Are you fascinated by birds, their ability to escape the confines of earth with flight, their marvelous color patterns and not in the least, their song?

Have you complied a life list over the years? What are your favorites among those birds you have seen and heard?

Having watched and studied birds most of my life and compiled a substantial life list from various parts of the country and beyond, I have my favorites amongst the group and they are now prominently displayed on the wall in my great room as seen on the right.

It might even be fun to include your state bird in the center of that group. I am in the process of including all the state birds in my collection. Enter the gallery by clicking on any of the images or on the gallery link above, and see what you like.

COVID-19 Virus masks

My state, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, has requested that we used masks when we have to venture out into the world. As mentioned, they wish we would use homemade masks whenever possible as the surgical masks and N95 masks are critical for the health care personnel. I found a site on the internet which I used to create a mask for myself using a cloth napkin and two rubber bands. When complete, I inserted a section of paper towel to the inside as recommended from another source. It works very well and rather stylish if I do say so myself. Good luck with yours and stay safe and well.

Mellow yellow

It is the first week in April here in the Berkshire hills. The snow has lost the battle with spring which has now gained a firm hold on the land. Trees are still bare, but if you look closely, the leaf buds are swollen and ready to burst forth. The blackbirds are competing for nesting territory with their rancorous song. Male robins are scattered across the pastures possibly moving further north leaving a few to settle here to raise families. The greated contrast came , however, with the American Goldfinches. The females have melded into the background with their soft yellow and dusky feathers. The males are in various stages of their formal brilliant yellow dress for summer, some in full attire while others are transitioning from their winter drab garb.

Betwixt and between

It seems as we move haltingly between one season and the next, winter is loathe to give up its grip. One day the ground is warmed by sunny, cloudless skies. The battalions of returning migrant robins, grackles, blackbirds and starlings take advantage of the exposed brown earth as they spread out over the pasture searching for grubs and insects. They search endlessly, poking the earth, turning over leaves and small sticks in hopes of finding a delicious morsel to consume. Then the air turns cold and one wakes up to a world of white covering the fields and the bare branched trees under a leaden sky. This contest for seasonal dominance continues weekly through the month of March and into April. We know what the eventual outcome will be as spring aided by its constant ally the ever present sun wins out in the end.

Spring has sprung!

I have been tracking bird spring migration arrivals since 2000 when we moved back to the farmhouse. This year the daffodils began poking through the soil the last week of February on the warm south side of the house. What a surprise and I giddy with expectation of things to come. Then a lone Common Grackle spotted my bird feeders in the honeysuckle bush on March 1st. Here again, the arrival was about 2 weeks early at my 1730 elevation in western Massachusetts. The following days saw the arrivals of Red-winged blackbirds, a Song Sparrow and the rest of the black birds who announced their arrival with a cacophony of trills, squeaks and crackles (music to my ears!) As the second week of March rolled around, the temperature climbed into the high 60’s and dropped into the 20’s at night (perfect for sugaring with the sweet scent of maple syrup in the air). The robins are beginning to return and one female bluebird has been scouting out the summer accomodations located strategically in the pasture.

Ice kingdom

I am not a fan of ice if I have to proceed outside for one reason or another. However, if allowed to stay within the confines of my warm, comfortable home, I love looking out at the crystal wonderland that has appeared before me. Add the sun and the whole environment sparkles and shines like diamonds. It is truly magical.

Snow tracks

There are several interesting things about winter that reveal a different perspective, looking into the woods with its curtain of green lifted. Check out the topography, the lay of the land, hidden secrets beneath rocks and boulders and then there are the travels of animals in your neighborhood revealed as tracks in the snow. It is almost like reading a box or rewinding back to past events. Above by the stone are the tracks of our resident fox rambling about following his nose looking for something to eat. At the bottom of the picture are the tracks of a snowshoe rabbit heading in the opposite direction. As far as I could tell, they were there at different times and did not meet each other.

Cardinal red

Winter, for the most part, tends to be monochromatic, greys, black and lots of white. Then there if you looked carefully, there was a shock of brilliant red amongst the lilac bush on the back patio. You can’t say that he doesn’t know how splendid he is. He rested there for about 20 minutes probably waiting for his lady friend to join him.

Plainfield gold

Today is the first day of 2020 AD. The ice storm has moved on but the effects still remain with temperatures in the low 20’s Fahrenheit. The view is beautiful; a winter wonderland wherever you look. However, the birds probably have a different take on their environment today. This morning, I was inundated with a plethora of goldfinches in their winter garb. So glad the feeders were full and ready for them. A mourning bird or two took advantage of the seeds that were dropped on the ground. Shortly the chickadees, woodpeckers, titmice, blue jays and juncos will stop by along with our cardinal couple. Looks like I will be monitoring and filling the feeders more than once today. Happy New Year to all!

Icicles galore

It is amazing how beautiful, but potentially deadly your world encased in ice can be. This was not a surprise occurrence as it was widely forecast. I awoke this morning to the gentle tinkling of iced rain on the side of the house and windows. As I peered out the window, the ice laced the glass in beautiful patterns. The forecast was right on and is promised to continue throughout the day. Because there is a real chance of a power outage, I had filled containers with water for indoor use and two large 16 ounce spaghetti sauce cans with water set outside to freeze. These will be placed in the refrigerator to keep it cold should the power fail. I poured my morning coffee and set about laying a fire in my grandmother’s Sterling wood cook stove just in case. I kept the old stove through a modern kitchen renovation as I knew it would come in handy for a reason just as this and it was also reminiscent of days long past. Yesterday I also made sure the chickens had extra clean water, plenty of grain and an extra supply of mealy worms to see them through the storm to which they will be totally oblivious as they will be tucked securely into their warm hay-filled coup until the storm moves on.

Weather front change

No matter where you live, changes in weather come and go. There might be a change in temperature, a feeling of the barometric pressure rising or falling with an ache in your knees, or the wonderful scent in the air after a spring rain. Animals also notice these changes; birds migrate ahead of a storm, squirrels feverishly stash nuts as the temperature drops, and elephants will follow the scent of rain. For all these types of changes, they tend to remain invisible. However, once in a while if you look up in the sky, you can see a weather front arrive. The other day started out overcast when all of a sudden the sun shown brightly in a cloudless sky. I was able to capture this on film so as to share it with you here.