#Snowpocalypse Now

All week, those of us in Colorado were bombarded with forecasts for an epic snowstorm. The forecasts frequently changed (regarding intensity, snowfall, start time, etc.) and during one 45-minute period in which Zippy checked three times, he read three different forecasts. The whole situation began to feel a bit hyperbolic.** That’s no longer the case.

View out my front window about 4:45 p.m. on March 14, 2021

The birds are doing their best to weather the storm, including these two Northern Flickers clinging to the telephone pole and three American Robins hunkered down in a Russian Olive tree:

         

Photo quality is poor due to the swirling snow covering windows on all four sides of the house. (Full disclosure: my windows were already smudged by cats and dog).

Drought-stricken Colorado definitely needs moisture so I’m not complaining, especially since I’m warm and safe inside. I realize how very fortunate I am.

** My favorite tweet from the week (@PhosphoSolution):

 

 

Creeping on a Creeper

As I hoop-danced this morning, I watched various nuthatches and a squirrel visit the peanut feeder hanging in the tree outside the window. And then I noticed another bird moving up and down the tree trunk. The elusive Brown Creeper!

I stepped out of the spin and grabbed my camera, hoping I’d finally get a decent photo of that beautiful bird that never stops moving.
     

   

Definitely not high-quality captures, but these photos are documentation of the morning I paused my happy hoop-dancing session to stalk a Brown Creeper.

Sunday Confessional: played by a hawk

The other day, I glanced out the kitchen window and saw a hawk on the power line. It turned out to be a Cooper’s Hawk and I remained still to admire it, knowing from experience how quickly predator birds will leave the wire. But after a couple minutes, I decided to take a chance and went for my camera.

January 22, 2021

January 22, 2021

I went to a closer window and took a bunch of photos that looked to be pretty good. The entire time, the hawk stayed right where it was on the wire, head turning as it scanned the ground  in all directions.

Satisfied with my still shots, I changed the camera settings in preparation for the hawk taking flight. I’d had enough of my many blurred, out-of-focus shots of birds in flight. This time, I’d be ready.

I stood at the window and waited. And waited. And waited some more. Eventually, I went back to the kitchen to make my smoothie, glancing out the window every now and again. The hawk remained. I took my smoothie and stood by the sliding glass door, the camera around my neck. Set to capture motion.

The hawk started turning to his/her right to look directly at me. I raised the camera to my eye and waited. Nothing. I decided to take a quick photo of it glaring at me and so changed the settings. Yep. That’s when the hawk decided to take flight.

I yelled and then laughed. Played by a hawk.

Go with grackle

Not sure why it is, but if I miss posting for a couple days it becomes increasingly difficult to get back in the habit. So here I am at ten o’clock on a Monday night, feeling the need to post something. Anything.

But what?

Common Grackle. Grand Island, NE. June 2, 2020.

Ah, yes. Now I remember. When in doubt, go with grackle!

Peering out

I feel a kinship with this robin peering out from the vegetation and wish I could hunker down in a like manner. I dread what comes next. Neoliberalism cannot defeat white supremacy because the two are deeply entwined. I believe this is what’s known as a recipe for disaster.

American Robin in Grand Island, NE. June 2, 2020.

I wouldn’t fault anyone in search of a four-leaf clover right right about now.

Speak peace

Common Grackle. Grand Island, NE. June 2, 2020

As an artist I come to sing,
but as a citizen, I will always speak for peace,
and no one can silence me in this.
~ Paul Robeson

In search of momentum

Yikes, I missed one day of writing and am now suffering an acute case of Lost Momentum. Per my NaNoWriMo goals (45,000 words in 45 days), I need to get a minimum of 1,700 words down today if I’m to remain on schedule.

*sob* That feels like SO. MANY. WORDS.

*deep breath* Here I go, getting started. This is me, starting. One-two-three, write! Come on, Tracy, you can do it!

Black-billed Magpie in neighbor’s yard. August 29, 2019.

*exhale* Even though completing my words feels less likely than the magpie pushing that wheelbarrow, I’m going to write those 1,700 words. Right now. Truly.

Trusting the process

Clearwater, FL. May 5, 2019.

