I saw these cheerful words on my walk in a local park. I’m thankful for the unknown artist who is making everyone’s days a little brighter. 😀
Many of us won’t be celebrating the holidays with close relatives, but we’ve grown closer to bird “families” in our yards. Interest in birding is soaring and people are flocking to this activity during the pandemic. I’m sharing the joy of birds in these photos of ornaments I’ve collected over the years.
Bluebirds capture the essence of the sky in their plumage. I’m hoping we have more bluebird days to look forward to soon.
Flocks of whooping crane birds fill the landscape with their unique “unison” call. Maybe people can heed the call towards unison in the upcoming year.
Spotted owls swoop through a world full of uncertainties on outstretched wings. Finding the right course is not always easy.
Cedar waxwing birds travel in groups known as an “ear-full.” Wearing ear-to-ear masks benefits everyone.
Snowy owls have a “sit and wait” hunting strategy. It pays to be patient to reach your ultimate goal.
Ring-necked pheasants have adapted well to living in a wide variety of situations. Roosting apart now, leads towards flocking together later.
California scrub jays are usually a loud and active kind of bird. I shared this painting I did of a calm jay exactly four years ago today after a hectic political season. I wanted to show that a sense of calmness can return even after a time of chaos.
The jay pictured above, and the one below, appear calm on the surface. But underneath those calm exteriors, there is a flurry of activity. Their minds are running through a lot of “what ifs” and their bodies are ready to spring into action.
Today we are facing many challenges and “what ifs.” It may be difficult, but I hope you’re able to capture moments of calm, no matter how brief, before you flutter to your next destination.
Do you have artwork you would like to share? Include a First Friday Art tag on your post.
I showed you how I created this mural but I didn’t show you the inside of my High Desert hideaway hut. This 8 foot by 16 foot hut used to be a garden shed. We repurposed it into a guesthouse for visiting relatives and a studio space for me.
This $50 thrift shop door we installed is interesting on the inside and outside. What a great find!
This hide-a-bed also functions as a couch. A good place to curl up with reading material.
We refinished and repurposed some pieces of furniture, including this antique commode.
This $15 table went with chairs we already had. You can see it’s covered with photos and research material from my latest writing project.
We tried to make it more homey by adding things we’ve created. Here are a couple poems my kids wrote (one framed with Creepy Crawlers) and a print by a local artist.
And here’s a tiger drawing I created when I ran for a school board position. I keep some of my art supplies in this High Desert Hideaway Hut so I can work on future creations.
One of my favorite things about this place is my view. I can peek out the window through the lilac branches to see the birds in the spruce trees. The pond in the background attracts many birds. Fluttering wings and melodic birdsongs offer a pleasant distraction in this retreat.
I always have a way of finding serenity when I’m in a kayak.
Majestic mountains can surround you in a gentle hug.
You can pause and reflect on your life.
Wild animals will welcome you to their landscape.
You see things from a totally different perspective.
And if you pay close attention, Nature will point the way.
Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Serenity
You start by preparing either a quick type by the seat of your pants or
One that cooks longer and involves more planning
Once it’s cooked, the oatmeal, and the book draft, may be dull and boring
So you spice it up by sprinkling it with cinnamon
A little sweetness will improve its appeal so you add sugar
It could be richer so you add butter
A few unanticipated morsels will be intriguing so you add raisins
Everything needs to blend well so you add a splash of milk
You think it’s ready to serve, but you must be certain…
There’s not too much fat and
Just enough sweetness and spiciness
With a few surprising and luscious bursts
That all mix together deliciously
Writing a book is like making a bowl of oatmeal
Word of the Day Challenge – Luscious
I took this picture on a trip to the ghost town of Shaniko, Oregon and didn’t notice the watcher within until I edited the photo. I thought it was something inside but realized later it was a reflection of the Shaniko Hotel across the street. It looked like some alien creature out of a Star Wars movie watching me. I found some interesting doors in Shaniko but apparently they were keeping an eye on me.
After living a life full of leaps and bounds, she settled down in her favorite aspen grove. The bunchgrass waved goodbye. The rabbitbrush shaded her in her final moments. The rosebush provided fruit in celebration of her life. And finally, the aspen covered her in leaves of gold.
