The Dawn Chorus

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No matter where you live, if you are in the Northern Hemisphere, this is happening right about now.  I am not referring to sunrise–that happens worldwide of course.  I am referring to the dawn chorus.

You may not know the name for what I am referring to. It’s the cacophony of bird song at or even slightly before dawn this time of year.

Very few birds sing in winter, at least in my climate. I will hear what I call “the first bird of the day” ( who coincidentally also sings last at night all winter — that’s the cardinal). And there are assorted woodpeckers, wrens, chickadees, titmice, finches and sparrows. That’s about it.

Once spring arrives the robins, always a vocal bird anyway, become the first and last bird of the day. They are often joined by other mimic thrush type birds–mockingbirds, catbirds–and then there are blue jays, crows, starlings , grackles–the bird loud mouths.

At times it’s so loud it will even wake me, even with windows closed. And I am a very sound sleeper.

Why does this happen? Well, the birds aren’t saying precisely. The theories are that the birds are defending territory,  looking for mates, or both.

The next time you wake up early,  listen for the bird song. It’s a great way to start the day.

Unwelcome Guests

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This photo–which appears to show just a jumble of plants–actually shows an invasive brown marmorated stink bug on the orchid spike in the photo.  Since the new year, I have been having a mini invasion of sorts. They have never been a problem before for me,  either in the house or the garden.

I know enough not to kill them. If they are somewhere where I can catch them and toss them outside,  that’s what I do. Otherwise,  they seem to die rather quickly on their own. Problem solved.

On the same day that I took this photo,  I heard the unmistakable calls of grackles. Sure enough,  the next morning,  I saw one strutting around on my neighbor’s lawn.

That may not seem strange where you live,  but they’re a full 3 weeks earlier than usual here. Is spring really on its way?

Need A Winter Container Indoors?

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As you plan for winter arrangements, scavenge in your yard for some foliage.

I don’t live in the Pacific Northwest so I don’t have a lot of those wonderful cedars with cones that you see in the professional arrangements.

And here in the northeast, our magnolias are not evergreen, so that lets out using their lovely glossy leaves.

And I usually want to leave my berried plants–holly, juniper and crab apple–with their berries–as winter treats for my wild life.

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This is what I have left: scavenged branches from the bottom of my Christmas tree (Fraser fir from good old Somers, CT), some variegated euonymus and some hellebore leaves.

Enjoy!

By the way, that adorable nativity just to the left of the top container is from El Salvador. It’s one of my favorites (I collect nativities, among other things) because of the rainbow arch, the palm trees and the sweet little lambs.

I doubt you’ll ever see most of my collection on here (not gardening or weather related) but most come from countries like Peru, Vietnam, Mexico and the more “rustic” they are , the better I like them!

Wordless Wednesday–Camouflage

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Rarely do I get to just sit and observe.  And when I do, I find that nature is often wary of being watched.  But these house plants provide great cover!

I hadn’t realized that they make a great screen for bird watching.  Apparently I am much less visible when hiding behind some indoor greenery. You’ll learn what I observed Friday.

Birding from the Car

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What on earth is this mess? Actually it’s a bunch of weeds almost obscuring a garden near the restrooms in Elizabeth Park.

The Park clearly needs more volunteers. But actually, perhaps not. While I was sitting in y car waiting to meet a friend, I was watching this weedy patch and the goldfinch were just loving it! They didn’t even seem to care that I was snapping photographs, or that folks were driving in the parking lot.

In fact the only thing that seemed to drive them away was when folks–some with excitable children–started to queue up for the bathrooms.

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The “fluff” from these flowers is what they were after. As you may know, goldfinch are late nesters. I suspect they may have been lining their nests with these seed puffs. The fact that there was a seed at the end of the “fluff” almost seemed to be an inconvenience. The finches seemed to be wiping the seeds in the study stems of these weeds in an attempt to knock it off. Apparently, it is not tasty–at least not to the goldfinch.

So next time you a have few minutes to wait, sit quietly in your car. It makes a great “birding blind.” You never know what you’ll see!