Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Catbird

This week is for the Catbird. 

This lovely bird is about the size of a Robin and it is gray with a black patch on its head and a reddish brown under its tail.  The Catbird sometimes sounds like a cat and I have often seen them dive bomb cats. 

I believe I have a nesting pair near by since they frequent the bird feeder.  I think they are in the Barberry shrubs which are quite large and very safe from predators since the shrub is loaded with thorns.

Well as far as the Tree Swallows goes they have taken up residence in the birdhouse that has the eastern exposure.  They have been in and out of that house often.  Apparently they are quite tolerant of people, I have been able to get quite close to the house with the female watching my every move while I weed the garden.  I also talk to her so she will get used to my voice.  I don't know it that will do any good, but why not.  Watch for new photos coming soon.
I added another birder feeder post.  I am using it for the Hummingbirds.  I hope to get another Hummingbird feeder soon.  I still don't know why they don't share.  Anybody out there know?
It seems that the birds are not visiting the feeders as much right now.  Which is probably because there is plenty of their natural food out there.
See more of my backyard birds on my website.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Flower Power Friday!

Today I am featuring 2 flowers.  The first ones are the Lilac.  This is a wonderful shrub to have if you love the color purple and the wonderful fragrance it has.  Actually Lilacs come in an array of colors.  White, yellow, pink, purple and then combination colors like purple with white.  As most of you may know, this is quite a hardy shrub to have around.  With time they will grow quite tall about 8-10 feet tall and will send up shoots which in turn will spread out.  This is a shrub that if you want to let it go it will get huge, but with yearly maintenance it can be contained and look beautiful. 

 The first photo is of a Double Bloom pale pink Lilac.  I have been growing this in my yard for the past 4-5 years and it has grown about 3 feet, but the blooms are not as abundant as the original Lilac.  It does smell and look equally as beautiful as the original Lilac.

The last photo is Apple Blossoms which are also in bloom now.  Along our property we have several apple trees growing.  I really don't eat the apples being I don't know what kind they are and also it is said that some folks here in Maine planted apples trees on the border of their property to keep the deer out.  Another words while the deer enjoy the tasty apples the flower and or vegetable gardens stay safe from hungry deer.  Honestly I don't believe that to be true, but that is what I have heard around here.  You know people have there tales and stories to tell.


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Visiting Nuthatch

The White-Breasted Nuthatch has been a frequent visitor at the feeder.  He or she would fly in get a sunflower seed and take off again.  Rarely stays around very long.  Fun little bird to watch.

The Tree Swallows have been around and have decided to use both of the birdhouses.  Which doesn't seem quite fair, but what to do.  I did notice the Eastern Bluebird was back and was chased away by the Tree Swallows, so I guess there is not chance of the Eastern Bluebird moving into the other birdhouse.  Apparently from what I have read about the Tree Swallaws is that they are very territorial and will chase off other Swallows and birds.  I guess I put the houses to close together.  Live and learn.  I guess I will have to make some changes for next year.  I have been able to get quite close to the Swallows.  So when the rain decides to end I will be spending some time out there photographing them.

Other frequent visitors are the Mourning Doves.  Love having these birds around!  Their cooing is so calming to me.

The Rose-Breasted Grosbeak both male and females have been back to the feeder.  It was nice to see them back.

The Ruby Throated Hummingbirds are still around and eating up the sugar water we made for them.  I have seen 1 male and 3 females and most of the time they don't share the feeder.  Not really sure why.
The Cowbird who have been hanging around the Tree Swallow birdhouses.  I'm wondering if they will lay some eggs in their nest for the Swallows to raise.  That could be interesting!  
 The usual Sparrows and Goldfinches have been around as well as a pair of Cat birds.
I will try to get some new photos in next week.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Flower Power Friday! This week is the Bee Balm

This week's flower is the Bee Balm also known as Bergamot.  I have been growing this plant for a few years.  I really enjoy having it in my gardens.  It is an invasive plant if not controlled.  The Bee Balm does well in sunny locations and is a hardy plant to grow here in Maine.  It grows between 24 to 36 inches tall and blooms July through August.  I have the red and bright pink varieties, but it also comes in white and other variations of pinks.


It is a favorite flower for butterflies, bees and hummingbirds.

The Bee Balm is an herb which can be use as an aromatic or used for cosmetics, culinary, decorative and medicinal purposes.  You can use the dried leaves and flower for potpourris.  The leaves are used for tea and the flowers for salad or with fruit.

On another note, I have started the Newport Farmers Market and the Rockland Farmers Market this past week and both markets I did well despite the rainy weather.  I also spent a morning photographing with a new friend.  Despite the icky weather it was great fun!  Thanks Barbara!  Hopefully we will have some sunshine soon.  It has been a bit dreary around here.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Tuesdays for the Birds!

Here are the photos the Evening Grosbeak, Rose breasted Grosbeak and the Cowbirds I had talked about in my last Tuesday post, who I haven't seen since my last post.  The Cowbirds on the other hand have been here everyday.  I do want to mention that the photo below are the male Cowbirds, the females are a dark taupe color. 
There have been no signs of the Eastern Bluebird or the Eastern Phoebe, although I do hear the Eastern Phoebe close by, but I don't think she will be nesting with us this year.

The past week when we did get some sunshine (which lately have been few and far between) I saw that the Tree Swallows were back and taking a serious look at the birdhouses.  At first I wasn't quite sure if they were ready to buy, but after a day or two they finally made that huge decision to buy the house.  Closing was a few days ago and they have been moving in the furniture (nesting materials) in preparation of the new family.  I really hope they like the new neighborhood.  They will make a great addition! 
I wonder if the Sparrow fledglings and the Tree Swallow fledglings will play in the garden?  Kidding.....  I am thrilled that they moved in, I honestly didn't expect any new tenants until next year.  At this point I am slowly moving about my garden so they can start getting used to me being around.  I am looking forward to some great photo opportunities with the Tree Swallow.

