Saturday, January 30, 2016

Feeding Winter Birds - Saturday's Critters

Like many of my fellow bird lovers, 
feeding winter birds is 
part of being good neighbors
to our sweet feathered friends.

Today it's time for
Viewing Nature with Eileen - Saturday's Critters.

Here a Varied Thrush is checking out
the offerings on my deck rail. 

Although this bird is not a seed eater, 
it does eat fruit and insects,
so I put out grapes and other fruits. 

This beautiful orange and black bird nests in 
high elevations in conifer forests, but 
migrates to lower elevations
in small flocks during the winter months. 

I enjoy hearing their reedy one-note calls
and seeing them foraging on the ground
for insects. 

They are sociable birds and congregate
with other species, especially the Spotted Towhees
who scratch and dig in the underbrush, 
uncovering tasty morsels. 

Here a male Towhee scratches for breakfast. 

These birds are known for running away
from danger through thick underbrush, rather than flying. 

The female builds a nest on the ground, well away from 
where the male perches and sings.

A beautiful male Varied Thrush forages nearby. 

A Spotted Towhee and Steller's Jay. 

Towhee's will eat seeds, insects and fruit. 

A Spotted Towhee and two Dark-Eyed Juncos. 

Juncos are usually seen on the ground 
in small flocks and adhere to a rigid social
hierarchy, with dominant birds chasing 
less-dominant birds. 

These are seed and insect eaters and will come
to bird feeders. They have a curious 
way of double scratching for insects with both 
feet at the same time! 

Another view of the Dark-Eyed Junco with a
companion - a common Song Sparrow, 
who spies me taking her/his mug-shot:) 

A Chestnut-Backed Chickadee is a regular
at the feeder, enjoying both seeds and suet. 

This little fellow will cling to branches upside
down looking for insects, and nests in tree cavities
2 to 20 feet up. 

During nesting season it is quiet and secretive, 
but in winter it will join other small birds
in talkative little flocks. 

These little birds are very fearless and friendly! 

As are these little charmers, 
the Red-Breasted Nuthatch.

This one seems to have mussed up his hair! 

They are very impatient as I fill the suet
feeder and practically land on my head! 

These tiny birds are known for 
traveling down tree trunks
in search of insects head first. 

The name 'Nuthatch' comes from 
the Middle English moniker nuthak, 
referring to the bird's habit of wedging
a seed into a crevice and hacking it open. 

It doesn't excavate a nesting cavity, 
as a chickadee might; rather,
it takes over a former woodpecker
or chickadee cavity. 

Our beautiful Washington State Steller's Jays
are one of my favorite birds. 

These are large Jays, highly alert and intelligent,
which mate for life. 

Jays are much maligned, mistakenly, as 
studies have shown they rarely rob
other bird's nests and actually 
serve the purpose of being the watchdogs
of the bird world. 

Steller's Jays will mimic the cries of hawks and eagles
as a warning to residents of the forest 
that danger is nearby, and will mob together 
noisily to drive away these predators. 

Mourning Doves feeding with a Dark-Eyed Junco. 

These gentle birds mate for life, building 
platform nests of twigs, and get 
their name from their mournful cooing. 

Hunted relentlessly by hawks and other 
predators, they have the unfortunate 
affliction of wings that whistle in flight, 
giving away their location. 

These birds appreciate the protection of 
the Jays and will patiently wait 
for them to feed first so the Jays
will stand watch for them. 

Wait a minute! You're not a bird! 

Are you the one who has been digging up my potted bulbs? 

Who me?

Yes, you! It's a good thing that you are so darn cute! 

Last, but not least, we had a rare
visitor, which I was only able to get a 
very quick, blurry shot of....

a Ruffed Grouse. 

The black 'ruffs' around the neck 
give this bird its name. 

He was walking through the front yard
early one morning and I was able to 
grab my camera and get a quick shot 
before he scurried away. 

