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Flora, Fauna, and Seasons: what do you see out your window?
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Magpie
Immortal


May 22 2014, 3:19am

Post #1 of 73 (835 views)
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Flora, Fauna, and Seasons: what do you see out your window? Can't Post

I've been birding like mad the last month. Some of you might remember I started birding in earnest last year and I got was able add a lot of birds to my 'list'... many of which I'd never (knowingly) seen before.

This year has been just as good. We rarely go out to bird and not see at least one new bird on our life list. I'm sure that's easier to do when you first start than when you've been doing it for years. But I'm having a ball.

I've gotten help identifying birds a few times on the boards and a few times private (throws a kiss to Brethil!) and I want more of that TORn expertise (we've got someone for every subject) but I thought I'd open up a general 'nature' thread where you all can talk about what's happening in backyard, neighborhood, park, or wherever you roam.

What are you seeing when you look out your window or go for a drive/walk?

Today, I went walking at Wood Lake Nature Center which has mixed lowland forest, cattail marsh, open water and restored prairie habitats. We had a wonking big rain on Monday - the creek near my house flooded big time. That storm apparently pushed a lot of the lingering birds onto their next stage in migration and brought in a new batch. The woodsy area of Wood Lake was teeming with warblers. It was like bees in an orchard!

I was able to identify quite a few but I have a few I'm feeling uncertain about and I wondered what our birders on the forum thought.

I think this one was a Least Flycatcher but I'm not a 100% sure it's not a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher. Thoughts?

And I think this one might be the same... a Least Flycatcher. But it's harder to tell with these shots.

I think this is a thrush and I think it's a Gray-cheeked Thrush but it's hard to tell them from Hermit Thrushes and it's not a great picture.

And I'll throw this one out there for fun. It's a bad picture and I didn't keep notes on this bird. It's possible it's a Yellow-rumped Warbler (there were some there and they've been very plentiful in the area) but I'm not convinced. In checking lots of possibilities and local birding sites, I'm kind of wondering if it could be a Yellow-throated Warbler which was spotted not far from my house. The park is a bit further from the WTW spotting, however. And I just don't know. I figured it wouldn't hurt to ask. :-)

My list for today:
Canada Warbler (we had a first sighting of one of these in the back yard last night)
Chestnut Sided Warbler (we saw our first one of these on Sunday in another location)
Wilson's Warbler - first sighting
Tennessee Warbler - first sighting
Black and White Warbler - first sighting
Blackpoll Warbler - first sighting
Magnolia Warbler - first sighting
Common Yellowthroat
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Yellow Warbler
American Redstart
Eastern Kingbird
Baltimore Oriole
Blue Jay
Wood Duck
American Coot
Hooded Merganser (female)
Wood Duck (female)
Barn Swallow
Bald Eagle
and the usual suspects: Ca. Goose, Robin, Mallard, Grackle


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Annael
Immortal


May 22 2014, 4:17am

Post #2 of 73 (566 views)
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can I start with sounds? [In reply to] Can't Post

it's dusk here, I have the window open, and I'm hearing nuthatches, frogs, some bird that makes a trilling call, and goose honks. Nice combo.

The goldfinches are back in force; I saw about a dozen at the bird feeder today, along with Pacific juncos, chestnut-backed chickadees, and spotted towhees. Crows are always around. Saw a kestrel hovering on the way out to town.

The rabbits are rabbiting about, and the black-tailed deer are very much in evidence - saw a yearling buck, his spikes still in velvet.

Rhodies are in bloom as is the scotch broom and lilacs. Irises are up. Neighbors' wisteria is gorgeous. My bleeding heart is passing off but the lupine is starting to bloom.

The way we imagine our lives is the way we are going to go on living our lives.

