Posts Tagged ‘song sparrow’

This is what I woke up to this morning:


My Oriental Poppy bloomed overnight!


What beautiful, papery petals! I think my heart stuck in my throat when I beheld it. A perfect flower.

The weather was a perfect blend of sun and warm, and I had an entire weekend to play in the yard. What better way to start out a morning than to to find it graced by such beauty?


One blood-red peony opened up as well, the first of many peonies to grace the season.


Have I ever mentioned how much I love peonies? I didn’t think so. The fact that we bought this house because of the peonies in the yard and the claw-foot bathtub in the bathroom probably has never once been mentioned here.


If only I could remember the name of this ground cover with the striking blue flowers. Don’t you hate that? You plant something with all the intention of remembering what it was that you planted, but the little plastic name tag that came with the plant got lost when the dog used the plant for a bed cushion and…


I could look it up. Lithodora, “Star”. There you go.


This little blue flower I know well: Forget-me-not. Lovely when in bloom and a pestilence in dog’s fur when the little hairy seeds form. I love forget-me-nots.


A random blue hyacinth. I’ve been finding these all over the yard, bird transplants from someone’s garden elsewhere in the neighborhood.


The first blue Columbine. This isn’t a wild Columbine, but is a cultivar, probably from a packet of seeds I once purchased somewhere. I have several colors, but this is the first to bloom.


Looking down on the world. Bees love this plant as do hummingbirds.


These Native bleeding hearts are uninvited guests to my yard. I noticed them only a few years ago, struggling against all odds under the handicap ramp in back. I left them alone and they have taken over the dark, dank area under the ramp. I take care not to plant them elsewhere because they spread… like wildflowers or weeds.

027It is time to cut back the old fronds from all the sword ferns. They look sad and pitiful now, but once the fiddleheads get growing… I’m trying to encourage the ferns to fill in some of the blank shady places in the yard, like this section of Harvey-proof fence.


This looks funny now, but when the mertensia ciliata or mountain blue bells get to their full height of 3′ to 4′, I’ll be glad I did this to hold them up. This is a Native. I planted it and then discovered how invasive it is. I currently have it confined to two corners. It gets huge – not just in height, but in breadth. It’s in the borage family and the bees love it.

Yes, I used old shelving to hold it upright. Reuse, Reduce, Recycle.


I need to move this Lady Fern. It gets huge, but the fronds are so brittle that any traffic around them wreaks havoc on the beauty of this plant.


Last beauty of the day – the California Lilac, ceanothus L. This tiny, fragrant, buds are about to burst open all over my bush! I’ll have to open the bedroom window at night so I can breathe their scent in while I sleep.

I spent a lot of today on my knees, pulling up grass and half a dozen other weeds. This year hasn’t been as bad as some years – either I’m winning the battle or the lack of snow and cold has given me a head start on the battle. I’ll take the win. It leaves me more time to enjoy the birds singing.

030Which is precisely what this guy was doing, just three feet from my head. Sorry that he’s back-lit so you can’t make him out, but I can tell you what he is – and share a Youtube video of the song he was singing.


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The advent of nicer weather has not only warmed my toes, but it has forced me to get my camera out again. I have taken to sitting in a lawn chair with the camera on my lap, 75-300mm lens on, and lens cap off. I am stalking birds without moving very many muscles and while sitting in the open. Sometimes I have a book nearby or my Kindle, but I am waiting.

I cannot possible share all the photos I have taken – the ones I kept, that is. And I have only scratched the surface of the variety of birds that use our yard for habitat. The dying lodge pole pine tree out front is never empty: nuthatches, Northern Flickers, Band-tailed Pigeons, Black-Capped and Chestnut-backed Chickadees, Bushtits, English House Sparrows, House Finches – those are just a few of our regular visitors to the tree. But I cannot see much of the tree from my perch in the backyard, and most of those birds are safe from the lens.


I discovered – by accident – that one of our female Anna’s Hummingbirds is fond of showers. She sat under the sprinkler on a ninety-degree day, spreading her wings and chasing drops on the grape vine.


It is fascinating to me that as much as she loves the sprinkler, I never find hummingbirds stopping by one of the two bird baths in the yard.


