Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2014 #5

claireplymouth z6b coastal MAMay 5, 2014

This thread is intended to give people a place to post photos and/or talk about birds, critters, wildlife, fish, whatever - topics you might not want to start a whole thread on, but are still garden-related. You can see the range of possible topics in the previous threads:

All of the threads in the "Birds and other mobile features in the garden" series prior to 2013 are now stored in the New England Garden Forum Gallery. See the top of the main page to switch between Discussions and Gallery. For 2012, see the links posted in Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2012 #7. These threads have been moved to the Gallery but there may be problems with some of the links. I've corrected those I can edit and I made an Index for threads from 2008 to 2011.

2014 threads to date:
Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2014 #1
Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2014 #2
Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2014 #3
Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2014 #4

And for 2013 (I'll move these to the Gallery at some point, but not just yet):
Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2013 #1
Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2013 #2
Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2013 #3
Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2013 #4
Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2013 #5
Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2013 #6
Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2013 #7
Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2013 #8
Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2013 #9
Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2013 #10
......................................................................................................................................

Since the turkeys are nowhere to be seen (they're probably off in the woods nesting), I'll start off with a flying insect seen on a daffodil flower.

I was looking at my latest photos of Narcissus 'Fragrant Rose' and I was annoyed that the bloom looked like it had dirt on it. I edited the photo and discovered that the 'dirt' was an insect with wings. I don't mind the 'dirt' now (I don't know what the insect is though, but it doesn't seem to be eating the petal).

Claire

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corunum z6 CT(6)

Lovely daffodil. At the risk of Baltimore Oriole overload, she/young he, is back today, with a dove backup.
Jane

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 3:12PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

It's good that the orioles have found your yard. Are you going to put out anything fruit-related to keep them around?

They'll try the hummingbird feeder but not very successfully. All they can reach is the moat and that has plain water. This happened a few minutes ago.

You can get a dedicated jelly feeder:

Or just put orange slices in a suet feeder (you should see the reaction when a grackle goes to the cage that had suet yesterday - AACKKK!!!!!).

Claire

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 4:09PM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

Claire, I did put thick oranges slices into a suet cage, but I have not seen any takers. Within 5 minutes of hanging it, a chickadee arrived, investigated, and if a bird could pucker up, that's what it seemed like. Catbirds are also fruit eaters and they are here, so we'll see.

On another front, we've gone from Olivia O'Possum diving into the recycle bin, to Ivy, the Siamese, with her catmint addiction. No rolling in it, just serious eating of the leaves before another good nap.
Jane

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 2:07PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

Jane: I didn't think Ivy needed an excuse for a good nap, but I guess I was wrong. Cats do take naps seriously.

I haven't seen woodchucks since March 10 and I thought maybe they'd succumbed to predators or been chased away by dogs, but today this one appeared. I have to admit I piled rose prunings on top of the vacant burrow hoping it wouldn't be reoccupied, but maybe to no avail. Of course there's also the hint of a burrow under the porch....

It would have been nice to have free-range garden phlox again.

I looked up after the woodchuck ran off and saw a male Rose-breasted Grosbeak on a feeder! This is only the second time I've ever seen one - the last time was in 2011, also in May.

Claire

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 4:17PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

This woodchuck seems to be upholstering its burrow, I saw it yesterday gathering leaves and such in the garden near the porch. I think that's mostly miscanthus clippings in its mouth. I took the photo from the window through the porch railing.

It was here today too. I guess I need to check the fence on the Phlox Protection Zone. I also just planted some new epimediums and daylilies so I'm on alert (not that the woodchucks have ever bothered the existing epimediums and daylilies, but tastes may change).

On another critter front, a Brown Thrasher inspected the Lawn Dragon and didn't look scared. Its colors really complement the dragon. Maybe I should name the dragon Thrasher.

Claire

    Bookmark   May 7, 2014 at 4:08PM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

Nice to see your yard returning to its summer inhabitants and their antics. Dragon Thrasher looks more alert in his new outfit.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2014 at 5:46PM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

I think half a shell on his beak is no different than me having mustard on my chin - it just looks better on him: Rose-breasted Grosbeak in the rain this morning.
"

Big time lovey dovey here this morning: Mourning Doves
"

To see the love sequence feel free to click the link to my album.

