red flannel pantry

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Archive for the category “birds”

cardinal waiting for safflower


One to three inches of snow is forecast for today. I’m going to fill the safflower feeder for the cardinals now so that chore is taken care of before the storm moves in.

suet success!


I had a first taker for the suet I made: a female red-bellied woodpecker. Based on others’ observations and insights, I’ve temporarily removed the peanut feeder, and that seems to have eliminated starling visits, at least for now. I’ve read that although starlings can’t hang upside down to eat like woodpeckers, they will do their best hummingbird imitations in their attempts to reach suet in this type of feeder–that’s something I’d like to see! Nuthatches, woodpeckers and chickadees can feed from below, so I’m looking forward to other visitors stopping by.

starling for dinner


Our resident hawk paid a visit today, landing atop the feeder pole and looking at the little decorative metal bird as if to say, I was planning to eat you!

His visit reminded me of the last time I saw him. It was a snowy day a few weeks ago. I had gone out to shovel and noticed that the bird bath was running low. I returned inside to fill a plastic pitcher with water when I saw that a greedy group of starlings had descended on the peanuts I had left on a patio table. Squawking and tumbling over one another in a dizzy flurry of feathers, they were oblivious to the hawk, who swooped down and plucked one from the crowd.


The survivors scattered.  Clutching his prey, the hawk landed in the snow a few feet away. Each time the unfortunate starling struggled, the hawk gripped tighter. After a few minutes, the hawk flew off with his meal.

making suet


I’ve been thinking about making suet for a while. I researched it online (lard vs bacon grease?), ripped recipes out of Birds & Blooms and saved plastic suet containers. Then last week out of the blue my friend Sally handed me a suet recipe she had gotten from Roy and Charlotte Lukes, long-time Door County Wisconsin naturalists–it was a sign to get cooking!


Daughter #2 helped me. Photobomber Bud was thinking we were whipping up an afternoon snack for him.

You can find the Lukes’ recipe here. I thought it would be difficult to find lard at the grocery store, but there it was, in the refrigerated section by the hams. I followed the microwave method of melting the lard and peanut butter, and then I dumped the rest of the ingredients on top and stirred to combine. I also added a box of currants that were past their prime.


I scooped the mixture into the 9-oz suet containers I had saved and a couple of grapefruit halves (thanks, Kate and Ken!) and put them in the refrigerator to solidify.

I’ll let you know in a couple of days what the birds have to say about my new avian catering business.

flora, fauna and fabric in LA


My husband, Daughter #2 and I visited Los Angeles last weekend and had a fabulous time. D#2 and I had never been there before, so traveling from our freezing temps to sunny and unseasonably warm (even for there) southern California was a bit surreal. At Griffith Observatory we spied this little hummer buzzing around plantings at the base of the Astronomers Monument. I think it was an Anna’s hummingbird. See the dusting of pollen on her beak?


Also at Griffith Observatory, this wee hummingbird paused long enough for me to snap a quick photo. My guess is that it was a black-chinned hummingbird. Like the other, she also had a pollen smudge on her beak.


While at Venice Beach, we visited with fauna of the domestic variety at Small World Books, a quiet intellectual haven in all of the craziness. Conan is the resident cat librarian; he gladly assumed a studied casual pose for us Midwestern tourists.


The Getty Center stunned us with its gardens and architecture (we bow down to you, Richard Meier).


It felt like we were at Starfleet Academy.


On our last day there, my husband and daughter indulged me in visiting Sew Modern. We arrived before official opening hours, but the door was propped open because some renovation work inside the store was in progress. The owners kindly welcomed us in and let me prowl around while I wished I had a huge empty suitcase to cram full of fabric.


However, showing a great deal of restraint, I walked out with only these lovely pieces.

dark-eyed junco


As ground feeders, the dark-eyed juncos are appreciating the safflower and thistle seed I scattered in the snow this morning. They have to do a little two-step scratching dance to find it in the quickly falling snow. Against all of this white, the male juncos look striking in their two-toned formal-wear feathers.

round robin


Although robins don’t eat at the feeders, they do appreciate fresh water in the bird bath. This clan showed up shortly after I cleaned the bird bath and added a couple of pitchers of water.


When they tilt their heads back to swallow, you can appreciate the white ribbing beneath their beaks.

peanut and snow pizza


This morning when I filled the feeders and birdbath, I scattered some peanuts on a small table on the deck.


All of the birds are enjoying this treat, especially the blue jays.

Happy Thanksgiving


After making turkey rolls last weekend, I decided that what they needed to look more like turkeys (and less like doves or baby seals!) was a wattle. Sliced dried cranberries make good-looking turkey beards.

Happy Thanksgiving!

birdfeeder hitman


This morning I wondered why there weren’t any birds at the feeders, especially since I had filled the feeders and added water to the birdbath yesterday. I glanced out the kitchen window and realized why: a Cooper’s hawk.


He was sitting atop the birdfeeder stand, surveying his domain. Although the Cooper’s hawk and the sharp-shinned hawk look similar, my guess is that, given the rounded tail, it was a Cooper’s hawk.


This hawk knows a meal ticket when it sees one–he’s a birdfeeder hitman. We believe his most recent avian victim was a mourning dove; we found the feathery remains near the edge of the lawn, which saddened us. This time, however, he swooped down to the lawn and grabbed a vole or mouse. Good riddance, I say!

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