An Oriole Nest

oriole nestI’ve been watching an oriole flying around the last few days and have tried to discover his nest.

I found it accidentally when checking out the garden with my husband.

I looked up and there he was sitting on a branch of the maple tree right over my head. As I was excitedly studying him, my husband pointed further up the branch to the nest.

My son took this picture, but we didn’t get too close. I didn’t want the mama and babies to be disturbed.

It will be fun to keep our eyes on the nest and watch progress! Stay tuned!

A Trip to the Mississippi River

These “landlubbers” recently took a Sunday jaunt to the Quad Cities to attend a graduation party. We had packed a sack lunch to enjoy by the Mississippi River since it’s something we don’t see often.

It was fun to see the barges, the trains, the sailboats, and even the jet skies, but our highlight was seeing the birds, especially the pelicans.

We watched them swim, dive, take off and land. What a treat it was!

Red-Winged Blackbirds: Sounds of Summer

Male Red-Winged BlackbirdOne of my favorite sounds of spring and summer is the call of the Red-Winged Blackbird. To me it says rural Iowa countryside. It says home, summer, hay fields, ponds, cat tails, raspberry patches and wild roses.

A very common bird, most people are familiar with the male of the species with it’s black plumage and bright red patch on his wing.

But few would easily recognize the female since she is neither black nor does she have a red stripe. She is very subdued and camouflaged in her basic brown attire. Some would say she looks more like a large sparrow.

The Red-Winged Blackbirds like to nest in Female Red-Winged Blackbird
marshy areas and near ponds.

Once the nesting has started, watch out! The male Red-Winged Blackbird are very territorial!

We’ve actually had them dive bomb our heads and fly in close circles around us trying to distract us from their mates and their nest sight.

The males are really quite fun to watch because they use many gestures that we can actually understand.

One of these is called the “songspread’ when the male arches forward, spreads his wings to the side and shows off his bright red patches on each wing. This is a sign of dominance and is usually directed at other males.

Another one to watch for is when two males are perched near each other with their bills tilted up in the air. This is called the “bill tilt’ and is basically a standoff that allows them to settle territorial disputes without fighting.

Enjoy those Red-Winged Blackbirds and their antics, listen for their call and know that warm weather has finally come!

Canadian Geese

We have just two Canadian Geese couples nesting this year, one couple on Finger Lake and one on Our Pond. (I know that’s not a very original name, but that’s what we called it until we came up with a better one, and I’m afraid it stuck.)

Usually by this time of the year we’ve had several run-ins with Daddy geese who tend to take over the property, but this year it’s been pretty quiet.

They can be very territorial when the Mamas are nesting and after being chased a few times, we have learned to give them a wide berth.

I did run into Papa Goose on the dam while taking a walk one evening, but he waddled out of the way quickly while loudly sounding the alarm.

A few days later I was able to sit on the dock at Finger Lake and watch one of the couples swimming around the pond for several minutes before the mama climbed back in the nest box. Beautiful!

Then just last night the boys ran into a Papa Goose right on the lawn by the house. It is rare to have them so close, and a little uncomfortable. They watched him graze for a few minutes and then carefully walked around him into the house.

It’s a blessing to be so close to a wild creature like this and be able to observe it’s habits, to hear the whooshing of its wings as they fly low over our head, and to watch it land gracefully on the pond.

Just one more thing to be thankful for here in the country.

Bird Watching with Grandma

rose-breasted grosbeakMy youngest son recently spent the night with Grandpa and Grandma. He loved all of the one on one attention he had, and the captive audience for his many stories and ideas!

One of the special things he does with Grandma is watch the birds that come to her many feeders.

Grandpa and Grandma’s house is situated in a very protected spot with lots of trees around. They keep several feeders out all year round and see quite a variety of birds.

During this visit he and Grandma kept a list of all the birds they saw. Grandma introduced him to the birds he didn’t know, and together they saw quite a collection!

Their list included:
2 Cardinals
3 Blue jays
2 Catbirds
2 Goldfinch
1 Downy Woodpecker
1 Nuthatch
1 Rufous Towee
2 Mourning Dove
1 Red-bellied Woodpecker
3 Rose-breasted Grosbeaks
1 Cowbird
3 Robins
1 Chickadee

What a special memory! Grandma passing one her knowledge and love of birds to the next generation.