Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2013 #7

claireplymouth z6b coastal MAJuly 28, 2013

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.

And for 2013:
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
......................................................................................................................................................

I'll start with pictures of some of the wildlife in my garden today.

A woodchuck, I don't know which one (Guthrie or Griselda), feeding on the ground with the birds and a chipmunk:

Many of those birds are fledgling Red-winged Blackbirds that have suddenly appeared.

One of the fledglings perched here for a long time surveying its new world:

And a little later as I was eating breakfast on the deck, I saw a catbird checking out the berries on the doublefile viburnum. I took the photo through the railing because I knew the bird would fly off if I stood up.

The viburnum is like a Christmas tree in July.

Claire

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Tina_n_Sam(CT-Z6)

Claire, the wildlife are so comfortable in your yard. For example, the hummingbird that was just relaxing on your clothesline.

Awesome!

-Tina

    Bookmark   July 28, 2013 at 11:06AM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

Thanks, Tina. They do seem comfortable in my yard but the hummingbird on the clothesline was in pixie_lou's yard. If I had a clothesline I'm sure they'd like it here too.

Claire

    Bookmark   July 28, 2013 at 11:31AM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

What a wonderful habitat of peaceful coexistence. The 3rd picture down, fledgling with lily, should go to Cornell for their collection. The innocence is priceless and the balance is perfect. Did you know that Agway has a photo contest every month? The prize is $25 good toward bird seed, etc. Personally, I think you have a few winners here, Claire, especially photos # 1,Backyard Harmony, & 3.

Jane

Here is a link that might be useful: Agway monthly photo contest

    Bookmark   July 28, 2013 at 2:14PM
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Tina_n_Sam(CT-Z6)

Oops, sorry about the mix up, pixie lou.

Thanks, Claire.

-Tina

    Bookmark   July 28, 2013 at 3:27PM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

Last night through the kitchen windows it looked like the Eastern Swallowtails made a scale of justice on the pink buddleia.

The bush is prolific this year with large blooms but they bloomed in a different way I think. The back end of each bloom was spent at least a week before the slender end blossoms opened. Now I don't know if it's my memory or if this is a normal blooming pattern.

Jane

    Bookmark   July 29, 2013 at 2:50PM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

Hummingbird moths are tough to capture because they're always in motion, but this is an older chap, I think, judging by his wear.



I don't know if it's proper to photograph his undercarriage, but...

He turns coppery-gold in the sun and that proboscis works the same way as a butterfly's works.

It's all rather incredible.

Jane

    Bookmark   July 29, 2013 at 3:05PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

Butterflies balanced on a buddleia. Maybe you could make a haiku out of it...

Butterflies balanced,
the buddleia is at rest.
Hummingbird moth sips.

A new low for the thread?

Claire

    Bookmark   July 29, 2013 at 5:34PM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

Hahahaha...beats sn*kes.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2013 at 6:31PM
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pixie_lou

Gosh Jane - great photographers photograph alike. I was just coming here to post photos of a swallowtail. I took the photo on my phone. And next I need to get my hummingbird moth photos off my camera.

Technically this is my neighbors monarda. But it sprawls into my yard.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2013 at 8:11PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

Jane and pixie_lou: Great photos of glamorous bugs! Well, the Eastern Swallowtail is glamorous, and the hummingbird moth is fascinating.

I'm still dumbfounded that people can take such good photos on a newfangled cell phone.

Claire

    Bookmark   July 30, 2013 at 9:57AM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

It doesn't fly yet, but I found an interesting caterpillar today that I'd never seen before. It was crawling along a path in the weeds by the Phlox Protection Zone - crawling slowly enough for me to go inside and get the camera.

I think it's an Io Moth caterpillar which is common in the United States. I like the green tufts on the body. I almost moved it (I was wearing gloves) and I'm glad I didn't because apparently it has a fierce sting.

I found this video of the caterpillar crawling.

I hope it doesn't eat phlox.

Claire

This post was edited by claire on Wed, Jul 31, 13 at 6:46

    Bookmark   July 30, 2013 at 6:00PM
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Tina_n_Sam(CT-Z6)

Excellent pictures of the hummingbird moth and swallowtails.

Oo, on the Io moth caterpillar. Never seen one before.

-Tina

    Bookmark   July 31, 2013 at 7:33AM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

Another day trip and more gardens and birds to share with fellow bird and garden folks. It is Hildene, Robert Lincoln's summer home in Manchester, Vermont. Spent the day there yesterday, well worth the trip. I was lucky in that a wonderful guide set the Aeolian pipe organ to play several times after I asked to hear it again. If you are interested, here is a link to the home, Pullman car and the Aeolian organ (1000 pipes). My pictures are in the bottom link.

"http://www.hildene.org/about.html";

Jane

Thank you Claire for the use of your thread.

Here is a link that might be useful: Hildene (by Jane)

    Bookmark   July 31, 2013 at 12:48PM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

Claire: Lo Moth (sounds Chinese) caterpillars apparently favor red bud trees. I have 3 red buds, so please keep the little walking cactus garden there. Glad you had gloves on. I learned the hard way years ago to not handle any spiny little guys. It's a good picture of a not so innocuous critter.

Jane

    Bookmark   July 31, 2013 at 1:33PM
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spedigrees z4VT

Your photos of Hildene are wonderful, Jane! Such a fun day that was!

I had forgotten entirely about the falcon that you encountered in the parking lot before I joined you for the tour, so it was a delight to see your photos. For those not "in the loop" while Jane and her friend were waiting for me (sadly late as usual) in the parking lot, this amazing bird, wearing its falconer leggings, landed on a street lamp long enough for a photo-op for Jane, then flew off in the direction of a whistle from its handler out of sight in the woods nearby! That's definitely something you don't see everyday!

