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A Woodpecker Visit

What a special visit we had from a Pileated Woodpecker on our tree stump.   He pecked his way up the dead wood. One moment he was on the trunk and the next he jumped over to our bird feeder.   There he swung from the side and gobbled up sunflower seeds.

If you ever are honored to hear the call of this woodpecker you will think you just were sent back to prehistoric days.  It is so primeval and jungle like you will shake your head & ask what is that?

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Pileated Woodpecker raiding bird feeder

I often thing the Pileated looks like Woody Woodpecker the noisy cartoon character from the 40s.  Checking this out on-line I found there is a lot of debate about this. Who would think people would debate Woody Woodpeckers origins!

To my surprised, he is fashioned after an Acorn Woodpecker not a Pileated.  I found this post by Julie Zickefoose who tells the real story of Woody.  Here is what she said:

It turns out that Walter Lantz, the animator who created Woody Woodpecker, had personally given Garrett a copy of his biography, and in that book it says that Walter and his wife, Grace, while honeymooning in a California cabin, were amused by an acorn woodpecker who was poking nuts under the roof shingles. They liked the “little raucous scream” the bird emitted. Grace said to Walter, “Why don’t you make him into a character?”

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Baby Crows just like Puppies

You ask – what do crows and dogs have in common?  Lady you must be crazy comparing baby crows and puppies!

What they have in common is they have to grow into their feet/paws, beaks and ears. Youngsters of all kinds are clumsy and easy to identify by their disproportionate bodies to their extremities.

Baby crows are no different.  See how this little guy has a big heavy beak for his tiny little head?

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He may have lost his pink mouth and blue eyes but one can still tell they are this year’s clutch. See how his body is so scrawny and that makes his beak and feet look awkward.

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We may not be able to tell individual crows apart but if you watch them long enough you will start to see differences between the babies, hens and cocks.

Madrona Heron

At the beach today out of the trees on the bluff flew this Blue Heron.  It was high tide and fishing must have been slow.  He flew right over me.

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Then he landed in the madrona forest where I took his photo.   He was just hanging out waiting for the next school of fish at low tide.
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Madrona trees are lovely to look at.   They have this reddish bark that molts in late summer just like the birds do.  See the new greenish bark peeking out from under the peel?  Their old branches can die off and they have a grey twisted gnarled look.  If the heron had not come flying out of another tree, I would never have spotted him.  See how well he blends into the branches of the tree?
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Osprey Dad watching empty nest

Freeway Osprey Empty Nester

Friday I drove by the Freeway Osprey nest.  There up on the cell tower one of the parents stood guard.  The youngsters are still coming back each day, so dad is left behind to protect their territory.

Lone Osprey watches empty nest

Lone Osprey watches empty nest

Guess the kids – “Flew the Coop”

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All Pinned Up!

No nature this weekend!  It is all about getting my latest quilt project to the finish line.  The baby is due in mid-September, so time is a wasting.

I put the final pieces on the quilt top and started the sandwich process.  For those that are not quilters, this is where you put the pretty quilt top, the batting and the quilt bottom all together. First step is get all the pieces pressed and I mean no wrinkles allowed.  Next, spread the bottom on the floor and smooth it out.  Add the batting on top for the middle of the quilt of the sandwich.  Top it off with the pretty pieced top.

Now what do you do?  You have to get it into the machine or your lap to quilt it.  The trick is to secure it while it is all flat on the floor with hundreds of safety pins. That will keep the three pieces from slipping or bunching while you do the quilting. Hence “All Pinned Up!”.

The cool thing about this quilt is one of the fabrics I found. The pattern is safety pins. Double Pinned Up!!

Once I have all the safety pins in I shift it to my dinning room table to save my back from leaning over. My helper-supervisor Reggie followed me over to make sure it is done correctly. There I basted it both horizontally and vertically about every two inches. Lastly, the pins come out.

We are now ready to quilt.  That will be next weekend’s adventure.

Hummy loves bean flowers

Hummingbird Buzzing Around

Serendipity struck today. I had gone for a walk late in the day. It was hot and the world in my neighborhood was so quiet.  Humans, animals and birds were all laying low in an effort to stay cool.  The summer rain was coming and the air was heavy and dense.

By chance, less than a block from home, I noticed  an Anna’s Hummingbird sitting on a wire in a neighbors garden. I quickly pulled out my camera and captured his buzzing around bright red bean flowers.  This short video tells it all.  I slowed it down a little so you can really enjoy this guys flower sipping technique.

