Friday, May 20, 2005


Remember the ugly ditch? We needed it cleared so the driveway wouldn't flood, but I hated removing the trees since there were always so many birds there.

Well the birds seem pretty happy about the ditch. In fact they love it.

Chipping Sparrow (Spizella passerina).

WHY didn't I have my camera when I saw the Scarlet Tanager?! A male was splashing around as a female watched from a nearby branch. In the past week I've also seen a Bluebird, an Indigo Bunting, a Blue Grosbeak, and a Goldfinch bathing there.

I can't believe I managed to get two bird pictures in one week.

This Green Heron (Butorides virescens) stayed put nicely while I ran inside to get the camera, but his/her mate got tired of waiting. I think they might be nesting somewhere nearby. They love this dead tree.

Edited to add:
Ever since one of the Dharma Bums told me about the Friday Ark, I've been hooked! Click over there to see links to many more animals. Thanks to that site for adding our links too.


Anonymous said...

Dead trees ("snags") are bird/wildlife goldmines. We have an expired live oak that (I think) was struck by lightning located dead center in the back yard. When we first moved in, I thought we'd remove it. Now I am SO glad we didn't. It's definitely the epicenter of wildlife activity in the back yard.

Trees give and give and give long after they have stopped providing shade. While they are still upright, they provide perches, nesting places, and forage for wodpeckers and other insectivores (not to mention providing food for the wide array of insects themselves).

Then, when they eventually succumb to structural entropy and gravity, they continue to provide foood for an amazing variety of fungi and insects - plus nesting places for mammals and reptiles.

Finally, once they truly break down into the soil, they provide nutrients to nourish further plant growth.

With each stage in the the process (this is all after the expiration of the tree, mind you), entire micro-communities are formed. S'amazing stuff.

One could write a whole weblog about stuff that's found under logs.

Anonymous said...

I don't think I've ever seen a green heron around here. I'll trade you my cardinal pic for that one any day.

Now a scarlet tanager, that would be an awesome catch.

robin andrea said...

Love that green heron. What a great shot. How nice for that beauty to wait for you to get the camera. The grosbeaks have justs returned to the Olympic Peninsula. Two on the birdfeeder yesterday. They didn't wait to be photographed.

Maktaaq said...

Those are incredible photos!

Thingfish23 made some interesting points too.

Also, what sort of camera are you using?

swamp4me said...

Birds are well beyond my photographic abilities -- I have a whole file of pictures, but not a one of them is what I would consider good.

You, however, have done a great job here! I love the little chippy. We have several pairs nesting in our yard this year.

Charles said...

the prize goes to the blue grosbeak. best sighting by far. love those guys.

Magazine Man said...

Ah, the ditch: haven't had an update on that in, oh, about $33,000.

My son, who is reptile-happy, begs me to come here for those snake pics, BTW. He can't believe em, esp. the egg-eating ones. He's started calling your blog (and therefore you) "Animal Planet Lady." Trust me: it's the highest compliment he can pay.

Rurality said...

Thanks y'all. These are about the best bird pics I've managed to get with this camera... really need more pixels and a better telephoto to do them justice.

Thingfish, what I love best about dead trees is how they attract so many woodpeckers!

Fletch I think they are there - maybe you just haven't been in their habitat...? (Wetlands or ponds with dense vegetation near the edge, I think.)

RD, I think they just instinctively run from a camera. Especially mine. :)

Maktaaq, it's a Sony Mavica CD1000. A sad little 2.1 megapixels, but it does do macro fairly well.

Swampy I always have to be careful not to call them "chicken sparrows" in public... we have our own names for lots of birds... I think we started with "chicken" once when sputtering to get "chipping" out unsuccessfully. Now it's even more apropos since they are always trying to eat the chickens' feed.

Shannon I'm not sure who is crazier, the chickens or the ducks. Wild birds seem so much smarter!

Charles, you think? Better than Scarlet Tanagers? Well they are both very nice. I could probably get a better pic of a grosbeak since they will come to a ground feeder sometimes.

MM, I am so honored. :) I do seem to have a lot of critter pics lately huh? The woodsy wildflowers have faded for the most part so animals are just more in evidence I suppose.

Anonymous said...

We have a small creek down at the bottom of a clearcut slope, and the clearcut caused some tree death down by the water...that spot is the absolute hub of animal action.

I love the shot of the green heron!


Anvilcloud said...

Just thought I would mention that I mentioned both you and Su Doku here.

sonia a. mascaro said...

Amazing and beautiful blog! Congratulations! Regards, Sonia. (from São Paulo, Brazil)

Rurality said...

Thanks Anvilcloud! I love that puzzle.

Thanks Sonia, one day I'd like to visit Brasil... I've known several people from São Paulo (or near there). I've liked every Brazilian that I've ever met!