Life as I know It

My photo
San Luis Obispo, California, and South Bristol, Maine, United States
Author ~ Illustrator ~ Lecturer

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A Little Birdie Told Me...

I love these words. This is the way I feel when I watch the birds in my garden. I am not interested in building a list of birds I've seen. What I want is to KNOW the birds–recognize their flights, their lifestyles, their songs. Putting a bird on a list, or checking a box that shows you've identified one, does not mean that you recognize them as you would a friend in a crowd. I want to know them like friends.

Our tiny laundry room is a perfect bird blind. Perched inside I can watch the birds without them noticing that I'm spying.

Adjusting the close-up setting. Darn it, the birds turned out blurry in so many photos. Patience, just like in gardening and writing, will turn out to be my salvation, but I have a long way to go before I get any good shots.

Sweet little Anna's hummingbird (male). They love the bubbling fountain and arrive there for morning baths (without fail) at 7 a.m..

In flew the female, who chased away the male,...

...who returned and chased away the little female.

My tame Western Scrub Jay, who knows EVERYTHING that is going on in the garden.

The House Finch is checking out the feeder, where...

...the White-crowned Sparrow picks through the seed in the nyjer feeder tray.

Goldfinches take over.

High in the olive tree the shy Hermit Thrush watches quietly. I don't know why, but I think this might be my favorite bird. So understated, but with a song that will break your heart. Check out (scroll down) to hear some of the songs and calls.

This is a sweet, little 3 1/2 inch Bushtit. Tit comes from the Old Icelandic word titr, which means small.
These birds are sociable and always found in flocks. Within seconds of this one landing, the others flew down to join him. 

I call the Bushtits little bells, for their constant, ringing contact calls.

Often the Chestnut-backed Chickadees mingle with the Bushtits.

Chestnut-backed Chickadee on left, two Bushtits hide in the shadows, and a Yellow-rumped Warbler sits on the right side. 

A Townsend's Warbler bathes in my Nonie Clarke's birdbath. I bought the birdbath for my Nonie in 1965. When she passed away, it came to me. This is the favorite bathing/drinking spot of so many birds.

Upside down and caught in the middle of a shower.

I think that the elusive warbler on the left is a first year Yellow-rumped Warbler, but I am not sure. This was my first sighting of this bird in my garden. 

Here is what I hope for you. I hope that you nurture an interest and love for all the creatures that visit your garden–even the moles and beneficial snakes and spiders. Start learning about their lives, quietly watch them, photograph or draw them. You'll be rewarded by living a life that is far richer than you ever imagined possible. The birds and other visitors will become your friends, asking for nothing, but appreciating water, food, and myriad plants.

Enjoy every day,


P.S. Husband Jeff here. Read the interview with Sharon in The Tribune
Listen to "The Morningline" on Newstalk 105.9, WLNI in Lynchburg, Virginia, Wednesday morning, January 30th, at 8:35 a.m. (which means we'll be up at 5 a.m.)

P.P.S. The winner of the fabulous book and gloves is FlowerLady Lorraine, a Grimy Hands Girls Club member. Congratulations, Lorraine!


La Table De Nana said...

I can just see you painting all these scenes:)

Kay G. said...

I so much agree with you, I would much rather know my birds as my feathered friends rather than ticking them off of a list!
My mother-in-law is from England and when she saw the House Finch and I told her that was its name, she was amazed that such a beautiful bird could have that name!

Susan said...

I saw a finch this still my heart, could Spring be far behind:-D I love your bird watching area and bet you do a lot of laundry just to catch up on the "chatter!" Congrats on the article, XOXO

Julie Marie said...

Congrats to Flower Lady Lorraine!... love love love this post dear Sharon!... I am SUCH an avid bird~Nature watcher, like you... you do have the perfect spot in there!... your hummers are precious... well, they ALL are... love the sweet birdie bathing and splashing all over!... and I also love that you have your Nonie Clarke's birdbath, so priceless!... I can't wait for Spring to get here and be out in my gardens with all of my friends, including your "girls" as you call them!... I am loving my book Hollyhock Days!... and can't wait till it's warm enough to put my new window feeder up that came with my bird book I ordered from you... now, I will go back and read your interview... much love dear cousin Sharon... xoxo Julie Marie

Dee/reddirtramblings said...

Beautiful post. Heartfelt. Loved it.~~Dee

Julie Marie said...

