Saturday, April 26, 2008

Red Wings Here Juncos Gone

Good News and Bad News.
Bad first (get it over with): My Juncos are all gone. The majority left a few weeks ago, but two mates stayed longer...I don't know why they didn't leave with the rest...but now they too are gone. No biggie, because...
The good news: The Red Winged Blackbirds have arrived!

Isn't he handsome?!? I have counted two males and two females. The females look nothing like the handsome males, they look like huge sparrows only with more contrasting white and brown marks. That's OK, I believe all males must compete for the female's acceptance. Isn't our society ass backwards, with females looking promiscuous for the male acceptance? Another lesson we should learn from nature, (sorry males) anyway...

Here is one of the males taking a bite to eat. The red winged blackbird usually hangs out near marshes and lakes but I learned that they can visit feeders during the spring for seed and then during the summer they will move to find insects. I am a very fortunate blackbird hostess.
Did I mention their "trillllllll" call? Oh, if you only can hear it! Such a back of your neck hair raising experience! I can't get enough.

Friday, April 25, 2008

White Throated Sparrow

Yipeeeee! Look what I found after work today!
Why, it's a white throated sparrow feeding on the ground of my neighbor's yard!

Can you see him? I know it's really hard. I can only zoom 3x and I also zoomed in on the computer too! Look for the little yellow spot on the birds head, accented by a black and white stripe. See him?!?

This one is more difficult. He is facing left and is camouflaged against the dirt floor. Difficulty spotting is definitely a 9 on the scale. Don't feel bad if you can't find him, if he weren't hopping around I would have missed him too!

Let's Learn About the White Throated Sparrow:
  • 6-7" bird
  • Yellow spot on head called, lore.
  • White or tan stripe with black on crown.
  • White patch on throat.
  • Migrates in the Chicago area, spends their winters in the southern part of the state.
  • Eats insects, fruit, seeds, will feed on the ground beneath feeders. (where mine were)
I'm so lucky to have spotted them so close to my house. I haven't noticed them here before. I just wanted to share with everyone else!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Beauty Never Ends

Look at how nature never seems to run out of breathtaking moments! This is the amazing scene that greeted me just before sunset a few days ago. That large tree you see is dead. Dead but beautiful, especially as a silhouette in front of a dramatic sky. Up close in person, you can see many woodpecker holes and large chunks of bark lying at the base of the trunk on the ground.
This I can promise, will be a pastel painting one day...probably one day soon because I'm so excited about it!

Here is another favorite picture taken about a half hour earlier from that same path. What caused this creek to become so deep? Could it be just a small amount of water eroding the path over several years? Did this creek have a lot of water rushing though at one time? Is the soil too sandy? These are some of the unanswered questions I ask myself in my head. After I get tired of thinking so deeply, I just say, "Look at those cool roots!"
Cool Beans.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Monk Madness

Not to bore you with more Monk Parakeet pictures, but these fellas decided to visit my feeder today, not my neighbors! I was able to get some really good close ups. They're so very friendly, this one facing me clearly saw me through the window but was unafraid.

I was also able to capture a nice full body profile on my railing...

Watch these stinkers shovel my feed right onto the ground. I must nickname them my little green boogers. The squirrels must love them.

I forgive them! I will never tire of these flying green gems. They are always welcome to my feeder!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Illinois Earthquake

The Midwest got it today!
At 4:37am Central Illinois was hit with a 5.2 earthquake! It was so strong people in Chicago were able to feel it. Not me though. Unfortunately, I was so deep in La La Land, I had no idea what was going on.
The good thing is, it wasn't strong enough to make much damage or hurt people.
That's good.
I can't complain too much, I did experience an earthquake in California when I was about 9 years old.
In California... where earthquakes are supposed to happen. I remember waking up hearing a loud rumble and things breaking in the house. I was scared because I was a kid, but was glad I had the opportunity to go though it. Nobody was hurt then either.
That too is good.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Monk Parakeet Visit

Yesterday I was pleasantly surprised when I heard a loud "shreeeeeek" outside my window. You just can't mistake that sound, it's really, really loud! I knew my monk parakeet friends were outside! I haven't seen them stop by for a visit since last September. Funny, the last time they visited my neighbors feeders it was about 49°F and yesterday was a pretty chilly 40 something degrees. I wonder if that's a pattern?