Jane

Here is a link that might be useful: Some spring birds

    Bookmark   May 8, 2014 at 12:36PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

Nice photo album, Jane! Do you see the grosbeaks all summer? I've only seen them so far in May.

Claire

    Bookmark   May 8, 2014 at 12:57PM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

No, Grosbeaks are here usually just during May/June.

I tried posting the link below on the Bird Watching Forum and failed 3 times. Some bird watchers here may be interested. I think it's neat and handy.
Jane

Here is a link that might be useful: Minnesota Natural Resources - bird songs

    Bookmark   May 8, 2014 at 5:02PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

That's a very neat site. What happened when you tried to post on the Bird Watching Forum?

Claire

    Bookmark   May 8, 2014 at 5:17PM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

Update - I got it right this time - it's posted on the BWF. Could have been empty stomach syndrome.

This post was edited by corunum on Fri, May 9, 14 at 8:53

    Bookmark   May 8, 2014 at 6:45PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

When in doubt, it's always best to eat something while thinking about the problem. It gets the brain cells working properly and provides added insulation for the rest of the body in case the Ice Age returns.

Two Brown Thrashers have apparently decided to take up residence in my yard. I'm seeing them almost every day. I've read that Brown Thrashers are the largest common host of parasitic Brown-headed Cowbirds. The thrashers do put up some resistance, often rejecting cowbird eggs that are laid in their nests.

Maybe this is why the thrashers were looking so suspiciously at the female red-wing this morning - she associates with female cowbirds? or looks like one?

Claire

    Bookmark   May 9, 2014 at 10:27AM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

More evidence of the subterranean world under my bluestone path.

Ant holes:

Probably chipmunk holes, maybe connected - they're very close together. After living in NYC so long, I see these as subway entrances:

I'm going to regrade part of this path to correct the drainage before ice season returns. There was too much ice last winter. I think I'll return to using sand rather than a gravel-sand mix if I see major ant pathways under there (easier to tunnel through).

Claire

    Bookmark   May 10, 2014 at 10:52AM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

Subway is the best description. We've had the same ant hill in the same place in the backyard for the 39 years we've been here. I've done what I could to divert them, but after too many years of trying and failing, I just bowed in their direction and wished them well. In the house, well, that's another story. Good luck.

Still in the vein of fortitude, the hummer ranks right up there with eagles. This morning (lousy light) Buddy harassed a chipping sparrow out of the birch. Buddy wanted the branch - and got it.

And the Downies were in a chase as well. Not the best shot, but the polka dots make a great outfit.

Jane

This post was edited by corunum on Sat, May 10, 14 at 16:03

    Bookmark   May 10, 2014 at 2:58PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

Jane: I'm experimenting with ways to keep ants from entering the house. The latest is a wall of cinnamon in the door channel. I'm not sure if it's working but I haven't seen any ants inside with brown fuzzy feet.

That's a fierce little hummer you've got there and the downie's wings are wonderful with those dots! Totally unexpected.

For the first time I'm seeing a pair of Orchard Orioles as well as the usual Baltimore Orioles.

The female appeared yesterday eating oranges, but seems to prefer the apricot preserves I have in two different feeders.

This morning, I saw a feeding frenzy when Baltimore and Orchard Orioles fought over the apricot preserves.

I think this is a female Baltimore Oriole eating preserves while a male Baltimore Oriole watches on the right and the female Orchard Oriole flies under the feeder.

The female B scared off two male B's

She's looking very belligerent here. She and your Buddy have a similar temperament.

The B's left and a minute or two later a male Orchard Oriole and the female Orchard O. showed up at the same time.

And decided not to share.

It's warm enough to sit out on the deck this afternoon with my laptop and I'm loving it, but I miss the view out my computer window.

Claire

    Bookmark   May 10, 2014 at 4:59PM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

You definitely have the orange crowd. What a treat after winter, eh? Wonderful. An orchard oriole! How lucky! Nobody has touched the orange I put out. The few oriole sightings have been on the real suet feeder.

