Bzzzz December 13th, 2008

I know I’m not alone when I say that I detest the win­ter sea­son. It has only got­ten worse in the past few years. In fact, since I have enthu­si­as­ti­cally embraced the green liv­ing lifestyle, my con­tempt for win­ter has become a bit of an obses­sion. I may have to become one of those silver-haired snowbirds.

The ther­mostats are turned down and we have resorted to means other than our heat pumps to keep warm. It doesn’t always work, I should add.

I have got­ten so cold that I have resorted to wear­ing those incred­i­bly light­weight but warm Patag­o­nia capi­lene long under­wear most days. While mall shop­ping a few weeks ago I was tick­led to find cash­mere fin­ger­less gloves that I can wear while typ­ing. I bought two pair. And Brook­stone had Tem­purpedic slip­pers that I tuck my feet into at my desk. They pretty much park there because they are too clumsy to walk around in.

But win­ter is not with­out its rewards.

Last month, in the mid­dle of win­ter on a par­tic­u­larly frigid day, I had the elec­tri­cian here swap­ping out one set of pro­gram­ma­ble ther­mostats for ones that I can actu­ally under­stand how to pro­gram. As we were chat­ting, I glanced out the front door and stopped mid-sentence.

A group of six East­ern Blue­birds was explor­ing the Pur­ple Mar­tin gourds that I have pro­cras­ti­nated mov­ing in for the winter.

I watched, trans­fixed, as they moved in and out of the gourds and perched on the sup­port poles. Once I regained my senses, I scram­bled for my cam­era and long lens to take pho­tos. Then I grabbed my Sib­ley guide to see whether it’s that unusual to see blue­birds here in November.

Appar­ently, it’s not unheard of for groups of blue­birds to stay north­ward and nest together rather than head­ing for warmer quar­ters. Mar­garet at A Way to Gar­den said she has even seen them near her New York home in winter.

Sadly, they didn’t stick around, so I’m still going to have to store those Pur­ple Mar­tin gourds.

In the mean­time, I’m keep­ing a keen eye out for the poten­tial return of Evening Gros­beaks. The Win­ter King Hawthorns that line the dri­ve­way near our house are loaded with the fat, red berries that attracted a flock of them last winter.

I only hope I am look­ing out the win­dows when they arrive. It’s my small con­so­la­tion for hav­ing to dress like an Eskimo in my own home.

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Bzzzz July 25th, 2008

There was a bit of excite­ment here at Bum­ble­bee a cou­ple of nights ago. I thought we had finally attracted some pur­ple martins.

I was out­side with the lit­tle dogs and was watch­ing the blue­birds who have moved into the pur­ple mar­tin gourds. They have been there all sum­mer, hav­ing babies and using the long arms of the gourd sys­tem as a perch to look for juicy bugs. But some of the “blue­birds” were exhibit­ing some very un-bluebird like behav­ior. They perched and then flew off to grab bugs in mid-air and then returned to the perch to chow down.

Well, nat­u­rally I thought they were pur­ple mar­tins. I was so excited my hands were shak­ing as I changed my cam­era lens to the mon­ster long-lens. I snapped shots and sent them off to a cou­ple of friends, includ­ing Ruthie, announc­ing, “I have pur­ple martins!!!”

Well, don’t you love the inner­nets? Within three or four min­utes one friend had called and the other emailed to gen­tly inform me that I didn’t have pur­ple mar­tins at all.

I have Great Crested Flycatchers.

Well, nat­u­rally I was dis­ap­pointed. After hav­ing invested a wag­onload of money in the gourd sys­tem, charmed a handy­man into installing the pole in my Mary­land hard­pan clay and got­ten up for many, many morn­ings before dawn to play them the CD of pur­ple mar­tin dawn song on my boom box, I still didn’t have pur­ple martins.

But my friends assured me that a Great Crested Fly­catcher is indeed a very spe­cial and inter­est­ing bird. But then, I already knew the inter­est­ing part. He surely cap­tured my interest!

Now, I am watch­ing as the blue­birds and fly­catch­ers share their perch. They seem com­pan­ion­able enough and both are spe­cial birds that I’m happy to have in my yard. Even if they aren’t pur­ple martins.

There is always next year.

 

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