Wednesday, June 29, 2011

House Finch Make Out Session

I saw two mated House Finches look like they were having a make out session. They just both kept pecking softly in each other's mouth. They may have been exchanging food, though, I'm not sure. It was the cutest and sweetest thing.

Bumble Bee Sleeping on a Sunflower Head

Late at night before going to bed at about 2 A.M. I was refilling my feeder for the morning and I noticed a cute little bumble bee sleeping on a sunflower head, one of the smaller sunflowers growing. That made my night. The only reason I saw him was because I had my flashlight with me for seeing what I'm doing outside and just happened to notice him.

Monday, June 27, 2011

That wasp I was telling you about with the missing set of wings...

I woke up this morning about 11:30 A.M. and checked on the wasp. He had moved or fallen to the ground from the hose he was clinging to. He was on his side, not moving and dying. When I picked him up his stinger was doing a pumping motion and his limbs and other body parts were just moving very slowly or not at all. I decided to put him out of his misery. Yesterday, when I first noticed him, he seemed like a friendly, healthy wasp other than the missing set of wings. It's sad.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Planting More Sunflower Seeds

I planted nearly 10 sunflower seeds this evening. Just got the urge to plant some more and give the bumble bees and other bees more nectar, plus when they are done growing I can get many more seeds back from the heads of them all, so it's truly a win-win for me.

It's Been One Year of Birdfeeding and Birdwatching

I took and uploaded my first bird video in June of 2010 and probably got into birds sometime around May 2010, or maybe even late April. It's been a full year of being into my bird hobby. Crazy. Never would've thought I'd be into birds, but here I am. It's been wonderful. It brings happiness and a smile to my face every day.

A Wasp Missing Left Side of Wings

I saw this wasp on my porch steps, then I noticed he didn't have the left side of his wings, appearing one or both of his ripped-off wings were stuck or on his intact right-side wings. I went to my computer and google'd if wasp's wings grow back, which I read they don't, unfortunately, and that they will die without being able to fly and find food. But I also read they eat a lot of insects, which a lot are found on the ground. This is when I learned they have four sets of wings, by the way.

I really feel sorry for this wasp. Maybe it was the recent heavy rain or something else. I thought briefly about putting him out of his misery and inevitably slow death, but when I realized he might still be able to live by finding food on the ground and adapting I decided killing it was not the best option at the moment. I tried to put a dead insect near him but he just walked passed it, and then I put a sunflower heart on the step.

I've never seen any insects that I can think of that were not able to fly anymore because of missing wings, etc. It's kind of pitiful and makes me a little sad.

My First Homemade Suet: Second Batch, & Update on Birdfeeding Acitivity

Just finished making my second test batch of peanut butter suet. It tastes A LOT better than my first batch. I had a taste-test and it tasted good. I mixed in crunchy peanut butter (melted first), oats, flour and crushed unsalted, dry roasted peanuts. The first batch you could really taste the cornmeal too much, I think, which isn't the best tasting, I might add. Oats have a good and subtle taste and it's got a lot of protein and no sodium/salt, as does the flour. The yellow cornmeal in my first batch has a ton of sodium/salt. I'll give the first batch to my dogs or something.

To update on my birdfeeding activity, it has been crazy-busy lately again, picking back up how it used to before the start of the spring nesting season. I've been seeing a lot of new fledgling birds being fed by their parents, like common grackles, red-bellied woodpeckers and blue jays, and I'm sure some other birds. And today, I had a Brown Thrasher visit the feeder for the first time. But mainly a lot of grackles and blue jays, along with the family of red-bellied woodpeckers with their new baby/fledgling, titmice, cardinals, and, unfortunately, more mourning doves. They're not allowed at my feeders because they are some of the most annoying birds, hogging the feeders, gobbling up all the food, knocking my cups I put food in over, poop everywhere, etc. When I shoo them away they come back a minute later and the process repeats over and over and over. They're horrible. I try to only put big peanuts out that they can't fit in their bills, because they have a slim bill and can only eat peanuts that are cracked and in smaller pieces that I put out for mockingbirds, chickadees, etc. Speaking of chickadees, I haven't seen one in some time, not really since that situation with the fledglings I wrote about a few weeks ago. But I hear them, just can't see them. :P Hopefully soon they'll be coming back to the feeders. I love little chickadees; so precious. Their size, call, song, everything.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

My First Homemade Suet, Kind of

I just mixed crunchy peanut butter and yellow cornmeal together in a pan on the stove. I let the peanut butter melt a little, then I threw in the cornmeal. Eh, next time I'll use a little less cornmeal, I think. I didn't have any fat to mix in with it, but mainly wanted to make a peanut butter suet cake, anyway. I want it for when I'm still sleeping and there are no more peanuts out in my feeder, because they gobble it up so quick, so it will be kind of the backup food for times when I'm sleeping or out and not able to refill the feeder. I'll let you know how my birds like my first test batch, then I'll make another test batch using less cornmeal. I'll just be doing some experimenting. But I already feel like I can make my own suet now and broken the ice; plus I've read birds tend to prefer homemade rather than store-bought.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Sunflower That a Bird Planted

