Rapscallions!

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Walking into my kitchen, I glanced out the window and there, staring straight at me, were two deer…in broad daylight…the penalty we pay for living next door to  Chagrin River Park. Why, you might ask, would I call these beautiful animals rapscallions (an old-fashioned word for rascal; rogue; or scamp)?  It’s because they consider my Back Yard Bird Buffet their personal dining room, and anything I put out for the birds is free range for these much larger mammals.

When they saw me through the window, they ran away, but I knew they would be back because they knew where the good food was…free for their taking. Unfortunately, they are destructive. They push at the suet and other feeders with their heads to shake the food loose and when they’ve eaten their fill, they  leave broken pieces on the ground…Not broken pieces of food, but broken pieces of the feeders. I’ve ended up with more than one broken bird feeder as a result of their night time visits, which is why I call them rapscallions. However, they are beautiful animals, and it’s quite amazing to see them outside my window. I guess we will just have to be more diligent about bringing our bird feeders inside before it gets dark. (But if you have a better solution, I would love to hear it).

Rant over! My feeders are inside and it’s time for me to go to bed.
See you tomorrow!
Trail Walker

 

 

If you can’t beat them…

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I’ve been trying, with a remarkable lack of success,  to discourage the starlings from taking over the Back Yard Buffet. So now I’m beginning to think about changing my attitude toward these pesky colorful birds. Until someone can come up with a good idea for encouraging these invaders to change their behavior and move on to a new habitat, I’m going to change my attitude, and  my new attitude toward the starling invasion is, “If you can’t beat ’em,  JOIN ‘EM.” After all, they do look pretty against the snow and they may even brighten up a drab winter background when the snow has melted and everything is sort of grey and brown. They are persistent critters too, and persistence can be a positive trait.  Right? Especially if you call it perseverance. It’s worth a try at least!

How am I doing friends? Am I convincing anyone that an invasion of starlings is actually something to enjoy? Not sure I am convincing myself, but at least I’m trying. 😏  I’m definitely not ready to celebrate starlings yet, but maybe if I persevere with my new attitude,  I’ll eventually reach that point.

Here are a few more starlings for you to enjoy:

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Starlings like suet.
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Apparently starlings favor chunky peanut butter.
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They love the new hopper feeder.
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Picking up peanuts is a breeze for the starlings.
That’s the news from the Back Yard Bird Buffet today.
Thanks for stopping by!
Trail Walker

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A few minutes ago, while I was in the Back Yard Buffet, refilling the water bowl and keeping an eye on Gulliver as he wandered around the yard, a small hawk zoomed into the Buffet. It paused very briefly right in front of me as I stood near the brush pile, but thankfully didn’t linger. The Buffet, which a minute earlier had been filled with patrons little birds, was suddenly empty. Gulliver and I were alone. Obviously something had set off an alarm. The little birds vanished, and I saw the hawk fly off into one of the tall trees. Standing there in amazement, I wondered if I had conjured up the hawk, it had all happened so quickly.

Here are some of the birds that were feasting on the peanuts, suet,  and other premium seeds at the Bird Buffet until the hawk did his fly-by.

I’m sure they’ll return. The air is very cold this week with wind chills in the single digits; the ground is frozen; the birds are hungry; and Skip’s Back Yard Buffet serves up a good menu. I just hope my patrons continue to be on the alert against further hawk incursions. This is the second one I’ve seen this week. Apparently the hawk is hungry too.

Thanks for stopping by today. See you soon!
Trail Walker

P.S. If anyone knows how to discourage the starlings from taking over the Buffet, please leave your suggestion in the comments. They are pretty birds but pesky, and they invade like the Huns.

 

A little bit of water…

…is a very good thing to put out for the birds. Unfortunately we don’t have an electric outlet in our back yard buffet, so we can’t keep a fountain running throughout the winter. The best I can do is put out a fresh bowl of water in the morning and refill it when it begins to freeze over. With temperatures sinking well below 32 degrees (F) this week, that can be a challenge, but when I see even one little bird take a sip, the extra effort becomes worthwhile.

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Sip…
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Swallow!
That’s it today from the Back Yard Bird Buffet.
Thanks for stopping by!
Trail Walker

It was a cold and cloudy morning…

It was a cold, cloudy morning at the end of November. A storm had blown through the neighborhood during the night, but we hadn’t heard a thing (although others did), and this is what Bob saw when he took Gulliver outside for an early morning walk.