Weekly Photo Challenge – Story
Weekly Photo Challenge: Mirror
Earth and water photographed at Spring Creek near Camp Sherman, OR
Daily Post Photo Challenge – Opposites
Blankets the sleeping
Look beneath your feet
Notice the textures
Notice the colors blending
Bold and brilliant hues
Bold and distinct edges
Patterns of cracks
Patterns of smoothness
Transitions moving towards new
Transitions moving in a rhythm
Beat into the earth
Beat into your memory
Cool snowy blankets
Boldly contrasting branches
Frame an immense sky
Blinking awake in deep blue
Blushing in flashes of fire
Verdant and vibrant
Cool and calm
As the new year approaches
You can choose to look down and back
Or up and forward
Jays have insisted on being a part of my life since I was a young child. They are brash, bold, raucous, and not easily ignored.
As a five-year old living on a wooded lot in Maryland, the Blue Jay, Cyanocitta cristata, introduced itself to me with little formality. Its loud voice and striking appearance said, “Notice me!” Its frequent companion, the Northern Cardinal, also made it hard for me to look away. I guess that must be why I have a thing for birds with crests on top of their heads.
When I moved back across the country to Washington State, I met more Jays. On camping trips with my family, the Gray Jay, Perisoreus canadensis, made its kleptomaniac presence known. Otherwise known as the Camp Robber, this gray bird has a way of sneaking in and taking what it wants.
I had a boyfriend in high school named Jay. One winter I was out of town for a couple of weeks and when I came back he broke up with me. He told me he had started going out with “Mary” while I was gone. He said he had gone outside in the middle of the night and shouted to the world how much he loved Mary. Like I said, Jays have a way of being loud and taking what they want.
The next Jay played an important role in my life for many years. Steller’s Jays, Cyanocitta stelleri, are a deep azure blue topped with a black crested head. They like to imitate Red-Tailed Hawks and other birds. Steller’s Jays also have an appetite for other bird’s eggs and young. They especially like to prey on the endangered marbled murrelet, a small seabird that breeds in inland forests. While working on a project to preserve a forest where murrelets nested, I learned more about the football-shaped seabirds and their predation by jays than I knew about any pigskin football.
The latest Jay in my life is the Western Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica . When we first considered moving to the high desert of Oregon, I remember looking at potential houses and thinking, “What is that bird I keep seeing?” The bird raised its white eyebrows, cocked its head, and regarded me curiously. When we found the place we eventually bought, the blue, white, and gray Western Scrub Jays were in the backyard shouting a welcome.
Jays, with their distinctive appearance and mannerisms, always seem to be a part of my life.
My favorite bouquets are the ones Mother Nature gives me.
A fluttering of wings draws my attention.
Looking out of my window, I see a Townsend’s solitaire beating its wings and attacking its reflection in the side mirror of my parked car. It has been there for hours. Long strokes of white droppings adorn the side of my car. At first I assume the bird must be a male defending its territory.
Townsend’s solitaires are a drab gray relative of the American robin that most people wouldn’t even notice. They are not showy.
Male birds are usually the ones with colorful plumage but that is not the case with solitaires; the male and female look almost identical. I guess they decided not to follow the theory that a male is more brightly colored to attract females and the female has duller colors so she can sit undetected on a nest.
I watch the bird pause in its attack on my car as it flies into a nearby Western juniper tree. An orange crescent of plumage flashes on its outstretched wings only to disappear again as it settles into the tree. The bird is camouflaged by the gray bark on the twisted form of the tree. Its darker flight and tail feathers blend into the cracks and crevasses of the tree’s bark. It pulls off some of the juniper cones, tilts its head back, and gulps them down quickly. I see the flash of orange again when it flies up to the top of the tree.
In the fall and winter months, solitaires develop a one-track mind about what they will eat. They feed almost exclusively on the small purplish cones, otherwise known as berries, of the juniper tree. While we may think of these cones as being good for nothing but the production of gin, they provide all that solitaires need. The adaptable and much maligned Western juniper tree is being removed in parts of the West but solitaires and other animals often rely on it for food and shelter.