- James Hillman, Healing Fiction

* * * * * * * * * *

NARF and member of Deplorable Cultus since 1967


Brethil
Half-elven


May 22 2014, 4:31am

Post #3 of 73 (561 views)
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Oh, what a great list! [In reply to] Can't Post

You have a lot of warblers coming in!
I'm off to bed but as for that last picture - I *think* you have a great (you always underestimate your pics Magpie!) of a Yellow-Throated warbler. The auricular looks white even at the angle of the head (though its hard to see the whole shape of it) and you got that deep, white lower eyering that stands out. I feel pretty good that a Yellow-Throated is who you have there. (I could almost say it could be an immature Northern Parula *but* that clear white supercilium separates them). The yellow breast seems to go back quite far ... but maybe that's the angle - he looks a bit twisted, like he's turning his body to the left and head to right.
Here, I note the Mockingbirds have nested tonight: the male will now be doing car alarms, cat meows and all manner of bird-calls for the nest three or four weeks ALL NIGHT, as his mate sits on the nest. Crazy
More tomorrow. Lovely idea for a thread. Heart

The next TORn Amateur Symposium is a special edition: the Jubilee TAS to celebrate 60 years of FOTR! If you have an LOTR idea you would like to write about, we'd love to see your writing featured there!








Magpie
Immortal


May 22 2014, 4:34am

Post #4 of 73 (556 views)
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the birds wake me up about 6. [In reply to] Can't Post

I said this morning... a full bladder and bird song, it must be time to get up.

The bladder wakes me up. The birds make me want to get up (and peek out the window to see what I can see).

It's interesting to see which of 'our' birds you get and which aren't common here.

We get dark-eyed juncos and black-capped chickadees.

Back in the corner of the yard, our precious trillium is blooming (we bought it at a nursery) and the jack in the pulpit is coming up. The trout lilies are spent. I'm kind of hoping the lily of the valley will be blooming for my son's wedding. If so, I'll take it to the night-before get together. We have it on the north side of the house so it comes in late.

Last night during dinner, my eyes linger on the small trees we have in the back yard while I talk with the family. I saw and commented on a bumblebee in the neighbor's blooming horse chestnut / buckeye (we're not quite sure which). A moment later, I saw it again but it seemed to be perched on a branch and it seemed a bit large for a bumblebee. But way too small for a bird. I grabbed the binoculars and it was a hummingbird! The first I've ever seen in the backyard. It was there for a moment and then gone and never came back.

Back when we first moved to Minneapolis, the night was full of the sound of nighthawks. Then they just disappeared. I think it was a large scale disappearance and no one is sure what happened to them. But they have returned in small numbers and have been reported close by. I have not heard any, though.


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Otaku-sempai
Immortal


May 22 2014, 4:35am

Post #5 of 73 (555 views)
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The trees are leafing. [In reply to] Can't Post

The maple trees lining our street have put out their leaves. Small birds are in the trees, mostly sparrows. Our smaller cat (Ianto) likes to gaze out the window at the birds and squirrels.

'There are older and fouler things than Orcs in the deep places of the world.' - Gandalf the Grey, The Fellowship of the Ring


Magpie
Immortal


May 22 2014, 4:42am

Post #6 of 73 (552 views)
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wow... [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm not sure how common a White-throated warbler is, but someone on the MN bird list posted the location of one and someone else ran right out there to see it. That tells me it's kind of a big deal.

The warblers were almost overwhelming. I would look and recite out loud the features I could see. Then, if it was still visible, I'd get out the notepad and write down my notes. Then, I'd look at it again. If it was still lingering and I was close by, I'd try to take a picture. There were so many and it was a challenge to get the distinguishing features for each.

I came home with many pages (small notebook) of notes and many were helpful. I have three left that I didn't have quite enough info noted to let me identify the bird.

I have to say, my favorite of the day was the Great Crested Flycatcher. It was a lovely bird.


LOTR soundtrack website ~ magpie avatar gallery
TORn History Mathom-house ~ Torn Image Posting Guide


Magpie
Immortal


May 22 2014, 4:46am

Post #7 of 73 (553 views)
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sometimes... [In reply to] Can't Post

I sit at the window that is at the halfway point of the stairs to the second floor and watch the birds. Across from me is my neighbor's cat also sitting at his window watching the birds. Sometimes I rap on the window and he looks up at me and I wave.

You should pay close attention to those small birds. I used to think all small birds in my yard were European House Sparrows. (I'm in the US) Boy was I wrong. Last year I took photos and identified 4 different kinds of sparrows (other than House Sparrows) and this year I've identified warblers and kinglets. And I'd already gotten savvy to juncos, chickadees, goldfinches, and house finches.