It happened a short while ago as I was taking pictures of Buddy bathing in the Kwanzan cherry. Indigo Bunting, male. (happy dance, for sure)
Jane

    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 8:01PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

I've definitely got the orange crowd, but I'd like to see the blue crowd too. I haven't seen an Indigo Bunting for several years. That's a lovely picture of him with the pink flowers (cherry?).

While my orioles are eating oranges, they much prefer the apricot preserves. Have you tried putting out an orange half with some jelly in it for the sweet tooth?

Claire

    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 8:42PM
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NHBabs(4b-5aNH)

Wonderful photos, as usual! I particularly like the downy with wings fanned - what a beautiful wing pattern.

We've been seeing lots of little tweety birds around the house and shop as more bugs emerge. This weekend, DH saw a black-throated blue warbler; we had to do some web searching to find a sparrow-sized blue bird with just a couple of "racing stripes" down its side. The front garden by the main door has been a favorite of a group of white-throated sparrows and a chipping sparrow. (We are not particularly happy about the chipping sparrow since he likes to sit on the roof peak 10 feet from our bedroom window and start singing at 4:15 AM just as it starts to get light!) I am assuming that they are looking for food since they are rummaging around in the shrubbery which isn't large enough for nesting. A pair of irate male goldfinches were having a territorial disagreement yesterday as I worked in the veggie garden, one chasing and harrassing the other across the field and into the edge of the woods. And the flycatchers have returned to my back garden trellises where they like to perch while looking for bugs.

A couple of mornings the turkeys have been in the veggie garden, and I have started chasing them out after they pulled up a lot of small onion starts and ate a few sprouting peas. Hopefully they will decide that they like the field better than my garden! Here's my view as I ran out the back door to send them on their way.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2014 at 7:51AM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

nhbabs, have to say that if I was a turkey (I'm sure there have been times) and I saw a freshly dug plot with tender, juicy sprouts all laid out in the middle of a beautiful green field, I'd be thanking all that IS.

When Ivy has squatted in a newly dug garden right in front of me or she spies a pile of fresh mulch, she looks at me with half open eyes and only joy is viewable within her. After I take in her all-encompassing thanks, then I yell. A gardener has rights too.
Jane - and so it goes...

    Bookmark   May 12, 2014 at 9:24AM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

I thought the little blue house had a chickadee family - wrong. At noon the chorus of protection songs sounded similar to C.Wren as I walked by. Only when I got the pictures up on the computer did I see that the Winter Wrens (first sighting this year a month ago) decided to stay and raise a family! (another happy dance)
Jane

    Bookmark   May 12, 2014 at 2:50PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

nhbabs: You have a nice selection of little birds, and a black-throated blue warbler! I didn't even know they exist.

Maybe you need to set up a hammock and sleep out by the veggie garden so you can scare away the turkeys early in the morning. They've got the advantage now - they can fly faster than you can run.

Jane: You have a wren house! We expect to see great pics of the babies being fed and then fledging.

Claire

    Bookmark   May 12, 2014 at 3:14PM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

The serviceberries can not ripen fast enough for this male Baltimore Oriole and the bee for that matter. I'm delighted that he and two oriole ladies come often. Never had them here before.
I'll have to plant more fruit trees - skipping the jelly route. There are enough sticky messes in life without me adding more. Going through 4 lbs of seed every 22 hours. Whoa...lots of babies coming, I guess.
Jane

    Bookmark   May 14, 2014 at 9:22AM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

OK, where's the other leg? Do you have a one-legged oriole?

Definitely plant more fruit trees - they look much prettier than jars of jelly (although a bottle tree made from jelly jars could be attractive). Thinking about it, I don't think I've ever seen a jelly jar in a color other than clear.

Lots of bird seed being eaten here too, as well as preserves, and suet, and peanuts....

Claire

    Bookmark   May 14, 2014 at 12:23PM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

I also thought he was a one legged bird at first. But he's just fine.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2014 at 2:40PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

Good. I checked some of my photos and orioles do seem to prefer a very wide stance. This picture is from May, 2012:

Claire

edit note: It looks anatomically very strange, as if one leg is coming out of the tail and the other from the throat.