Actually this bird is a very common 
bird of the deep woods. 
 He was the size of a chicken. 

I hope he likes it here :)


Thank you for coming along
as I feed the winter birds, 
here in the foothills of Western 
Washington State. 

What are your favorite winter birds? 


Today I am joining with :

Saturday's Critters

Friday, January 29, 2016

Friday Morning - Five on Friday

Hello, Dear Friends, it's time for Five on Friday
once again! Time does fly and the weeks
seem to go by fast, 
although the days can seem 
to drag on slowly sometimes. 

Especially on days like this! 

First to discuss on Friday is 
the change in the weather.
Yes, we have lost our sunny, balmy
weather and now it is cold and rainy
with a biting little wind. 

The clouds are racing by
and every so often there is 
a little break in which the 
sunbeams stream down through 
the skylights as I sit here. 

It lasts but a few moments
and then it is back to dark and dreary
once again. 

The weather is fickle here in the mountains....

Just the day before yesterday, it was clear
and sunny and warm. 

But we are reminded that it is still
Old Man Winter who rules the kingdom. 

Yesterday morning, as this weather system started 
coming in, the sunshine turned to dark clouds
and then we lost our electricity! 

I couldn't figure out why, until a few 
moments later, a strong wind came 
barreling through the valley, 
which gave me my answer. 

I was without power most of the day. 

But while the weather held out for a couple of days 
beforehand, I was able to get some work done outside.
Which brings me to the second subject
for Friday morning - the gardens. 

I trimmed the roses along the arbor, 
tidied up the hydrangea bush, 
and did a bit of weeding in the 
forget-me-not patch. 

This is my parent's commemorative garden. 
I started it for my Mother, and then when my 
father passed a year later, a white rose that I had planted
along the arbor bloomed for the first time that very day. 

The forget-me-not garden has bugle-weed, wild geranium, 
birds-foot trefoil and deciduous lady fern all
mixed in with forget-me-not, which makes for delicate 
weeding sessions. 

I am forever battling the wild buttercup that always 
invades the gardens, but have not been able to eradicate
 it completely, so I have learned to embrace it reluctantly. 

The hellebore are budding and some early narcissus, too. 
These narcissus are many years old - 
planted when my children were young! 

They are fragrant and lovely, but I have to remember
to slug bait next time I go outside,
as they are tasty, too. 

I use non-toxic bait - 'Sluggo' - 
safe for pets and wildlife. 

You can see by the moss, that we have 
very wet winters here, 50 miles south of Seattle. 

I have a few benches sprinkled throughout the property, 
which are too wet to sit on this time of year, 
but provide handy spots to rest my gloves, clippers
and thermos of coffee. 

As you can see, I am behind on my winter clean-up. 

I need another dry spell so I can trim these hydrangeas. 

I will fill my large baskets
 with these bleached-out beauties to 
display on my tall cupboards. 

I'll be very careful to only trim the flower heads
so as not to interfere with this year's blooms. 

As I sit here at my computer, I can look out the window 
over my garden, and the deep forest beyond,
 while enjoying the hummingbirds that 
stop by to visit. Can you see him? He is hovering, just over
the left side of the bench. 

I know that at any time, the winds could change
and instead of moderate temperatures
from the south, we could get hit with a late 
winter blizzard from Alaska or Canada. 

Such is life.....

Which brings me to my third subject; 
Banana Bread. Is there anything more delicious
than a nice, thick slice slathered with butter
on a cold, rainy day? 

I think I over-did it on the butter......
A light lunch is on the menu to balance
this equation! 

I baked it in my newly purchased, vintage, 'Fire-King' 
milk-glass baker from Nana's Things

The 'Country Vase' was a gift 
from my sweet Sis-in-law, 
all the way from New Hampshire. 

I have plenty of company this morning, too,
which is my fourth subject - dogs. 

Whitey Bear, Kai, and who is this at the food dish? 

Why, it is Miss Peanut! Or Queen 'P', 
as she is better known as. 

