Yesterday I took a little drive to see my daughter and her family (two wee grandsons!!) and that meant driving a four hour round trip, which used up a big part of the day and a half a tank of gas. It was worth every second and every drop.
Sometimes I wonder if I would survive living in a city with an hour or more commute each way to work; I'm so spoiled living in a small town where we can drive from one end to the other in ten minutes, or five if we hit all the lights just right.
Back to my week off. I made a modest to-do list to try and get some things done that have been on the back burner for too long. If I do nine-tenths of the list today, I'll have it finished . . .
One of the items on the list was to buy a finch bird feeder. The bigger birds tend to monopolize the feeder we have now, so I thought a specialized finch feeder with tiny holes for their tiny beaks might help make life more fair for the little birds.
It's not just the bigger birds who are competing for bird seed. I caught four deer eating around the old feeder earlier in the week. I've started taking it down at night and putting it out well after dawn. Literally two minutes after I hung it up that morning, I spied four big brown furry rumps bunched up together and four noses to the ground under the feeder. I suspect one of the deer had tipped the feeder over to make the seeds run out onto the ground, because she had seed all over her head and neck. Just as they finished eating, four more deer ambled into the yard and one of those cleaned the incriminating evidence off the guilty party.
I'll be taking both feeders in by the end of May at the latest, to try to avoid contributing to the spread of a finch virus which has taken a toll on purple finches, goldfinches and pine siskins in Atlantic Canada over the last ten years. I didn't know anything about finch virus until last July, when it became rampant in our province and covered by media.
Here are some of the finches found in Nova Scotia:
(all photos credited to Dwaine Oakley, found on the following blog: Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative)
American Goldfinch - this is a breeding male. The females are a more drab yellow.
Purple Finch, Male
Purple Finch, Female
Pine Siskin. From what I can see, the males and females look pretty much the same.
All of these finches are very small songbirds. The goldfinches are the most visible; in the spring before the trees leaf out, they look for all the world like tiny dabs of brilliant yellow paint on the brown and grey tree branches.
If you'd like to hear the American goldfinch song, listen here:
So one of my projects today is to fill the feeder with nyjer seed (also called niger seed or thistle) and find a place to hang it, probably at the back of our property so the finches will have some distance between them and the bigger birds.
I'm thinking of adding "buy binoculars" to my list!
What are you up to this weekend? It's Mother's Day in Canada, so we will be trying to fit in visits to both my mother and my mother-in-law, and also be home for our son's visit to his mother :)
I'll be back on Poetry Monday to wax poetic about "leaves and flowers the rain has brought" . . .
Until then, have a good weekend :)
Love that Goldfinch song.
I hope your Mother's Day is wonderful. It is Mother's Day here too, but both our mothers have been gone for quite a while. Not forgotten, but gone.
Good thinking, feeding the smaller songbirds separately! Our neighbor feeds the birds too but is becoming elderly and now mostly feeds the parrots (who do not need to be fed and rather should be chased away.) Bigger birds for weak eyesights. Binoculars is good for watching without interfering.
I need to google mother’s day and find out when it is.
The birds are so pretty. The pine siskins look like sparrows, are they from the same family?
It's mother's day here too, this weekend, I'm being taken out to lunch :)
Happy Mother’s Day, Jenny.
Good luck with the finches. It is great to make such an effort to help them.
I did not know about finch disease but I recently told my Retired Man about how I thought that there were fewer Goldfinch this year. The other day I found a dead one on my patio. He did not have a mark on him so I did not think it was the work of a cat. I will have to look more into this.
I hope you have a wonderful Mother’s Day. I am hoping that whatever we plan, it will not involve me cooking.
The goldfinch does have a lovely song, doesn't it?
Thank you - I feel lucky to still have my mom and my husband's mom in our lives. I didn't realize it was Mother's Day in Australia too.
As I have discovered, it's very hard to just feed one kind of bird. Word spreads, and before you know it, you're feeding the whole dang neighbourhood :)
In the UK Mother's Day was in March, Terry. You missed it! Next year is coming :)
The pine siskins are actually in the finch family, not the sparrow family, according to info online. I don't know how to tell the difference, though!
Happy Mother's Day to you, too, Marie.
I hope the new feeder makes life easier for the finches. They are such wonderful singers and lovely to watch.
And Happy Mother's Day, River!
The virus we have here is trichomoniasis and it causes nodules in the throat, rendering birds unable to eat. They disgorge seeds which will show as wet feathers on their breast. Also, they tend to sit on the ground, all fluffed up, and not try to fly away. It's not pleasant to watch. It's highly contagious, so the key for those who feed birds is to keep feeders disinfected, and keep moving the feeder or keep the ground under the feeder free of seeds, because if one bird has the disease and disgorges seeds around the feeder, other birds who are eating the seeds on the ground or from the feeder will pick up the virus. Hope that helps a bit with questions you might have. Finch virus is apparently common in Britain, which somehow surprised me. It's fairly recent in Atlantic Canada.