I watched this handsome fellow for quite a while. He was shoveling out the seeds from the feeder onto the ground, much to the pleasant surprise of the evil squirrel right below (they always get lucky around here). It seems that the monk parakeet was only interested in the little bits of corn not seed, that's what it looked like through my binoculars, but I could be wrong.
Anyway, I'm thankful my parakeet friends returned (the other one was in the tree) and I heard their lovely shreeeeks!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Red Red Robin

How I love the first signs of spring!
When I see a robin, bob, bob, bobbin' along, I just know he brought spring with him! Look at how his red belly is a nice contrast against those fresh green blades of newborn grass. I love his spring song, it's so uplifting and I can't help it, but every time I see one I have to say, "Hel-l-l-l-l-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o Robin!" In my head I don't scare people!

I found this video on you tube uploaded by DavidHuxley. If you have just a few minutes, watch it. It is Ethel Merman and Perry Como singing, "Red Red Robin" one of my favorites as I remember my grandparents singing it.
How I wish we can go back to such an innocent time...but that's another story!
I hope you enjoy and get excited about spring!!!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Camouflage Trunk

Does this look like a soldier's uniform or what?
No, this tree is not at war, but it is a young American Sycamore tree. I love the beautiful spots in different contrasts and different colors. These spots eventually peal back and fall away, reveling a beautiful smooth white trunk.

Let's Learn about the American Sycamore:

  • Lives on the Central to Eastern side of the U.S.
  • Massive fast growing tree can reach 100 feet.
  • Leaf resembles a maple leaf.
  • Bark looks like tan camouflage.
  • Likes moist soil and by streams (where I found mine).
  • Fruits are in the shape of round hanging 2" balls "buttonballs"
I did find some buttonballs on the ground and just a few still on the twigs at the top. The ones on the ground were very ripe and fell apart releasing thousands of little fuzzy things and made my fingers turn slightly orange. No matter, it's all in the name of nature discoveries!
I really enjoy this tree and cannot wait to see some leaves on it!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Eeny Meeny Miny Moe

Here is the latest pastel, which is titled: "Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe....Moe Has a Seed"

This painting was done from a picture that Joan from Appalachian Journal took of a real bird line-up in her tree by her feeder. Click here to see the original picture and read story.
I love Joan's nature blog and was trilled when she gave me permission to paint this picture! For her generosity, she will receive a print in the mail shortly. :)

It has taken me since the end of January to complete this painting and I am super happy with it.
Why do I love this picture?

Well, first, I love Meeny's butt. That's the second bird. I must admit I did a good butt. This backwards bird drove Gary, my pastel teacher, nuts! Every time I brought it to class he asked, "Does that bird have to face in the opposite direction?" Every time I replied, "He must!"
Moe is the last one on the right and really does have a sunflower seed in his "mouth".
Eeny is a molting American Goldfinch. Do you see the bit of black on top of his head? In the spring/summer the top will become completely black.
Miny steals the show and just happened to receive an appropriate female name!

Secondly, I love how this painting breaks the rules in art world. You are never, NEVER, supposed to have an even number of subjects in a painting or picture. He, He, He....
That is why Meeny had to remain facing in the opposite direction like the real photo, it makes the composition work even when it's not supposed to.

Lastly, I love how the lighting is coming from underneath the birds and branches, highlighting all their bellies and one butt! Their big round bellies!

This painting is rather large at 23x14.5" and is framed with a 2" wood frame the same color as the highlight in the branches and is currently on display at the LaGrange Art Gallery until May 2nd. If it does not sell, it will be made available on Christine Kane Art after May 4th.

Celebrating Spring with birdies!
Thanks Joan!!!