Mothering

I spotted these three juvenile house sparrows sitting on some branches of a bush in my yard.  They were sunning and preening and eagerly awaiting their mothers return.

Her arrival caused quite a flurry of activity as each juvenile vied to get the next morsel of food that she brought.

After feeding time, her departure left the juveniles looking a little lost and forlorn.

Here is a short video of the mother sparrow feeding the juveniles.

“(24/7) once you sign on to be a mother, that’s the only shift they offer.” ~Jodi Picoult

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

It is common for the Rose-breasted Grosbeak to migrate through our area in the spring. I heard reports of them being here in late April, but only spotted them in my yard this past week. The male, with his bright red patch, was the first to make an appearance, followed shortly by the brown and white female. Seeing these birds is one of the highlights of my spring.

“Last week, when I went early into my garden, a rose-breasted grosbeak was sitting on the fence. Oh, he was beautiful as a flower. I hardly dared to breathe, I did not stir, and we gazed at each other fully five minutes before he concluded to move.” ~Celia Thaxter

Great Egrets

Scattered throughout the forest of the refuge, a number of beautiful and graceful Great Egrets stealthily meander about the swampy waters in search of their next unsuspecting meal.

“The trick to not being discovered until it is too late is to become part of the expected surroundings. Stealth is more the art of blending in with the background than sneaking through dark shadows.” ~Raymond E. Feist

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron

In search of crawfish, insects and a variety of aquatic invertebrates, this heron quietly hunted in a swampy, forested area of the refuge.

“I have always found thick woods a little intimidating, for they are so secret and enclosed. You may seem alone but you are not, for there are always eyes watching you. All the wildlife of the woods … are well aware of your presence no matter how softly you may tread, and they follow your every move although you cannot see them.” ~Thalassa Cruso

Outside the Door

After looking out the door at the same maple tree for many years, I have come to appreciate the various seasonal changes, lighting, and moods associated with the scene.

I enjoy watching the squirrels as they chase each other among the branches and the birds as they flit about. I’ve grown to appreciate the way, especially in autumn, that the afternoon sun lights up the leaves from different angles as it slowly sinks in the western sky.

What a joy to watch a swarm of midges gather in a sunny spot under the branches.  Looking like little fairies, with their dainty wings and little legs, they seem to dance magically in the afternoon sunlight.

We can receive joy from taking note of and appreciating simple, familiar things that are a part of our daily lives.

“Joy comes to us in ordinary moments. We risk missing out when we get too busy chasing down the extraordinary.” ~Brene Brown

Eagles on the Levee

What a joy to watch the eagles as they busily go about life along the Mississippi River.

“I have not yet lost a feeling of wonder, and of delight, that the delicate motion should reside in all the things around us, revealing itself only to him who looks for it.” ~Edmund Burke

Crossing Paths With Guinea Fowls

While out driving in the country, we were surprised to see three guinea fowls scuttle across a roadside ditch and up into a yard. 

Also surprised by our unexpected presence, they let out a unique and rather loud bunch of screeches as they quickly headed in the opposite direction. 

Being a native of Africa, and previously only having seen them at a zoo, they were one of the last birds that we had expected to come upon. 

This raised my curiosity about why guinea fowls would be roaming around in a yard way out in such a rural area.  It turns out that raising guineas is becoming more common and has several benefits.  They roam free in yards and gardens and are persistent in their pursuit of pesky insects (including fleas, ticks, flies, and mosquitoes), spiders and small animals such as rodents.  They are also excellent at sounding the alarm if predators such as snakes, foxes or raptors or intruders such as unexpected humans are about.  And, of course, they are a good source of eggs and meat. While raising guineas has many positive benefits, it’s also a good idea to keep in mind that these birds tend to be very noisy, are not very domesticated and can harass smaller birds and chickens which also live on the property.

“I’ll see you when the road decides it’s time for our paths to cross again.” ~Ben Maxfield

Watching the Woodpeckers

I’ve been seeing a male Red-bellied Woodpecker flying from tree to tree in the backyard. Occasionally he ventures to the feeder to grab a sunflower seed. The other day, he took a seed and flew to a high branch of one of the pine trees, where an immature woodpecker was waiting. It was fun watching the two interact and then fly off in the same direction.

“My father didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it.” – Clarence Budington Kelland

A Bald Cardinal

One day this week, I looked out of my kitchen window and thought I saw a black-headed cardinal in the backyard but then decided that I was probably imagining it. But yesterday, with camera in hand, I was able to get a photo of the bird. I have found two main theories about the baldness. It seems that after nesting season, cardinals molt and a number lose all their head feathers, revealing their skin beneath. The other theory is that the condition could be caused by mites. In both cases, the feathers will grow back in time. I found it interesting that the circle seen below and slightly behind the eye is actually an ear hole.

“I love bald men. Just because you’ve lost your fuzz don’t mean you ain’t a peach.” ~Dolly Parton

Jackpot

Sometimes when we drive along Mississippi River farmland we see very little. On our last drive, however, we hit the jackpot. A field dotted with beautiful Great Egrets and a single string of White Pelicans fishing in standing water graced the landscape.

“A philosophy of life: I’m an adventurer, looking for treasure.” ~Paulo Coelho