    Bookmark   July 31, 2013 at 3:04PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

Falcons and goats and antique automobiles and laser-cut hedges. A fine place to visit. Did they sell their Signature Cheese in the Museum Store?

Maybe traveling the Vermont Cheese Trail could be your next trip.

Claire

    Bookmark   July 31, 2013 at 3:42PM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

Yes, they do and would you believe we forgot to buy some at the end of the tour?
We're actually planning on doing some of the Vermont Cheese Trail the 3rd week in Oct. when my niece visits with a side trip to L.A. Burdick Chocolatiers in Walpole, NH and a fondue night in Stowe. Just what I need. Buddha and I already share attitude and shape. But I have better boobs, hahaha. Yup, chocolate and cheese should make for another interesting annual physical.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2013 at 4:06PM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

I'm close to a monopolization here in posting, but look what the AT&T salesman just found at our front door. Was new to me - they built quickly.

Look like white faced hornets to me. I'll probably wait till winter to take it down unless there are other ideas here. (read chicken and allergic to stings)

Jane

This post was edited by corunum on Wed, Jul 31, 13 at 17:24

    Bookmark   July 31, 2013 at 5:21PM
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spedigrees z4VT

Those are definitely white faced hornets (aka bald faced hornets.) I'm so scared of hornets that their picture alone causes me fits! I'm terrified and Larry is deathly allergic, so that leaves removal to me.

I did get rid of a nest of this same size a few years back. The trick is to stand back about 15 feet *after dark* (when all the hornets are asleep in the nest) armed with two cans of raid hornet killer (make sure the plastic safety thingies are removed) and spray the contents of both cans to thoroughly soak the nest. Then (if you are like me) run like h*ll screaming like a sissy girl! That last step is optional because no creatures should be stirring, but I always do it!

Killing the nests while they are small is safer, but they somehow sometimes go undetected until they have become a big problem. The trouble with waiting for winter to kill them is that many newly hatched queens will seek shelter in your attic or other refuge to emerge in the spring and found new colonies.

Seeing as you are allergic, it is probably not a safe idea for you to tackle this. You could hire an exterminator. It would probably be a simple job for a professional. Good luck! That's a nasty surprise! Be very careful and avoid using that front door!

This post was edited by spedigrees on Wed, Jul 31, 13 at 18:47

    Bookmark   July 31, 2013 at 6:13PM
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spedigrees z4VT

Last night in the wee hours, while letting the dogs out for a potty break, I stood on the back porch and watched a little bat zipping about catching insects. The spotlights on the side of the house illuminated a swarm of flying insects and he was making the most of the "buffet" dashing about in and out of the light.

I haven't seen a single bat since the white nose disease decimated their population, so it was a treat to watch this little guy. I hope he was eating his weight in mosquitos, and that the bat population recovers.

I couldn't figure any way to snap a picture, given the speed he was flying, coupled with low/no light conditions.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2013 at 11:48AM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

I'm so glad, spedigrees, to hear that some bats in your area have survived the white nose fungal disease. I hope some natural immunity has developed or a human intervention is helping. That's a major loss to the environment.

I saw one of the baby woodchucks yesterday.

By the size of the feet it's got some growing to do.

Usually they avoid me, but yesterday I was out in the yard and a baby came around the corner and then saw me and scrambled. Yikes! They can run really fast when they have to.

My love of animals is sorely tested right now. Two days ago I went to start up the car and it started OK but stalled out. Again and again. I ended up having it towed twice, first to the local garage and then from the garage to the dealer. Long story short - a mouse had set up housekeeping, complete with nest, under the dashboard and had been steadily chewing on the wires all over the car until the wiring gave out, disabling the whole system. Many dollars later the dealer got the nest out but couldn't catch the mouse so they fixed the wiring and returned the car to me working, but with a terrified mouse behind the dashboard.

I now have Mouse Magic mouse repellent in the car and am going to buy another type, Fresh Cab, today to add to it. Hopefully the mouse will escape ASAP, and maybe left last night, and then I'll sprinkle a Coyote/Fox urine product on the ground under where I park the car to keep any more mice from approaching. I'm also moving one ground feeding area a little farther away from the car.

I'll probably be driving with all the windows open for a while to dissipate the smell of the repellents (peppermint, spearmint, and balsam fir).

I don't know if the coyote/fox urine will attract coyotes and foxes to my yard but maybe it will repel the woodchucks too.

Claire

    Bookmark   August 3, 2013 at 11:05AM
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spedigrees z4VT

Oh no, Claire! Mice are little cuties, but they certainly can cause a lot of expensive damage. Glad your car is all fixed up, and hope the mouse has moved on.

Our cats were always superior protectors of our home, but they never stopped mice from building nests in the barn, and I doubt they would have kept them from a car. I hope that the repellents will make your vehicle an unfriendly place for rodents seeking to set up housekeeping. (I'd think that the minty repellents would smell nice, but the fox urine would probably not be anyone's choice of a car air freshener!)

    Bookmark   August 3, 2013 at 12:39PM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

Sorry that happened to you, Claire. Even garaged cars get them with a cat in the garage; c'est la vie. You have to do what you have to do, but being the animal lover you are, perhaps consider avoiding the coyote urine and soak the parking area with either/or a gallon of water with 2 cups apple cider vinegar OR use a small, cheap bottle of CVS castor oil in two gallons of water and spray the area. Neither liquid will hurt your ground or attract anything. Unattractiveness has it merits and vinegar and castor oil are benign and unattractive. Coyote urine is very attractive. You could end up with wolves or politicians. Good luck.

