Posts Tagged ‘white crowned sparrow’

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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Yesterday was a most beautiful day!  There was a frosty film covering every surface of my little car!  I had places to go and very little time to scrape off enough of this icy material .. so I quickly worked away with my recently acquired Toyota ice scraper.  Soon I was on my way.

Friday was my chance to root for my choice of New Mayor for our municipality .. and I was looking forward to that!

Not long after, I was on a foot walkway atop a busy main thoroughfare of our fair city, happily waving to thousands of cars that passed by .. people en route to work.

Our team of 5 were all enthusiastically waving and cheering and we received many happy waves in returns, plus many cars showed their agreement by honking their horns!

That was such fun and I enjoyed every second of it.

The skies were blue, the clouds were tinged with a rainbow of colours .. portents to a good day and a good election!

Ok . .then home and lots of busyness in the garden. I’ll talk about that later.  Right now I’m off to do my participation in this most important day of days, Election Day!

However, I must post pics of this most darling, rotund little bird that suddenly appeared by my feet last night.  I’ve spent hours this morning, trying to lighten up the photos that I took.  My camera wasn’t set at twilight.

Anyway, if anyone knows what kind of bird this is, pls let me know .. he wasn’t timid and didn’t fly away.

Away I go .. and will return later to recount events of yesterday!


So yesterday, at the end of my long day spent clearing up the garden, sorting pots, raking leaves (and stomping on the gigantic leaf mulch pile) .. I took some time to just stop and watch the antics of the birds.

It was around 4 pm or so, the sun was setting, and the light wasn’t the best.  I was standing near the main food station, which is the lovely little Lee Valley arbour .. from which I have placed: a bird feeder; a thistle seed container .. and a hummingbird feeder.

I was standing there ever so quietly .. blending into the shadows, as it were .. enjoying the frolicking of the Dark Eyed Juncos, the Anna Hummingbird (the backyard family, that is), the Sparrows, including the White Crowned Sparrow (they seem to appear in the late afternoon .. perhaps they have a busy schedule all day long).

And I was so happy to see that there was not only one .. but two!!! Spotted Towhees!  So I didn’t dare breathe, and kept clicking away on my camera.  I was afraid to startle them, so I wasn’t able to adjust the camera to the twilight or sunset mode.

Then I just happened to glance down at the ground and there was the most rotund little bird that I have ever seen in my life!!  I don’t know how he had arrived there.

He was just barely 2 feet away.  It was so strange.  He was breathing quite rapidly, his little chest rose and fell at a rapid pace, and I wondered if he had been in some kind of crisis.   He lifted his sweet little face up to me and I saw a pair of the brightest little eyes and, I might be totally imagining this, but his demeanor was quite trusting.

Staying in the same spot, he was busily munching away on the seeds that were dropping from the bird feeder overhead.  The Juncos were quite comfortable with his presence and moved freely around.  After I’d clicked quite a number of pictures, I bent down to have a closer look.  He didn’t shy away and run, so I was curious about that.  Looking closely at his back, I could see quite a bit of fluffy, sort of down like feathers on his back.  His little wings were neatly folded and there didn’t appear to be any problems with them.  He was so rotund that I couldn’t see how he could fly.

After a while, I moved a little closer to him.  His breathing had appeared to be more normal now.  He didn’t fly away, but just seemed to scuttle along on his little feet and I soon lost sight of him.  Argh.

I decided to walk along the opposite side of the yard and soon caught sight of him again . .there he was .. walking along the newly planted ferns.    In a few seconds, he had perched his little feet onto the stem of a plant, so I thought that was a good sign.  He moved on again until he reached a grouping of potted Red Hot Pokers.   I moved closer … until he disappeared and then popped up again, in one of the pots.  There were some hanging cedar branches nearby, so I decided that he was alright.

I don’t know what kind of bird he is.  This being November, I don’t think that any bird-babies are happening, but I could stand to be corrected.

Quite the little mystery, it seems.  I’ve been searching for information on what type of bird he is .. but no joy so far.

And today has been quite a day.

More tomorrow!



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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

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Yesterday was such a brilliant day, from start to finish!  Looking out the window, all I could see was sun, sun, sun!  Reflected on the remaining leaves on the trees and painting everything with a golden patina of happiness.

