Almost as Good as a Butterfly

I am still lacking many butterfly sightings. I saw the monarch butterfly one more time a week or two ago. Last night I saw the blue swallowtail as I watered the plants. Other than that, mostly moths. 😦 All my butterfly-friendly plants, and so few butterflies. Yesterday I was gazing out the front door and saw movement in the hyssop. It was a goldfinch. Can you see it there, all the way on the right? Not a butterfly, not a hummingbird, but still a joy to behold. 🙂

An Unexpected Visitor

We had a guest at lunchtime yesterday. We’re not really sure who she (he?) is, nor from whence she came, but we were delighted to see her and have her share (so to speak) her meal with us.

We live in the suburbs. Houses all around us, sidewalks, paved roads, house lots averaging 50’x100′. IMG_9809Yet living here we are surrounded by wildlife. We have opossums, raccoons, groundhogs and of course roving gangs of deer. (I fully expect one day to see a gang scene straight from ‘West Side Story’ between the herds.) In the last few years we’ve seen more and more crows. I’ve been told that the mountains to our north and west were the original rookery, but there has been so much development up there that they, like the deer, have been pushed out to us. I’m very familiar with turkey buzzards. I used to watch them from my office window. But I’ve never seen a falcon in the neighborhood before.

IMG_9815I was getting ready to heat up some soup when my husband began calling me urgently to come to him. I met him at the deck door and there she was – up on the privacy screen. She was gorgeous. I don’t know why I decided she was female – it might have been a male. Or maybe even transgender, I wouldn’t want to presume. But since I don’t know I’m going with female. I went to grab my phone to take pictures. We didn’t dare open the door so I had to aim around the grids in the door. I was sure she’d fly away any moment.

IMG_9800She continued dining, tearing at whatever tasty morsel she had up there. My husband is fairly certain it was a squirrel – he said he could see the fur. We went up to the 2nd floor and peered out from above. I stood on a chair so I could shoot over the screens. Drat my phone – I couldn’t not zoom in as much as I wanted. I kept clicking and clicking and clicking. She kept eating. I took a video. 🙂 She wasn’t going anywhere.

IMG_9778I went downstairs and to the dining room window. Again I stood on a chair to get above the screen. I think that at times she may have heard me, or saw some movement through the window, but other than staring at the window, she didn’t seem bothered. I clicked and clicked and clicked.

IMG_9820Finally I realized my pictures weren’t getting any better or any different than the 264 pictures I already had and I stopped. I watched her out the deck door for a bit and then I went back to getting tasks done. At one point I glimpsed a huge wing span and looked. She was gone.

IMG_9833We have been trying to identify her. My husband says she was larger than a red tail hawk. She’s smaller than a turkey buzzard. She’s bigger than a falcon we saw in Orlando. (That’s a great story – the falcon looked a trifle injured. It was hiding UNDER a parked car, because there were 3 crows surrounding the car. I’m fairly certain that somewhere in my phone I have those pictures too.)

IMG_9834I thought, from the various pictures online, that she could have been a peregrine falcon. My husband thinks she’s a gyrfalcon.

IMG_9855After reading about their respective sizes I think he may be correct. If a peregrine is near to crow size, this bird was definitely bigger than a crow. We are both fairly certain that this bird could have taken our cats, it was that impressive.

Whatever she is, she was gorgeous, and we are so glad that we had the chance to meet her.

Nature Is Inconvenient

little blue eggsI have been accused of being heartless, and perhaps that is so. In years past, birds have built nests under the air conditioners in our upstairs windows. (We have an old house, we do NOT have central air, and we rely on window a/c units.) On first thought this sounds charming and wonderful – little birdlets being born and learning to face the world! Little birdlets get very hungry. Hungry birdlets are very very noisy. You have no idea how loud a baby bird is until it’s 5:30 am on a weekend and the cacophony of FEED ME comes non-stop from your window. It is, to say the very least, annoying.

Momma bird in front hedgeThis year I out-smarted the birds. I had mesh mounted underneath and around the a/c units so that no nests could be built there. The birds struck back. A few weeks ago, AFTER I’d been in the bushes trimming them, I looked out the sunroom window and saw a nest, with 4 little blue eggs, right outside my window. That nest was there while I was working in the bush, and yet I never saw it from that angle. But there it was. And then shortly thereafter, I saw Momma sitting on that nest. I never managed a very good picture because of the screens in the window, but we’d watch her come and go and sit. It was, quite honestly, very appealing.

But one Friday morning Momma went out and did not return. There are cats, possums, racoons and skunks in the neighborhood, not to mention the roving gang of deer. bird in rhododendronWe suspect that Momma met the gray and white cat that frequents our yard. Whatever happened, the sad fact is that no one sits on those eggs anymore, which does make me very sad.

And yet….. I hear birds all around me in the early morning, in the daytime, at dusk. In the past I have found nests in my rhododendron, above my sensor light, even in the clematis twining my front porch. I wouldn’t have minded baby birds outside my sunroom, even if they were very very noisy.

We have large 11 foot market umbrellas on our deck. The canvas ripped on one of them so we ordered a new one and went to replace it this past weekend. Momma2 standingMy husband went to lift the umbrella out of the stand and emerged from underneath the canopy with a bird’s nest. 4 little blue eggs. We placed it in a safe place while we replaced the canvas, and then stuck the nest back up in the umbrella supports. We weren’t sure if Momma2 would return or not. A few hours later – there she was. She’s very skittish. She seems to know when I’m trying to get close to take a picture (I really need a good camera, instead of always relying on my phone.) She’s a robin, and she’s nesting.

And having baby birdlets on my deck, under my umbrella, is extremely inconvenient.

Momma2 on deck

Birds of a Feather

I made a new friend today. Except she isn’t really a new friend, she just has a new look. Usually when Honour IMs me and says “I’ve been bad”, I know she’s been shopping. It’s usually either a skin for her or she’s treating me to some fantastical gorgeous outfit. This time, however, it was a new avatar for herself. Adorable!!!

We discussed what breed of bird this avatar might be. I rejected the descriptions of “hybrid” and “mutt” as not being anywhere near beautiful or special enough for this creature. I told Honour she needed to come up with a better story. So, she did. She is one of the long lost Gytis Birds. They are shy and don’t come out of hiding very often – so most people think they are extinct. As you can see, that is a mistake. *grin* I asked if the Gytis Birds were on the endangered species list and therefore a protected species.

Ahuva Heliosense: are you a protected species?
Honour McMillan: oh yes
Honour McMillan: mess with us and you’ll regret it 🙂
Ahuva Heliosense: rofl
Ahuva Heliosense: you carry concealed weapons?
Honour McMillan: we are weapons 🙂
Honour McMillan: we are trained from birth in wing to hand combat

So there you have it – right from the bird’s beak. *grin* A beautiful, dangerous, talented bird. A perfect description for Honour 🙂

Honour blogged that her avatar makes her smile. Makes me smile too. AND gave me blog material!! What a great friend!!!!