Me again cous... thanks so much for your visit this morning!... I loved it when I read your post today and you were in YOUR laundry room too!!!... just got back in from filling all of our feeders once more... we are in the midst of yet another blizzard here... my motto is the birds eat before we do... always... they can't do it on their own... and Jack and I can wait... love you!... xoxo Julie Marie

Julie Marie said...

What a fabulous interview!... I am so proud of you and all you have done and continue to do to educate not just children but adults alike about Nature and the earth and all of God's precious little creatures... no wonder we are related! (kinda, sorta)... we both love these things so very much and hold them so dearly to our hearts... and I love the photo of you in front of your vintage gardening books... my post just previous to the one you visited today, I posted many of my gardening books as well (including some of yours!)... I LOVE books... and I love you too!... xoxo Julie Marie PS Hello Jeff!!!

FlowerLady Lorraine said...

What a delightful post filled with little Tweeties. Your photos are great.

Then I get to the end and find out I'm the winner. That is thrilling to say the least and just the bit of happy news I needed today.

Yesterday morning I was thrilled to see a hummingbird flitting around.

Thank you Sharon for the give away and for your wonderful blog.

FlowerLady Lorraine

Vee said...

Jeff's comment sent me running for the back issues of CL I have saved. I have some older, but no August 1990. Isn't it amazing what one can look up on the Internet?

I enjoyed listening to the thrush's song. I have never heard a more lovely one, though I enjoy listening to warblers and even the common chickadee-dee-dee.

Fun to see you trying to capture that perfect shot. You did very well.

Larkrise garden girl said...

I learned so much today!

Pat said...

congratulations to The Flower Lady! And thank you for the link to the bird songs. You are certainly blessed with a lovely variety of feathered friends. Being in the northwoods our visitors are quite different - usually water fowl heading to our pond. And it will be a few months before we hear their call...sigh.

Michelle said...

I LOVE those birds in the bath. Too sweet.

Blondie's Journal said...

You really have been able to get some great pictures of your feathered friends! And I love that you love to learn and grow in your knowledge of them beyond lists. I do have a question for you. I have never had bird feeders...I do have birdhouses and bird baths. Someone once told me that since I am in Chicago during the winters and at the lake most of the summer, I'm not able to keep my feeders filled and this will confuse the birds and they could go hungry. Do you find this to be true? I would love to see more birds in my garden and backyard.

A little known fact...I used to breed and raise Cockatiels for a man who sold mostly exotic birds in his shop. What a great hand feed those little babies with a syringe and feel their hearts beating through their feathers, making them people friendly. When I would set them on the floor, they would follow me around the house like ducklings following their mama! I need to dig out some old pictures.

Hurray to Lorraine and thank you for such a wonderful giveaway!


Primitive Stars said...

Evening Sharon, that was so much fun....You are lucky to enjoy those beautiful birds at this time of year.....I have to wait for Spring and summer to enjoy their visits.....Thanks for sharing, Francine.

Bonnie K said...

I laughed when I saw your Hermit Thrush. It reminds me of our Flycatchers. They are one of my favorites, because they build their nests in impossible places and then sit on our bedroom deck peaking in the windows. I love my birds. Your photos of the hummingbird are so wonderful. It seems to be enjoying the bath.

Nellie said...

What wonderful birds you have! We don't have all those kinds where we live. Crows and pigeons abound!

Gorgeous pictures, too!

Hope your little grandson is doing well these days. I'm sending all my best!

Linda Hoye said...

Beautiful! I've been pleasantly surprised at how much enjoyment I've received from watching the different birds at my feeders over the past couple of years. They are a delight, aren't they?!

Hearts Turned said...

So very glad I found your blog this morning...and so looking forward to more inspiring posts. This one is beautiful. I love "my" birds. My favorite is my little hummingbird friend that stops by my kitchen window each and every day. What a joy!

Thank-you for the beauty you share...


Hearts Turned said...

I almost forgot: I LOVE the vintage postcard at the start of your post. I'm a vintage girl through and through, and this one really touched me. May I copy it and use it in my art journal?

Thanks again!


Lori ann said...

i love everything you've said dear sharon and agree completely. that being said, have you and jeff seen the movie 'the big year' ? it's a really great, very fun and funny movie about birding.
xxx lori

Pondside said...