This is one sunflower of many that birds planted somehow by accidentally dropping black-oil sunflower seeds into a pot of soil. If you click the picture and look at the full-size picture, you can see there are two bumble bees on the head. This one is huge, at least six to seven feet, and standing tall. There are several more in the picture, one now with it's head drooping. There are about 20 to 30 around my house, all planted by birds except one. After I realized birds had made sunflowers start sprouting up, I planted one of my own. It's now about three feet and still growing. Next year I'm going to plant a lot more, and I'm sure the birds will, too.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Common Grackles

Yesterday, I had a small family of Common Grackles eat at my feeder. Hadn't seen many for a few months. They had a fledgling it looked like with them. The parent had a hurt talon, similar to the one I saw on a Blue Jay months ago. I hate seeing injuries, etc. on birds.

Friday, June 17, 2011


Two days ago I saw a fledgling Red-bellied Woodpecker today being fed by the male adult parent. The adult would peck at the peanuts and break them into small pieces and after having several in his bill he would tilt his head sideways and feed them to the fledgling. So cool. I took a video of them, but couldn't get one of the fledgling being fed. Also, I think I saw a fledgling Blue Jay trying to eat and peck at peanuts, but was kind of clumsy at it I could tell. The top of the head wasn't real blue, it was more black.

Activity has really been picking up at the feeders the past couple weeks.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Fledgling Robin

Yesterday, I saw the baby fledgling robin around in the front yard for the first time. It's from the only remaining occupied nest in my yard. It's quite cute, seeing a fledgling robin, and fluttering it's wings when about to get food from the parent. ...sigh... I love robins. I like how they run on the ground while searching for food.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

How to Keep Water in Your Bird Bath/Fountain Cold in Summer

Ice is our friend. At first, I just threw some ice cubes in the bird bath every once in a while. I then decided I wanted to try to freeze water in a large container so there would be much more ice, a more solid mass and last longer, not to mention that ice cubes will tend to flow toward the area where water is pouring into the dish, making some water splash and run out sometimes; whereas the big solid mass of ice tends to stay in one place and you can position it in a good place. I used a milk jug first, then a 2-liter coke bottle. I figured I could just cut the top part off of the 2-liter, until I realized there was an end near the bottom that got narrower. Either way I would have to cut both types of containers making it unusable again. I think a good container to use would be a bucket, fill with water, freeze, then get it out and let it unfreeze slightly so it will loosen and be able to just slide right out. I will give that a try soon.

The robins nesting above my bird bath seem to really love my ice-cold bird bath in this 90+ degree heat.

***UPDATE*** (July 19, 2011, 11:59 A.M.)

I'm now using a thermos (vacuum flask) and freezing water in it. Being reusable is a big plus, and it can easily slide out after letting it thaw briefly, then wedge a butter knife around the sides to help loosen it.

***UPDATE*** (August 2, 2011, 10:08 P.M.)

Still using a large thermos; works very well. I've noticed that it seems to do much better if I let it thaw inside at room temperature than outside where it's hotter. I'm not sure why, but I got the thermos out while trying to take out my broken ice maker. I put a butter knife on the sides in about six places, then I tipped it upside down and hit the bottom of it a few times and it just slid right out. My experience from letting it thaw outside was that it was melted way too much, where only about 25% of the ice was left, before I could get even it out of the thermos (was using a knife on the sides, too). I still might try running it over some hot water briefly to see how that does...

Thursday, June 9, 2011

My First Chipmunk

I saw what I assumed was a small squirrel, but realized this wasn't a squirrel. It was brown and had stripes. I knew it was a chipmunk from reading about them before. I haven't seen one in-person before that I know of. It was cool to see. Very small with a fairly short tail. He came up to one of my black-oil sunflower seed feeders. I didn't know what he was doing at first, appearing to eat one or two sunflower seeds like squirrels do, then after I see him "test" the seeds I see him scooping up a bunch of seeds in his two cheek pouches. It was quite funny and cute.

Videos I took a few days later:

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Nestling Robin

I found a dead nestling robin below a high nest in my front yard. I'm not sure of the circumstances of how or why he died. It's, by far, the youngest bird I've ever seen in-person. It had little to no feathers. It's sad and unfortunate the baby bird died.

Friday, June 3, 2011

13 weeks - -,

It's been 13 weeks since I've seen Mr. Kitty. Every week I've counted what week I'm on now. He's gone forever. Gone but not forgotten. I still think about him everyday. I have another indoor cat. I think about him sometimes when I'm rubbing her, remembering when I used to be able to rub and pick him up. I know he'd be glad she was comforting me and there for me while he couldn't be... I still miss you....

Some songs that helped me through it all: