Learning how to be still, to really be still and let life happen – that stillness becomes a radiance. ~ Morgan Freeman
In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you. ~ Deepak Chopra
My heart is heavy after watching today’s session of Montana’s state House vote to censure trans Representative Zooey Zephyr. The vote was along party lines, 68-32. She is now banned from the House floor and not allowed to speak on legislation, and will only be allowed to vote remotely. Zephyr’s speech in her defense was powerful and brought me to tears. She’s on the right side of history. Those who silence the voices of those speaking on behalf of the oppressed? Nasty, small-minded fascists.
So here is a Bushtit photographed in September of 2021:
This darling wee bird was accompanied by a whole bunch of other Bushtits that day and I post its photo in honor of the lone Bushtit that briefly visited the feeder as I hoop-danced this morning. It’s exceedingly rare for a Bushtit to travel alone, and I’m hoping it’s only because the rest of the gang was nearby taking cover from the rain.
I receive the gift of this bird’s beautiful presence and now share it with you.
I’m happy to say we received much-needed moisture in the last 48 hours! Yesterday, I woke to about 4 inches of snow on the railing and it continued to lightly snow for several hours more. After it’d stopped, I glanced out the kitchen window and saw a squirrel in the plum bushes behind the fence which is a common sight. But when I looked again a few minutes later, that squirrel was in the same position. Could it be asleep?
Indeed it was. There were several squirrels eating from the two nut munch cylinders we hang on the back fence and they’d been busy as the snow fell, and I wondered if this one was just tuckered out from all the food foraging in the cold. While finches and towhees hopped around the nearby branches, the squirrel slightly opened her eyes while keeping her head down on the branch, and then appeared to go back to sleep.
It wasn’t until other squirrels began chasing each other on top of the fence that this one abandoned its rest. If this squirrel is the same that brazenly ate peanuts from the bird feeder this morning as I watched from just feet away, I’d say the powernap did her good.
swiveling for sound
lucky rabbit ears hear all
hold your secrets close
hit me with a haiku
I love me some Spotted Towhees which frequently hang out in our backyard. We often hear them scrabbling through the mulch and leaves as they jump forward and scratch backward with both feet, and over the last two summers they nested in the yard which meant we also got to hear the juveniles making their raspy cries for their parents. Spotted Towhees have a high entertainment value.
These images were taken within days of each other last October and might possibly be the same bird. The only thing I know for sure is that they are not-great images! But what better way to celebrate Twofer Tuesday than with two poor photos of the same subject?
This first one is woefully out of focus but we still get the the slightly punk rock attitude with those ruffled head feathers and red eye.
The second photo gives us a lovely view of the towhee’s back along with a glimpse of its underside. You know, to help with identification. HA. Mostly, it’s a nice shot of our deteriorating timbers and weed-choked pavers.
My mother-in-law once told Zippy that Spotted Towhees were her favorite bird (but then thanks to her memory issues, she promptly forgot that statement.) No matter, I remember and every time I see one, I think of Alice. Sweet-sweet-teeeeaaa.
You’ve probably noticed how when someone says hello or smiles at you, your automatic reaction is to say hello or smile back. ~ Shawn Achor
Yes, but then there are situations in which that other being stares and flicks its tail. How does a tail-less individual reciprocate?
I enjoy looking at photos from the same date in earlier years, just to see what I was about to at the time. Apparently, I’m very much a creature of habit.
Here’s what I was thinking about and photographing exactly one year ago today:
And here’s my photographic muse on January 21, 2020:
Clearly, I’ve got robins on the brain. And what about January 21, 2021? Well, I didn’t take any photos that day. However, tomorrow it’ll be exactly two years since I photographed this Cooper’s Hawk which, by the way, is staring quite intently in the direction of the bird bath.
How about you . . . do you check out your photos from earlier years? And if so, do you have a more diverse repertoire than me?
The simplicity of winter has a deep moral. The return of nature, after such a career of splendor and prodigality, to habits so simple and austere, is not lost upon either the head or the heart. It is the philosopher coming back from the banquet and the wine to a cup of water and a crust of bread. ~ John Burroughs
Two magpies flew in front of me as I ran on the streets this afternoon, providing a much-needed boost as my energy lagged. I called out to them, “Hello, magpies! I receive the gift of your beauty!”
Of course, I didn’t have a camera with me so here are two that visited my backyard almost exactly one year ago. The bird on the fence had just finished bathing and my photo session shows a continuous stream of magpies performing their ablutions.
