Flying lessons soon…

10 05 2015

I photographed Mama Dove and her big babies again on Tuesday of last week. I checked yesterday and everyone has left the nest, but Mama and Papa are in view, behaving like sentinels, so I know the babies are now in their “flying lessons” phase and probably resting safely somewhere in my garden!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

MamaDoveBabies

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Nesting

30 04 2015

A Mourning dove has built her nest in a plant pot on the top of my gardening bench. You can see part of one of two babies to her right (black with white streaks). I can’t do my annual cleanup in that area until after flying lessons are given! Isn’t she pretty? (iPhone 6 with Snapseed2)

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

DoveBabyLorez





Requiem for a baby robin

1 07 2009

Not too long ago, a mama robin fashioned a beautiful nest at the top of the gazebo outside my office door. From my chair in front of the computer I could watch her come and go. I wasn’t sure if she was sitting on unhatched eggs or already mothering a hatched baby. Early this morning, after she left for her morning food gathering mission (I assume), I tapped on the gazebo and heard some faint chirping. I pulled out the ladder and climbed up to get a peek (camera in hand, of course). The gazebo has a grapevine growing over it and the area she had built the nest is well hidden by branches and leaves. We also put up one of those light nets that you put over bushes at Christmas so we could have mood lighting during parties. I wasn’t able to get up high enough to look down on the nest, so I just slipped my lens through the net, put the camera over my head, pointed it in the general direction, and snapped away. I got this not-that-great photo of her solitary sweet baby this morning.

About an hour ago, while we were watching a movie, Michael heard a bird chirping loudly and since birds don’t normally make much noise at night, we knew something was dreadfully wrong. Had the baby fallen out of the nest? Had Indie, a neighborhood cat, come into the yard and seen the baby? We ran downstairs, turned on the porch light and watched the mama bird hopping from branch to branch under the gazebo, chirping away. As soon as we opened the door, mama flew to the fence. We looked on the ground; no fallen baby. I looked up—and gasped—was that the curvy outline of a SNAKE? Yes, it was. I hollered to Michael. He went to grab a flashlight and grabbed the (black) snake by the head and pulled it out of the nest, banishing it (unharmed) to the woods nearby. Had we known the baby was already gone, I would have taken the dead bird and the snake out to the woods. I’m not a big fan of snakes, but I would never kill one (unless it was attacking me, that is) and I always discourage my snake-fearing friends from doing just that when they encounter one. I respect them but really…go feast on something else…and not in my yard!

I climbed the ladder to see if the baby was still alive. It was too late. I pulled its still warm but lifeless body out of the nest and started crying. Michael came back and we gave the baby bird a proper burial in the garden. Just 12 hours ago I was photographing an almost-ready-to-leave-the-nest baby and now we were burying it in our garden. I realize snakes need to survive, too, but it’s just such a sad thing to witness so soon after photographing it. Of course, when you build a paradise in your backyard, you’re bound to attract all sorts of wildlife, including the predators. I wish I had a better photograph to honor this sweet baby who lived such a short life. A short life, long remembered.

Speaking of snakes…a few years ago Michael was driving home through our neighborhood and noticed a U.S. postal truck that had stopped in the middle of the road. There was a group of kids on a nearby curb watching our postman beating the crap out of a harmless black snake! Michael gave him a lecture about black snakes and promptly rescued it, taking it to the woods to release it (although I’m sure it didn’t survive the postman’s wrath). The snake was simply slithering into the woods (as snakes are inclined to do) and the postman turned into animal control. Fast forward to a few weeks ago. Michael came home from work, then walked across the parking lot to get the mail from the communal post box. The mailman came running over, shouting “do you have a shovel?!” Michael asked him, “what in the world do you need a shovel for?” He said, “there’s a snake over there and I ran over him a couple of times with the truck but he’s still not dead!” Michael walked over and looked at the snake. Once again, it was a harmless black snake. And guess what? It was the same damn postman, too. When Michael came back in to the house, he told me what had transpired. He was mad, which in turn made me mad. I called the local post office to register a complaint. The man who answered said he would be the one to report to, so I told him both stories. I gave him our address so he was able to pinpoint exactly which mailman I reporting. He said, “that is so not his responsibility nor his job. Plus, doesn’t he know that snakes keep the rat population down?” He apologized for the man’s behavior and said he would speak to him about the incidents.