Jane

    Bookmark   August 3, 2013 at 12:51PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

spedigrees: I agree that coyote/fox urine would make a rotten air freshener so I'll only put it on the ground under the car.

Jane: Castor oil is a good suggestion. I think I'll start out with the coyote/fox urine since I have it already. I want to make sure that there are no mice scent trails left under the car. When it's time to renew I'll consider the castor oil.

We don't have wolves around here but politicians can also be a nuisance, although they mostly invade using telephones or email.

Claire

    Bookmark   August 3, 2013 at 1:15PM
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pixie_lou

claire - your baby woodchucks are adorable. Of course I can say that since they are in your yard!

The crows have shown up in my yard again.

The best shot I could get of my hummingbird moth feasting on the monarda.

And here is a cardinal, standing majestically with the monarda.

Not sure if I should call this shot "An accident waiting to happen" Or "Brave woodpecker".

And here's the neighbors cat, sauntering off, turning to prove to me that he has no feathers dripping down his chin.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2013 at 2:23PM
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Tina_n_Sam(CT-Z6)

Jane, we had a yellow jacket set up a nest one year under the canopy covering the back porch. I first noticed the nest when it was the size of a gum ball. We left it alone because it really wasn't in the way. Well, fast forward to July of that year and we had a nest the size of a volley ball. We knocked it down and used some commercial spray because we were having a picnic and did not want anyone getting stung. It was still a difficult decision to make.

Claire, I'll take your woodchucks any day instead of the oriental beetles and mint month caterpillars. Sorry to hear about the mouse and your car. Three years ago mice got into the house through a hole in the foundation. They set up house in the ceiling and walls. They drove our cat and dog crazy with their scampering around. We plugged the hole and used humane traps. We checked the traps at least twice a day and released them in the wooded area behind our yard. I think we finally got them all since we have not heard them in a while.

PIxie lou, the woodpecker made me smile. He is a brave one...or a not too bright teenager.

-Tina

    Bookmark   August 3, 2013 at 2:51PM
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Thyme2dig NH Zone 5

Claire, your mouse story brought back a very scary memory for me. I used to commute on route 93 back and forth to MA to work. One day I was heading north on the way home and right about Andover in heavy traffic I realized my truck was stuck at 72 mph. There was nothing I could do. It was like cruise control from hell, only I didn't have cruise control. I got the truck to the shoulder and even though I took 2 different drivers education classes as a teen, I didn't know to cut the engine when I was revving at 3200 rpm's. I used the emergency brake and it held the truck in place as my back tire continued to spin. Eventually it exploded and there was rubber everywhere! A couple gentlemen helped me and cut the engine. I felt so stupid that I didn't know to do this. Fast forward to the next day when the garage called me to say a squirrel had made a nest in the engine and an acorn was stuck in the throttle. I couldn't believe a squirrel tried to kill me! It was such a scary experience. I still let squirrels come and eat seed though. It's a good thing they're so cute!
Sorry such a long story, but ever since then I've taken rodents in vehicles very seriously.

On another more cheerful note.....we have baby cardinals in the yard, although they do not pose for pics like Pixie-Lou's (you guys get the best photos!), and my DH saw 2 cedar waxwing! They are my absolute favorite birds and I'm hoping with all these berrying shrubs I have eventually they'll come in droves. Also had a nice long conversation with a catbird this morning. She was about 5' away from me and we just chatted back and forth. I think my neighbors find me very strange because I'm always talking to the birds, bugs, snakes, rodents, and yes, even the plants!

    Bookmark   August 3, 2013 at 4:52PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

pixie_lou: I'm betting the birds have been watching the neighbor's cat for a while and have decided that it's not a bird-killer, just a spectator.

T2D: That's a horrifying story about the acorn stuck in the throttle! It's like the stories of the car mat getting stuck under the gas pedal and revving up the engine, causing an accident. I always pull the mat a little when I get into the car to prevent that.

I didn't realize how common the rodent/car problem is until it happened to me and I went to buy rodent repellents. I went to several stores and asked where the products were and the stories started.

Doesn't everyone talk to the "birds, bugs, snakes, rodents, and yes, even the plants!" I do.

Claire

I didn't realize how common the rodent/car problem is until it happened to me and I went to buy rodent repellents. I asked where the products were and the stories started.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2013 at 5:50PM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

I QUIT GARDENING!

"The meek shall inherit the earth' means bugs and bacteria get everything. Isn't it enough to block the entrance to my front door? This morning, after 8 weeks of not being able to weed, I went to weed a front garden and there, right smack dab in the middle of the garden in an old tree azalea, is another white faced hornets nest. This one is between volley ball and basketball size.

Maybe I can beat them to death with 10 foot wild lettuce. I'll get my revenge with the snow blower! Even though they'll be gone, it'll do me good.
Done, Finished, Fini.
Jane (a former gardener)

    Bookmark   August 4, 2013 at 3:38PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

Ah, Jane, you don't have to give up gardening, you just have to give up weeding! Master the art of immaculate edging and make the lawn look good and the garden beds will look fine.

Calling the weeds 'groundcover' is the first step and wild lettuce is a good vertical accent and eventually will provide a tropical plantation feeling.

And then when winter comes and the hornets are gone, you can shovel out the garden beds to weed them.

Claire

    Bookmark   August 4, 2013 at 4:50PM
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pixie_lou

Any idea what this bird is? Plumage and size makes me think green heron, which I've had here before. But green herons are stockier. This guy has a real long neck. And green herons have black bills. This guy has a yellow/orange bill. I then thought it looked like the photos I've seen of cormorants. But cormorants are big. This guy is little - like 12". Just for a size reference, the wooden boxes you see in some of the backgrounds, those are 2x8's.