Is Ianto named after Ianto Jones?


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DanielLB
Immortal


May 22 2014, 6:35am

Post #8 of 73 (558 views)
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"Oh look! There's a starling. [In reply to] Can't Post

Wait a minute, where have they all come from?" is what I have been saying over the last couple of days. They're eating all my grass seed! I feel like Farmer Maggot trying to get them off my land.

The weather has improved quite a bit over here over the last couple of weeks. My lawn was pretty much waterlogged for the entire winter. By spring, it had pretty much receded to an island of green where the sun hits it all year round. I'd recently raked and re-seeded the dead areas, but I keep catching starlings up to no good. Much to the amusement of our cats, of course.

The other reason why I suspect there are so many birds landing in the garden is because of leatherjacket larvae. With such a wet winter, there are still crane flies everywhere.

The climbers have flowered, and that's attracting butterflies and bees. I found a pupae cocoon on one of the leaves, but I missed the butterfly (or moth) emerging. Is there a way of telling which it might have been? I should have taken a picture.


Starling
Half-elven


May 22 2014, 7:37am

Post #9 of 73 (549 views)
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You called? [In reply to] Can't Post

We are heading properly into winter now, so the birds are busy eating as much as they can find. I will have to find a new spot to hang my bird feeders since the new neighbours cut off the tree branch I used to use.

One of the things I love most about this time of year is hearing thrushes singing at dawn and dusk. Usually I walk my dog in the dark once I get home from work. There are lots of trees on our route, and always thrushes singing for the whole way. It's the loveliest sound and always reminds me of my mum, who loved all birds, but thrushes in particular.

Something nice that is happening in my area is an increase in populations of native birds. In particular I now regularly hear and see bellbirds:

They have the most beautiful song. It is also becoming increasingly common to see kereru, which are the rather lovely native New Zealand pigeon:

Often you will hear them before you see them, due to their noisy method of flight.
And I love starlings, even though they are rather naughty at times.

PS: Daniel, I know my post is a reply to the thread in general, but I couldn't resist tagging onto your post!


Elarie
Grey Havens

May 22 2014, 12:34pm

Post #10 of 73 (539 views)
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I got to see two Tom turkeys prancing for a female last week [In reply to] Can't Post

I've been checking out our local metro parks this spring and was lucky enough to see two male wild turkeys prancing and head bobbing for a female last week. Their tails were spread and they were putting on quite a show and making that wonderful gobbling sound, which is how I found them. The hen, however, seemed way less impressed than I was, and just walked away and kept eating. Funny thing, though - when the males stopped and just stood there, she started calling to them until they started prancing again, and then she went back to her eating and pretending to ignore them. Apparently turkeys know how to flirt! :)

In my own yard I've had finch feeders up since last fall, so I've had lots of goldfinches and house finches which are so pretty, and also all the miscellaneous little brown birds which I call "sparrows" even though I know that's not right, robins, starlings, the occasional downey woodpecker on the suet, and sometimes blue jays and cardinals.

In addition to that, my friend and I watch the local falcon cam on top of one of the buildings downtown where the three falcon chicks are growing like weeds and got banded the other day. They are adorable.
http://wildlife.ohiodnr.gov/falconcam


And once again the world has not arranged itself just for me. Tsk, tsk.


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


May 22 2014, 1:02pm

Post #11 of 73 (534 views)
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Ha! [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Is Ianto named after Ianto Jones?



Yes! My wife named him after her favorite Torchwood character after Capt. Jack.

Other birds we see regularly around here include starlings, bluejays, crows, gulls ('cause we're so close to Lake Erie), finches and the occasional hummingbird.

'There are older and fouler things than Orcs in the deep places of the world.' - Gandalf the Grey, The Fellowship of the Ring


Magpie
Immortal


May 22 2014, 1:39pm

Post #12 of 73 (539 views)
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I always think having rosy house finches at the feeder at the same time as goldfinches... [In reply to] Can't Post

...is like riches of color.

I just recently learned how best to differentiate between a Hairy and Downy Woodpecker. It's the bill.