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The top of one of the very tall oak trees in our back yard had broken off. Fortunately it didn’t fall all the way to the ground, nor did it hit anything on the way down. Instead it broke off and lodged in the branches of another nearby tree. Because the tree top was securely stuck where it had fallen, we had a few days to arrange for a crew to take down the entire tree before it caused serious damage.

So on Saturday morning, the crew arrived and set things up so the tree would (hopefully) fall in the right direction without taking out anything below it (think cars, sheds, bird feeders, bedroom windows, and such). Preparations took a couple of hours, but the actual toppling of the tall tree happened very quickly. To my disgust, I missed the big event. When I heard it crack and start to topple, I grabbed my camera and dashed out, but it had already thudded to the ground,  pretty much where the crew had predicted.

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Grabbing their power saws, the men cut the part of the trunk and branches that had landed in our neighbor’s yard into sections. We trimmed and moved most of it over onto our property, but at the end of the day, our back yard, including the area I call the “back yard bird buffet,” was still a huge mess of logs, stumps, branches, and twigs.

Family and friends to the rescue!

The next day after church our daughters Becky and Alison, sons-in-law Mike and Marty, and several of Mike’s friends showed up with pizza and landscaping equipment to continue the cleanup job. Mike, a paramedic and lieutenant in the Willoughby Fire Department, sometimes works landscaping jobs with another paramedic. This is the wonderful volunteer crew that spent several hours putting our “Back yard Bird Buffet” back into business.

We can’t thank them enough for the hours they spent that cold Sunday afternoon. We’ve decided to leave the brush pile right where it is for the winter. Because it provides plenty of places to perch as well as protection from the elements and possible hawk incursions, we are seeing a huge increase in bird activity. Take a look…

There you have it: the saga of our fallen tree. As there are still about six more very tall trees out there,  I wonder if I should worry every time it storms?

Thanks for stopping by today.
Trail Walker

Cellpic Sunday: Snow!

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First real snowfall

Bob was helping our daughter clear the snow from her driveway. What a relief when a man named Otis came along and agreed to clear it with the plow on his truck for a reasonable fee. As far as I was concerned, Otis was a life saver.

This was our first real snowfall for the season. We got about 15 inches of the white stuff, and it isn’t officially  winter for another 10 days. I’m fantasizing about spending a few months in a warmer climate…say from February through April.

This is the first Cellpic Sunday post I’ve made entirely with my iPhone 6+.

 

 

First snowfall

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Put together the first snowfall of the season with blustery wind and very cold temperatures. Then throw in a brand new brush pile that the birds are absolutely loving, and suddenly you have open house at the Bird Buffet. The juncos, mourning doves, blue jays, sparrows, titmice, chickadees, and more all spent an exciting day gathered around the brush pile and other new additions to the back yard bird buffet. The red-bellied woodpecker made its first visit in a long time, and the downy woodpecker was enjoying the suet. Watching them was great fun. Here are just a few pictures, and there will be plenty more coming because I have pictures I haven’t even had time to process. Eventually they will make their way to the blog. I hope you will come back to see them.

Thanks for stopping by today. See you soon!
Trail Walker

Hey, people, what’s happening?

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This little house finch is curious about the changes we’re making to the back yard buffet in preparation for winter weather. A new season of back yard birding is about to begin, so we purchased a beautiful new hopper feeder from Wild Birds Unlimited, my favorite store for all things bird-related. Bob installed the pole and feeder in (hopefully) a prime location, not too far from our back door (for when the snow  accumulates), but also within easy flying distance from the sheltering branches of our neighbor’s apple tree.

The apple tree is a favorite launching pad for the little chickadees, nuthatches, titmice, and downy woodpeckers that frequent the Back Yard Buffet. For our anniversary last week, our daughter Becky gifted us with a few extra attachments for the pole that will provide more space and variety and hopefully keep the neighborhood birds well fed and returning for more throughout the winter. It should also provide a refuge for them in the bad weather that is sure to come our way soon.

Here are a few of the first visitors to the renovated “Back Yard Buffet”…

That’s it for now from the renovated Back Yard Buffet.
Stay tuned for future updates…
and cross your fingers for no hawk incursions!
Trail Walker

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