And just for more reference, this is the green heron who was hanging around my pond back in May.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2013 at 8:06PM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

Pixie, my guess is your bird is an offspring of the Green Heron you saw last year. I checked my Crossley Guide and it shows a picture of a juvenile Green Heron that looks like your new pictures above. Maybe Claire can offer more.

Speaking of Claire,... "Ah, Jane, you don't have to give up gardening, you just have to give up weeding!" Thank you. Genius is so simple, correct and in this case, doable!

Jane

    Bookmark   August 4, 2013 at 10:09PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

Juvenile Green Heron sounds good to me. There's a picture near the bottom of this Cornell All About Birds page.

Claire

    Bookmark   August 5, 2013 at 7:00AM
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pixie_lou

Ok. So juvenile green heron it is. Thanks for the help. I guess he just hasn't learned the heron strut yet. He really walks like a duck!

He's back this morning. I was able to get a little closer, so when I download the photos, maybe ill have some clearer shots. It's hard to shoot photos from 100 feet away.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2013 at 10:43AM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

Pixie - I agree that your neighbor cat is accustomed to bird watching and not catching. Looks like an older female cat and probably considers her time spent in your yard as a 'getaway' before going back to bed. My Ivy does the same thing within 12' of a bird feeder. She'll fall asleep on warm cement while bird watching. She's never caught one and doesn't go after them. Chipmunks, mice and sn*kes are another story. There's a bird on the feeder now, top center of picture and Ivy's bored...moving on. Never say never and never say always, but if the neighbor cat hasn't gone after the them in the past few years, I think your birds are safe.

Jane

    Bookmark   August 6, 2013 at 6:05PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

Jane: That is definitely not the picture of a Siamese cat in intense stalk mode. Maybe the mycorrhizae are holding her back?

Claire

    Bookmark   August 7, 2013 at 5:37PM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

Claire, Ivy falls asleep waiting for the chipmunk to come out from under the deck. They're probably both napping at the same time.

The fledglings are fun to watch. Today a Cat Bird baby was squawking up a storm because he couldn't get a grape which he apparently really wanted. Not once did he attempt to peck it.

Did you know they had a reddish bottom? I didn't. Hope this won't be considered birdy porn.
Tried several times to get it whole:

Then tried a few times to pull it off:

In defeat, he sat on the hook and whaled for mom before leaving:

He spent a good 5 minutes trying to get a grape and I spent 40 years working to have the leisure time to watch him try, lol.

Jane

    Bookmark   August 7, 2013 at 9:50PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

Jane: I like that first picture of the catbird baby (kittenbird?) cradled by the shepherd's hook.

Do your adult catbirds eat grapes whole? I've fed them cut-up grapes a few times, which they seem to appreciate although I'm not sure if it was the catbirds or the orioles that ate them. At least I've never peeled grapes for them (yet).

Claire

    Bookmark   August 8, 2013 at 9:53AM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

Claire, the big bunch he attempted yesterday had disappeared by this morning. But this morning he came and tried to get the smaller bunch hanging from the suet feeder and he seemed dispirited when unable to get a grape, so I went out and put the bunch on the ground. By the time I came back to my office and was on the phone, he came back and this is what happened (camera and phone in hand, so pictures are a bit blurry).
To answer your question, yes, if grapes are on the ground - at least for this fledgling:
Captured and carrying away:

Flew about 8' and dropped it in a quiet space near a little birdbath where he proceeded to 'kill' the grape. This fledgling graduated from grape school today.

Jane ( who would not peel grapes for the birds. Squish them, maybe, but not peel) maybe I should sign, Hard Hearted Hannah.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2013 at 11:32AM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

Squishing grapes, I never thought of that! So I just squished a handful of grapes and then tore them into small pieces. Much more fun than cutting them up and probably easier for the birds.

Thanks!
Claire

    Bookmark   August 8, 2013 at 1:32PM
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pixie_lou

Claire and Jane - you two are making me feel guilty for not sharing my grapes with the birds. As it is, I have the squirrel deterring feeders and I buy the grackle deterring bird food. So clearly I am not the grape squishing type!

Saw this adorable little nuthatch out in the maple tree.

This guy has been living in my white garden. I had a word with him the other day. I told him he either has to change his stripes to white or find a new place to live.

Laslty - Tommy Two Timer climbed out of the pond again and headed to the stream.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2013 at 9:29PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

pixie_lou: Cute little nuthatch (I've never seen an ugly one) - they remind me of little feathered seals with the head cocked, although I've never seen a seal saunter down the bark of a tree.

Maybe you need a "striped garden" and then the snake would be properly attired for its surroundings.

I wonder where Tommy Two Timer spends the winter. Which wet place houses his true love (or the more comfy mud).

Claire

    Bookmark   August 11, 2013 at 10:28AM
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pixie_lou

Claire - I'll get working on that striped garden right away.

Do cicadas molt? Or shed? Or metamorphosize? Whatever it is they do, I caught one in the act today. Started out seeing this big brown bug. On the veggie garden pinwheels. Snapped a few photos so I could ID it later.

A little while later, I saw the shadow thru the pinwheel and thought there were 2 big brown bugs. But when I peeked, lo and behold, I realized it was a cicada that had transformed from brown to green.

The brown exoskeleton is still attached to the pinwheel!

    Bookmark   August 11, 2013 at 7:03PM
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Tina_n_Sam(CT-Z6)

Jane, I tried copying you. Instead of grapes, I put out cherries. So far, no takers in 4 days. I took some cherries out of the cage and broke them up and left them on the ground nearby. Still no takers today.

pixie lou, how AWESOME is that?!!

I had found a dead cicada that was very well preserved and brought it to one of my art classes. I was able to show the children the cicada as I gave them a brief introduction on the life cycle of a cicada and its diet. Afterward, we made paper cicadas.

