Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The year of the birds

In honor of the last day of 2008 I decided to do a post as a tribute to the birds of 2008.  This definitely was the year of the birds.  It all started in Feb. when we took a vacation to a little log cabin in the woods in Grayling Michigan.  I've always liked the birds and for my whole life have set up a feeder here and there, but would quickly lose interest. This year was different. 
We visited Hartwick Pines a state park in Grayling and the Chickadees stole my heart.  This is my favorite photo of 2008.  It is also my profile photo.  
Who does not love the Chickadee?
I cannot describe the feeling when this little delicate creature lands on your hand.  Try to do this without a smile on your face, it is impossible. 
And so it all began....
When we got home I immediately went to work setting up every kind of feeding station.
And read all about the birds... learning to identify them, what they ate, what their habits were.  I've even learned to identify many of their songs.  
This simple common House Finch photo is also one of my favorites. 
Nuthatches amaze me with their dances and acrobats. 
I attracted two nests in my yard this year also.  A House Wren and a Robin.
Not a day goes by that these big beautiful Blue Jays are not around.  
They live in harmony with the smaller birds.  The smaller birds seem to have accepted them.  
I almost had the Titmice eating out of my hands.  They would land on the feeders each morning as I filled it. 

Hummingbirds are true jewels.
They never fail to entertain me.
The Red Bellies and the Downy's greet me daily.  
I even had the pleasure of watching a pair of Red Bellies raise this beautiful young male.  For weeks I watched the parents lead him around the yard from tree to tree feeding on the oranges and suet. 
I'm not sure how many Downy's I have.  I have counted as many as 8 at one time.

One of my biggest surprises was the appreciation of Robins that grew on me.  
They are such a common bird that I never paid much attention to them before.  
But look how beautiful they are!  And they sing beautiful as well!  They are brave birds and would hop around the yard within a few feet of me always allowing me to have amazing photo shoots with them.  And the Robin is the Michigan state birds so I should love him!
One pair even gave me this pleasure on the back porch. 
Here is Daddy Robin watching me closely from a tree as I stand on the back porch by his babies. 
And of course there were my Dad's Bluebirds.  
He successfully attracted several nesting pairs to his yard this year.  I would take my camera over there every few days and chase those poor birds all around the 7 acres. 
I'm hoping that I can attract my own Bluebirds this coming year. 
And last but not least were my Orioles!!  
I still remember the first one that landed in the back yard.  The first thing I said was "What is that!!".  I had never seen a more magnificent bird.   
Much to my pleasure several pair stayed around all summer raising their families.

I have even higher expectations for 2009....
I would like to add a lot of new birds to my life list including Scarlet Tanagers, Warblers, Owls, Loons and many more.
I want to set up some nesting boxes for owls and woodpeckers.
I'd like to add moving water to the yard for the birds... some type of small waterfall or something. 
I want my own Bluebirds!!

I have so much to be thankful for this past year.  All of it gifts from God. 

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The birds will cheer me up

I was feeling a little down this afternoon.  Craig and I both have time off this week, a rare occasion that we both have the same time off.  We planned on going north to do some snowmobiling with friends but the freakish high temps in the 60's last week wreaked havoc on the trails, even up north.  We'll have to try again in a few weeks.  
I thought my birds might cheer me up.  They didn't disappointment me.  The sun is shinning today which was good for photographing the birds.  I have a lot of these house finches.  Most of the males are red like this pretty boy. 
But this one caught my eye.  I've never seen one so yellow.  Last week Shelley posted that house finches become more red by how much red they have in their diets.  I think he needs to eat some cherries or something.  
But he's still a pretty boy too.
Isn't he beautiful? 
I found this adorable guy spying on me up in the tree
Look how brilliant red his head is when the sun shines on him.  I wonder if this is my baby from last summer?  

