Wednesday, May 30, 2012

It's a Boy! or maybe a girl.....

Congratulations to Mr. & Mrs. Bluebird!  Proud parents of these newly hatched babies.  I think there might be a third one underneath, but I didn't want to mess around with them too much on this chilly afternoon.
I'll check back in a few days to see how these little ones are progressing.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day Holiday Weekend

Looks like summer has definitely arrived in time for Memorial Day weekend here in Minnesota.  It doesn't seem very long ago that we were wondering what happened to winter and now summer is here.  We had storms on Saturday that dumped quite a lot of rain (which we needed) then a nearly record-breaking warm day yesterday (high of 89 degrees). 
Today has turned out to be a perfect day and I'm taking a break from getting my gardens in shape to do this blog post.

It's really nice to hear all the birds singing in the backyard again and I have some birdies taking advantage of the houses and nesting material I put out for them.  Here's the cozy little nest the chickadees made with moss, grass and some of the alpaca fiber I provided for their use.  There are 6 little eggs tucked into this fuzzy nest!

I took a look yesterday and here are 3 little baby chickadees almost ready to fledge.  They are just the cutest little things!  I'm not sure why the other 3 eggs didn't hatch, but 3 babies will be more than enough for the parents to take care of.

Mr. & Mrs. Eastern Bluebird also moved into one of my Peterson nestboxes.  They built a nice multi-layered nest with alpaca fiber on the bottom, then some grass and lastly a good layer of white pine needles.  This is the first time I can ever remember the bluebirds using white pine needles, but it definitely makes a nice, substantial nesting material for them.

There are 3 pretty blue eggs in here.  They should hatch sometime in the next week.

I've been working on getting some more native flowering plants added to my butterfly and hummingbird garden.  I bought this Golden Alexander plant at the garden center a couple weeks ago.  On the plant info card, it said Golden Alexander is a host plant for swallowtail butterflies.  I was happy to find this little swallowtail caterpillar on the plant stem.  Now I'll have to be really careful when I plant it so I don't dislodge the little bugger! 
I'm starting to see lots more butterflies in my yard already this season and I'm hoping that all the new flowers I'm planting will encourage them to stick around for the summer.  I had a nice Question Mark on the hummingbird feeder yesterday and also saw a couple of Mourning Cloaks earlier this spring.  Quite a few Monarchs are already flying around and the milkweed is coming in nicely, so there will be plenty of food sources for the monarch caterpillars.  I bought 2 new milkweed plants for my butterfly garden too -- one has orange flowers and the other has yellow flowers.  Probably won't be long and I'll have to think about getting the monarch ranch up and running again too......

Monday, May 7, 2012

A good bird sighting!

Now that the weather's nice & it stays light later in the evening, we usually take Holly for a walk up the street after supper.  Tonite we saw this little white bird in the front yard of one of our neighbors.  I thought it might have been a goldfinch, but of course, I didn't have binocs or camera along to make a positive ID.

We hurried home so I could grab my camera and binocs all the while hoping that this bird would still be there......and after a few anxious minutes, it showed up again!

I was still thinking it was a goldfinch, until her amorous mate showed up -- a handsome Chipping Sparrow.  Mystery solved!  We watched the two of them fly down to the lawn, pick up some grasses and fly over to a small evergreen shrub right by the neighbor's house. 

It was so amazing to see this special little sparrow.  I'm not sure if it would be categorized as leucistic or partially albinistic.  I'll share these photos with some real "bird experts" I know and see what they have to say.

I hope we get additional chances to see this bird and that it raises a nice little family, although walking back home, we saw 3 homeowners on this same street all outside spraying toxic chemicals on their lawns.  :-( 
I wish I could invite this Chipping Sparrow couple over to my yard where I know it's safe.......