-Tina

    Bookmark   August 11, 2013 at 8:34PM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

Good cicada shots, Pixie. Have to wonder why he morphed. Other than donning a new green coat, he looks the same to me. Something else to look up.

I thought this bumble had a full load, but he went back to the rose of sharon for more. I guess 'loaded' is a relative term.

Jane

    Bookmark   August 12, 2013 at 12:24PM
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spedigrees z4VT

That is a great series of the cicada shedding its skin, Pixie. I think they do this periodically, like snakes. My only experience with cicadas was at my grandparents' house in Connecticut one summer as a kid. I think it was one of those boom years for cicada and their singing filled the air. I would find the shedded skins on the bark of the elm tree out front and see the living cicadas with their green wings.

That bumblebee is a flying ball of pollen, Jane. He seems to be defying the laws of physics by being able to fly at all given his shape and size, but weighted down with all that pollen it should be impossible! Bees are such workaholics!

    Bookmark   August 12, 2013 at 12:38PM
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Tina_n_Sam(CT-Z6)

Awesome shot, Jane.

What a dedicated worker!

-Tina

    Bookmark   August 12, 2013 at 2:29PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

That's a wonderful series of pictures of the cicada, pixie_lou! The right wing isn't unfolded yet and looks so delicate. I'm imagining what it would feel like to slough off all of my skin and start over with a new batch.

Tina: I've tried cherries too with absolutely no enthusiasm seen for them.

Your kids are lucky to have a teacher who can improvise so well. Is that origami cicadas you made? I've always admired that art.

Nice big flying fuzzball, Jane. No wonder they're such good pollinators.

Claire

    Bookmark   August 12, 2013 at 4:54PM
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Tina_n_Sam(CT-Z6)

Too bad on the cherries. Will the deer like them? I still have half a bag in the fridge.

Thanks for the compliment, Claire. I know it was an art class but I can't resist the opportunity to open their minds to other subjects.

As for the cicadas, yes, we made origami cicadas. I brought the iridescent paper so the kids were thrilled with their sparkly bug.

-Tina

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 6:02PM
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franeli(z4 NH)

Around this date every year the nighthawks and night jars migrate south and put on quite an evening aerial display! I hope to see them again this year!

It's been a pretty good butterfly year: mourning cloaks,spring azures, milbert tortoise shells,yellowpatch skippers, tiger swallowtail, white+red admirals, and lots of common wood nymphs and little wood satyrs. Yesterday I saw question marks and fritillaries on the zinnias.
Have I bored you already?

milbert's tortoiseshell

    Bookmark   August 15, 2013 at 7:25AM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

franeli: I've never seen nighthawks or night jars, I hope you get a great display this year.

Lovely collection of butterflies in your yard and I'm impressed that you can identify them. At first glance your pic of milbert's tortoiseshell looks like a fantastical purple snake with an orange mouth wide open with a fuzzy tongue! I wish I had snakes like that instead of the humdrum striped sort.

Claire

    Bookmark   August 15, 2013 at 10:00AM
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spedigrees z4VT

Franeli, you will never bore anyone here with your butterfly sightings. That is a lovely shot of the tortoiseshell butterfly. I used to know all the names of northeastern butterflies as a kid, but have forgotten many of them.

Tina, you must be your kids' favorite teacher! The iridescent paper cicadas would delight any grade school child.

This post was edited by spedigrees on Thu, Aug 15, 13 at 10:58

    Bookmark   August 15, 2013 at 10:57AM
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Thyme2dig NH Zone 5

Seriously, do any of you enter photo contests? The photography in this thread is incredible. I tried to take a pic of a bee in a flower and he buzzed away! You all catch the best shots! Thanks everyone for continuing to post such amazing and very interesting photos.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2013 at 7:01PM
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NHBabs(4b-5aNH)

I agree T2D! The catbirds with the various fruits, the hummingbird moths and butterflies, the color echoes between various insects and birds and the flowers they visit, all beautiful. I had to laugh at the bee so laden with pollen that Jane captured.

I think Pixie Lou gets the moulting prize, between the larval shells that the dragonfly left earlier in the summer and the cicada this month. It's amazing to me how lovely the cicada adult is with it's mint green color and gauzy wings when compared to the brown lump of its larva.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2013 at 9:23PM
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littleredshed(5)

Not in my garden, but on my car in the middle of a parking lot! Katydid?

    Bookmark   August 16, 2013 at 12:49PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

littleredshed: I'll let the more knowledgeable people answer that (Google Images seem to agree with katydid). Pretty hitchhiker, anyway.

Tina: A picture of an iridescent origami cicada would be appropriate for this thread, since you mentioned it up-thread a bit.

Claire

This post was edited by claire on Fri, Aug 16, 13 at 15:35

    Bookmark   August 16, 2013 at 3:33PM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

Tina -- ''Too bad on the cherries. Will the deer like them? I still have half a bag in the fridge." At $5.00/lb if you give me your address I'll get rid of the cherries for you and even take pictures of me eating them, lol. Don't feed the deer if you like gardening...really. Of course if you leave the cherries on the ground, some nocturnal critter will thank you.

Franelli - beautiful butterfly perched on the perfect flower. TY - I'd not seen a Milbert's Tortoiseshell before. Lovely.

Littlered - just learned there are more than 100 varieties of katydids, aka bush crickets, and many more names. One came into the house on the cable guy a few weeks ago. Finally caught him and safely got him back outside (the katydid, not the cable guy). hehehe

Buddy (the local male hummer) landed at just the right angle in the noon sun (worse time to take a picture) but it's the first time I was able to see any color in a hummer's eye other than black. Photo not super clear, but I swear I see brown around a black pupil.

