Nesting Birds and Morels

I had a delightful and peaceful afternoon today meandering in our woods and sitting on a bridge dangling my feet in our stream, all the time watching bird families. A pair of Hairy Woodpeckers were feeding their young in a nest cavity in a tree, up about 35 feet from the ground. The youngsters would squawk loudly when a parent arrived and for a little while after the parent departed, then quiet down until a parent appeared again. I think one of the young may have left the nest while another stayed behind, because I saw what appeared to be a juvenile male squawking on a branch nearby after leaving the nest cavity, while another was still being fed in the nest.

While I was watching the Hairy Woodpeckers, a raucous family of House Wrens were perching and fluttering nearby– at least four young and one parents were clustered in a shrub and adjoining stump, while the other parents called and occasionally scolded a few yards away. The young wrens were tiny– they looked about the size of golf balls, with two clinging to one stump and two others fluttering in a bush right next to the stump.

I turned around from watching the Hairy Woodpeckers to see a male Bluebird perched in a tree looking toward a stump with a hole in it. I stood still watching, and after a while I saw a female bluebird go into the hole, which is about eight feet above the ground. I saw the female leaving the stump and sitting on a branch nearby a couple of times, but I never saw the male enter the nest.

While I was watching the Bluebirds, a family a Carolina Wrens flew, perched, flew, perched, and flew again– at least two young and two parents. They gradually worked their way across my field of view and over the stream, then out of sight behind shrubs. They seemed to be making more progress, or at least were covering more ground, than the House Wrens. It seems that today was Leave-the-Nest-Day for wrens on our land.

I also found two morels on our land today. Both were growing beside fairly small (4″-6″ diameter dead trees) in grassy, leafy patches. They made a delicious addition to our dinner!


Nine years ago today…

Nine years ago, a little red puppy was born. I didn’t meet her until three weeks later, when I fell in love with a small, sweet puppy who snuggled into my arms and fell asleep.

That may have been a ploy on her part, as that was the last time we saw her asleep until several years had passed.

 Years full of running…

playing with friends…


jumping for joy…

leaping up trees…

 watching for us to come home

being a little sister to Rowan…


snuggling on laps…

and being a faithful shadow..

I can’t imagine life without this little red dog. She is my companion whenever I slip out at night to savor the starlight or walk under the full moon. She curls quietly beside my chair whenever I sit to read. She has a contagious way of living fully in the moment that helps me see and experience the fullness of life. With all her idiosyncrasies and quirks, she occupies a unique spot in our home, and with all her devotion and love, she fills our hearts.

Happy Birthday, Petra, and may you have many more years of exuberance and joy!

Warblers, Mink, and More

The wildlife have been more abundant or, at least, more apparent than usual around our home this past week. We’re in the midst of spring bird migration, which has new species arriving daily from points south. It’s hard to concentrate on much else, and Stephen and I have both been prowling around our yard, woods, and swampy area, binoculars in hand, watching and listening for warblers and other birds.

I’ve been filling sketchbook pages with daily lists of our sightings, which include our regular year-round birds, as well as the new arrivals who will stay for the summer, and those that are just passing through on their way farther north. Some of my sketches are from memory, some I do while observing the birds, and some are from photos (warblers don’t sit still long enough for much sketching).

Last Thursday I was walking in the yard, enjoying the sunshine and warmth, both relatively rare this spring until that point, when I saw a mink scampering along the side of the stream, a mouse dangling from his mouth! The last time I saw a mink here was twenty-six years ago when one ran across the driveway in front of my car (I was so excited I drove right off the driveway!). I love knowing that there is a rarely seen but nonetheless fully present parallel world of wildlife that knows our land as their home.

(click on images to enlarge them)