Friday, July 29, 2011

I wore a spotted towhee

In the baby bird nursery at the wildlife center, the littlest songbirds live in an incubator before graduating to a laundry basket with mesh on the sides and a stretchy mesh top. Light comes in but they can't see us very well. They do know, however, when a shadowy, lumpy shape signals a person is approaching. The extroverts in the group, particularly robins, start chattering excitedly because they know it's feeding time.

As I've mentioned before, we offer the birds "dish food"-- lumps of moist food and mealworms in a dish-- with a hemostat before they can have their milkshake, which is a powder mixed with water and fed with a syringe. Some are eager to grow up and eat like adult birds and others want to linger in babyhood being fed liquid. It isn't easy to pick up the right sized piece of food and get it to the bird's gullet without dropping half of it. As a result, feeding anybody smaller than a robin can be a time-consuming challenge.

One day I lifted the mesh fabric stretched across the top of a basket and up popped a fledgling spotted towhee like a piece of popcorn onto my tee shirt. Another hopped onto my hand and yet another onto the hemostat which I was extending into the basket. The fourth sat in the middle of the food dish, preventing me from picking up any food, all of them chirping excitedly. Since I was using my other hand to hold up the mesh top, it took some time to get everybody disentangled and back in the basket where I could start the process of transferring food to bird.

The spotted towhee (go see the Cornell Lab photo!) is one of my local favorites because it's one of the few that isn't yet another little brown bird, known in birdwatching circles as LBB's. In addition to their vivid orange, white and black coloring, they have red eyes with a black pupil. The males look as if they're wearing velvet black hoods with the bright eyes peeking out. They like to forage in leaf litter. The leaf litter in my yard is under the arbor vitae, Alanis' favorite lounging spot. If there are any towhees in my neighborhood, they're not in my yard. I think they don't want to share space with an Airedale.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

At the lake

Checking the perimeter.

Setting out for Seattle.

Deciding not to go to Seattle.

Shaking off.

The result of Miro's shaking off was spots on the camera lense and a blurry photo of Mt. Rainier, which looks like a cloud. Can you tell which is the mountain?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Spring chick laying

Bazooka started laying eggs last week, a month or so earlier than I expected.
Hers is the brownish-pinkish egg in the middle.
All black feathers I've seen on chickens have that green iridescence. Unfortunately, it takes a much more sophisticated camera than mine to capture the full effect.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Miro the beauty contestant

On Sunday Miro entered a contest. I think the winner appears on next winter's cover of City Dog magazine. We (meaning I) braved the rain mostly to promote KDOG's bark for the park contest to get an off-leash dog park in the city.
We waited in line, growing bored and wet because we couldn't see the dogs on stage--

--until we got quite close.
I do not, of course, have a photo of Miro parading across the stage because I had to be up there with him. After our two seconds of fame, we walked over to the dock.

We looked across the lake toward Seattle.

The rain stopped but it was still gray and misty out. Reading about the heat wave in other parts of the country, though, I'm OK with a cold summer. The dogs like cool weather.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Vote for a Kirkland Dog Park

My city of Kirkland, Washington (pop. 80,000) has 45 parks for people but not one off-leash park for dogs. I've been volunteering for Kirkland Off-Leash Dog Group to get a park. The latest project needs daily votes.

Each person needs to vote once daily through August 3rd at the PetSafe contest site and the PetSafe Facebook page (both sites). You'll need to "like" the PetSafe Facebook page before you can vote there. Go to: (click on Kirkland in the leaderboard) and the PetSafe Facebook voting page (click on Kirkland in list of cities) and BARK (VOTE)! Please note that the contest rules do not allow compensation for votes, including “vote swapping.” We need to follow PetSafe’s Contest Rules to ensure that Kirkland stays in the contest and WINS the $100,000 cash prize!

Go viral! Get your family, friends, colleagues, neighbors, even acquaintances, to vote too, and ask them to solicit votes for Kirkland's dog park (e.g., include a plea to vote for Kirkland's dog park and above links to contest websites) on their Facebook pages and websites.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

What's this?

What's this for?

Nice and shady in here.

Comin' through! Outta the way, Alanis.

And back again.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The bee tree

Although the honeybee population has suffered a dangerous drop everywhere, you wouldn't know it when this tree is blooming. The entire tree buzzes and wafts a sweet perfume all over the yard, a smell I love even though it makes me sneeze the moment I step outside. I walk under the tree every time I go down to visit the chickens.
I'd say it smells like honeysuckle except that honeysuckle blossoms point up instead of down.

The blossoms have been withering and falling in the past few days, making a nice mess all over. In fact, whoever planted the trees in my back yard seemed to have an affinity for interesting trees that drop bits and pieces three seasons of the year.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Neighborhood farmers' market

That's about what I get per day from the everbearing strawberry plants in my front garden. The peas are not ready, everything being late this year due to the cold weather, so a trip to the neighborhood farmers' market was in order.
 I bought some:
and shared them with

They didn't like the camera.

I shared some:


Food critic.