And, caught this little girl hummer scratching what itched her. That foot is so little.

Jane

    Bookmark   August 16, 2013 at 5:19PM
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franeli(z4 NH)

Great close up photos on this thread...wow
OK, two more butterfly pictures...I must say, getting close up photos of moving subjects is hard!

Viceroy

Red Admiral

    Bookmark   August 17, 2013 at 7:52AM
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spedigrees z4VT

Jane, that is probably the best photo I've ever seen of a hummingbird. You took it with just the right lighting to illuminate the iris of this tiny bird's eye. It is astounding to contemplate the miniature nature of hummingbirds, the tiny eyes with all the components or our own eyes and those of larger birds, the minute heart and lungs, and most incredible to imagine, the infinitesimally small veins and arteries.

I know something of the genetics of pigeons' eyes, but little of other birds. In pigeons there are two basic iris colors, the orange "wild" color and the mutated pearl (white). (My own bird has the latter.) This hummer appears to have pearl irises, tinged green from the background foliage, but if you saw brown, my perception could be a trick of the light.

Lovely butterfly photos too, franeli. It fascinates me how the viceroy butterflies cash in on the invulnerability to bird attacks of their look-a-likes, the monarchs (who contain a toxin). There is a lot of mimicry in the natural world.

Thyme2dig was not wrong when she suggested that you gifted photographers should be entering your works in contests.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2013 at 12:03PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

Jane: Buddy looks iridescent - I've never seen those colors on the breast feathers. Those little bitty feet on the female are useful after all. You wonder how they manage to perch using them.

Gorgeous pics, franeli, of the butterflies. The colors are lovely.

Claire

    Bookmark   August 17, 2013 at 1:16PM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

This afternoon I saw two Eastern Swallowtail butterflies in love. The dance took several minutes around the back of the garage and onto the deck. Ivy (cat)was silent behind the screen door as she watched the dance too. Yes, the union was made so we'll have more butterflies. And then they went back to the buddleia to eat. Seemed pretty normal to me. I did not realize that the female is the more colorful of the two. She was definitely being chased.
Ivy watching

Female upper - male looks like he stopped in space to watch her

Fuzzy, but the female is on the left

Getting closer

Just take my word for it, we'll have more butterflies.

Jane

Here is a link that might be useful: TrekOhio Eastern Swallowtails

    Bookmark   August 17, 2013 at 6:28PM
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spedigrees z4VT

That's a nice series of photos of the tiger swallowtail pair, Jane. I never realized before that only the females had the bright blue spots on their lower wings. That's sort of an exception to the rule in nature that calls for the males of most species to be the showier gender. I'm glad there will be more; swallowtails are my favorite of all butterflies.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2013 at 8:09PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

I'm glad you spared us the lewd butterfly photos, Jane, we don't need to promote insect pornography. The courtship dance is lovely and well photographed and I wish you many more swallowtails next year.

Claire

    Bookmark   August 18, 2013 at 10:33AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

As usual, it's one amazing photo after another here. I particularly got a chuckle out of the bee covered in pollen, Jane and Franeli, you have quite an assortment of butterflies in your garden. I think I've seen maybe 3 common types and none that are like yours at all.

I had an amazing experience this morning, of course, without a camera in my hand. I was standing by my tomato bed, looking down at a spot I was getting ready to plant a seedling into and two staked tomatoes were about a foot in front of me, one on my left and right. I suddenly saw something black fly by out of the corner of my eye and I thought it was a black butterfly. Before I could even have another thought, suddenly there was a tiny little hummingbird floating right in front of my face, right between the two tomato plants. She flitted around the plants checking out the tomato flowers and then zoomed across to a structure where a honeysuckle is growing. I stopped what I was doing and walked closer, slowly, I didn't want to spook her/him. I hadn't had time to see any markings on the bird and I wanted to see if I could. She was sipping on the honeysuckle flowers and there weren't a lot left. The last one she tried, the flower tube fell off as she was sipping it and went down over her beak and she was wiggling to try to get it off her nose then off she zoomed. I know this is old hat to most of you, but it just made my day.

This is only the second time I've seen a hummer in the garden, the last time was 2 years ago I think. And both times, it was this time of year, which I assume is when they are starting back down south? I never see them in the spring, which is what I would love, but I am working on having enough plants to feed them.

So sorry no photos. I'm too slow anyway. (g)

    Bookmark   August 18, 2013 at 10:48AM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

That's a great image, PM2 - a hummer trying to shake off a flower tube that's draped over its bill. Hummingbirds are never old hat, even if you see them every day.

It might have been migrating as you say. According to hummingbirds.net in the section on Migration Basics:

"Some adult males start migrating south as early as mid-July, but the peak of southward migration for this species is late August and early September. By mid-September, essentially all of the Ruby-throated at feeders are migrating through from farther north, and not the same individuals seen in the summer. "

Claire

    Bookmark   August 18, 2013 at 4:39PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Claire, funny but I didn't see any red markings on it's throat like Jane's photo above. It looked just gray all over, or I just didn't have time to notice. I don't see how I could have missed red around it's neck though.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2013 at 5:20PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

PM2: It could have a female, like Jane's second photo, or an immature male which also looks a bit like the female. Only the adult males have the full red throat and sometimes the throat looks black, not red, depending on the angle.

Claire

    Bookmark   August 18, 2013 at 5:33PM
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Tina_n_Sam(CT-Z6)

Jane, you're too funny. You're right the cherries were not cheap.

I agree, T2D. I enjoy this forum very much. The quality of the pictures and information are wonderful.

