GardenGrrl's WunderBlog

Update to Hawk Feeder

By: GardenGrrl, 6:53 PM GMT on January 23, 2008

.....The Update
..The single incident of a hawk/falcon at my bird feeder has rather taken on a life of it's own.(see story below if you haven't read it and are inclined to enjoy the stories of eccentric older women.) Thus far it has cost me over $80.00 in bird books and one butterfly book (foreshadowing to the next blog topic) from the Half Price Book store. It has also cost me a great deal of my dignity as I stalk and skulk about the neighborhood with binoculars and cheap digital camera in hand. (More forshadowing to blog topic about purchasing better camera).

...My theory now is that there is more than one bird. There has been for the last month a bird that quite enjoys feeding on pidgeons in my yard. I know this for the messy evidendence of circular feather piles containing fluff, ick and pidgeon feet. I've also startled the ravenous raptor by coming up from behind. And, that is all I have ever seen of this bird is his behind as he flys very fast away from me, dinner in tow and disappears.

...I have never had more than a few seconds to see the pidgeon bandit. He has dark brown wings, a very long tail and is a bit bigger than a fat pidgeon. From my multiple bird books (really scored at Half Price this time, Both Petersens field guides, Sibleys Bird Behavior, an Audobon ID guide, a few others, but the best and I would have paid full price for this is, "The Birds of Texas" by John L. Tveten.) I digress, I'm thinking this is a Coopers Hawk because the tail feathers, and I've seen this tail often, are in a "V" shape and not blunt.

...As for the one I've named Akbeak the bird feeder terrorist, I'm thinking that was a young transient falcon that dropped down for a quick lunch, smacked into the tree because it is inches from the feeder and came away ruffled and empty taloned. He definetly had the solid dark brown eyes and fleshy yellow eye ring/mascara that falcons have.
This bird is also smaller lighter colored than the pidgeon bandit.

...Have been walking all the areas that would be line-of-sight to bird feeders and to the electric lines that the pidgeons sit on. Haven't seen Akbeak, but have seen the Pidgeon Bandits butt as he flys awy from me when he spots me from a tree before I spot him.

...Speaking of seeing Bigfoot and not having a camera, on FM 3040 and Valley View sitting on a post at the field across from the Walgreens, was a huge absolutly beautiful hawk like bird with a broad white breast, charcoal head and wings. This was black and white hawk adonis. Definetely not a local, Spouse and I thought perhaps he was waiting for a prescription to be filled at the Walgreens before flying off to where he belongs. We have id'ed him as a White-Tailed Hawk from a picture in the birds of Texas book. The bird is said to be found on the coast as far as Houston. Would be nice if it and a friend were nesting here, probably not. Lucky sighting!

...The original blog story below.

..Neighbor Bob had a bird feeder hanging from his tree. He liked to leave the shades open so his cat Sophie could watch birdie TV. Bob would sit on his porch in the morning to watch the birds at his feeder. Neighbor Bob found love on the other side of the metro-plex and moved away. The bird feeder has been empty. We all miss Bob.

..Okay fine then, I'll put up some feeders and let the seeds sprout alien plants on my pristine lawn. Outside my kitchen window is a red tipped photenia that has been trained to be a dense evergreen tree. I hung a tubular mix seed feeder and finch sock right against the tree thinking it would provide shelter and a nice clear view from the porch and the kitchen window.

..For a week the birds ignored the feeders. Finally, I found a tape of bird calls at Half Price Books and early one morning played bird calls, sipped coffee and watched birds fly down to my porch give me a WTF? look and fly off. But the feeders were discovered.

..This morning was amazing! Birds look so cute when it is cold out. All round and chubby with fluffed feathers. First two chickadees were holding court. For thirty minutes the feeder was theirs as the little black and white puff balls chased away finches and sparrows who had the utter nerve to intrude on their morning breakfast. Then came the male cardinal and small flock of mixed sparrows. The cardinal would take control of the feeder and the sparrows would retreat to the branches of the tree. Mr. Cardinal would fly to a branch to work on a seed and the sparrows would mob the feeder until he came back.

..The feeder is only eight feet from the kitchen window. I started thinking about how to remove the screen and make a clear view to take pictures. Then I got to thinking about how over the last 10 years or so everything in our dwelling has morphed into either a work area or showcase for my hobbies. The spouse has the TV remote and half a book shelf full of Star-Trek novels. Hmmmmm maybe a building a photography blind over the kitchen sink might be pushing the envelope.