LBB = little brown birds - sometimes that's all the identification you can make! :-)

My pictures are what are helping me identify birds. I was so kind of overwhelmed when I first started looking at birds I'd just go "wow... a bird" and not be able to tell you much about what I was seeing.

But as I started to look at my pictures and sort out the difference between a White-crowned Sparrow and a White-throated sparrow, I got more discerning about the next few birds I looked at. It's a process that gets easier all the time.

I also realize that by just watching them, I recognize their behavior. So the first thing that alerts me to the fact that that LBB is not a House Sparrow is that it's flitting about way too much. The House Sparrows don't do that. Or maybe it's a ground feeder instead of coming to the hanging feeder. Or it's rooting around in the leaf clutter under the bushes.


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Alassëa Eruvande
Valinor


May 22 2014, 2:30pm

Post #13 of 73 (543 views)
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We finally got some good rain one day last week, [In reply to] Can't Post

so the grass is looking fantastic. It was kind of disheartening up until then to see Pacific Palisades zoysia looking so brown so far into May. I mean, zoysia loves heat and drought, and the Pacific Palisades especially does, but it was getting depressing.
In the garden, I've got a tomatoe turning red and two green chili peppers of some kind that my husband bought without I.D. tags so I don't know what kind of pepper they are. We also have a good stand of onions, potatoes, carrots, and little vines of watermelons and zucchini starting to go. Mr. Eruvande planted some raspberry sticks over spring break back in March, and then promptly forgot about them. Half of them died, but I managed to coax the rest back to life.

In the fauna department, we've got cottontail bunnies, a road runner, rosy house finches, mocking birds, cardinals, bluebirds, blue jays, some kind of woodpecker, black vultures, turkey vultures, wild turkeys, the ever-present LBBs, wrens, humming birds, white tail deer (a resident herd of 4 does), and I smelled a skunk the other morning.

And let me show you the cottontail bunnies I attempted to raise.
Here are two of five we had.
Here I am feeding one.
I do not recommend trying to raise orphan bunnies without a foster mama. I found these bunnies in their nest in one of the flower beds as I was cleaning it out in the spring. We have the stupidest cottontails on earth, because they always build their nests in the flower beds, even though I'm sure the whole area must reek with the scents of humans, dogs and cats. But they still do. So I ran my little trowel right up under the nest trying to dig out rogue grass, and they started squeaking. Immediately the cat and one of the dogs were right there, trying to find what was squeaking. There was no way I could leave them, or they'd be dog and cat snacks. I scooped them up and put them in a shoe box, knowing full well they were already dead. But there is always that urge to try, so I mixed up some goat milk replacer, and fed them with an eyedropper. But little bunnies have delicate tummies, and only bunny milk will do. They also have to injest some of the mother's fecal material, which I'm not clear on how they get it. Apparently it innoculates the gut with beneficial digestive organisms. Well, we had neither of those two things, and all the bunnies died in 6 days. Frown
Oh, well, I knew they would, but you can't help trying.

We also added some bird houses, and I think they are mostly full. For sure, we have a nest of wrens in the one The Little Goblin made in Cub Scouts. Mr. Eruvande made two bluebird houses, using the old license plates off the car for the roofs and I think one of them has a bluebird family in it. The Little Goblin made a bird house at a garden festival we attended, and 30 minutes after we hung it up, a bluebird was sticking his head in and out of the hole. But I don't think it measured up to his standards because it is still empty.



I am SMAUG! I kill when I wish! I am strong, strong, STRONG!
My armor is like tenfold shields! My teeth like swords! My claws, spears!
The shock of my tail, a thunderbolt! My wings, a hurricane! And my breath, death!


Annael
Immortal


May 22 2014, 3:07pm

Post #14 of 73 (528 views)
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the hummingbirds are doing their mating displays [In reply to] Can't Post

on my daily walks I hear the buzz of their wings and look up to see them making that characteristic J-shaped flight. The other day it was two males competing for the same female.

We have black-capped chickadees too but the chestnut-backed are rarer and therefore more of a thrill to see.

The other day there were six bald eagles soaring over our house and calling to each other for about 20 minutes. And an Evening Grosbeak visited the feeder once.

The way we imagine our lives is the way we are going to go on living our lives.

