Meadow Mueller 07/2003 - 04/2015

Meadow Mueller 07/2003 - 04/2015

October 27, 2009

Once Again They Come to Me...

Once again they come to me... a beautiful autumn afternoon in the yard, enjoying the mildness of +13c in late October, stepping into the house for a bathroom moment and a coffee re-fill. My ears pick up a cry out back when waiting for the kettle boil. I look out and what do I see but this young dog looking up at me.

This is the second time in less than one month that a dog has shown up on my property, straying from their home.

I've said it before, I said it this time and am certain I will say it again... "It's a very good thing for my neighbours that I am aware on where the animals live."

Unfortunately for this fellow I only know because his family has a tendency to leave him outside for lengthy amounts of time on weekend mornings. He is not happy with this and a couple Saturdays ago it was rather frosty out there; and this dog sure was voicing his unhappiness. It lead me out to see where the cries were coming from. It hurt me to see him so sad. I've not had many dogs in my life and am not sure if this is part of the training process... waiting for him to go to the bathroom maybe?

Now after today I am wondering if his family is neglectful? They had no idea he was gone. I had him with me for about 45 minutes. I played with him. I chased him. He chased me back. I wanted to go inside to get my camera, and tried such commands as "sit" and "stay" to keep him at bay till I returned, but nothing worked. Not even a firm voice, pressing his butt to the ground worked. As I left him out back he stood up to my deck and cried away. He rejoiced my return outside. Meadow was not happy with any of this.

His energy kept going. I sat at the deck for a moment and he stopped in what is left of my vegetable garden, sitting and waiting for me.

He munched on remains of cow manure and peat moss chunks in the soil. Was he hungry? Did this appeal to him?

I finally had enough of this, figured it was time to get him home as his family might be in a panic at this moment realizing he is gone. Another example showed me this dog is probably not in the best of homes... I tried to affix part of Meadow's leash to his collar as to walk him home. He is no where near being leash trained. He snarled and rolled about, doing everything in his power to get that leash off, he wanted no part of this going for a walk. I scooped him up in my arms and carried him up my street to the next, around the corner and about 10 homes down to his. He made no fuss or fight with me carrying him and even licked my chin a few times. He was quite content in my arms.

I knocked on the door not once, not twice, but three times. After the first knock I had heard someone inside and that is why I didn't give up. There were no cars in the driveway and I might'a taken him back home with me if I didn't hear the noise. An 18 year old answers the door with a bit of a surprised look on his face. He sure was wondering who I was, why I was holding his dog. I said "I found him in my yard over on Bernice." He concluded the dog must've gotten through the back fence and found his way over to me. Brilliant conclusion! He thanked me, gave the dog a light scolding and shut the door.

So it bothered me that he had no clue his dog went missing. The dog is maybe 6 months old and more trouble than a 3 year old. We are steps away from a busy street. I found him during rush hour. It could have been a tragic ending for this dog, and I nor his family would have known, if he went the other way. Thankfully he didn't and ended up here as they all seem to do...

I do plan on keeping a closer eye on this dog. I can see their yard from the very back of mine under the apple trees.

October 23, 2009

The Northern Cardinal

So, the cool weather is definitely coming (and fast). I've made mention of some arriving winter birds already and yet another sign of things to come is that the Northern Cardinals of the area are also beginning to flock together. Through the warmer months they are quite territorial and one pair will dominate and protect this feeding area as their own, for their own. Now though, more show up, it's not quite a fight, they are sharing the feeders.

The Northern Cardinal is probably my most favorite of the backyard visitors. I've had an admiration for them for as long as I can remember; going back to the early years of schooling and doing animal projects. What is my fascination with them? Not really sure, just always been attracted to them. I'm not the biggest fan of the color red unless it's blood splattering in one of my gore movies; but there is something quite striking when seeing one of these birds in my travels... I just have to stop and admire him for a while. I am stunned when I see people just pass him by and taking no notice.

So, when I put out my first bird feeder here... two weeks later, my first arrival of any bird species was a pair of Northern Cardinals. I freaked with joy! Last winter I had the pleasure of no less than 12 Cardinals at my feeders one afternoon... 9 males and 3 females. They do not migrate so we get them all year long.

For those not knowing... the bright red ones are the males; the females are a reddish brown but still quite pretty, just not as flashy. Cardinals do not molt into dull plumages so they are still breath-taking in the winter... looking even brighter against the snowy landscapes.

Female Cardinal pictured below...