This post was edited by claire on Wed, May 14, 14 at 15:14

    Bookmark   May 14, 2014 at 3:10PM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

So many things appear to be strange, lol. This duo below is from a litter of kits - maybe 6 - from the squirrel with the bad leg this past winter. Her leg is fine, but it appears she didn't run fast enough. Sigh...more squirrels in the aging maple.
Jane

    Bookmark   May 14, 2014 at 4:20PM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

Last posting today - promise. This blue jay couple is very devoted.
She got a good husband.
Jane

    Bookmark   May 14, 2014 at 5:16PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

A two-headed squirrel and a sweet blue jay pair. Nice pics.

Claire

    Bookmark   May 14, 2014 at 6:30PM
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NHBabs(4b-5aNH)

Nice photos of such a variety of birds. I spotted a scarlet tanager this morning as I headed to work, though it was on the neighbor's property, not mine. Our excitement has been the chipping sparrows mating in the dogwood right outside the kitchen window, and 3 bears, a mama and two cubs, early this morning. My BIL sent this photo, taken out the back window of DH's shop, less than a couple hundred feet from some of the garden beds. And then when I went out to dump the kitchen compost and found the wire fencing that encloses it smooshed, I knew that they had visited the house too. They left a few tufts of black fur on the compost fence.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2014 at 7:04PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

THREE bears? Man, some people get all the luck. It must be a bit unsettling though, those things are BIG! Even though they say black bears aren't very aggressive, still, a mama with two cubs is probably rather protective of them.

Woodchucks are more comfortable to live with.

Claire

    Bookmark   May 14, 2014 at 8:13PM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

Whoa. Boy, oh boy, they'd make me very attentive while gardening. I only came face to face with a coyote in my yard one morning, and it definitely made a lifelong impression. But in the Catskills one summer, a cub standing on two feet, so he/she was about 4' tall, and about 10' away from me, left me speechless and slow moving in retreat. Great for pictures, nhbabs, otherwise, not so much. I agree with Claire, woodchucks are easier.
Jane

    Bookmark   May 15, 2014 at 9:38AM
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NHBabs(4b-5aNH)

As long as the bears remain as unwilling to stick around when they know we are present, I am fine with them, though I make a point of making noise when I walk in the woods. The only coyotes I see are on full moon-lit nights, since they are even less happy to be around when we are than the bears. I think that we live in an area with enough land that doesn't have houses that much of our wild life is still quite cautious around people. You are welcome to your woodchucks . . .

    Bookmark   May 15, 2014 at 1:00PM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

I know many people don't like Common Grackles, but I do. So when I saw this chap filling his lungs yesterday, I had to get him. He did this twice then belted out a squawky song.

He started off normal size

Then started huffing: (the Darth Vader effect)

Kind of clearing his throat:

Then song (really awful, but he is who he is, like all of us)

Jane

    Bookmark   May 16, 2014 at 2:45PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

I agree, Jane, grackles are fine birds. They're smart, they're beautiful in the bright sun, and they eat caterpillars (winter moth caterpillars, etc.). I don't complain about their voice because they sound a bit like me singing.

You captured the spirit well. It looks like he was showing off for the grackle (female?) in the second pic.

As for caterpillars, it was very windy this afternoon and some of the new little oak leaves were dropping on the deck. I was pleased that none of them seemed to have caterpillar holes in them when I noticed this looper on one bunch (near the bottom center). It may well be a winter moth larva although it hadn't done any damage yet that I could see.

A few weeks ago the Red-winged Blackbirds were gathered in the oaks singing so I figured they were eating caterpillars too.

Nice birds!

Claire

This post was edited by claire on Mon, May 19, 14 at 15:44

    Bookmark   May 16, 2014 at 3:42PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

nhbabs: There was an article today in the NY Times online about Black-throated Blue Warblers. You may need a subscription to see this.

I wonder if he was migrating through your area or breeds there.

Claire

    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 9:57AM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

I was looking for something else and ran into this thread on Tree Frogs in the hot tub.

Something to worry about during Spring Peeper season? For those New Englanders who use hot tubs in early spring....

