Sunday, December 28, 2008

Jill's Big Mistake

"Who's on the phone?" "It's Jill - asking for another f#$&-ing favor". This time it's to help her pick up a sofa from her friends' Judy and Kate in New Brunswick. That is my fate when I have a strong back and a GMC Suburban. I get to help Jill and everyone else move things ;-)

Well, she made a huge mistake this time. She knows that Connie and I are huge birders. She should know not to mix birder friends with other birder friends unless she wants to be out of the picture. But that's just what she did when she brought me together with Kate and Judy.

We spent a few minutes talking about the new dog Eddie (really cute, his eyes just melt you) and looking at the house (gorgeous - needs a blog of it's own). Within 15 minutes I was showing them my new BirdPod that Connie got me for Christmas and talking about local hotspots.

We had a lovely brunch in Highland Park. The next thing Jill knows, we are driving to Johnson Park down by Raritan River looking for gulls and ducks. A few minutes later, she's sitting in the back of the SUV in the middle of the road while Kate and I are looking at Common Goldeneyes and all three Mergansers! Smart-aleck sat and took cell phone photos of us and sent them to Bonzi for a laugh, but her fate was sealed. . .

Back at the townhouse, the three birders were already talking about where we should go birding together - Monmouth county? Cape May? Potter? Jill was sitting in the lounge chair watching TV. Oh, and now I have my new friends' contact information so I don't need to do Jill any more favors for a while!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Friday, Dec. 26th, 2008

Edwin B. Forsythe Wildlife Refuge

Tara and I went on our merry way the day after Christmas, sans Linda, to look at some big headed ducks. We knew since we were, sans Linda, we probably wouldn't be able to identify much, and we were right.

We did see the following: Pintail ducks, Northern Shoveler, Red breasted Merganser, Hooded Merganser, Black crowned night heron, juvenile, Northern Harrier, American Black Duck.

On the backside of wildlife drive, Tara spotted a huge bird way up at the tippy top of a large tree. She said, "is that a duck up there in that tree?" I guess since we just spent an hour looking at all kinds of ducks, that would be a normal assumption on her part. (never mind about those little webbed toes, not being able to grip a tree branch, who has time to process that kind of info.) It was not an enormous duck, however, but a red-tailed hawk. A common mistake I'm sure. Now you know every time we see a hawk, it will be a tree duck.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

View from the Kitchen Window

This post comes to you from my kitchen. We haven't been birding for a while due to my Dad being pretty ill and in the ICU at Holy Redeemer Hospital and the really cold, rainy weather that we've had in December. For example, I went outside this morning to fill the feeders and needed ice skates! There is a layer of ice covering everything and it's still raining. Yuck.

I'm sitting here with a cup of tea, making my Christmas shopping list for the day and thought that I would post what I'm seeing at the feeder:

Goldfinches - fighting for position on the tube feeder
House Finches - same
Juncos - lots of them today on the ground with
Mourning Doves - 14
Carolina Wren - still singing even in this weather and eating peanuts
Downy Woodpecker - back and forth from the suet to the sunflower seeds
White-throated Sparrows, Chickadees, Titmice, Cardinals and White-breasted Nuthatches
Oh, and squirrels - lots of them

Pretty good for a backyard.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Feeder Bird

Linda had a slow blog weekend so she told me to post this picture of our hawk, who sits in our backyard and eats all our pretty little birds. He sat there for about an hour, hanging with his home boys, the blue jays. He didn't bother them and they didn't bother him.
I'm the novice of the group so I don't know if this is a sharp-shinned or cooper's, which is why I use terms like "big-headed ducks" and "seagulls."
He is simply, Our Hawk.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Center City Events

I use the same parking garage everyday. It's at Girard Square. The garage is interesting to say the least. You enter through an alley where you drive past appliance movers and unconsciously hum Dire Straits' "we got to mooove these refri-gerators, we got to move these color TVvvvvvs", past dumpsters and up a steep winding ramp to get to the parking levels. Levels 3 and 4 are reserved for monthly passes (which I have but somehow I never got an assigned parking spot). Level 5 is the roof, where I park everyday. There is no Level 2 for some reason. The elevators are the smallest elevators ever and only hold 4 people or 800 pounds - yeah right. Did I write elevators? With an "s"? Yes, there are two, but only one works. You can imagine how long we wait. And you can also imagine that we cram more than 4 people and Cocoa (my dog) into the elevator when it arrives.

Yesterday, I parked around 12:30, took the elevator down to the street and noticed a little bird hopping around near the dumpsters. I immediately knew that it wasn't a sparrow. It was a junco. What's a junco doing in Center City? Then I noticed that it's wing was twisted and it couldn't fly. It was hopping around quite well and I knew that I would never be able to catch it out in the open like that. Plus, there was a homeless man projectile vomiting about 20 feet away from it. (I swear, I'm not smart enough to make this stuff up). So I mumbled "circle of life, circle of life" and headed to the office.

I thought about the bird once or twice but it went out of my mind at the office because there was a bigger story being told. Ebony does our scheduling. Her boyfriend works for the Center City District doing street cleaning and is assigned to our area. He called Ebony in the morning to tell her that he just witnessed a man jump from Loews Hotel. What a tragedy. He jumped from the 33rd floor. His body laid on the sidewalk for 2 hours while people gawked at him under the sheet. What a shame. Poor man. Poor Justin. I feel bad that he had to witness that.

I left the office early so that I could get home, pick up Sammy and drop him off at Di's before hockey practice. Up the elevator, into the truck, down , down, down the winding ramp. What's that hopping around the ramp? Yep. It was the junco. Now I had to do something. I parked the truck in the alley, got the construction bucket (that I found at Sandy Hook on Friday) and a raincoat out of the back and proceeded back up the ramp on foot to catch the bird. Cars were trying to get up the ramp. People were staring at the nutjob with the bucket. Oh yes, I know what I look like. N-V-T-S: Nuts!

I finally cornered the bird in the elevator lobby (see how the story comes back around to elevators?) and got it into the bucket. I phoned Connie to let her know what was going on and brought the bird home. At home, we decided to put the bird in the shower stall overnight. I put some sticks for a perch, shredded newspaper (I don't know why but it seemed like a good thing to do), seed and a saucer of water. We left the light on for awhile so that the bird could see the food. I sprinted out the door for hockey practice.

The bird was fine overnight. He ate some seed for sure. Around 1:00 I got him into a box by chasing it around the shower with a net that I use to clean the pond (another AFV moment lost) and took the bird to the Shuylkill Center Wildlife Rehab Clinic where he will be evaluated and fixed if possible. Don't ask what happens if they can't fix him. . . I gave them $50.

Here is a photo of the bird in the shower. Wish him luck.

Well, I thought that I would share this with you because it does have to do with birds. And this is a bird blog.