Birds with Water Problems

Birds Don’t Like Hard Water

Our local birds will not be getting one of the things they wished for. They prefer their water to look like this. Unfortunately for them, this is what the forecast has in store for them over the next week. They expect us to fix it. The entails taking some hot water out to melt the ice, or at least loosen it enough to dump out. Then some more tepid water to make sure it isn’t too hot when they come rushing back. If this doesn’t happen soon enough, some of them (frequently cardinals) will start looking in the kitchen window.

Snow: December 11, 2017

Our local birds look a bit worried, or at least hungry

This is a problem that the birds that visit our birdfeeders do not usually have to worry about. Seeing snowflakes is rare enough in this part of the country. A couple of days ago we were treated with enough snow to leave a couple of inches on the ground, and quite a few upset birds. As it stands today, the last few sheltered patches of snow in the shade are losing their fight and are melting away.

Goldenrod, Falsely Accused

The real allergy culprit is ragweed

One of the things we look forward to as fall approaches is the goldenrod blooming. The bees and butterflies clearly appreciate the explosion of pretty little yellow blooms as well. There is one small plant that grows outside one of our windows. We cherish it and don’t treat it as a weed. The picture above is of a larger cluster of goldenrod in a bed in our backyard. Unfortunately, as showy as it is, it gets blamed for the crimes of some other plants.Goldenrod is related to asters and is appreciated as a garden plant in some other countries. Here it has the misfortune of blooming at the same time as ragweed, a plant with insignificant flowers that produce large quantities of wind-blown pollen. Goldenrod pollen is heavy and sticky, it depends on insects to be transported between blooms.

Goldenrod is only a weed if it is growing where you want something else to be.

Carolina Wren Nests

Location, Location, Location…

With Fall coming on and the end-of-summer sales going on, we have decided that it is time to go shopping for a new wren nest box (also known as a gas barbeque grill). Earlier this summer when I was getting ready to prep the grill for cooking marinated chicken, I opened it up to find quite a surprise. The Carolina Wrens had found another use for our grill. Carolina Wrens build dome-shaped nests. The entrance can be seen near the center of the photograph.The nest had not gone beyond the planning stage. I am sure the lady wren had realized the black grill got far too hot to be a suitable nesting spot. The male will start several nests and then the female will choose one and finish it to her liking. We had to find another way to cook our chicken that night. In cleaning up the grill we determined that the wrens had done us a favor. It was apparent the grill was reaching the end of its useful life and would have to be replaced soon.

Carolina wrens are reputed to be shy but we have not found that to be the case. Usually it is our garage that is chosen as a desirable location for a nest. Almost every available shelf or nook has had a test nest built on or in it. The birds are incredibly loud for their size and on occasion seem to be trying to convince us that they would be willing to share their garage with us.

This nest was very close to completion. It was in a grocery bag full of pinecones hanging by the door from the garage into the house. If you look carefully, you can spot the snake-skin “rug” placed near the entrance. I have read that this item is highly favored by female wrens. There were no eggs in the nest so we removed the bag. The garage is closed at night and would not be a good location for a nest.

No Vacation From Mowing

Usually, we get a break from mowing during late summer.

In most years, the grass usually stops growing during August and early September. This provides a welcome break from the chore of mowing during the hottest parts of the summer. This year, it wouldn’t stop growing. While pop-up thunderstorms are not unusual, this year there were more than seemed normal, and several other weather systems added more moisture to the area. Every time I look out the window, I can see it there, growing.

As a positive, the increased cloud coverage did keep the temperatures a bit lower. The highest temperature so far was 96.5 F. This is about 5 degrees lower than the 100.1 F from 2016 or 101.1 F from 2015. It was hard to tell though as the extra rain meant that everything was damper and the humidity higher. These temperatures are from the personal weather station in the middle of our backyard. It might not have the best location, but it is definitely better than being next to a parking lot or air conditioner.