Claire

    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 10:16AM
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homegrowninthe603 6a SE NH

Male bluebird feeding babies in the nest box. They are dedicated parents and work in tandem. We have been fortunate to have them almost year round for several years. While they are very tolerant of people being around them, they have never allowed us to see the young leave the nest. This was no exception since they fledged a few hours after these pics were taken.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 9:13PM
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momtoollie

I have a wreath on my front door that is home to a small birds nest with 6 tiny blue eggs. The parents visit frequently. I'm not sure what kind of birds, sparrows maybe. I'm in CT. Does anyone know when the eggs will hatch and how long before the family vacates. I don't want to do anything to interupt the life cycle, but it's getting a little old looking at a pinecone wreath in May. Thanks for your help.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2014 at 5:45AM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

homegrowninthe603: Lovely pictures of the male bluebird feeding the babies with pink flowers surrounding them. That's very sensible of the bluebirds to hide the fledging process from possibly hungry eyes.

gayled: You'd probably get more knowledgeable replies if you posted on the Bird Watching Forum. We're enthusiastic here, but we're short on expert advice.

That said, could it be a House Finch nest?

The Cornell All About Birds site says:

"They also nest in or on buildings, using sites like vents, ledges, street lamps, ivy, and hanging planters."

"Incubation Period
13-14 days
Nestling Period
12-19 days
Egg Description
Pale blue to white, speckled with fine black and pale purple."

This is probably a reasonable estimate for the length of time a small bird takes to complete a brood in a pinecone wreath.

Do they let you open and close the front door without protest, or are you obligingly using another door?

Claire

    Bookmark   May 19, 2014 at 9:43AM
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defrost49

I've been away a lot lately but now traveling should be over. It looks like we have tree swallows going in one of the new bluebird houses. My husband claims to have seen an indigo bunting so I'll have to keep my eyes peeled. Rusty capped sparrow was gathering little bits of dried grass. Saw a hummingbird inside the local greenhouse.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2014 at 4:12PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

I've been watching the insects taking advantage of the spring flowers or flowers-to-be.

This bud on a Peony 'Early Dawn' has the customary ant adorning it.

I went searching for a reason and found this site, Ants, Bees and Ladybugs - Old Legends Die Hard, that says

"Everyone believes some facts that aren't true. We think we know something to be true only to discover that it is an urban legend, a folk tale, just a rumor or worst of all, a hoax.

This is certainly true for insects. A great deal of folklore about insects passes for fact but is actually misinformation. While most of this misinformation is harmless, it is still a good idea to know the truth.

For example, do you subscribe to the popular notion that ants must be present for peony blossoms to open? It seems logical enough, but there is no truth, whatsoever, to the long-standing, widespread and oft-repeated folk tale that ants are essential for the normal opening of peony flower buds.

It is true that there is a special relationship between ants and peony buds. However, the relationship is the reverse of what the folk tale claims. The peonies don't need the ants, but the ants do take advantage of the peonies!

Peony buds have very small extrafloral nectaries (special glands that produce nectar) along the outside edges of the scales that cover the developing buds. Ants devour this mixture of sugar, water and amino acids in what may resemble a feeding frenzy. In exchange for the free nectar, the ants drive off pests that might nibble on the buds. But rest assured that the peony flowers would open normally and on time even without ants walking across the surface of the bud."

It makes ants seem a little like hummingbirds sipping nectar, although without the hum (I'm not willing to put my ear that close to an ant to listen for a humming sound).

Claire

    Bookmark   May 19, 2014 at 4:15PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

defrost49: Isn't it lovely to come home from traveling and find new birds and critters in your yard (not to mention the plants suddenly growing)? It's a nice way to reconnect with your home.

Claire

    Bookmark   May 19, 2014 at 4:21PM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

Glad you posted the info about ants and peonies, Claire. I had not heard that particular wrong factoid, but always figured that there was a sweet attraction to benefit the ants: Now I know.

My bird feeder is a sweet attraction to somebody big. Twice, including this morning, I have awoken to an empty feeder after having filled it the previous suppertime. A 40lb bag bought 10 days ago was gone in 8 days - that's one feeder only. Of course, this time of the year there is heavy feeding. But cleaned out overnight suggests a deer. To my knowledge, the bear in the local paper has not reached our side of town. I think it's time for a trail cam.

homegrown - nice blue birds!
Jane

    Bookmark   May 20, 2014 at 9:57AM
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Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b

Not my garden. I was on a garden tour today and took this shot of a Black Swallowtail on a Viburnam. I thought you might like it.