They take their water with sugar. The male Anna’s is much too shy for a photo.


She came back to the sprinkler and played on yet another day. I think she winked at me.


I prefer to buy hummingbird feeders with perches so the wee insectivores can rest a moment. Somewhere, I read that professional photographers like to use feeders without perches so they can capture hummingbirds in flight. I can see why. I have a mix of styles in my yard and the ones with perches get the most use, but the birds don’t hesitate to hover around the other feeders as well.

Juiced up, they fly to the top of the dying pine tree and catch small insects.


The Song Sparrow has lived around here for years. There are always a couple of nests nearby – thankfully, they are not in our yard. They have nested in our yard, in the crazy Camellia. That’s a sad story and I cried: when the babies fledged, we were outside with Murphy. He spied the fledgling running across the grass and –

Well, I rescued the baby from him (he is a bird dog and he has a soft mouth), but it died in my hand. No punishment was meted out to the dog (he is only a dog), but the sparrows learned – and they have not nested in our yard since then. Next door, yes. But not in the Yard with the Killer Dog.


If you go to AllAboutBirds.com and click on the “typical voice” button, you can hear what this Song Sparrow was singing.

I have been trying to capture him taking a bath in the bird bath out back, but so far, he has eluded me. I have noticed that some birds don’t seem interested in bathing, but they will come to the water to drink: chickadees, finches, English House Sparrows, the Pileated Woodpecker, the flickers, and the pigeons all relish the water. But the thrushes, the scrub jays, the starlings all love to use the big bird bath out front as a bathtub. The Song Sparrow uses the bird bath in the back yard as his bathtub.


The birds are wary here – the dogs have easy access to this bird bath. But the neighborhood cats have easier access to the one out front. Perhaps that is why the smaller birds come out back for water and the larger birds use the one out front.


The female House Finch gives me the Evil Eye. “Hey! This is almost empty over here!”

Blame the Black-capped Chickadees.


They came through with their fledglings and cleaned out the bird feeder. There’s seed all over the ground.


But you really can’t be mad at a bird like this, can you?




Not all of my photos are a success. I had a hard time following this female English House Sparrow as she worked her way along the fence. I think she saw the camera and was camera-shy.


There are plenty of photos of bird’s butts as they duck behind leaves. (That’s a Bushtit.)


Exit: Stage Left. Or is it Right?


Ack! Camera! Flee!


Bird on a Hot Tin Roof?


And then there’s this. The Band-tailed Pigeon stare. I don’t dare have an empty feeder with birds that look like this…

(click on the photo. That red-eye glare will give you nightmares…)


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Little Bird

I’m sure he’s a Song Sparrow but it’s a little difficult to tell because of how mangled he is.

I was on my way to my car in the dark parking lot at work when I noticed him. He was on the wet pavement, doing a strange tumbling act. Because of his broken neck, he just leaned over and rolled, coming back up onto his feet every time. He never moved more than a few inches from where he started.

He was in the path of my car’s tires and dangerously close to tumbling out into the main parking lot traffic.

I put my driving gloves on and scooped him up. The first couple tries, he actually rolled back out of my hands but the third time, I cupped my hands so he couldn’t roll. He squawked once in terror.

I set him down in the tams and fir needles, away from the wet pavement so he could die in a less hostile environment (in my mind). Somehow, dying free in the low bushes where he spent his days hunting insects seemed a kinder fate than dying on asphalt in a puddle of cold rain with concrete curb walls around.

He quit struggling when I set him under the bushes.

I took two quick snapshots of him. That probably seems absurd but I wanted to identify him and I wanted to see what his wounds looked like under a bright light without further traumatizing him. I already knew he would die: trying to save him by putting him into a cardboard box and bringing him home to large, boisterous dogs seemed as cruel a fate as leaving him to die on the pavement.

My guess is that he was hit by a car traveling through the parking lot. What the extent of his injuries were, I can only guess: broken wing, broken neck, crushed head. So sad.

There are several Song Sparrows around the business park: they fly low to the ground and love the bushes. They have a beautiful song.

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The song sparrow is just full of himself right now.

I need a bigger zoom lens as this was all the closer the song sparrow would let me get. He’s still a handsome fellow.

He was so busy singing. I just love to listen to him.

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