- James Hillman, Healing Fiction

* * * * * * * * * *

NARF and member of Deplorable Cultus since 1967


Alassëa Eruvande
Valinor


May 22 2014, 3:32pm

Post #15 of 73 (532 views)
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Also, what is the Monarch butterfly situation where you live? [In reply to] Can't Post

In our little part of Central Texas Ithilien, we haven't seen any since the spring of 2012, when Little Eruvande raised some for his Boy Scout Insect merit badge.
I asked one of the employees at a recent visit to a nature center, and she thinks it is the over use of Round Up, which is a kill-everything herbicide. She says people are spraying without thinking that they are killing everything, including the milkweed which the caterpillars eat. Well, we have lots of milkweed around our place, and I only found one caterpillar on 5 acres. In 2012, we were literally "infested" with caterpillars. Every single plant you'd see had a caterpillar on it.

Is this just part of the cycle? Or is the more sinister theory of the Round Up to blame?



I am SMAUG! I kill when I wish! I am strong, strong, STRONG!
My armor is like tenfold shields! My teeth like swords! My claws, spears!
The shock of my tail, a thunderbolt! My wings, a hurricane! And my breath, death!


Kim
Valinor


May 22 2014, 6:49pm

Post #16 of 73 (523 views)
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The rhododenrons are in full bloom [In reply to] Can't Post

as well as azaleas and other flowering shrubbery, so it's very colorful. The maple and elm trees are getting all green and leafy, my dogwoods have flowered, and some trees are producing the cotton fluff that is the bane of allergy sufferers (thankfully, not me). Driving home last night at some points it looked like driving through snow!


I've been waking up to robins every morning, and have seen them and blue jays in my yard. I also heard some Canadian geese this morning, and saw the resident bald eagle on the way into work (surrounded by several crows). The occasional seagull pops up as well. Oh, and a couple of bees have started popping up - feels early in the season for them. We also have wild bunnies in our neighborhood, and one likes to hop through my front yard as I'm sitting outside enjoying the sunshine. Cool


"Jagatud rõõm on topelt rõõm - a shared joy is a double joy". ~Estonian saying


“As such, you will address His Majesty as His Majesty, the Lord of Silver Fountains, the King of Carven Stone, the King Beneath the Mountain, the Lion of Erebor, the High King of the Dwarves, the True Treasure of Erebor, the Face that Launched 10,000 Sighs, or Thorin the Majestic..."


http://newboards.theonering.net/...forum_view_collapsed


Brethil
Half-elven


May 22 2014, 7:07pm

Post #17 of 73 (521 views)
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What a lovely pigeon! [In reply to] Can't Post

I get your 'noisy flight': we call our local Rock Pigeons 'Sanitation Dept.' as they clean up all the dropped seed around the feeders. Between the loud flapping and the breathless 'oof, oof, whoo!' they make when circling, you don't even have to look up to know they are there coming in for a landing.


Increase in native birds is always wonderful news. Angelic (Nosy: what do you feed your birds in NZ? We use all safflower and the Hot-pepper suet I posted to you for your birthday. Our naughty Starlings love suet so I have a special suet cage just for them.)

The next TORn Amateur Symposium is a special edition: the Jubilee TAS to celebrate 60 years of FOTR! If you have an LOTR idea you would like to write about, we'd love to see your writing featured there!








Brethil
Half-elven


May 22 2014, 7:13pm

Post #18 of 73 (518 views)
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I think you are right on the Flycatcher [In reply to] Can't Post

in that both are Least, with the pale breasting and bit of white into the shoulder. That first set of pictures is quite good enough for a field book! Fantastic.

The next TORn Amateur Symposium is a special edition: the Jubilee TAS to celebrate 60 years of FOTR! If you have an LOTR idea you would like to write about, we'd love to see your writing featured there!








Na Vedui
Rohan


May 22 2014, 8:11pm

Post #19 of 73 (517 views)
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Here in West Wales [In reply to] Can't Post

...it's hawthorn time. Fresh green leaves and grass everywhere, and hedge-trees full of creamy-white blossom. Along the lanes is a blend of bluebells, pink campion, green ferns, white starry stitchwort and Queen Anne's Lace, with thicker carpets of bluebells here and there in open woodland. Next come wild roses, foxgloves, elderflowers...
Blackbirds are singing - one from my big old apple-tree. The swifts are back, screaming gleefully over the town (they generally arrive in May, later than the swallows and martins). Cuckoos, unfortunately, are rarer than they used to be, but there is a place up in the hills where I've heard one before, so I hope to get up there and see if it's come back this year.