Steve

    Bookmark   May 20, 2014 at 9:03PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

Jane: Trail cam sounds good, even if it just captures Ivy hamming it up for the photo op.

Steve: Lovely picture of an elegant butterfly.

Claire

    Bookmark   May 21, 2014 at 9:51AM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

Well, Ivy (cat) brought a chipmunk on to the porch yesterday because it's easier to play on carpet and stay dry. Yes, the healthy, unhurt chipmunk was escorted back to his outside domain and from this picture I just took today, he is still on the fly with full cheeks and scaring every bird around.

The mechanic removed a mouse house from the car's 'cabin air filter' this morning, so I think Ivy should spend a little time in the garage. No need for her to 'ham' it up; she'd better get to work.
Jane

    Bookmark   May 23, 2014 at 1:07PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

Love the pic, Jane, of the gymnast jay caught in the middle of a technically demanding maneuver - with the chippie giggling below.

I can sympathize with the mouse house in your air filter. I once had to have my car towed to Hyannis to repair mouse damage to the wiring. Ivy needs to be reminded of her obligations.

Claire

    Bookmark   May 23, 2014 at 4:49PM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

Claire - a turkey hen showed up here an hour ago all alone. No brood, no poults. Kind of strange? Maybe her clutch didn't hatch? First year bachlorette? Any ideas? She wandered back the way she came after picking through the corn on the ground.
Jane

    Bookmark   May 23, 2014 at 6:01PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

I had two turkey hens back here today, also without poults. It could be that the eggs didn't hatch but I suspect that predators got the eggs or maybe the young before they could fly. Last year the hens came back in a group and were really skittish as if they were afraid of something. I only saw one poult last year and only one time.

I don't know where the toms go but according to Cornell's All About Birds

"Male Wild Turkeys provide no parental care. Newly hatched chicks follow the female, who feeds them for a few days until they learn to find food on their own. As the chicks grow, they band into groups composed of several hens and their broods"

so I don't know if the toms give any protection at all.

I found a note in Cornell's Birds of North America Online (subscription) concerning:

"Replacement Clutches

Renesting after loss of eggs normal in adults, significantly less in immature hens (Glidden 1977; Lockwood and Sutcliffe 1985; Vander Haegen 1987)

It could be that your hen and my two are immatures so if they lost one clutch they won't try again this year. The adult hens are probably still out there. I do hope some of them succeed in raising a brood.

Claire

    Bookmark   May 23, 2014 at 7:09PM
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NHBabs(4b-5aNH)

The bumble bees have been enjoying the 'Olga Mezitt' rhododendron and the 'Jet Fire' quince this week.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2014 at 7:12PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

Nice picture, nhbabs! Bumble bees look good in pink. I can almost hear the buzz-buzz.

Claire

    Bookmark   May 23, 2014 at 7:19PM
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nekobus(6)

I've been seeing a pair of goldfinches at one of the feeders early in the morning lately, so had my coffee out back with the camera, and saw the male.

He was very suspicious:

While I was out there I saw this very dark squirrel. Just after this shot, it started chewing on my new fence.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2014 at 9:02AM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

I've never seen a squirrel with that coloration, nekobus. Dark grey with a red-brown tail!

I searched and found a website talking about Melanistic Gray Squirrels. They show a picture of a squirrel something like yours (scroll down a few pics).

"The scientific term for unusually dark coloration is melanism. The same term is used to describe black panthers, which are actually melanistic leopards or jaguars. Melanism can be found in a variety of species, including whitetail deer, wolves, rattlesnakes, and even some butterflies. Even Maryland's state reptile, the diamondback terrapin, has a melanistic phase!