Congratulations to The Flower Lady!
I can just imagine a wee Yellow-rumped Warbler showing up in your next book....I wonder if it will be the first year, or the grown up?....

Rachel Lucas said...

Fabulous post, wonderful to see all 'your' birds...I love to watch 'mine' on our so- called bird tree just outside the kitchen window. They never fail to cheer me! As you can see, I'm alive and well...I was out of circulation for a few weeks as my beloved sister & her children were visiting from Australia...they left late last week, so I am now back with a vengeance and catching up like mad. Also trying to write, bake and visit all my favourite blogs! Thank you so much for your concerned visit, hope to see you someday. Much love to you and Jeff xx Rachel

Jane and Lance Hattatt said...

Hello Sharon:
What a wonderful post in which you so clearly demonstrate your obvious love of both birds and Nature in general. The birds which visit you are, as seen here, keenly observed and in such a manner do become very real and readily identifiable.

We do so agree with what you say about making lists and then ticking off the items.

La Petite Gallery said...

I live in Maine and keep putting out food, even wash feeders, very few birds..changed to different foods too. Do have Ravens.

Deb said...

Such a gorgeous post {and blog}! I found your link through my blog friend Julie Marie. What a safe haven you've created in your corner of the world & your laundry room looks like the perfect bird watching spot. For me, it's the kitchen where we have a wall of windows. I love how your birds are just slightly different than ours here in Canada. Your Woodpeckers are much larger (the ones that visit here are the size of my thumb) and next to impossible to the time we realize they are there and the camera tries to focus, they've moved on :-)Our 2 year old grandson is loving sitting by the window and watching birds and squirrels feeding on the peanuts and bread he put out. It's such a joy to pass on our love and respect of Nature. Looking forward to stopping by again ♥

Lydia said...

absolutely charming. The tubs of Christmas decorations were on the patio for a couple weeks - that was my bird blind):-

Comfrey Cottages said...

That bubbler is wonderful! We have a little pump for our little backyard garden pond, and run the water over a series of rocks. Running water gets them drawn in every time, doesn't it? That thrush's song is enchanting :) Our Robins have returned.. spring can't be far away now. love to you xx

Christina said...

I love to watch the birds in our garden too. When I was little (and before I knew they were called bushtits) I called them 'those little popcorn birds' because they were never still, always in a flock, going from tree to tree and popping from branch to branch. They build the most interesting nests, long sack-like things; so different and much larger than what I would ever have expected.

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Hi Christina,

What an adorable name for them.

Yes, I found one of their sock-like nests in our driveway in Cambria. They had attached the sock to our willow tree. I got to watch them for a long time. When they left, the sock fell to the ground. I got a chance to really observe it. Used a hand lens and a magnifying glass. Lots of lichens, some odd fiber, and moss. So lovely.



Cindy (Applestone Cottage) said...

Hi Sharon,
I sure have been meaning to get over here.
Darn I missed the give-away.
Love your pretty bird shots.
I was thinking, can it be like that in Maine right now.
And then I remember your in warm and sunny Calif.
Not's ridiculous cold tonight. -30 below with wind chill..wicked weather.
Hugs friend,

Anonymous said...

love the bird bath photos.. What a nice place to bird watch.. SANDI R.

jerilanders said...

I am so glad Lorraine won the book! Aren't birds the most wonderful of creatures. So much delight, exuberance,and energy packed in a tiny body. I purchased a Birdsong clock, to help me learn to recognize WHO is singing THAT tune. To my dismay, the clock is messed up. When the little hand strikes the picture of the dove, it caws like a crow and when the little hand strikes the image of the cardinal, it coos like a dove, etc, etc, etc, I am SO confused! Anyway, your closeup shots are just perfect,especially the darling little finches on the feeder!

Acornmoon said...

Hello, thanks for coming to tea and for your very kind comments. It seems that you inhabit a green paradise. I love hummingbirds, how lucky to have them in your garden!

Vicki Boster said...

Oh Sharon- what beautiful pictures of your precious little friends-- I love that you know them as family- their habits- their calls- their favorite places. This is so so sweet--- and you are getting really good with your camera!

Your little bird friends are so blessed to have you to watch out for them!!


Lili said...

So glad you posted the link to that ornithology site, that is a great resource. I admire how you already know all those little critters. I did not recognize a lot of them. Loved hearing the calls of the hermit thrush and seeing how you captured samples of each bird's habits. xoxo