I feel incredibly fortunate to see magpies on a daily basis. They’re stunning birds that never fail to bring a smile.
Yesterday I spotted what I thought was a chipmunk on the back fence. But when I got out the binoculars, realized it was a very small squirrel. And when I saw how tentatively it moved on the uneven fence pickets, guessed it was maybe a youngster.
Then I saw this:
Definitely a youngster.
Nut-Munch veterans know exactly how to get at the food. This young one made several failed attempts, sometimes moving even farther from the destination. Eventually, they figured it out and moved closer.
And then . . . success.
Last week I spotted a White-breasted Nuthatch at the feeder and snapped two quick photos. All I got was a blurred image followed by an empty feeder tray. As I peered out the window, trying to locate the nuthatch again, it hopped up onto the window sill right in front of me. My subject was just inches away! Once again, it moved too quickly for me to photograph, disappearing as quickly as it’d appeared.
But then the nuthatch took pity on me and posed on the rail with a safflower seed in its beak.
And it even gave me a profile shot.
Such a thoughtful feathered friend.
This afternoon I’d just started a post about a White-breasted Nuthatch that visited our feeder when I heard a cacophony at the other end of the house. The magpies were back! (Here are some photos I’d taken earlier.)
Anyway, I hurried to the window overlooking the patio and saw two magpies in the bird bath and a line of magpies on top of the fence, all making a ruckus. I grinned and called for Zippy to come see the fun. And then I noticed something else.
A magpie on its back. Unmoving on the patio.
Rather than having fun, they were mourning their flock member. Zippy and I were in anguish, debating how long to leave the bird there so they could have their “funeral,” when after another minute or so of their raucous cries, the downed magpie began moving its beak. They’d called it back to life!
As some flew down next to it, the magpie got up. My movement at the window startled the rest into flying into the neighbor’s pine tree. The injured bird moved into the shade of a big pot where it sat panting for about thirty minutes. I watched with binoculars through the window and took photos. In fact, I took a ton of photos over the next couple hours but because they were taken at an angle through a not-clean window , they’re not very good.
Here’s one of the earlier photos after it’d moved from the shade of a big pot to pant here in the vinca and sedum.
The bird slowly began moving west on the patio. First underneath the loveseat where it was joined by another magpie that appeared to hunt for insects and offer them to the dazed bird which rebuffed it. Then a long pause as the injured bird was out of sight behind the huge herb pot where I hoped it could drink from the bee bath. And then the magpie came back into view again.
It went through the wire (that’s supposed to keep Emma from destroying the flowers in the raised bed HAHAHA) and across to the timber in back.
And then it went out of sight again for a looong time. Zippy kept watch while I took a fast bathroom break and then I continued watching and waiting. I needed to know the bird was okay. Well, after a while I couldn’t take it anymore and very quietly stepped outside.
There I found a motionless magpie with its backend in my yard and the front end in the neighbor’s.
Distraught, I went back in the house. But I needed to know: what was going on? So out I went again.
This time, the head was up and the magpie was panting again. Probably because I’d stressed it out! I moved away and it went completely under the fence. A moment later, it hopped up and over a short wall.
That’s the last I saw of the magpie. I texted my neighbor to give her a heads-up and she put her dog inside then searched the yard. The only thing she found was a large, dead rat. (As she said: Ew.)
Here’s hoping those healthy, agile hops transitioned into healthy, flapping wings that carried the beautiful magpie back to the sky.
I walk on the wire; it’s my profession,
and there are no two high wire walks alike.
~ Philippe Petit
Emma’s barking got me out of bed at 6:00 this morning. Turned out, there was a bobcat on the other side of our fence. Zippy saw it when he went to investigate and I was consumed by envy after he came inside and described peering over the fence at the growling bobcat.
Ah, well, I thought. Maybe someday I, too, will have a bobcat sighting.
Fast forward five hours when I was in my writing room with the window open and heard a strange sound coming from outside. It took a moment for my brain to kick in: growling bobcat! Emma’s brain kicked in right after mine and she began barking near the fence. I looked out my window and, sure enough, the bobcat had returned to the yard next door.
As it listened to the barking Emma, the bobcat’s tail moved side-to-side. Oddly, it moved more like a wagging dog’s tail than an irritated cat flicking its tail. The unperturbed bobcat remained there until Zippy came out into the yard to get Emma to stop barking. At that point, Zippy didn’t know what was happening, but the bobcat went on alert at Zippy’s approach.
After assessing the situation, the bobcat leapt onto the back fence. (Look at the size of those back paws!)