In the U.S., it is believed that melanism in gray squirrels is caused by a recessive gene. This means that for a squirrel to be black in color, it must have two copies of the melanism gene (one from each parent). However, studies on British black gray squirrels (originating from zoo escapees) show that their form of melanism is incompletely dominant, with one melanism gene causing squirrels to appear brown-black and two copies of the gene causing squirrels to appear jet-black. It is possible that there are two genetically distinct forms of melanism in the gray squirrel, one that is recessive and one that is incompletely dominant. Ocassionally, black squirrels are sighted that have brown or red tails.

Nice pic of the goldfinch. I'm not seeing many goldfinches here now - just the occasional visitor to the feeder. I think they may like the food in the wild better than what I supply.

Claire

This post was edited by claire on Sat, May 24, 14 at 9:51

    Bookmark   May 24, 2014 at 9:47AM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

There is one squirrel here with a distinctly light reddish tail, but his body is the usual gray. Interesting article on melanism, thank you.

It would be too much to ask to get Mr. and Mrs. RB Grosbeak in the same photo, I suppose. Just glad they're here.
Mrs. favours suet and the clematis pole

Mr. goes straight for the buffet

Jane

    Bookmark   May 24, 2014 at 5:44PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

Grosbeaks really have presence. Here we are everybody - let the party begin!

I think I've seen my grosbeak for this year (sigh).

Claire

    Bookmark   May 24, 2014 at 7:35PM
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pixie_lou

Mr. and Mrs. Mallard dropped by the pond again. I've continued see the wood ducks, but have not see the hooded mergansers again.

Saw the Green Heron down by the pond.

He saw me, and flew up to a tree.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2014 at 7:37PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

Lovely reflections in the water with the ripples caused by the mallards cruising by.

And it always looks disconcerting to see a heron in a tree.

Your pond is a joy year-round.

Claire

    Bookmark   May 24, 2014 at 8:18PM
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pixie_lou

Woke up this morning to see Mr. and Mrs. Mallard napping in the backyard. They eventually woke up.

Jeremiah came out of hibernation a while ago. He finally posed for me.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2014 at 8:27PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

The mallards look very happy on your lawn, pixie_lou. Yet another reason to delay mowing the grass (that would be my excuse anyway). Are they lying on the violet section? I wonder if ducks eat violets.

And Jeremiah is singing to greet the morning (or whatever frogs sing about).

I have a woodchuck visiting that seems to have had a close encounter with something with teeth and claws.

I first saw it on May 21 eating birdseed. It had two big holes in the fur on its sides and a possible smaller hole in the center of the back.

I saw it again on May 25 and the fur seems to be growing in on the two side holes.

It finally turned around and it looks fine from the front.

I'm not sure how these wounds happened, whether they're claw or tooth marks. Or even a car attack?

At least the woodchuck escaped to continue its search for garden phlox to eat.

Claire

This post was edited by claire on Sat, May 31, 14 at 14:15

    Bookmark   May 26, 2014 at 8:56AM
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Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b

Anyone know what this is or where I can find out? I hope it's beneficial.

Steve

    Bookmark   May 26, 2014 at 3:23PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

I have no idea what it is but it's a beautiful thing. If no one here knows, you can post the photo on BugGuide.Net. You have to register but it's easy and experts respond.

Claire

    Bookmark   May 26, 2014 at 4:16PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

Then again, maybe it's an Eight-Spotted Forester (Alypia octomaculata).

According to Wikipedia, the larvae feed on Virginia Creeper. Depending on how you feel about that, it doesn't sound like much of a pest.

Google always amazes me - I googled 'black and white moth with red legs' and found a lead.
Claire

    Bookmark   May 26, 2014 at 4:29PM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

Steve - it may be an Eight-spotted Forester. The article (link below) says that globally, they are 'demonstrably secure'. Now that's worrisome for sure. It says the caterpillars can be a pest, but you have a good shot of an interesting day flyer.

Claire - would you say there is about a six inch spread between the marks on the gopher's tush with a small mark in between? Other than a large coyote with braces, what would make such marks? May be that he was caught in between two stakes of fencing? We'll never know. However, I can attest to the fact that even after little hips have been caught in a Siamese feline's fangs, the ability to fill this chipmunk's cheeks the measured width of his butt is a remarkable testament to healing the natural way. That, and a bit of good luck and timing. The mark on the right hip is from Ivy;there is a matching fang mark on the left. He runs just fine.
Jane

Here is a link that might be useful: Eight-spotted Forester

    Bookmark   May 26, 2014 at 4:36PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

That's a good description of the wounds on the woodchuck, Jane. Maybe I should check the Phlox Protection Zone fence for a disturbance/attempted forced entry.

