While we’re not watching

The backyard drops away from where our house sits on the hill. Because of that, our view from our windows is at, if not treetop level, certainly a tree-house level. From the bay windows around our kitchen table, I can watch birds while I eat. Since I spend a fair amount of time doing that on a daily basis, I witness things in the woods I might miss were I not watching.

Like this little hummingbird, for example.

The little humming bird is perched on the sycamore tree in the center of this photo.

“That little bird really likes to land at that spot,” I said to Mark. “I’ve seen it in that same exact spot several times in the past couple of days.”


I wanted to get it’s picture so I zoomed in with my camera, but the little lady wasn’t there.


I didn’t realize it immediately, but you may have guessed. She was making a nest.


It looks more like a nest when she is sitting on it.


She doesn’t rest there long.

Hummingbird with cottonwood seed fluff.

She’s busy scavenging building materials like cottonwood seeds,

Hummingbird with spider web

or spider webs, that you can just barely see if you look below her beak.

Hummingbird building nest

Then she has to tuck everything into the nest she’s building.


By the end of the day, she had made the nest cozy and comfortable with the soft white cottonseeds.


I don’t know if she spent the night there or not.

According to rubythroat.org, after the hummingbirds mate, the male and female have little or nothing to do with each other. She will be a single parent. A day or two after her nest is complete, she will lay two pea-sized eggs. Occasionally there may be only one, but she knows better than to try to manage feeding three on on her own—so usually only two.

Incubation lasts about two weeks. I should be able to tell because during this time period she will be on the nest 50 to 55 minutes every hour.

When the chicks hatch they are about 2 cm in length and not able to keep their bodies warm. The mother still stays with them, but leaves the nest for quick trips to find food which may be nectar, pollen, and tiny insects.

The chicks will stay in the nest about three weeks.

I’m really hoping to shoot a photo of the mother feeding the babies.

After dinner, Mark and I sat on our screened in porch, also at tree-house level. We saw a young doe, and then later a young buck, wander along the creek just inside the woods at the bottom of our yard. We listened to bird calls, occasionally hearing one we didn’t recognize. And watched an occasional flash of red in the trees as a cardinal found its perch for the night.

I feel fortunate to witness some of the wildlife here that shares this woods and this planet with us, and I wonder at all that I miss while I’m not watching.




One reason why I’ll never be famous — or two for Tuesday videos

Yesterday morning I wrote out a nice detailed to-do list that included items like clean off the top of my desk, update my Quickbooks file for Grote Ink, move furniture, buy paint, that sort of thing. No where on the list did it say videotape birds.

But the birds were singing and the mother wren and starling I’ve been watching were working hard making their seemingly unending round trips out to find food and back to the nest. I’ve tried to capture them with my still camera without much luck.

Starling leaving the nest after feeding babies.

I had a little better luck catching the house wren.

Wren constructing nest.

She’s carrying a twig in her beak for the nest, no doubt.

Wren constructing nest.

I think she’s having a bit of difficulty getting the twig through the small hole.

Wren constructing a nest.

Earlier I thought the chickadees were going to nest in this birdhouse. I caught photos of a chickadee checking it out. Not sure what happened, but clearly, the house wrens are living there now.

This first video is just a tad over 2 minutes. I edited it down from 18 minutes of shooting. In that time, the adult wrens visited the nest 9 times, although the first two times were fly-bys. I think they were afraid because I was outside. At a couple of places in the video you can see one bird waiting on a branch while the other goes in to feed the babies. I thought I heard the adult call to the babies and then they answered.

This is a 33 second video of a starling on her endless trek to and from the nest high up in a hole in the sycamore tree. A nest was here last year as well. I don’t know if there were more than one starlings feeding the babies, but I suspect there may have been.

I tried to get a video of the robin, but I ran out of disc space and then the battery died.

You don’t even want to know how long I spent video taping, editing, and posting these videos. If I told you, you probably wouldn’t believe it. If you did believe it,  you would think, why in the world would she spend so much time on that? A question I frequently ask myself. And one of the reasons I haven’t promoted my book, updated my book bank account, or done any of those things that I read I should be doing if I want to be a successful and/or famous author.

Oh. The robin’s back. And my camera’s charged. Gotta go.