Sunday, May 22, 2011

Still here!

    Wow, what a relief that whole "Rapture" thing didn't work out. Must have been a minor miscalculation. Birdocuple's grateful, though. We LIKE the world. We want to conserve it, and preserve it, and explore it a whole lot more.

   Mostly, preserve what's left of it - like this beautiful Dickcissel, singing for all he's worth from a telephone wire on a beautiful late May afternoon over on Maryland's Eastern Shore. Now what's wrong with that? Seemed pretty rapturous to us!

  Here he is again:

   Handsome fellow, yes?

      As Birdcouple's regular visitors will know by now, Warren - with Lisa's full indulgence - is doing a mini "Big Year" in Maryland, trying to see 280 species in the state this year. So far, the number is 236. (Thanks, Mr. Dickcissel, for showing up today). It's a lot of fun, very educational and just a bit zany.

     We've seen a lot of beautiful sights this spring that thankfully (man-made hazards and wacky end-of-time predictions notwithstanding) are still with us:

  Lesser Yellowlegs...


   Tree Swallow. Yup, we're still here....

  Thanks for being here, Princess!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Looking for Higher Ground...

No, this post is not about the Rapture.  Although, I really wish I had known about this end of the world business happening tomorrow.  I really would have bought myself a pair of Leica Bins months ago, with all the money I would have saved from not paying my parking tickets.

This post is about some baby Ospreys that were saved from becoming alligator when the flood waters in Cow Island Louisiana rose almost to the height of their nest.   You can read the rest here.

This is my favorite bit of the story:

Swamp dwellers — deer, raccoons and alligators among them — also are trying to stay dry.
A herd of deer and a bear were seen going under a U.S. Highway 190 bridge south of the Morganza spillway. Increased wildlife traffic prompted the cutting of the speed limit from 60 to 45 mph on Wednesday.
Cute Husband and I will celebrate the potential last weekend by leading a bird walk at Anne Arundel Dairy Farm on Saturday morning.   
Come join us!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Splish Splash!

All candid photos taken by Wingscapes BirdCam
My new appreciation for Robins...

Here, BirdCam captures talented and very Cute Husband contemplating life without peanut butter. 
That is a horrible thought! 
Especially for a Friday.!
I'm sure he is listening for a Common Nighthawk flyover...
Squirrels are rather cute when they are not feasting on bird seed.
Eastern Phoebes have returned to the LoveNest!
Yes, you do clean up well...

It looks like this Mourning Dove was aware of the secret camera filming his every move.
Or perhaps, Mourning Doves have those weird picture eyes that seem to follow you around the room?

Someone may need a towel...
Cardinals are way too dignified for such behavior.
This is certainly not the best photo of a Blue Jay, but check out Mr. Piggy lounging on the back of the terrace furniture...

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Birds enjoying Bee Stuff....

BirdChick has some interesting pictures of warbers eating honey, old bee larvae and perhaps bee's wax from old bee hive frame. 

I have no idea if honey is bad for birds, but honey is quite a miracle substance, with daily users claiming numerous health and beauty benefits.   So hopefully, the honey snack will help the warblers on their journey North and make them even more beautiful for mating season.

Speaking of bees, I lost all three of the LoveNest hives last winter.  I realize that bees are just annoying insects to most people, but I ADORE my bees.  I watch them all spring, summer and fall (sometimes I speak encouraging words to them).  I watch them foraging in the garden.  I await warm days in winter, in hopes of seeing a few venture out. 

So... when I lose a hive, it is quite devastating.

Four weeks ago, I hived Artemis II, Athena II and Aphrodite I.  About 3 weeks after hiving, I came home from work and noticed some of Aphrodite's bees (my only Italian queen), attacking something on the landing board. 

After further inspection, I saw that they were balling the queen!  Biting her, pulling at her wings and legs and not allowing her back in the hive.  When she was too weak to move, they left her alone and I carried her away from the hive.  I can only guess that they initially accepted her and then, perhaps, because she was infertile, they dethroned her. 

I found a new queen, although she is Russian and not far, so good.  I'll know in another week or so, if she is laying. 

Artemis II and Athena II have laying queens and I predict Artemis will be our strongest hive. 

I also predict that BirdCouple will see a Golden-winged Warbler this weekend.


Monday, May 9, 2011

Big, medium and small

    Princess and Warren went a-birding on May Day to Susquehanna State Park, which is near the (wait for it!) ... Susquehanna River in northeastern Maryland. We were hoping to see lots of little warbly things, and that we did, but our birding wasn't size-limited.

  We stopped at a locally famous Bald Eagle's nest just outside the park, in use for a decade or more, and so large and heavy that it's beginning to tilt backward.

    After several hours walking and chasing birds, it was relaxing just to watch a wildlife spectacular unfold before our very eyes:

  A third eaglet was hidden behind the tree trunk on the lift. Given the competition for food in the nest, only two of the three eaglets may survive.

  We knew the parents weren't far away, even though they were unseen for long minutes. But when a kettle of vultures began to get too close to the nest, one parent (papa, we think) swooped in..

   This Grey Catbird falls in the medium category, and we don't mean that as an insult. A handsome bird indeed:

  And then there are our warbly friends, jiving and twittering and generally making themselves difficult to identify and photograph. This Worm-Eating Warbler was more cooperative than most:

   Once more with feeling:

Birds, big small medium tall, we love 'em:

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Bird Mourns Death of Mate...

This is an old story and set of pictures (which I could not find the original), but our friend, Patty passed them along today and I was so touched... I thought I would share...

A flock of Barn Swallows had stopped on a highway,  perhaps to hunt or rest.  A vehicle passed by and one of the birds was injured and unable to move from the roadway.

Here, she is, but the condition was fatal.

Her mate lingers nearby and eventually brings food to her.

On one of his return trips he finds his mate dead and seems to try to shake her awake and attend to her.

Aware that she is lost to him he seems to cry out in anguish. Every time a car passes, the bird flies off for a moment but then returns to mourn.  Shocked at her death, he tries to move her.

Eventually the photographer, concerned for the safety of the living bird, put down his camera, picked up the bird and removed it from the road. The grieving bird lingered in a nearby tree, "crying" out loud.  This photo breaks my heart...
No one knew how long he stood beside her and appeared to mourn...

I have actually witnessed mourning behavior in a squirrel that was hit by a car, where his/her mate kept trying to move the body and sat beside the body for several hours.

According to Darwin...the difference between us and animals is only a matter of degree.