I wanted to run right out there and continue on with my propagating work from the day before.. but first a little walk was in order.  Soon I was out the door, brr, the air was brisk, despite the sun.  Noticed the frozen water on the surface of the lid of the Rubbermaid container at the side of the house.  Container is full of Miracle Mulch, destined for a portion of a little perennial bed nearby.

Walking down the quiet roadway, I looked again at the inviting piles of oak and maple leaves,  neatly raked into lovely leafy mounds all along the sides of the road.  I steeled myself against running back home, gathering garden bags and scooping them up!  I really do have enough leaves.  The mulch pile in the back yard is quite heavily stomped down and is nearly 3 feet deep!  So I have a few good yards of leaf mulch.

Besides, any good daylight time at this point of the season will be better spent preparing my plants for a hard cold winter.

Traffic is light at this time of the morning and I couldn’t see many people out for a walk either.  I really do love this time of the year, everything seems so fresh.

Back home, I quickly change into my gardening gear and head outside.  Mug of Yorkshire Tea in hand.

Where to start???

I decided to create some temporary bedding areas for the plants that I’m propagating and plants that will remain potted up for the winter.   And soon I’ve positioned the landscape sections into an “L” shape and have spread a thick layer of leaves on the ground.   Next I position the potted plants into the vertical section of the “L” and cover up with another thick layer of leaves.  Nice and comfy against the cold.

I play around with one of the Styrofoam rooting units containing cuttings of Boxwood from last year.   I’d cut up portions of the long pine cones from our “First Christmas” tree in the front yard .. using them as plugs for the openings in the base of the unit.

When I started tugging on the first cutting, I was met with resistance .. so I poked and prodded gently and finally was able to remove the cutting.  OMG .. the root section was nearly 3″ and strong and healthy!   As I continued to removed the cuttings, my amazement grew.   There was such a variety of root formations.  Some of them were fibrous in nature, the shape varying as the roots grew and met obstacles.  Where this happened, they just went around the obstacles and continued growing!  Others were plain and straightforward, having met no impediment to their growth.

I was simply gobsmacked!   Only a few of the cuttings had not formed roots (or perhaps I had inadvertently tugged too hard and the roots became detached) the leaves were still glossy.  I’ll simply put them back in the cells for another round of growth.

These Styrofoam rooting cells are just amazing, I love them.

So, now it’s time to mix up some good planting soil .. so I gather up more of the cocoanut fibre, mixing it in well with the bags of soil & compost and soon have a nice barrow full ready to work with.  Next I gathered up a supply of little plant pots.   When I’d potted up about 6 of the boxwoods, I thought about the upcoming cold winter that has been predicted.

And I decide to put in a layer of leaves at the bottom of the pots, for protecting the delicate rooting systems.  So I empty these pots, quickly throw in a potpourri of leaves: Cherry, Oak, Plum .. so pretty!.   Then I carefully hold a cutting in place and gently toss in the soil mixture, tamping down the surface lightly.  Repeat, repeat, till finally I have 80 potted Boxwoods!  Oh boy, and there is still another tray to go, although it’s only 3/4 full I think!

Took a little time away from these duties to brew another pot of Yorkshire Tea ..lovely to sip on a mug of this most delicious brew and wander around the yard, stopping to watch the birds.  Notice that there is an increase in the sparrow population.  The word seems to have gotten out about the bird seed.  I see the little Red Breasted Nuthatch is flitting between the suet blocks and the bird seed .. I haven’t noticed him venturing near the thistle seed, though.  Maybe when I’m not looking?

The Downey Woodpecker visits .. nibbling from the suet and then goes to peck away at the wild and crazy tree.  Listen to the slightly nasal chirps of the Chestnut Backed Chickadees!  The White Crowned Sparrow seems to visit in the latter part of the afternoon.

Refilled the hummingbird feeders, one at the front of the house and another in the back.

Suddenly I heard the honking of Geese overhead … ah, there they are, way up high, flying in formation.  I quickly snap a few pics.  Knowing that they mate for life makes me admire these strong birds.  Although I would not want to be pecked by any one of them.   Ouch.  My Muscovy Duck, Huggers, had occasionally pecked at my arm, and that was painful enough!

Continuing with the potting up, I soon had all the cuttings happily nestled in pots with a thick insulation of leaves in the bottom.    And soon they were placed in trays snuggled into the horizontal part of the “L” winter resting beds, ensconced on a thick layer of leaves.  And of course, I arranged another thick layer of leaves over the tops of the pots!

