I'm not bragging, but in the past two days I've dug seven post holes, transplanted several shrubs and flowers, edged all the beds...and...I'm still standing. I'm not bragging because Judy, who's thirteen years older than me, was doing equally physical tasks. I'm not bragging...but I'm pleased...very pleased given my rather sedentary winter. Why the holes?
When we first came to Blackberry Ridge Judy built a couple of bird boxes, decorated them, and put them up just to see what happened. When we got our first bluebird family, it was such a joy that we decided to make bird boxes sort of a "thing" around here. That is, anyone who comes to stay here is asked to decorate a box and it gets put up on the fence as a calling card of sorts. Not everyone's done it due to time or weather, but we've gotten several...each with its unique theme of the person's choosing.
Here's a sample of one made by our friend Joan. She chose bluebirds and flowers...very apprapot.
Others include golf, beach stuff,
children, and one that's sort of abstract. It's always fun to see what comes.
Over the years the pine trees around them have grown to a point where they're encroaching.
We think that the birds are shying away from those boxes now because they don't feel safe in them. You see, the birds our boxes are for are for bluebirds and swallows...field birds, not woodland birds. That won't do...so
we've decided to move the boxes off the fence by about five yards and
onto their very own posts near our walking path. We bought a 7 foot metal pipe to use as a post and today will put it in one of my holes to use and see how it does. FYI: metal is harder for snakes to climb up...
As noted yesterday and as a follow up to a post last week, we have tree swallows nesting in one of our bird boxes. I'd gotten used to seeing one parent
diligently sitting watch on the box while the other was inside. S/he
would sometimes fly off but would always be nearby. Well I finally got some shots of the parenting cycle in progress. Here's the lookout...
At some point the bird
in the box would poke out when s/he was ready to get relieved. Sometimes...if the other parent happened to be away...s/he might stay like this for quite awhile so the other could see and come back...
At some point, the other parent got the signal and the switch would begin. The inside bird would fly out while the relief came in...
The outgoing parent would assume the lookout position while the incoming parent prepared to go into the box...
Then the incoming bird would take a look around and go on in...and then the cycle would start all over again.
It's great entertainment. The bluebirds, meanwhile, nesting in a nearby box have fledged. We've been watching the activity leading up to the big event...I snuck a quick peek inside to see what was going on...there were three and while faces are hidden, you can see they're a pretty good size. We knew it wouldn't be long before they fledged.
And fledge they did. Yesterday. We actually saw one of the babies fly out for the first time as we were eating our lunch on the deck.
It's all good...it's all busy. We've got wrens nesting in a box along the fence. Other boxes along there seem to be vacant though. I'm wondering if the pines behind the fence have gotten so big that perhaps the birds are afraid of predators being able to get in. Might have to see about that...perhaps get some poles and relocate the boxes away from the fence and along the path.
We have tree swallows nesting in one of our boxes. It seems that mom and dad share equally in watching over the nest. I've gotten some shots of them that I like and which I'll share...thought I'd start with this one.
I haven't checked all of our nesting boxes, but happily, two of them that are near the house...vs along the fence line...have residents. One has bluebirds, the other, tree swallows.
Mr. Tree Swallow likes to stand guard in between food trips. Mrs. Tree Swallow likes to poke her head out and will stay like that for quite long spells. I've yet to be able to get a shot of them out together.
Mr. and Mrs. Bluebird prefer to be quick about showing themselves. They dart about and in and out. I found Daddy hunting for food and bringing it home. He'd sit high on a pole or branch and when he spotted something yummy, he'd swoop down to get it:
After a bit of work, he took it to the nest...
On another trip, he brought back a bug...
Now I'm not sure what's happening in this next shot. Food's coming out? I've got to get me a blind this year so I can get closer!
Bird activity here at Blackberry Ridge is in full swing...
Yes, it's been windy here for the past several days. I'd say sustained winds of 15 mph and gusts up to 30-40 mph up here on our hill. The little goldfinches are determined to get their food though! They always seem happy, no matter what the conditions. I've stopped putting out songbird seed for the time being since it just dumps out. Today the wind is accompanied by temperatures in the 40s. Combine the two and I'm wearing a coat!