You must have long lens and fast shutter speed cameras. The only thing I can capture with my iphone would be the paper cicada. lol

-Tina

    Bookmark   August 18, 2013 at 7:38PM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

Claire - has the coyote urine you spread for the car mice affected the wildlife in your yard? We haven't seen Guthrie's family for a few weeks now.

Tina, T2D, everyone who commented, I agree that this thread is most enjoyable and I'm grateful that Claire has permitted such elasticity in the thread's scope. I've looked at posts on other regional forums, and it appears to me that the NE Forum seems to have a greater variety of questioning happening more frequently and this particular thread shines for me because of its well-rounded openness to accept and view everything that is in our garden space and everything that affects our gardening space. In short, sharing our full gardening world.

I've stated it before, but for newer to the thread folks, it is because of Claire's enthusiasm for critters in the garden which I share and because of this thread that I not only shoot often, but the photography leads to a greater sense of wonder and this thread allows us to share and learn from each other. Claire doesn't want to hear it, doesn't want to know it, but... I believe she still is editor of the NE Forum and has created the FAQ and Book Lists and tends to spammers... from those of us who frequent this forum and this special thread, thank you for all that you do, Claire.

So where's Guthrie?

Kindly,
Jane

    Bookmark   August 19, 2013 at 8:18AM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

Thanks, Jane, for the testimonial. I started this thread hoping that there would be enough like-minded forum members to sustain it, and it turned out that lots of people have a broad view of their gardens as being about more than just the plants. I thank all of you for participating and for sharing the interesting denizens of their yard. I've learned (and enjoyed) so much from all of you!

As for Guthrie and the coyote urine, there was maybe a day or two of worry but soon I saw all the regulars in the yard, just hopefully not in my car. I think I would have noticed a woodchuck in the car, whereas a mouse can hide easily.

The turkeys also seemed to have wondered where the woodchucks were hiding out. These pictures are from two days ago. I had noticed the turkeys staring into the garden and I grabbed the camera.

I think this is probably Griselda, not Guthrie, since it came from the area of the family burrow.

Back into the garden while the turkeys' backs were turned.

Where'd it go?

There! There!

I see it!

Oh, it's over THERE!

And away it went.

I got the impression the woodchuck was enjoying the turkeys bewilderment. It certainly showed no signs of fearing them.

And one of the babies, not so little any more:

Claire

    Bookmark   August 19, 2013 at 3:40PM
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PankajT(z6MA)

Saw this common garter snake sunning itself on an Alberta spruce in the garden ... It looked like a piece of rope until I got closer (next image ... couldn't figure out how to get multiple images in the same post)... By the way, notice the titmouse that has just taken off from the feeder.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2013 at 10:10PM
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PankajT(z6MA)

Here's the closeup.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2013 at 10:12PM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

Despite her voracious appetite, Griselda is cute. It is a wonderfully diverse critter heaven there and the pictures show just how helpful the blue stone walkway is for them. Glad the coyote powder didn't put them off. Actually, that doesn't say much for the product, does it? Hope it worked on the mice.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2013 at 10:20PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

PankajT: I didn't know snakes could climb trees! Or would even want to (except for pythons and such)! The spruce certainly looks like a nice soft bed for sunning. Nice pics of a new phenomenon, new to me anyway.

You can't use the GW upload feature to get multiple photos in one post, for that you need to use a separate photo-hosting website like Photobucket or Flickr and then copy and paste the html tag in your message. See the How do I include a photo in my post? FAQ for more details.

Jane: It always amuses me to see critters and such use the bluestone path just as I do. I guess what we think of as a purely human amenity is really a universal feature.

I wonder about the coyote/fox urine also - I just hope it deters the mice from crawling under the car and then climbing up into the engine. I'll finish off the bottle and then probably switch to castor oil. I'll continue to use the Fresh Cab scent inside the car.

Claire

This post was edited by claire on Tue, Aug 20, 13 at 10:37

    Bookmark   August 20, 2013 at 10:36AM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

PankajT - for as long I could look, it's a good shot and observation. Those things (sn*kes) and I are not on the same page. I knew that they can slither up trees; they just can't drive a standard shift. Welcome to the forum.

Jane

    Bookmark   August 20, 2013 at 4:42PM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

After taking hundreds of hummer shots, how could I not know that a hummingbird's beak opens? Well, dumb as it is, because we always see them at a feeder or sipping nectar into their beak using their long tongue, I never thought about that beak opening until I saw Buddy do it:

Open beak with tongue sticking out a little:

These shots were all taken within a few seconds of each other- look at how much red shows with just a turn of the head:

This is as close as I can get without greater distortion - the scallop shape feathers are amazing:

Once the light lit in my head, I realized I had never thought about how a mother hummer feeds the babies. Until someone pointed it out to me, I had forgotten that the majority of their diet is protein from bugs. Also did not know that cicadas have 2 nymph stages before they get wings until Pixie posted her shots above. Boy, oh, boy... so much to learn.

Jane

    Bookmark   August 20, 2013 at 5:10PM
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PankajT(z6MA)

Great shots, Jane! Spotting a hummingbird in the garden makes my day, but to get shots like these and see the ruby throat so clearly ... wow!
Pankaj

    Bookmark   August 20, 2013 at 5:18PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

Breathtaking pics, Jane! I'm thinking how nice curtains like that red gorget would look on my windows. Not that I'm advocating catching hummingbirds to collect their feathers - the Aztec feather cloaks would not be allowed today - but a synthetic iridescent feather would make a wonderful fabric.

Claire

    Bookmark   August 20, 2013 at 5:42PM
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spedigrees z4VT

I have never seen a garter snake on a mattress of spruce, or any other tree foliage for that matter, PankajT. I had no idea they did that! Yours looks very comfortable.