Happy Mother's Day, Arleen. I'm aiming for not cooking, too :)
Surprisingly for a city lot we get a lot of birds...I envy you your deer.
...and when you retire time goes by even more rapidly. Anyway , keep on feeding birds. We rarely see those finches here even if they are native here.
I've had a separate feeder for the finches for a couple of years but I've noticed lately there have been no visitors. I think I have to replace the seed and clean the feeder. They're very particular. Have a pleasant week-end.
Dear jenny_o, thanks again for teaching me about birds and for sharing the goldfinch's song. I so agree with you that vacation weeks or days go faster! I took days off this week to declutter my office and my bedroom. Got done what I wanted, but of course, there's still so much to do! Well another time! Peace.
Goldfinches are such lovely little scraps of sunshine! I haven't seen any around our place yet, but maybe some will appear as our garden gradually develops some better food sources for them.
And your Cheezburger kitteh gave me a giggle - I could use a day like that. Enjoy your Mother's Day weekend!
Happy Mother's Day, Jenny_o!
Birds seem to do well as long as they have a food source, don't they?
The deer are a treat to see, even though they come around often. The downside is that they come with ticks, which in the last few years have been testing positive for Lyme disease.
Enjoy your vacation! My kids are taking me out to brunch on Mother's Day.
Within a few hours of putting up the feeder it was covered with finches, with more waiting in the trees for their turn. It's like a magnet!
I'm not happy to think the time will go even faster when I have more of it to myself . . . seems counter-productive if you ask me :)
Thank you, and you too.
I read that about finches, along with the advice not to buy too much seed at a time because it has a limited shelf life and the finches will not eat it. Sounds a bit like feeding fussy toddlers!
Well done on your decluttering of office and bedroom! Paperwork seems to multiply of its own accord, so, yes, there is always more to do :) I'm glad you enjoyed the birdsong. They really are pleasant to have around.
What a perfect description of goldfinches! They really are bright and pleasing to the eye. I hope you see some there eventually.
I will indeed enjoy the weekend - will be eating out twice!
Thank you, e - I'm looking forward to seeing our son, and already visited our daughter; I'll be glad to visit with our moms also.
That sounds lovely - have a wonderful brunch and time with your kids :)
I only know one mother, Brenda, so I will be wishing her a happy mother's day like usual.
We have what I believe to be red headed finches, and the cat goes crazy over them, but they don't seem to be in much danger from him.
Briana fed some crunched up tortilla chips to the larger birds yesterday, and today almost every crumb was gone, so perhaps the smaller birds got some also.
The song of the goldfinch sounds really familiar, so perhaps the LBBB are actually finches? Or do other small birds sound similar?
Have a good weekend with your family.
-Doug in Oakland
I LOVE all kinds of finches but those goldfinches are the most adorable. We have a feeder right outside our patio doors and it's like a giant television for the cats. They start that cat chatter whenever they spot a bird. It is hilarious.
I'm glad you had a lovely visit with your daughter's family, especially the wee ones! Enjoy the rest of your vacation. And you are right...time does speed up during those periods. It's a mystery :)
I played the gold finch song, to listen again, as I have only sparrows here. My cat came right over. He must miss them, too.
I like the purple finch the most. Have a great weekend, good luck with the to-do list and have a great Mother's Day.
Your LBBB might be female finches or you could have sparrows. They sound kind of similar unless you know what you're listening for. Here's a sparrow song to compare with the finch song above:
Our cats do that chattering thing, too - they are deadly serious but you're right, it's hilarious :)
I can't believe the week is over already. Sigh. Now Saturday and Sunday and back to work . . .
Hah! Our cats like YouTube as well, depending on what "music" is playing :)
The purple finches are striking, aren't they?
Thanks, Mr. S - hope Mrs. S has a great day also!
Thanks, Jenny. I will check to see if it is affecting the finches in my area.
I love finches. I didn't know about the virus. I can no longer imagine living in a town where it takes a few minutes to get from A to B. In rush hour traffic, my drive home from work is one hour if all goes well. One night it took two hours because of multiple accidents on the interstate. Sometimes I think I'd get home faster if I got out and walked.
Your commute comes to mind when I'm thinking about long commutes, Janie. I'm sorry, it must be frustrating. How do you pass the time if you are held up? Do you have CDs to listen to or something like that?
I envy you for such beautiful trip to your dear daughter and her cute children der Jenny ,i wish i could see glimpse of your stunning way to her sweet home :)
you are such a kind kindred soul to think as much about your fellow living i am so proud of you !
dear sound so clever
hope your new feeder will work for these charming finches oh they are so adorable!
Happy mother\s day my friend and hugs!
my son called and wished me and it became a touching moment for me
so happy that you will be able to see your dear son soon
It is a treat to hear from our children when they are not at home, isn't it? Late Happy Mother's Day to you, too, my friend! I'm happy to be thought of as a kindred soul to you; that is a true compliment.
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