It settled in to watch Zippy and Emma for a bit as I continued to snap photos from the second-story window. When first photographing the gorgeous cat, I saw a flash of white on one ear and thought maybe it’d been tagged by a wildlife agency.
Then I realized both ears had white patches. I’d known about the tufts on their ears, but learned today bobcats have false eyes on the backs of their ears. I didn’t capture any images of both ears so here’s a photo from the linked site. I knew about false eyes on moths and butterflies, but was unaware mammals also have them.
Wow. Wow. Wow. And as if the bobcat excitement wasn’t enough, a few minutes later I looked out another window and was gifted the sight of a Turkey Vulture riding the air currents. I watched for several minutes, filled with gratitude for the local wildlife. This day’s a WIN!
This robin held those two grasshoppers in its beak for about ten minutes. When I first spotted it on the wire, I refrained from running for my camera because I was sure it would fly off and I didn’t want to miss watching it. I was curious about how it would ingest two grasshoppers at once.
But after several minutes of the bird staying put while turning its head side-to-side, I went for the camera AND took the time to switch out the lenses. Still there! I took a bunch of shots, playing with the settings, and then went back to watching. Soon, a house finch landed on the wire a few feet away. It also appeared curious about the robin’s intent. Then, from off in the distance, another bird flew toward the wire. Before I could identify it, the finch and robin took off.
They knew what was up: a Cooper’s Hawk! The raptor landed in the tree, but all its potential meals had disappeared. We were both disappointed. I’ll never know if that robin was able to eat both grasshoppers.
See this squirrel’s clenched paw?
That little fist is a result of me tapping on the window to stop it from eating the peanuts we put out for birds* and, for the longest time, I thought it was the same brazen squirrel making a fist at me in response to my tapping. But then I realized it couldn’t be the same squirrel every single day and that ALL squirrels do that. Their immediate reaction to threat is a fist.
I can relate. Maybe I should enlist some squirrels to join me because, Yes I Do Want to Punch / fascists in the face.
*the squirrel food is on the back fence
Birds frequently perch on the wire outside my kitchen window, but I’ve never seen this before:
It’d started to rain and these two Mourning Doves each lifted first one wing and then the other to catch the moisture, and then proceeded to groom themselves. It was almost like watching synchronized swimmers (although I’m pretty sure the doves didn’t have to hold their breath) and I felt strangely honored to witness their routine.
I just did a quick online search for information about this phenomenon and came across a few posts on forums stating the equivalent of “I didn’t know doves did this” and “Very cool to witness.”
Have any of you seen doves bathing in the rain?
When glancing out my window the other day, I briefly thought someone had tossed a rabbit carcass in our yard. Happily, this bunny was very much alive. The same can’t be said for our “lawn.”
The neighborhood has been bunny-rich for the past several years and they’re slowly eating away the grass, leaving behind larger and larger bare spots. Fine by me. Colorado is in extreme drought (I learned this morning that the current statewide snowpack is 53 percent of median) and none of us should be dumping water into lawns. The good news? We’re supposed to get rain (and snow!) on Friday. I’m hoping for more rain than snow because the trees and shrubs are leafed out and that extra weight will break limbs. Still, let it rain OR snow! Whatever needs to fall from the skies is one hundred percent welcome here!
Here’s one more bunny pic to calm the climate anxiety. These two started fussing with each other and became so aggressive they frightened the above dirt-lounger into hiding. They chased and tussled all over the place, including in the iris fans and lavender.
Here’s hoping they’ll be tucked away somewhere warm and dry during Friday’s storm.
It’s cold and snowy outside, and toasty-warm in my home. For this, I am grateful. We’ve replenished the various bird feeders and cleaned/refilled the bath for the many feathered visitors doing their best to keep warm and healthy during this latest snowstorm. This Woodhouse’s Scrub Jay visited the feeder last month and maybe has shown up again today. Hello, is that you?
And I’ve seen Dark-eyed Juncos out there today. Perhaps this one is also a return visitor?
Right now, I’m reading-reading-reading a critique partner’s manuscript in preparation for our group’s zoom session this evening. It’s a wonderful story and I’m happy to be part of the process and glad to be connecting with my friends again. And that’s not all. Tomorrow evening, I’ll be on a call with our local Sunrise Movement hub to reboot the group. Two social events in two days!
Okay, just wanted to pop in to say hello again and to say I’ve missed interacting with people here. When I’ve caught my breath after my whirlwind social life, I’ll try to catch up on what I’ve missed. Stay warm! Stay healthy! Remember: March is when we really start gaining daylight! 🌞