Monday, May 14, 2007

A Walk in the Backyard

I took a little walk around the backyard today. The dogs had to go out anyway, so I took them first and we investigated a few holes in the ground to see if any gophers were present.....sorry girls, no gophers feel like getting chased by dogs today.

I have to walk them around on the leash, because they like to run around and chase the birds and other critters. They pretend not to hear me when I call them, so it's on the leash they have to stay. Plus, the temperature was about 90 degrees this afternoon when we got home from work and I don't want them to get overheated from running around like the wild hounds they are.

The grackle eggs have started hatching. Even if I didn't hear the babies chirping and see the parents flying in and out of the trees where the nests are, I would have figured out by what's in the birdbath.....fecal sacs! Yuck! I think I hate this most about the grackles. They have an uncanny ability to deposit these fecal sacs in any bit of water they can find. I really shouldn't complain too much because I can dump these birdbaths out very easily and refill them with clean water. I'm really glad I don't have a backyard swimming pool!

Can you tell how windy it is? We had sustained winds of about 31 mph all day with gusts of 40-45 mph. I had a couple of plastic birdbaths blow away and also the dinnerbell feeder blew down (even though it's got a little wire holding it to the hanging bracket). I'll have to wait till the winds die down a little bit to put the mealworms out for cardinals and orioles.

Here's how the wildflower garden is looking 2 weeks after the controlled burn.....lots of plants are growing up quickly now. Hopefully we'll get some rain tonight and with more warm temps predicted for the next few days, things will be looking great in another week.

Can you see all the new little staghorn sumac plants that are popping up (in the foreground of this picture)? Pretty soon I'm going to have to decide how much space I want this sumac area to take over and then start keeping things under control with the lawn mower.

While I was looking at this sumac, I noticed a brown thrasher skulking around in the unmowed area that's actually a part of the highway right-of-way. We use it as a dumping ground for old branches and other yard debris. This has turned into a really thick brush pile area because there's also grape and Virginia creeper vines growing all over everything, creating a really dense and predator-resistant hiding place for nesting birds. I'm sure the brown thrasher has a nest in here somewhere, but there's no way I'm ever going to find it. There was a song sparrow singing over here also, so I'm guessing they have a nest in there somewhere too.

A tree swallow has started a nest in one of the plastic super gourds. Here you can see her getting ready to fly out in search of more insects or her mate.

I opened the gourd and found that they have filled the whole inside with dried grass. (When I put the gourds out this spring I put a layer of cedar shavings inside to give them a nesting base layer and also in hopes that the cedar shavings would help repel insects.) When the swallows nest in these gourds they lay the eggs way in on the back wall of the gourd. I felt inside where the nest depression is, but no eggs have been laid yet.

I walked down the hill at the far end of the yard, gradually making my way towards the bluebird house to see if any eggs have started hatching yet. Along the way I found the remnants of one of last year's milkweed plants.

I also found this little bush with really pretty pink flowers. Can anybody identify this plant? This is also along the highway right-of-way and I didn't plant it, so I've no idea where it came from (but we never mow in this area so it's a great place to see butterflies in the summer).

And now......I've saved the best for last. I have no idea whether the baby bluebirds have started hatching yet, because Mrs. Bluebird is holding tight on her nest. I opened the door and took a couple of pictures, but there was no way I was going to try and budge her off. Isn't she cute? I think she's going to be a very good mom.


Larry said...

Thanks for posting a commnet on my blog.-It seems like you have plenty of activity going on in your yard.-I will be sure to stop by again.

RuthieJ said...

Hi Larry, my backyard is actually 5 acres, so I can always find something new out there. It's fun & good exercise too if I walk the whole length of it. Hope to hear from you again.

Body Soul Spirit said...

Nice blog and great pictures. I truly hope to see a bluebird, but they are now uncommon in my area. What a great "backyard"!

Mary said...

RuthieJ, that is the sweetest photo of Momma sitting. Aren't bluebirds so special?

Love your dogs. What hound are they? Mine are the same - never off lead during walks and are kept fenced in. Their noses take them to dangerous places.

You have a lot going on there... You are making me want to erect some houses!

RuthieJ said...

Hi Ruth,
Thanks for stopping by my blog. I checked in my atlas and used Hamilton, Ontario as a general vicinity and found that area is almost straight east of Rochester, Minnesota. You should have bluebirds, but it also would depend greatly on habitat. They actually found me before I ever had time to put up houses, so I have been very fortunate.

Hi Mary,
My hounds are German Shorthaired Pointers. The dark one is Daisy and we celebrated her 14th birthday a month ago. Sophie is the white one and she's 9-1/2. They are both extremely spoiled, inside dogs who sleep in bed with me. I think you can relate....
I highly recommend birdhouses (but make sure you can open them to check & clean out).

DC said...

Hey Ruthie,I'm going backward thru your postings,saw that you wondered about another plant, this one with pink flowers. I'm thinking it looks like a Honeysuckle but being a rank amateur at botany, I'm not 100 percent sure.

Body Soul Spirit said...

This was the first post of yours that I read and at the time I did not know that the pink flowers were bush honeysuckle. Now we both know.