I have had some new visitors to the feeder this week.....one of them is a Ruby Throated Hummingbird which I am trying to photograph.  Hopefully I will have photos next Tuesday. 

Stay tuned for more photos,new visitors and Tree Swallow updates.......

Friday, May 13, 2011

Flower Power Friday, Featuring the Lupines

 Lupines are very common here in Maine.  They grow in gardens, meadows and on the sides of the roads.  They are quite hardy here.  I have seen them in full and partial sun.  They bloom in June.  The most popular colors are the blue/purples, but there are white, pink, red and yellow.  They will reseed and can easily take over if not watched.  I planted mine near the back field where I do want them to take over.  This is the second year for my Lupines.  I have a blue/purple, yellow and red I think.  I see that they are doing well right now, and can't wait til they bloom!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

All about the Birds!

Last week it had been a bit rainy and there wasn't much activity around the birdhouses.  On the days that were nice I did notice the Tree Swallows where again house hunting.  I did notice also that there maybe some furniture moving (nesting materials), but I'm still not sure we have a sale pending.  I did see a Eastern Bluebird at our open house.  Only saw the Eastern Bluebird the one day, hasn't been back since.
I haven't seen any activity from our Eastern Phoebe.


I've  had several male Rose-breasted Grosbeaks at the feeder.  Which lead me to realize that I have had 2 female Rose-breasted Grosbeaks that have been feeding at the feeder for the past week or so.  They looked alittle like Sparrows, but are larger.  When I looked up the male Grosbeak that is when I concluded that I had the females.  I have had several visits from the female and male Evening Grosbeaks.  Very exciting and I am trying to get some good photos to post.  I am learning quickly to be patience and wait for them to hop off the feeder to the porch long enough to click off a few shots.  I'm hoping on my next post I will have some photos for  you.

Last week I had mentioned about how the Cowbird and the Sparrow and who will benefit from the other.  Well the Cowbird will benefit from the Sparrow.  See the Cowbird lays her eggs in the Sparrows nest and the Sparrows raise the Cowbirds young as if it were their own.  The Cowbird does nothing.  The Cowbird does this to many other species of birds.  Kinda not fair uh.  This is the first year I have seen this.  I see the Cowbird pair hanging out with the Sparrows near their nest.  I know from previous years that the Sparrows have several nesting during the year.  So it will be interesting to see if the Cowbirds will do the same and keep those nice Sparrows very busy.  The Cowbirds have been difficult to photograph.  I hope next weeks post I will have some.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Flower Power Friday! Featuring Poppies

 Poppies are a great flower to have in the garden!   They are easy to grow and grow just about anywhere.  There are your perennial variety which come back every year.  The close up of the poppy above is a perennial variety.  I have seen them in white, red, purple, and salmon colors.  I have white and red and one other color, but can't remember which yet.  This is the second year of this variety for me.  They grow to about 2 1/2 ft tall and the flowers are between 3-4 inches.  The bi-annual variety which comes back for 2 years or so.  The Iceland Poppies above are bi-annual variety and are smaller than the perennial poppy.  They grow about 1 1/2 ft tall and the flowers are about 2 inches.  They too come in a variety of colors.  Both varieties grow in full sun light in my garden and bloom through July.  I take the dead (deadhead) flowers off to promote new blooms.  They are a great addition to any garden and are very photogenic.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Tuesdays are for the Birds!

I am trying something new this year for my blog.  For the rest of this year I will have some theme days to make things more interesting. I currently have "Flower Power Friday" which talks about the different flowers I photograph and most are from my gardens.
I would like now to add "Tuesdays are for the Birds" which will talk about the different species of birds that I see and photograph at my homestead. 

Over this past weekend I added 2 birdhouses in the garden.  They are just over 50 feet apart.  Which I hope is enough space.  I will see in time. I honestly didn't expect any birds to show interest in these birdhouses this year, because alot of the birds have already started making their nests, but to my surprise I saw several Tree Swallows showing some interest in the houses.  While I watched and photographed, I felt like a real estate agent trying to sell a house.  It was really exciting to watch the birds trying to decide which of the 2 houses they wanted, eastern exposure or western exposure.  As of now no sale yet!  Perhaps there is a sale pending.  I'm happy about the prospect of having Tree Swallows for tenants.  They would be a good fit for the neighborhood (garden).  Actually my backyard is quite open with a surrounding tree line and ponds near by, which suits the Tree Swallows needs.  I have read that the nesting material consists of pine needle and such and feathers from other birds, mostly waterfowl which are used to keep the babies warm.  So as I wait and see what develops with the Tree Swallows, there are other nesting birds I'm watching.

The photographs here are of the Eastern Phoebe.  They have nested on my front porch under the roof eaves for a couple of years.  I noticed they were back in town and getting a nest ready for use.  The nest is made up of mud, moss and fine grasses.  It is a pretty solid nest.  I remember that the Phoebe had nested here at least 2 other times.  The most recent I think was last year and they had 5 or 6 chicks and all left the nest healthy.  Though I was very sad to see them go and I missed the day they left.  During the nesting time we tried not to use the front door too much.  Eastern Phoebes tend to be loners making little contact for mating and roosting.  The female will chase the male away.  Eastern Phoebes have a very distinct sound, just like their name phee-bee.  A note on the nest photo.  The nest in the middle had been used in previous years.  The nests on either side of it are new.  Which she ends up with I will let you know.
Next week I will let you know if there will be a house closing for the Tree Swallows and the progress on the nest for the Eastern Phoebe.  Also I will tell you about the Sparrows and the Cowbirds and how one will benefit from the other.