Chicago Theater view

Walking in Chicago

This last week I had a business trip to Chicago.  After dinner I had free time to wander the downtown streets and photograph amazing architecture and sights.

The best of my photos fall into several categories

  • Bridges, River & Lake
  • Buildings – a form of art
  • Eastland Maritime disaster
  • Chicago Theater
Bridges, River & Lake
Under the bridge on River Walk

Under the bridge on River Walk

Bridges are a work of art

Bridges are a work of art

At the lake looking back from Navy Pier

At the lake looking back from Navy Pier

Lake Shore Drive and the lake

Lake Shore Drive and the lake

City by the lake

City by the lake

Buildings – a form of art
Merchandise Mart watcher

Merchandise Mart watcher

Merchandise Mart

Merchandise Mart

Old Water Tower survived the great Chicago Fire in 1871

Old Water Tower survived the great Chicago Fire in 1871

Chicago Avenue Pumping Station in shadow of John Hancock Center

Chicago Avenue Pumping Station in shadow of John Hancock Center

Eastland Maritime disaster

Here in Seattle I read about the 100th anniversary of the SS Eastland accident.  It touched home in that it happened not more than a block from our Chicago offices.  Of course when I was there this last week I had to walk the few blocks there and give my respects.

The SS Eastland was a passenger ship based in Chicago and used for tours. On July 24, 1915 the ship rolled over while tied to a dock in the Chicago River. A total of 844 passengers and crew were killed in what was to become the largest loss of life from a single shipwreck on the Great Lakes.

Following the disaster, the Eastland was salvaged and sold to the United States Navy. After restorations and modifications the Eastland was designated as a gunboat and renamed the USS Wilmette. She was used primarily as a training vessel on the Great Lakes, and was scrapped following World War II.

Thank you Wiki for this information

Site of the Eastland Maritime accident

Site of the Eastland Maritime accident

Eastland Memorial Marker

Eastland Memorial Marker

Clark River Bridge where Eastland rolled over trapping hundreds

Bridges close to where Eastland rolled over trapping hundreds

Chicago Theater

On my first night in the city I was looking out the window of the place I was dinning and saw this lovely theater sign.   After I finished eating I wandered down to this site.

Old and New in Chicago

Old and New in Chicago

The distinctive Chicago Theater marquee is often considered an unofficial emblem of the city.

Crows hot & molting

Crows get hot too.

Hanging out in our back yard on a hot afternoon are two of our local murder.  They were hot and in poor feather.  It is that time of year after the babies have been kicked out of the nest and weaned, when molting begins.

On the Audubon.org web site they give us this little blurb about birds and how they use this open mouth behavior to cool off.

When it’s hot, some species will also resort to gular fluttering. The bird will open its mouth and “flutter” its neck muscles, promoting heat loss (think of it as the avian version of panting).

If you want to know more about molting check out a post I did earlier around this topic. I like to think of molting like getting new school clothes each fall.  Birds are not the only thing that molt but they are the ones we notice the most.

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Osprey chicks fledged and landed on power pole

Freeway Osprey Fledge

Despite the odds of growing up next to a busy freeway, high voltage power lines, a cell phone tower and a large clutch, the three Osprey babies have flown out of the nest.  In this picture below you can see two of the chicks on a pole, a parent or baby on the cell tower and if you look close another osprey on the very top of the tower.

find the 4 Osprey

find the 4 Osprey

Over the last couple of days each morning and evening drive home I would stop by and take a few pictures.  Here is the parent flying over me to make sure I am not going to cause the babies harm.

Parent Osprey checking me out

Parent Osprey checking me out

One of the babies sat on the nest cam post not really sure what to do next.

Osprey chick uncertain of flying off nest

Osprey chick uncertain of flying off nest

Step back a little and the next picture shows how the camera got a direct poop shot.  The picture we watched for the last couple of weeks was hazy but one could still tell what they were up to.

Osprey Nest Cam got direct poop shot

Osprey Nest Cam got direct poop shot

As the nest got full of big babies, the cell tower next door became a popular place to perch and watch the brood.

I leave you with a picture and video of their world.   The video is more about the sounds it brings than the picture.  Listen to the roar of the freeway off to the left of the picture.  Above that din the parent Osprey chirps to the children.  It is high-pitched and not what you expect in a bird sound but that is the osprey way.

What an adventure & many thank yous to Mr. Racks for hosting the nest camera.

Freeway Osprey world - power lines and cell tower

Freeway Osprey world – power lines and cell tower