There’s a very good chance you can’t tell the bird in this blurred photo is an Osprey. It is, trust me. Looking closely, I pieced together enough info to make the identification. White undersides. A white head with a dark band running through the eyes. Sharply hooked beak. The way it holds its wings in flight. This is an Osprey.

Why post this low-quality photo today?

Because it’s a fair representation of the new middle grade I’m drafting via my modified NaNoWriMo efforts. I’m 11,000 words into the story and while much feels blurred and unidentifiable, specific and undeniable elements are guiding my way. When the panic and doubts set in (as they are today), I want to remember that I know the basic elements of this story. I want to remember I will find my way through the blurry, messy collection of words.

I want to remember to trust in the process.

Ready, Set, Go!

Face the week
Embrace the challenges and opportunities
Agitate for a better world
Fight for someone you don’t know.

American Robin. November 3, 2020.

Confession: I’m still in my pajamas and am working from bed today.
Gathering my strength for Ready, Set, Go!
I’ll be there soon, I promise.

Breathing deeply

I’m very grateful for today’s clean air! The snow ( temporarily, at least) cleared the smoke and ash from the wildfires. There’s also sunshine. Hooray! And it was a balmy 40 degrees as Zippy, Emma, and I walked around the neighborhood, skirting patches of ice. It’s the first walk in weeks and weeks (months?) in which I didn’t have to wear a mask to protect my lungs from smoke. I felt so free.

House finch. October 24, 2019.

My son, Zebu, doesn’t get it, but I absolutely love the day following a big snowstorm. Clean, crisp air plus blue skies equals happiness.

This photo was taken the day after one of our snowstorms last October, but it’s a perfect representation of this day. And maybe this same House Finch is out in the plum bushes as I write these words.

Who is that masked bird?

We’re used to seeing Black-capped Chickadees around our yard. They visit the feeders and bath, and peck at the top of the fence. So Zippy and I were taken aback yesterday when watching birds at the peanut feeder. As a chickadee hopped around the branches, we both frowned and said at the same time, “Something’s off.”

We quickly realized that, instead of a black cap, this chickadee had a mask around its eyes. Wait, what?

Mountain Chickadee. October 26, 2020.

Ahem. The answer was easy. We were looking at a Mountain Chickadee which our guide book said was “thought to be one of the top ten most abundant birds in Colorado.” Yes, we’ve seen them before. But we’d gotten so used to the steady stream of black caps, that somehow the mask threw us. (I know, not very good birders.)

Ah, well. I’m happy to report both species of chickadee are sticking around to dine on peanuts.

A little bird told me

May 15, 2019. Cave Creek Canyon, Chiricauhua Mountains.

. . . I should stop looking at and thinking about the world at large. At least for a bit.

So today I offer this Painted Redstart which is a species of warbler we saw while visiting Cave Creek Canyon in May of 2019. Such a cheery little bird.

Listen up: bird & dog tale

August 22, 2020

Over the past several years, my partner has bemoaned the scarcity of magpies in our yard. We’d see them throughout the neighborhood, but they weren’t spending much time in our yard anymore. We missed their raucous energy.

Then one day last month (which just happened to be our wedding anniversary), we noticed a whole bunch of magpies in our neighbors’ backyard, their trees, and on the fence between us. We’d hit the magpie jackpot! But why?

Rainbow peering through the fence at magpies frolicking in our bird bath. August 15, 2020

 

Well, according to our neighbor, when he came home that day to find his yard filled with magpies, he was equally puzzled. Then he went to feed his dog and couldn’t find the nearly-full bag of chow, which was also a puzzle. So he stepped out in the yard and pieced together the sequence of events. His doggo had dragged the bag of food into the yard, scattering the kibble everywhere. The smart corvids had quickly found the treasure.

They also immediately found our bath and took turns tidying up.

August 15, 2020

And as a sign of their appreciation for the use of our facilities, they began leaving gifts for us on the deck rail and tucked away on the steps.
       

The best news is they’re still hanging around and we’re treated to magpie sightings every day.

Four Black-billed Magpies. August 15, 2020

We salute you, Rainbow Dash. Pure genius.