Sunday, February 27, 2011

Little brown birds and opera

I learned about Song Sparrows last summer, when Paul noticed that someone outside was singing -- over and over again -- what sounded a heck of a lot like the first few notes of "La donna e mobile" from Rigoletto.  (You know: da da da DA-da-dum.  That song.)  When we finally located the source of the song, we found a little brown bird that turned out to be a Song Sparrow.  That was when I learned that (1) all sparrows are not House Sparrows, and (2) sparrows are actually pretty cool, and not, in fact, the boring drab birds they appear to be.

This Song Sparrow was sitting at the top of the lilac bush at the front of our house this morning, loudly declaring his right to this territory.  (No one challenged him.)  This individual wasn't quite as operatic as the bird we heard last summer, but still very impressive in his vocalizing.  (From what I've read, every Song Sparrow has its own personal repertoire of songs, although they all share some general patterns.)

If I could figure out a way to record sound and post it here, I would do so, but for now you'll just have to imagine tunes coming out of that little beak.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Acrobatic squirrels

As it turns out, there's something of a squirrel highway through the trees outside my office window. This squirrel-road involves a particularly hair-raising leap from the branches (more like twigs, actually) of one tree, through a good several feet of open air, and onto another tree. This doesn't look particularly safe from our point of view, but it must work out well for the squirrels, because they go through this exact routine multiple times a day. (Keep in mind, also, that we live on the second floor of a house.)

This is probably the most exciting thing that happens at our apartment on any given day.

Here's how it usually goes:

I'll see a squirrel scamper up to perch on the small branches of the one tree and start looking expectantly at the other tree, where it clearly desperately wants to be. But how can it get there?! It'll wave its tail frantically and bounce up and down a few times.

Then, amidst rousing cries of "DO IT! DO IT! DO IT!" (from me and Paul)....

Squirrel launch!


We haven't witnessed any mishaps yet. Be safe, acrobatic squirrels!

Monday, February 21, 2011

A first real post: birds and things

Today was the last day of the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC, good stuff), so I spent maybe more time than usual looking out the windows. I don't really consider myself a birder, but I have been learning new birds (and all the time, it seems) ever since I got my own pair of binoculars last Fall. Here's one that I learned just the other day: the red-shouldered hawk. This guy (or girl) was perched right at the very top of the tall dead tree across the street (a favorite perch around here for hawks and crows). I will say this: one of the absolute best things about this apartment is the view.

We see red-bellied woodpeckers around here quite frequently, but I couldn't resist grabbing a picture of this handsome fellow (definitely a guy this time).

I also may have seen an immature bald eagle fly over the house this afternoon. That's a new one for me, though, so I'm not very confident.

(OK, I know I said I'm not a birder, but the fact is most of the pictures I post will probably be of birds. It's not my fault -- there's just so many of them and they're so cool.)

This is a blog....

OK, I gave into peer pressure (i.e. pressure from Paul) and have started a blog. And I guess this is it!

I have no grand goals for this blog -- I plan on using it as an outlet for the fun sorts of things I currently share haphazardly with family and friends: outdoors things, wildlife in the yard and in the woods, the garden (when the snow goes away). Most of what I post on here will fall into those categories (hence the name of the blog), but I reserve the right to digress into posts about food and cooking as well, as the mood strikes me. I like sharing the things I see, especially interesting plants and animals, and even if my contributions end up floating around in the internet-void without anyone else seeing them, I think it'll be fun.

And now I won't have to send emails to my parents about the chickadee-titmouse drama outside my window.... I can post those sorts of things here instead. :P