more pale, streaked under-color.

I hope you enjoyed these less than perfect photos of an absolutely perfect bird.

Little Acrobats

I encountered a small group of Carolina Chickadees that were busy taking advantage of last Autumn’s spoils. Their capacity to hang up-side-down to extract the seeds from the spent weeds (aka wildflowers), made me smile.

Here are photos of a couple of other birds that were part of this little group.

After I left that areas, which was near our old barn, I stopped by a platform feeder that we have I the meadow north of the pond where I filmed this little chickadee chipping off bits of the peanuts in a hanging feeder.

That concludes your required daily dose of chickadee cuteness! Have a great day.

Rustic Winter Images

Late afternoon

clouds obscure the low hanging sun

yet, still

there are moments to capture

which present the solitude and tranquility around me.

First photo shows a Dark-eyed Junco perched on an old barbed-wire fence, a rusty post and a single holdout stalk of spent grass.

Second image is of a solitary white crowed sparrow observing his world perched atop a wild raspberry briar.

Third photos is of two, juvenile (hence the brown head markings) White-crowned Sparrows, which appear to be taking refuge in the barbs of a thorny, wild shrub.