Darkness is encroaching, it was time to clean up my work area.  And noticed, as I was raking up the leaves, that this area is starting to feel a little like a living room, with the pseudo walls formed by the landscaping ties.  Oh, my!  Is this good or bad?

I’m still not sure how I am going to shape this area for planting in the spring, but I know that I have a few good months to ponder and go through my landscaping books for ideas!

Looking around the yard, I see that there is much more to be done while the weather is nice.  Plants to be dug in.  Miracle Mulch to be spread around.  Raspberry canes to be divided.

And another bright idea .. I’ll put some garlic cloves into my rooting cells and I will have rooted garlic, ready to be planted in containers in the spring!  Perfect!

Well, it’s 8:30 am and time is a-wasting!  Time to go outside and work away.  Wind and rain is predicted for later this morning.  In my little world, rain means “inside” work .. and of that, there are quite a few things to choose from.

Must rush away now .. the skies look a bit cloudy . .oh no!  Maybe I’ll be sewing instead of planting!

On with my most wonderful new day now!


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Thursday, November 4, 2011

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Thursday was a day fresh full of sunshine!   No rain, just sun .. some clouds .. followed by more sun.

What did I do yesterday .. it seems so very far away!

Basic household things .. and time spent outdoors.

I started working with my last yard of Miracle Mulch.  I’d moved this from the front driveway well over a month ago and it’s been sitting on a tarp ever since.   That sentence seems to make everything sound like it was an easy thing to transport the mulch from the front to the back.   Like, I just snapped my fingers and voila .. it was transported through the air, effortlessly.

In reality, it was a lot of work.  Filling the containers, marching them to the back yard.   Emptying the containers onto the tarp that I’d laid down on the ground.

Repeated maybe 50 times or so .. until finally there was a lovely heap of the mulch ready to be used in the yard.

It’s funny.  I’d lament and cry over doing housework, say, scrubbing walls or washing floors.  Yet, to put endless energy into moving yard materials from A to B is just a given.

In between working, time well spent just relaxing, watching the great varieties of birds that visit our yard.

I love them all, and am surprised at the variety of sparrows.   I’ve noticed the White-crowned Sparrow, and am very sure that there are some Rufous-winged sparrows, but not exactly sure on that.    The Chestnut-backed Chickadees are so very sweet .. with their little nasal chirp chirps.  The Downey Woodpecker seems to love calling out before he lands on the suet.   And the Red-breasted Nuthatch .. my oh my .. he is such a darling!

And there are others that I need to identify, also.  I’ve started paying attention to the guidelines for taking care of backyard birds, one of them is having a supply of water.  Tsk Tsk Tsk .. how did I not pay attention to that before?  So I’ve been filling up flat containers for them .. high enough so the cats can’t reach them.  Enough water for them to bathe and drink.

The Downey Woodpecker ventured over to a container yesterday afternoon to have a little drink of water.   Sweet.

Then I made a point of climbing up my pile of mulch and stomped over the surface quite thoroughly.   To compact the pile and hopefully start the heating process.   I’ve decided to make a circle of stones to the left of the pile .. and I’ll shovel the leaves into this space in a few weeks or so.  Then back and forth, all winter.

Time to start working on the far side of the fenced area .. where I had planted some bushes, vines and ground covers.   It’s funny, I’d saved newspaper and cardboard to start a week barrier at this side.  However, this isn’t needed!  As last year, I’d layered on quite a thick layer of mulch and hay .. with the result that there were very few weeds there.

Yesterday also .. I finished the front section of the yard .. ready enough and feng shui’d enough till next spring!

I’m so thankful for all this lovely warm sunshine (after the morning frost has been melted away) .. and pretend that summer is still here!

There is no end to the duties of the yard .. and I am so happy for that.   I don’t think the yard will ever be finished .. there will always be something to do or change.    And there is a lot of organizing that can take place beneath the sundeck.

But, the most important thing of all .. is to just sit quietly and observe the antics of the birds.  They are so funny.   Watching them fly to the feeders, sometimes they bump into each other.  They do scold one another.  Overall, I do not see any animosity.   All the varieties co-exist peacefully with each other and all feed from the same feeders.

I only wish I could translate the variety of chirps that I hear .. I can only wonder at the conversations that are taking place.

Well, it’s been a day!

And up early tomorrow!  Placing signs along Saanich .. hoping that people will get out and vote .. for a fresh new voice for our municipality.  Out with the tired and in with the energized!!!  I’ll do my part to get things going!


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