..As I completed that thought a brown blur like a fast thrown football drove into the tree and the air exploded with sparrows in all directions fleeing the scene. Now the tree was shaking like a large animal was scrambling branch to branch in the thick foliage. A few more sparrows came shooting out much faster than sparrows normally fly. On an outer branch, hugging close like a leaf and perfectly still was one small female sparrow. Then emerging out of the tree behind the little bird came a hawk. She dropped to the ground like a tiny brown rock still frozen. I've never seen a hawk that close before. Face pressed against the window and pounding the frame to distract the empty taloned predator I looked eye ball to eye ball with my new, ( and I have to grudgingly admit, magnificent) nemisis.

..We have tree tops full of grackles. Lot's of pidgeons on the electric lines. This guy needs to leave my cute little song birds alone. What I need is a vollyball net or two that could circle the feeder and tree. Little birds can come safely in. Big bad birds have to stay out. Anyone have any old volleyball nets they don't want?

Updated: 7:40 PM GMT on February 01, 2008

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Best Flowers 2007

By: GardenGrrl, 7:01 PM GMT on January 11, 2008

Welcome Gardeners, when reading this blog be sure to set the mood to the moment. Take a deep relaxing breath. Exhale. Imagine a soft melody of piano music, a crackling fire place and a subtle sense of humor...
For gardeners ours is a world of seasons ever rolling forward with the wheel of life. Each plant a fresh beginning, the garden like a phoenix as they bloom, whither then reappear each spring. January becomes the season of reflection. A dormant time that somehow gives birth to new ideas and spawns creativity. Gardening is about paradox. As gardeners we lock in to our routines of the seasons. Like neo-conservatives we guard our traditions and seasonal rituals. Each year trying to enforce order upon our yards, yet each year we sow the seeds of rebellion. We create life. And life is never orderly. Secretly we enjoy this because deep down in every gardener is a rebel.
Ah January, a great time to think about gardening. What plants worked best and where. What plants didn't do well. But what I look forward most to in January is a tradition that begins every year with my spouse poking fun at my hobby. Coming back from the mail box and handing me a stack of catalogs with a big teasing grin and saying, "Honey, your plant porn is here". With a giddy bounce I snatch up the catalogs and dance my way to the big comfy chair with a blanket, cup of coffee and those pages of fine printed treasures.
First, Jackson & Perkins the rose people. Here is a catalog of roses that could be used like an artists pallette to paint your landscape with heavenly scented shrubbery. Floribundas and hedge roses are my favorites. Every year I turn and bend the pages to compare colors, varieties while fantasizing about removing my lawn and creating a grand rose garden.
Oh and what about Gurney's, Michigan Bulb and Henry Fields with their buy $20.00 and get $20.00 coupons? Who hasn't agonized over the fact that for all the duplicate plants they offer, each has one special plant that you want which the other two don't carry.
Then there is High Country Gardens, exotic xerics and wildflowers. Like gourmet chocolate expensive, beautiful, wonderful plants for my hot Texas flower beds.
Whats this? A new catalog! Oh my what a catalog it is too. A pictorial composition on heavy stock glossy paper. The printed equal of smooth polished marble. This beauty is truly the Holy Grail of mail order plant catalogs. I'm holding the David Austin Handbook of Roses 2008. Swoon... An entire catalog of English Roses. Shrubs of deep green foliage that bear fragrant peony like flowers which so often will bloom over and over again throughout the season. Like Floribundas, the English Rose is a floral masterpiece.
Goodness, my train of thought seems to have jumped the track and traveled merrily across another countryside. This blog is supposed to be about my best flowers this year. As the pictures show, the Lemon and Oranges variety of gallardia did quite well this year. It was a mail order plant that started blooming early spring and kept going into November. Of course Cosmos always deserve honorable mention because they are so easy to grow and will quite often re-seed themselves. The Agastache is a great plant for attracting hummingbirds. This particular variety, Desert Sunrise seems to be the best hummingbird magnet ever grown. The down side is having to order agastache plants every year as they rarely come back in the spring. The garden did well in 2007. I plant to attract birds and butterflys. The butterflys came in droves this year. Life is good. Happy Gardening to You!

Updated: 7:03 PM GMT on January 11, 2008

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