Back home: me and the bluebirds

The bluebirds are back (again). As usual, they arrived a month ago, tried out the nesting boxes, and left when the swallows came. But again as usual, they returned and are now nesting.

Feeling extremely tired due to flu – don’t have the strength for heavy-duty gardening, so here’s a few pictures from today. Poland and earlier spring migrants can wait a day or two. It is very frustrating feeling so weak.

The bluebirds are back (again). As usual, they arrived a month ago, tried out the nesting boxes, and left when the swallows came. But again as usual, they returned and are now nesting.

Bluebird
Bluebird
Bluebird and wasp
Bluebird and wasp

I only got one clear picture today as I was working so just took a few seconds hoping to get one of the bluebird trying to render a wasp (yellow-jacket) harmless, before feeding to young. It shook and pecked this one (clear through binoculars but I didn’t get the photo quite right) for a good ten minutes.

Although these lady slipper orchids are relatively common, this is the only clump I know around here so I was very pleased to see several small outlier plants meaning it is successfully seeding, so I might risk moving one of the small ones just as insurance against vandalism as this clump can be seen from the road if you know where to look.

Yellow Lady Slipper Orchids
Yellow Lady Slipper Orchids

I posted a few pictures of this moth already, on Twitter, but here’s another one. They are the same family as the hummingbird hawk moth which I always find interesting as a case of parallel evolution – you could mistake it for a small hummingbird if you didn’t know about the moths, and it feeds in daylight whereas this Sphinx is a night flier. I don’t know what the caterpillars eat – almost afraid to ask – as those horrible tomato hornworms that can demolish a tomato crop over night are in the same family.

Blinded Sphinx Moth
Blinded Sphinx Moth

Cardinal love birds and other garden scenes

Squirrel nest and dining room, cardinal mating rituals and bluebird guarding its nest.

The pair of cardinals that live in our garden have their bonding rituals.  Each time they come to the feeder, the male offers the female the first seed.  After that, she’s on her own.

Cardinal kissing 1
Cardinal kissing 1
Cardinals kissing 2
Cardinals kissing 2

The bluebirds are nesting again.  The male stands guard on top of the pole to which the nesting box is attached.

Bluebird
Bluebird

Now for small mammals.  In our back field there are some stone piles from when the field was cleared.  Now it is growing over again and there is a clump of pines around one of the piles.

A red squirrel has made its home there.  Here is the nest:

Squirrel nest
Squirrel nest

And the stone pile provides an excellent dining room, complete with table:

Squirrel table
Squirrel table

The table is the larger rock in the middle towards the back. The brown stuff on the top that looks like leaves is actually the remnants of all the pine cones that the squirrel has been eating. Here it is closer up.

Squirrel table 2
Squirrel table 2

The cones are shredded to get at the seeds; you can see an almost intact one centre-left.

Small mammals seem to like rocks.  We keep a “small mammal sitting-rock” on our deck because they seem to like the view and perhaps some heat from the rock.  Today it was the chipmunk’s turn:

Chipmunk on sitting-rock
Chipmunk on sitting-rock

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bluebirds and Swallowtails

Later in the spring – bluebirds, woodpeckers, ruffed grouse and swallowtail butterflies – nature is getting rambunctious.

After working dawn til dusk for a while and not being home the week before that,  I had some catching up to do.  We have several pairs of bluebirds nesting in our boxes.  Here is one on top of the pole which holds his box:

Bluebird on pole
Bluebird guarding his nest

And here is a back view – through a window with the light hitting obliquely, which fogged the picture a little.

Bluebird on feeder
Bluebird on feeder

Here is a female ruby-throated hummingbird perched on top of our blue spruce – about 7m high, so she gets a good view.

Hummingbird
Hummingbird

 

Totem Pole Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker carving totem pole

He has a lot of work to do before this pole is finished.

We are also fortunate enough to have grouse nesting in the hardwood forest on the south side of the house.  I took this picture of the eggs but haven’t been back as she flew off the nest when I got close and I don’t want to frighten her away.  It must be very difficult to stay safe with all the predators there are around.

Ruffed Grouse Nest
Ruffed Grouse Nest

There are lots of butterflies around, too.  Here is a Swallowtail, showing the top side of its wings:

Swallowtail butterfly on Dame's Rocket
Swallowtail butterfly on Dame's Rocket

And here is the underside of the wing:

Swallowtail butterfly on Dame's Rocket
Swallowtail butterfly on Dame's Rocket - underwing

Finally, a couple of wildflowers.  First another picture of the ladyslippers I showed in my last post:

Ladyslippers
Ladyslippers

and the wild scarlet columbines are out again, but not so many this year.  They’re still recovering from the power company clearing the lines as that is where most of them grow where it is open, dry and sunny.

Scarlet Columbine