Magpie
Immortal


May 22 2014, 11:06pm

Post #20 of 73 (501 views)
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the least flycatcher let me get pretty close [In reply to] Can't Post

it was also in a tree that was on a narrow bank going out into the lake so it was sunnier than in the woodsy areas.

Any thoughts on that thrush?


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Magpie
Immortal


May 22 2014, 11:14pm

Post #21 of 73 (503 views)
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I just found out the Monarch is our state butterfly [In reply to] Can't Post

I couldn't say. We let some milkweed that came up on its own grow in a narrow spot by our parking pad. That year I think we got one or two caterpillars (all disappeared, presumably eaten). After that, nothing. But we don't get a ton of butterflies in back yards here.

I did some research, though, and found this from last summer:
Monarch butterflies even more elusive in Minnesota this year

http://www.startribune.com/local/215176011.html

and they mention it's more than monarchs.

Some of the reasons they suspect :

aggressive suppression of milkweed (and other flowering weedy plants) in corn and soybean fields
weather (last year drought in last half of 2012 followed by wet cold spring in 2013)
back yard gardeners who prefer flowering but sterile, non-seed-producing plants

There's a trend for local nurseries to offer plants that don't contain neonicotinoid which some suspect are killing bees.

http://www.startribune.com/...arden/250843241.html


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TORn History Mathom-house ~ Torn Image Posting Guide


Magpie
Immortal


May 22 2014, 11:18pm

Post #22 of 73 (502 views)
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I love Queen Anne's Lace [In reply to] Can't Post

it grew wild in Michigan when I was growing up but not here in Minnesota.

Hawthorns look pretty. They remind me of flowering crabapples which are all over Minneapolis. They are just just beginning their peak flowering season. Depending on the spot (sunny or shady) some are at peak right now.


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Magpie
Immortal


May 22 2014, 11:21pm

Post #23 of 73 (501 views)
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We have lots of cottonwood trees here [In reply to] Can't Post

which will produce fluff that falls like snow. I love the bark of cottonwood trees.

That crow activity is called 'mobbing' (which you probably know). It's an easy way to tell when an owl or hawk is perched in a tree... the crows will be mobbing it.


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Magpie
Immortal


May 22 2014, 11:23pm

Post #24 of 73 (505 views)
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"I've got a tomato turning red" [In reply to] Can't Post

Now that's just sad. It is too early, yet, to even plant tomatoes outdoors. The growing season here is quite short.


Wrens are birds I love but we rarely see.

And, good effort with the bunnies.


LOTR soundtrack website ~ magpie avatar gallery
TORn History Mathom-house ~ Torn Image Posting Guide


Brethil
Half-elven


May 22 2014, 11:30pm

Post #25 of 73 (503 views)
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That thrush is a tough one! [In reply to] Can't Post

I've had the book open for a while over last night and today between Gray-cheeked, Hermit and Swainson's. My NatGeo guide even has a four-profile set of them (also including the Veery) and terms their identification 'vexing' (yes, good word!)


Overall...drumroll...I would say you got a Swainson's there. Not a rufous tail like the Hermit (because otherwise that's what I would say it was), a bit of yellow cheek flush, and the thing that I keep coming back to is that the eye ring and the supraloral line are SO clear, and not just a rear-lid like the Gray-cheeked has. So my very uncertain plump would be Swainson's. (?) Did I mention uncertain? Laugh They winter in S. America and presumably this is the time for them to be back in town, in your area and to the north of you.


Goodness, without a photo there is no way to separate these birds from memory unless you see them all the time, in all seasons and ages and sexes! No way noted would be enough, so its great that you got a picture.


What a pert looking and attractive bird though.

The next TORn Amateur Symposium is a special edition: the Jubilee TAS to celebrate 60 years of FOTR! If you have an LOTR idea you would like to write about, we'd love to see your writing featured there!







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