Obviously Michael is the calm one in this relationship. It’s a good thing I didn’t encounter the postman either time!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Baby Robin





Hungry baby Robins

2 05 2008

I shot this photo of baby Robins last spring. The nest was in the crabapple tree just outside our kitchen window. Robin eggs are the most beautiful shade of pale blue green, one of my favorite colors.

Here’s an excellent website with FAQs about the American Robin:
http://www.learner.org/jnorth/tm/robin/FAQBabies.html

A day-to-day journal of baby robins here: http://kathyskritters.com/tales/robins/

Here’s a really great video of a robin baby hatching:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FDKgLfWheoI

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





In Frank Lloyd Wright’s Footsteps…

31 03 2006

SUBJECT: Architectural Masterpiece

ARCHITECT: Cindy Dyer, a.k.a. Head Weed

CLIENT: Dim-witted Mourning Dove (with lack of sense to build nest in a less conspicuous area)

PROJECT: Nest Improvement, including A-frame (vented) roof that blends into surroundings

LIMITATIONS: budget (how much could a dove have to offer?), limited to materials on hand, and time (limited due to builder’s other job as a graphic designer)

BUILDING MATERIALS
Ample chicken wire from Carmen & George’s moving-out contributions, cheap wire cutters, plentiful source of leaves, twigs from last year’s liatris stalks, willow branches from delapidated garden ornament, and grapevines

THE BUILDING SITE
Client attempted to “break ground” without first consulting architect (or land owner); site is the empty gothic-style wrought iron planter box hanging on a limb stump on a tree in the architect’s back yard. Architect sees bird fly off, inspects site, notes start of nest, then proceeds to devise renovation plans, taking a gamble on bird returning after nest site is partially disturbed

THE THOUGHT PROCESS (yes, there was one)
— Build A-frame mesh roof, just wide enough to accommodate already-begun dove nest
— Attach mesh roof to wrought iron planter with green wire (to blend in nicely)
— weave willows to form back wall (rather crudely done, but this is the look I was going for….something a dove might do if she had opposeable thumbs, but not so complex that it would appear a real architect did it!)
— weave right side with same willow to add protection from the elements, but leave some open gaps to appeal to the (not so bright) bird’s penchant for open spaces
— leave left side of metal roof open for feng shui appeal (good vibes in, bad vibes out)
— tuck in leaves to further protect from the elements, add a softening touch to the heavy metal roof, and offering some camouflage from predators

CLIENT’S REACTION
— Didn’t get client approval (in the form of an immediate move-in) for at least one day

ARCHITECT’S LOG
— Let cats out in the backyard early evening, 3/29/2006, and birds scattered from the home site
— Took a peek into empty domicile and observed blindingly white egg
— Add a few more leaves to obscure view of aforementioned egg
— Add a few more grapevines overhead, then cut (invisible) ceremonial ribbon, pronouncing the project complete

OBSERVATION, 3/30/2006, 1:04 p.m.

Eureka! (Dad, eureka is one of those words that deserves an exclamation mark)

The client loves her new abode; see paparazzi’s photographic proof, attached, in the first photo below…she settled in and laid eggs a few days later.

arch-masterpiece.jpg

© 2006 Cindy Dyer, All rights reserved.

I was able to observe and photograph Baby Yin and Baby Yang from birth to flying lesson day. Above: in the middle photo, Baby Yin is at recess under Mama’s watchful teal-rimmed eyes. (Baby Yang was not quite ready to leave home and stayed in the nest while his sibling learned the ropes.) In the last photo, Baby Yin is doing the all important wing stretches (yes, she does have two legs, but doesn’t she have remarkable balance on just one? I’m such a proud mother!)