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Post Christmas

Christmas morning breakfast at the Mullauer's

Christmas is over and I am relishing in the calm.  We had a very nice Christmas beside the fact that I was sick.  I spent most of the day in bed.  Not the way I wanted to spend Christmas.  I had the week off work... part of me was glad that I had the week off so I didn't have to worry about trying to work when I didn't feel good.  But then on the other hand I didn't like having my time off being spent sick. 

On a more cheerful note Santa was very good to all of us.  Craig and the kids gave me a small digital camcorder.  I still need to learn how to use it. Look for future videos on my blog! And of course I received some gifts for my feathered friends.  I got a new oriole feeder that holds jelly.  I can't wait for the return of my orioles this next summer!  My Mom gave me a few new outfits.... she knows that I never buy myself clothes.  Caleb, Jordan and Craig were all spoiled as well.    

We had a beautiful candlelight service at church Christmas Eve.  We start at 11:00 and end at midnight with the large bell ringing outside for all of the town to hear as we stand in complete darkness except for our candles, singing Silent Night.  It's so beautiful.    

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Let it rain, Let it rain, let is rain...

So much for the beautiful snow we've gotten over the last few weeks.  It's going to reach 60 degrees today and it's pouring rain.  Seadra and Zoe looked like drowned rats after then ran outside this morning.  I stood on the porch and snapped a few photos this morning.  It's really foggy and you can barely see the neighbors house.  
Yesterday the driveway looked like a skating rink.  Today it looks like a swimming pool. I laid in bed last night listening to big chunks of ice slid off the roof.  Seadra and Zoe went into barking hysterics each time it happened.    
Much of our area is under a flood watch.  We are pretty lucky because we've never had any problems with water getting into the basement.  But we did get a phone call from the church this morning.  Evidently the roof is leaking pretty back over the fellowship hall and they were looking for help shoveling snow off the roof.  Craig and Caleb are heading over there to help.  

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

May the spirit of Christmas bring you peace,
The gladness of Christmas give you hope,
The warmth of Christmas grant you love.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Let it snow...Let it snow...Let it snow!!

Craig decided to ride the snowmobile to work this morning.  Conditions are fantastic for the sleds right now.  That isn't always the case in lower Michigan.  There have been many years were we've had to head north to even do much riding at all.  So far we are off to a good start!  
Being that we live only about 20 miles from Lake Michigan most of our snow is lake effect but not this year.  I heard the weather man say that we are getting another storm today.  This will be the 3rd storm we've had in 5 days.
When Craig gets home he's taking me for a ride in this.  It's time to groom the snowmobile trails!!!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Recommended to my birding friends

I don't usually plug products on my blog but I had to pass this one along to my birding friends.  If you have an ipod touch or an iphone or plan on getting one in the future this is a must for you!  Apple sends me recommendations on applications that I can purchase and download onto my ipod.  Most of the time I ignore them but this one caught my eye.  It's called ibird explorer.  It's an interactive bird identification, kind of like an electronic bird field guide.  I am in love with this.  You can purchase the backyard bird version for $5.00 that has about 150 common backyard birds or you can purchase the version with all of the North American birds for $20.00.  I purchased the backyard version and now I am hungry for the larger version. 

Anyway, you can listen to the bird songs, look at artist drawings and view real photographs, read facts, identify, check ranges and so much more.  Isn't technology wonderful?     

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas came early for Craig

We really are having a blizzard today... Of course Craig is thrilled.  We've gotten a LOT of snow today!  And temps in the single digits.  For months (years for that matter) we've been contemplating buying a snow blower.  Today was the clincher.  After a friend came over and plowed the drive Craig decided to go into town to finish his Christmas shopping.  He came home with the best gift for himself.    
When Craig left I told Caleb ..."You watch.. Your Dad is going to come home with a snow blower".  Do I know my hubby or what?  
I was happy... He blew a path to my bird feeders for me.  

It's a blizzard here

Can you believe Mom made us go outside in this??!!
Do you know how hard it is to go pee in subzero wind chills?
Put the camera away and let us back into the house.  
Now this is more like it.  
While I'm watching the birds I'm going to keep my eye open for Santa.