Those are lovely hummingbirds photos, Jane. I don't think I've seen hummingbird plumage so close up since the last time I was at the natural history museum. I could spend a whole day just wandering through their bird room peering at the many species of (taxidermied) hummers. So tiny and so iridescent!

My feeder and the nasturtiums in my hanging planter have been hives of activity. I think my hummingbirds are fueling up for the migration. I made up a batch of nectar today with a pang of wistfulness knowing it will likely be the last for this season. This female was feeding and her male counterpart was hovering in the background. I took a couple shots of her, but he was too quick.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2013 at 7:24PM
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Thyme2dig NH Zone 5

Claire, turkeys hanging out with a woodchuck??? Your photos never cease to amaze me.

You know Claire, after my DH saw all your woodchuck photos, he now wants a pet woodchuck!
I'm on my ipad and can't seem to get to a particular link on YouTube to post a video, but search you tube for Peepo the woodchuck. Amazing relationship between the woman and woodchuck. My DH is jealous!

Do you all keep your cameras around your neck to get these hummingbird photos?! My hummers don't really sit still, although more this year than others I have seen them perch way up in the oak trees. One day we had one beating up a hairy woodpecker. Now that's one tough cookie! She was harassing the heck out of the woodpecker and it was hilarious to watch.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2013 at 7:57PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

spedigrees: Great hummingbird pics also! Are you sure that's a Ruby-throat? Could it be a Rufous Hummingbird? It's either a female or an immature hummer of some sort, but the back doesn't seem as green as usual. I think you're the one who sometimes sees Rufous.

You can see the tongue sticking out in the second pic.

thyme2dig: I found the Peepo the woodchuck video. Amazing indeed! Does this mean I have to share bananas with the woodchucks too? Cantaloupe rinds are easy, but banana fruit is different. Maybe they prefer the overripe ones which I don't like...

Claire

This post was edited by claire on Wed, Aug 21, 13 at 12:09

    Bookmark   August 21, 2013 at 8:37AM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

Way to go, Sped! Nice hummer shots. Claire's right, it's an immature somebody. I looked in my Crossley Guide, but, boy, for me anyway, it's hard to tell an immature ruby-throated from an imm.rufous. Your bird even looks like an imm. Allen's which the book says is strictly West coast. She's eating, she's happy, she's been 'filmed', that's all that matters.

Peepo is just wonderful, thanks, T2D and Claire for posting. Hope you have a helper or a tripod, Claire, so we can see you holding Guthrie and feeding him a banana. At first I thought Peepo's human mother must have gentle energy for that woodchuck to allow her to hug him. The I Googled 'woodchuck eating banana' and found Gertie (gopher/woodchuck) who also eats bananas on a table. Maybe woodchucks are fruit gourmets that easily give in to humans if the food is special.

So, will Guthrie and Griselda get bananas and cookies with a slug of Vermont Woodchuck Ale soon? Film at 11:00?

Jane

Here is a link that might be useful: Gertie the groundhog eating a banana

    Bookmark   August 21, 2013 at 11:13AM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

Actually, Jane, since I'm allergic to rats and mice I'm probably allergic to woodchucks too. I think I'll pass on trying to hug them (they're wild animals, that get scared, with teeth!). I might try putting a banana out to see what happens, though (watching through the window).

Starting with an orphaned baby woodchuck would be different.

Claire

    Bookmark   August 21, 2013 at 4:07PM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

I'm afraid to ask how one discovers an allergy to mice and rats. You're off the woodchuck-hugging video hook.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2013 at 6:37PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

Jane: I've had both mice and rats as pets. The rats (lab strain) made excellent pets - they knew their names and played like kittens with string. One rat in particular loved to sit on my shoulder and chitter into my ear with his tail wrapped around my neck. It was devastating when I had to get rid of them when the allergy surfaced.

Luckily I found a kind-hearted lab manager who kept them there until they died.

Claire

    Bookmark   August 21, 2013 at 7:41PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA
    Bookmark   August 21, 2013 at 7:55PM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

Didn't think of that. Yes, best to fling fruit from the deck. Guthrie will be happy either way.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2013 at 10:11PM
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spedigrees z4VT

Here's a very poor shot of a hummingbird at my hanging nasturtium plant this morning. The plant looks ratty because I'm letting the blossoms go to seed for next year's crop instead of dead-heading them.

Hard to say what type of hummer I photographed earlier at the feeder. Upon reflection, it does look like an immature bird. I haven't seen a mature rufus hummer here in several years now. I could tell the adults because they resembled ruby throated hummingbirds that had been dipped in orange/rust dye. So with no rufus adults around I lean toward immature ruby-throated. Whatever the variety, it's part of the next generation of hummers, which can only be a good thing.

I've always had rodents as pets over the years, from childhood on. Right now I'm taking a break for the remainder of my little rescue dog's life, due to his unhealthy fixation on burrowing animals. That's a sad affliction, Claire. Developing an allergy to any kind of pet would be my worst nightmare.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2013 at 9:16AM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

I like the picture, Sped, nice hummer outline against Vermont green in the sunlight. Works for me. I think Buddy is getting ready to leave. He's hanging around the house and feeder for longer lengths of time now - just like the end of every August. He has taken to snoozing, preening and stretching for sometimes 15 minutes at a time on a tomato cage on the deck. This morning through a kitchen window:

Hummer Yoga?

    Bookmark   August 22, 2013 at 10:30AM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

Nice pic, spedigrees and Jane. Buddy looks like he's getting in shape for the long flight south.

Eighty-nine followups is too slow for many to load - I'm working on a new thread (just happened to get some new turkey pics).

Claire

This post was edited by claire on Thu, Aug 22, 13 at 14:59

    Bookmark   August 22, 2013 at 2:56PM
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