I'm a little leery of doing that because I think a cardinal may have a nest in the rose there. Every time I get too close to the inside a bird bursts out - the rose is very dense so I don't see anything but I hear this dramatic flapping of wings.

I can't avoid the area because that's on my daily route to get to the back of the house. Luckily, the cardinals know me as She-Who-Puts-Out-Good-Food, so I guess it's just a warning or a diversion.

Claire

    Bookmark   May 26, 2014 at 4:55PM
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Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b

Thanks Jane and Claire. I'm convinced it is an eight spotted forester. Plenty of pollen about here for it to feed on and there is wild grape and Virginia creeper in the woods nearby for the larvae. Even if I were growing Virginia Creeper in the garden I wouldn't worry. Lepidoptera have to eat too. I'm planting Milkweed soon!

Steve

    Bookmark   May 26, 2014 at 7:41PM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

Fledgling landings are always fun...as a viewer.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2014 at 4:40PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

Oh, Jane, that is funny, but I'll bet the fledgling didn't think so. Thinking about it, how do you plan the landing? Headfirst and you smash your face. Sideways and you risk sliding off if you can't grab something with your claws. Not to mention, when do you close the wings so they don't get in the way, but still allow you to glide in.

Flying isn't easy. And the paparazzi are watching with their cameras.

Claire

This post was edited by claire on Wed, May 28, 14 at 17:25

    Bookmark   May 28, 2014 at 5:24PM
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NHBabs(4b-5aNH)

Pixie Lou, I love those pond shots. You get such a range of critters visiting, and the green heron is especially nice.

It has finally warmed up enough that Jane's least favorite critters are emerging in my garden, the snakes. I found a small (8") red-bellied snake that ended up in some grass clippings I moved to the compost after we hayed the lawn between rain showers. I was surprised to find him in the bottom of the garden cart, and tipped him out before I thought to photograph him. My reading tells me that they don't get much bigger than a big night crawler, so he was full grown.

I was cleaning out the bed around the back patio where I so often see garter snakes, and had the company of this guy for a bit until he decided that I was interfering with his basking in the sun and left.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2014 at 10:42AM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

nhbabs: I've never seen a red-bellied snake; maybe it's too dry around here for them. The images I googled look attractive - could you see the red underside?

We do have garter snakes but I haven't seen any yet this year. I don't see them often anyway, usually just disappearing around a corner or once down the granite steps. I really enjoyed seeing the snake rippling down the steps.

I do remember once, years ago, finding a bright green snake in the cellar of the old house. It was lying on the gray concrete floor and desperately trying to look invisible (it's not easy being green). I think I shooed it into a box and brought it outside.

I guess it was a Smooth Green Snake according to the Snakes of Massachusetts website.

Claire

    Bookmark   May 31, 2014 at 2:34PM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

Bypassing all this slithering talk. When you guys get back to fur and feathers, I'll be back. yuck

New Hampshire photos are gorgeous (not the slinky one above), nhbabs. You have a pond too? ey yi yi. Even a semi-permanent pond is still a pond. Beautiful property, despite some of its inhabitants.
Jane

    Bookmark   May 31, 2014 at 3:01PM
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pixie_lou

I know it's been a while since you post the photos, but I still can't get over those bit marks on the ground hogs back. How odd.

Henry was playing King of the Mountain, or is that King of the Dome Climber, this evening. (My apologies for the fuzzy phone picture, but His Majesty does not hang around and pose for the commoners).

    Bookmark   June 4, 2014 at 7:20PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

pixie_lou: Henry is looking very majestic there, and probably is very pleased with himself.

Maybe he's imagining himself as Buckminster Fuller with a furry tail.

Claire

    Bookmark   June 5, 2014 at 12:34PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

This thread's getting long so I just posted a new one:

Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2014 #6

Claire

    Bookmark   June 5, 2014 at 4:48PM
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