She rules the roost when she is here! 
All 8 inches of her! 
I am pet-sitting her this weekend. 

Along with this sweet girl, Weenie Baby, 
who loves her comfort. 

Here they are together, snuggling on their blankets. 

It's a peaceable kingdom. 
As long as there are no cats around:) 

So the cats stay in the bedroom and loft area
while our visitors are here. 

These are my daughter, Jennie's two mini-dachshunds. 

Here she is on the left with big sister, Heather. 

She not only brought me her two precious pups
to watch for the weekend, 
but she also bought me a present for
'being there for her'....

A new iPhone! 

Yes, I have joined the 21st century! 
My old Blackberry finally kicked the bucket. 

I think it was about 10 years old! 
Very 'state of the art' when it was new! 

She spent the evening downloading all my apps
and showing me how to use it. 
Luckily, Ramblin' Man has one, too, 
so he can help me when I need it. 

Now I can check my 'important messages'
(Pinterest :) whenever and wherever I am! 

Seriously, though, I am very grateful 
and blessed. I even have GPS mapping so that 
I can find my way home whenever I get lost. 

I've been lost a few times :)........

Thank you, Dear Daughter! 

So that is my Friday Five. 

I hope you are having a good TGIF
and that your weekend is full 
of happy blessings. 


Today I am joining;

Love Made My Home - Five on Friday

Won't you join the fun? 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Primrose Planter

Over the last couple of days, we had some unusually
warm weather here in Western Washington State. 

I couldn't wait to get outside to enjoy 
the beautiful sunshine. 

This El-Nino winter has brought 
warm, tropical air up from 
the Hawaiian Islands. 

I painted some terra-cotta pots a light gray
(latex porch and floor paint - inside and out)
to blend in with my beautiful 
vintage planter that was a gift
from my son at Christmas. 

It was filled with all kinds of wonderful
goodies, including the book
I showed you in the last post, 
'Winter Gardening'. 

I was so surprised when browsing through
the book to find an almost exact replica
of the planter my son gave me! 

Here it is planted with dwarf evergreens 
in the book, which is very pretty, 
but I wanted something cheerful and bright. 

While shopping at my local market, 
there were lovely displays
of primroses in all colors. 

I wanted to take them all home! 

But I settled on four and added
some glacier ivy. 

The metal tray fits perfectly on my little
potting bench and can easily 
be moved when I want to use it. 

I have no idea what the tray could
have been used for originally
and it doesn't explain in the book, either.

Does anyone know? 

I love using unconventional planters. 

Here some Scotch Moss grows 
in a wooden tool box lined with plastic, 
and an enamel cup. 

My Dear Father made the patriotic eagle
when he was a young man, out of molded aluminum.

He was a tool and die maker. 

I've shown you my galvanized tubs before. 

I am very pleased with how the plantings
have held up over the winter. 

So pretty! 

I had some company today! 

Kai and Whitey Bear, my American Eskimo's
 are my little shadows. 

I had some leftover ivy, so I potted
them up and placed them on my pedestal. 

I love ivy in the winter garden. 

Candytuft in a pot is already starting to bud. 

These warm temperatures have everything confused. 

I was so surprised to see this little bee! 

He was flying from bloom to bloom. 

Along with this little fellow. 
Anna's hummingbirds stay here year round.  

Even my old girl, Maggie, came out to 
enjoy the sunshine. 

She is almost 18 years old now. 
She's definitely slowing down....

Me too! 

These winter days go by so fast, 
and as the sun drops low on the horizon
the air chills quickly. 

Shadows get longer....

Kai takes one more romp....

I snip blooms to take inside....

It was a beautiful winter day. 

My work is done. 

Outside anyway......

Time to cook dinner! 


Thank you, Dear Friends for your 
sweet visits and kind comments. 
You always make me smile. 


A faithful friend is a secure shelter;
whoever finds one has found a treasure. 

Won't you join the fun? 
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