I've heard many reports and queries of people having a male Cardinal sit at their window and peck at it non-stop. Why? They see their reflection, thinking it's another male in their territory and attack it (not a very proud moment for my boy I tell ya).

The Cardinals are the earliest of risers and will be the first to the feeders. Funny enough they are also the latest of the settlers in the evening and are the last to hit the feeders again just before sunset.

The range for Cardinals is growing a little every year due to more people taking part in the pleasure of backyard bird feeding and climate change is another factor.

The calls of the male are very distinct and when you familiarize yourself with a few of them you will surely know of their presence in the area long before you see them.

Cardinals love Black Oil Sunflower Seed. They also enjoy Safflower which most birds do not. So if you would like to try to just attract Cardinals to your backyard (providing they live in your area)... a feeder with just Safflower might do the trick.

Cardinals are also insect eaters. So one more reason to not mind having a few buzzing around your property helping with the insect population.

Adding native plants to your property can also help attract these birds. Mulberry, Hackberry, Blackberry, Wild Grape, Viburnums and Dogwood are a few of what they may feast upon. I planted two types of Dogwood this summer. Last year I planted 3 Viburnums and one is named "Cardinal Candy".

How one cannot enjoy birds in the backyard is a mystery to me. The Cardinal, as an example and topic of this blog, is great to watch. The songs of this bird add a sound-track to my backyard activities. One needs not to read a book to learn about this bird... just pay attention when happily co-existing with them. It's also their world and people must realize this.

A male House Sparrow and a kind female Northern Cardinal enjoying a snack together on a fence post. Nice to see them get along so well.

This would have been a great shot if it came out clear... I just can't delete this photo despite the fuzziness.

This male Cardinal knows his place around the male Red Winged Blackbird... wait your turn buddy.

An evening shot of a male at the back of the yard... sure looks like a painting.

October 17, 2009

Return of the Junco!

"Return of the Junco" sure sounds like it could possibly be a horror movie of some sort. I mean, for someone who has no idea what a Junco is... why not? Then, for those who may be reading this and truly dread the on-coming winter season, and know what a Junco is, it could be horror in real life.

So, on Friday October 16th 2009 I happened to notice one Dark-Eyed Junco hopping around the backyard (I actually thought I heard one earlier in the week but since I had no visual I put that to the back of my mind and made a mental note to keep my eyes and ears open when in the yard). So, this is the first one of the season, which is scary because Autumn arrived only 24 days ago and winter is still some ways off. I know there is no set date on when birds should come and go for migration but this could be taken as a sign of a long cold winter coming for 2009/2010.

Here are some facts about the Dark Eyed Junco...

The Dark-eyed Junco is a medium-sized sparrow with a rounded head, a short, stout bill and a fairly long, conspicuous tail.

Juncos vary across the country, but in general they’re dark gray or brown birds brightened up by a pink bill and white outer tail feathers that periodically flash open, particularly in flight.

Juncos are birds of the ground. They hop around the bases of trees and shrubs in forests or venture out onto lawns looking for fallen seeds. You’ll often hear their high chip notes, given almost absent-mindedly while foraging, or intensifying as they take short, low flights through cover.

Juncos breed in coniferous or mixed-coniferous forests across Canada, the western U.S., and in the Appalachians. During winter you’ll find them in open woodlands, fields, parks, roadsides, and backyards.

So, not much can be done with what may be coming weather-wise, like it or not... lets just welcome the early return of our winter backyard bird visitors and may the many soon to follow a safe journey as well.

Here is a couple pics of the Dark Eyed Junco. The first one I took out back last winter. The second I borrowed from as it's a much better shot. These birds are quite elusive and camera shy. I will see a dozen from my kitchen window but a step outside and most fly for cover.

October 14, 2009

Early Winter?

So, it's rather chilly for the early part of October, eh. Will it warm up again anytime soon? How about our Indian Summer? I'm thinking the answer is "NO".

Today, Wednesday October 14th 2009... we saw our first winter bird arrive at one of the feeders out back. A White Breasted Nuthatch! So wonderful to see again but a little early I think. I was betting on the Dark Eyed Juncos to be the first winter birds arriving and even said exactly that 2 days ago. Not the case this year.

Let's see how long till our first snowfall. We've had frost. Monday morning the bird baths were frozen solid. It's just a matter of time...

The Nuthatch was not co-operating with my attempts to take his picture but here he is...

Good ol' fuzzy butt! He showed me it a few times... not his best side. LOL!