Saturday, January 31, 2009

Our Feathered Friends

Watching the birds during these wintery months is a pleasant alternative to gardening.....and not nearly as much work (although I do miss the gardening)!
Since November, I've been counting birds at the feeders on Fridays and Saturdays for Project Feederwatch. You should try it. It's lots of fun! You can choose any 2 consecutive days to count.

Our front yard has been filled with very busy birds fueling themselves against the cold and snowy weather. They truly are a joy to watch, providing plenty of entertainment for the seed that we supply them with.
I probably spend far too much time photographing them ;)

The tiny chickadees are very social.....

...gathering on the line when I go out to fill the feeders.

I tried offering seed in my hand and they happily accepted.....friendly, trusting little souls that they are.

Hubby is watching from inside and has the camera ready.

The other day one was on the suet and as I slowly reached my hand up it stayed right there and let me touch it. Amazing!

They seem quite fearless. Posted by Picasa

The cardinals have been coming every day for the past week.

Not only do we have a pretty female,

we now have four males that are coming each day! Posted by Picasa

They occasionally eat at the wooden feeder, but most of the time they feed on the ground. Posted by Picasa

Quite often one will hop up onto the snowy porch to eat the seed that drops from the tray. Posted by Picasa

The bossy blue jays are constant visitors. I counted ten of them today...more than usual. We had snow flurries for most of the day, and the temperatures were cold, with a high of about 17ºF (-8C).
There's also a red-bellied woodpecker on the suet to the left of the photo.

(All the photos may be enlarged by clicking)

The blue jays are so funny the way they boss each other around :)

I put some pieces of stale hot dog buns on the tray the other day, and the blue jays gobbled them up very quickly. But this fellow interrupted Mr. Cardinal while he was eating.....

...and received a royal tongue-lashing..... Posted by Picasa

......a little taste of his own medicine :)
"OK, OK, I'm going!"

This poor male hairy woodpecker whacked himself soundly when he flew into the sliding glass door recently. Hubby and I went out to check on him and found him sitting by the BBQ, rather dazed. He sat for about 10 minutes on the porch. Posted by Picasa

I offered him some water, but he didn't drink any.

After a while he flew over to the maple tree and stayed still for a while longer. Posted by Picasa

But soon he was back on the suet, seemingly no worse for wear. I wonder if birds get headaches. Poor little fellow. Posted by Picasa

A few days later I heard him hit the door again (can't be sure it was the same fella, of course)...this time not so hard, thankfully. When I looked out, there he was tucked up tight against the post (doesn't he look scared?)........and a hawk was flying away. I was very relieved to see that no small bird was clutched in the hawk's claws.
I had suspected that might be why the woody hit the door the first time, because I've seen a hawk around recently. It's amazing to see how quickly the birds disappear, or they freeze in place.

Here you can see the difference in size between the downy (on the left) and hairy woodpecker. Also notice the hairy's beak is longer. These are two females.

The female red-bellied woody has been coming almost every day as well.

Here she's sharing the suet with a downy female. Posted by Picasa

She's quite shy and doesn't stay long. Posted by Picasa

You might be interested in this event coming up very soon....

Count for Fun, Count for the Future
February 13-16, 2009

A joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society, this free event is an opportunity for families, students, and people of all ages to discover the wonders of nature in backyards, schoolyards, and local parks, and, at the same time, make an important contribution to conservation.

Find out more here:

Since joining Feedwatch, I've noticed a few different birds that have probably been here before, but I just wasn't looking closely enough to realize what I was seeing. I'll show pictures of them in another post soon.
I hope you're all enjoying the weekend!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - January '09

I'm tickled pink to have my Rieger Begonia flowering beautifully for January's Bloom Day!

This is one of the many plants given to me by my equally obsessed gardening friend, Marie, who started it from a cutting.

It's a hybrid cross between tuberous and wax (fibrous) begonias that was developed by Otto Rieger (not Reiger), a German plant breeder.

I'm besotted by the soft blend of pink hues in these dainty blossoms...

....held above glossy green leaves.

This photo was taken on January 3rd, and the one above on the 13th, after more blooms had opened.
Posted by Picasa
Care: It prefers cool temperatures of 70F (21ºC) during the day and 60-65F (15-18C) at night with bright indirect sun (east window); that’s why it’s a popular winter flowering plant. Grow it in well-drained peat/perlite soil mix or African violet soil and feed with ½ strength houseplant fertilizer every 2 weeks when actively growing. When watering, let it to dry slightly between watering but not too dry or too wet. Be sure to remove the spent flowers to stimulate new bloom.

Once the plant slows down and stops blooming cut it back to several inches above the soil line and place in a cool, medium light area, keeping on the dry side or place it in the shade outdoors during the summer. When you see new growth, repot the plant to a larger container, move it to bright indirect light and start watering and fertilizing. Rieger begonia responds to short days and cool night temperatures (fall/winter) which stimulates it to bloom again. (Info from

The Abutilon, which flowered profusely on the front porch during the summer, has been cut back, and it beginning to bloom again now.

The blossoms are like tissue paper. So lovely. Posted by Picasa

Another begonia - a Baby Wing.

This is a cutting from my original plant, shown in the photo below...yet another passalong plant from Marie.

The color brightens considerably with more light, and it did wonderfully well on the front porch during the summer. However, since I repotted it to a larger container it seems very unhappy and I'm afraid I might lose it, so I'm really glad to have the cutting. Posted by Picasa

This white wax begonia is blooming while overwintering in my 'cellar garden'. It will go into a window box, container, or the garden once the warm weather returns.

Only one of the many geraniums overwintering in the 2 upstairs spare bedrooms is blooming, and none in the cellar. They're all looking healthy though. Posted by Picasa

One of my Christmas gifts from my dear husband was 2 Amaryllis bulbs, which I potted up, and they're just beginning to grow.

I'm hoping they'll have blooms for February's Bloom Day!

This beautiful Star Begonia doesn't have any blooms, but it's lovely enough without them to qualify for Bloom Day, don't you think? I'm not sure I have the correct name. This came to me as a cutting from another gardening friend and she didn't know the cultivar name. 'Star' begonia was the closest I could come when I Googled the plant. Posted by Picasa

The front garden is buried under snow at the the plants a nice blanket to protect them. They're better off with it than without it,
and I'm better off inside, out of the cold, tending to my house plants! We're having a week of frigid temps.....wool sweaters, and two pairs of socks weather! Posted by Picasa

To enjoy more colorful blooms, all over the world, visit Carol of May Dreams Gardens.

Happy Bloom Day everyone!