As their name implies, Townsend’s solitaires spend much of their time alone. They are a Greta Garbo type of bird. Solitaires often perch atop a juniper in a very upright position like a guard standing at attention. The bird will remain quiet and motionless until there is a need for defense.
The bird in my yard opens its beak to sing. The melodious song is surprisingly complex. The clear flute-like notes ring out and fill the sky. It starts calling. The one short note is a loud attention-grabbing whistle that is repeated over and over again. It’s like a bird version of a smoke alarm.
A fluttering of wings draws my attention.
Male songbirds defend their territory by singing and calling around its borders. They essentially create a musically-charged “fence” around the boundaries. Townsend’s solitaire females also defend their territory. They will aggressively defend an area long past the breeding season. The females take an active role in protecting a productive juniper patch.
The solitaire returns to my car and perches briefly on the mirror. Its head is cocked to one side as it peers at the image of its perceived foe with a dark eye lined in creamy white.
I have learned to accept the unexpected. Those that first appear drab and dull may surprise you. Their colors may be hidden. Their voices may be quiet. They might be female. Give them a chance – look for the flash of color, listen to their song, and admire their strength.
A fluttering of wings draws my attention.
Fall begins with joyous laughter and warm caresses that
Nod and wink as they cloak you with a touch of frost
Standing there entranced, you are enveloped by color
Yellow, orange, and crimson
North winds swirl about you encircling you
Snaps and crackles sound under your feet
Inviting you to grab handfuls and throw them into the air
Warmed by a shower of brilliant laughing tones
Emanating from falling leaves readying themselves for winter
Sometimes you will be happily flying along in life when – WHAM!
A gust of wind comes out of nowhere and hurtles you to the ground.
Pick yourself up, preen those damaged wings, and remind yourself
You are stronger than the wind.
I have been seeing a lot of teenage birds lately. You can tell they’re teenagers because they appear to be nearly adult size and act like they’re invincible.
I moved to the high desert a couple of years ago and thought I left some of my favorite friends behind. One of my favorite birds where I lived before were the cedar waxwings. I felt lucky when I saw one.
If I could use one word to describe cedar waxwings it would be “smooth”. Whenever I see one I have an urge to reach out and touch it. Its tawny feathers ombre into a creamy yellow on its underparts and gray near its tail. The feathers connect together so tightly that they give it a silky smooth appearance.
Cedar waxwings get their name by a unique feature on the tips of their wings and tail. They look as if they got too close to a craft project that involved melting crayons. Their tail are tipped in Sunshine Yellow. Small waxy droplets of Sizzling Red tip the wings.
They seem to wear a disguise on their faces. Black masks bordered with white frame their eyes. They raise a small crest of feathers on the tops of their heads as part of their communication. It alters their appearance so that they look like someone else.
Their voices are a wispy series of notes. I always recognize it even if I don’t see the bird. It is very high pitched, making them sound smaller than they actually are. One time I saw a grosbeak feeding one and thought it might be because it mistook the call for one of its young.
At some times of the year, waxwings flock together. I see specks flying high across the sky announcing their identity with their distinctive calls. Where I lived before, I was happy to see one or two waxwing birds at a time. Now I see flocks in my yard.
I left behind people I had grown close to to move here, but now I flock with different crowds. Sometimes they remind me so much of someone I knew before. Are they wearing disguises or did a special piece of my past follow me to my present?
Listen to the smallest voices for they often have the most to say.
(Close-up of heat loving thermophiles near Dragon’s Cauldron at Yellowstone National Park).
Black and white and full of chatter. No, it’s not a newspaper; it’s a bird.
Distinctive black and white plumage and raucous calls make this bird easy to identify. Its unusually long tail gives it a unique silhouette. A magpie.
Their loud calls are often heard in the wild places they live in. They are also master imitators. Is that hawk you hear or is just a magpie?
Some see them as smart opportunists while others see them as pests. Are they using their voice and brains to get ahead or get under your skin?
Not everything you see in black and white should be taken at face value. Look for colorful reflections. Listen beyond the chatter. Forgive those who use what they think will get them ahead to their advantage.