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Tree Angel

13 Jan

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Raven lands firmly
with a loud, decisive kronk
Unlikely Angel

© 2011, Liza Lee Miller.
Creative Commons License
Photo by Gage Miller, © 2011

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Ravens of Worth

10 Jan

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I see this pair of ravens almost every morning.  They hang out in downtown Boulder Creek near the coffee shop I go to most mornings for my requisite cup of caffeine.  They are usually accompanied by a group of other ravens — who seem to be under them in their social ranking.  These two hold themselves above the others who squabble and search out food on the street or on nearby roof tops.  It’s clear that this pair has the BEST spot to perch and the others simply have to make do.

Nesting

5 Jan

California Towhee nest

In the spring, there were baby birds
not dead leaves.
Wisteria makes a wonderful hidey-hole for birds;
dense foliage, sturdy branches
The Towhees love it.
I hear them through my open window,
cheerfully chirruping the rising sun.

© 2011, Liza Lee Miller.
Creative Commons License

First!

4 Jan

While my site isn’t the type where people vie to get to make the FIRST comment on each post, I would like to think that the birds were vying to be my first bird of the year.

I’d be kidding myself, however.  New Year’s Day found me still battling a nasty cold.  Therefore my butt stayed planted on the couch all day.  We headed over to my mother-in-law’s for dinner in the late afternoon.  My eyes were peeled as we drove to her place.  We were 9 miles away before I saw a bird.  Really.  I couldn’t believe.

Finally, when we stopped for gas, I saw a trio of Common Ravens flying high over the redwood forests of Henry Cowell State Park.
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This guy was wondering around my school just asking me to capture it and show the beautiful beak and  hidden colors in his (her?) feathers.  Gorgeous creatures.  (Despite appearances, this bird was not one-legged!)

I started a new year list.  Wonder if I’ll keep it updated this year.

A little political action . . .

20 Oct

Sandhill Cranes, Yellowstone

I felt so blessed to see these amazing birds in Yellowstone National Park this summer.  Sandhill Cranes are magnificent.  I’d never seen them before this trip.  We spotted a pair in Utah as we drove by at 65 mph.  We couldn’t stop and really look at them.  I was thrilled when Greg spotted this pair out in a meadow as we drove through Yellowstone.  They were pretty far away and I know it’s not a great shot.  I didn’t want to get too close.  I stood by the road and shot to the limits of my telephoto.  But, as any birder knows, you feel a connection to birds you see in the wild and they become, in some way, yours.

So, when I read on 10,000 Birds about Tennessee’s proposed hunting season on Sandhill Cranes, I felt a little sick.  I’m not anti-hunting.  However, I do question what Tennessee has done here.  They planted crops designed to get the Sandhill Cranes to stop in their state during their migration by the thousands and they created a festival around their arrival.  Now, it’s becoming too much somewho and they are proposing cutting back on the feeding and opening a hunting season on them.  Say what?

I have read 10,000 Birds for years and trust them.  I’ve read Julie Zickefoose for years as well and I trust her as well.  Read the article, read the comments, and see if you aren’t moved to write to the state wildlife managers and suggest they not start hunting Sandhill Cranes in Tennessee.

What a crying shame that would be . . .

Birdwatching in Santa Clara

18 Oct

Every year, I get to go to an amazing quilt show in Santa Clara — the Pacific International Quilt Show.  It’s really inspirational.  Plus, I’m always amazed how many quilts have birds in them.  It’s like dual entertainment!

I am starting with my favorite bird . . . the Raven.  While these trees are all wrong for my Ravens to soar through, it still made me happy to see it.  I love the way Ravens will use the roads to make their own paths through the woods.  I think the artist made a great choice to have the purple fabric mixed with the black fabric for the Ravens’ feathers.

Romping Thru the Woods

Romping Thru the Woods
© Rose Hughes, Signal Hill, CA (45″ x 45″)

I usually don’t take photos of birds that can’t be identified or of barnyard birds . . . there are LOTS of chickens at quilt shows.  However, this Phoenix refused to be ignored.  Wow doesn’t even begin to cover it.

Phoenix Rising

Phoenix Rising
© Jan Pendleton & Lauri Drean (27″ x 27″)

Charley Harper is one of my favorite bird artists.  Check out this amazing homage to his art.

Charley Harper

Charley Harper
© Jane Haworth, Auburn, California

Sometimes the birds are just a small part of the whole.  Loved this pelican though.  There is a closeup below.

Water Quilt

Along the Russian River
© Pointless Sisters Quilt Group, Santa Rosa, CA

Closeup of Pelican from Water Quilt
Closeup of Pelican from Along the Russian River

While we don’t see many of these birds here in California, I loved the bird portraits in this quilt.  Just lovely. 

Birds in the Woods

Birds in the Woods
© Nettie Smith & Linda Hibbert (90″ x 74″)

Another amazing Pelican.  This one made me think about our trip this summer.  Once we hit the coast, we saw lots of pelicans.

This is Gonna Cost You

This is Gonna Cost You
© Janice W. Hearn, Sisters, OR (32″ x 54″)

I’m writing this post on our first rainy day of the season . . . this quilt captures the mood outside perfectly.

Anticipating the Storm

Anticipating the Storm
© Laura Jaszkowski

There is just something about seabirds, isn’t there?

Gull Reflections

Gull Reflections
© Kerby C. Smith & Lura Schwarz Smith, 2009

Evidently, Black Oystercatchers are called Tobies in South Africa.  I loved this quilt!

Save the Tobies

Save the Tobies
© Bettie Van Zyl, South Africa (42″ x 57″)

Gorgeous cranes.  I also love the background.  It’s amazing.

Overberg Cranes

Overberg Cranes
© Caroline Sharkey, Australia (26.5″ x 56.5″)

The quilt below is worth clicking on and looking at the larger version of it.  There is so much life in this quilt.  Absolutely amazing.

Welcome to the Jungle

Welcome to the Jungle
© Betty Busby, Albuquerque, NM (68″ x 54″)
Winner Best of Country, United States, World Quilt Competition

I always enjoy going to quilt shows.  I haven’t made a quilt in about 7 years.  I need to find time in my life for this again.  I loved the way many of the artists combined fiber arts, birds, and photography.  Very inspirational . . .

A beautiful day on the bay . . .

29 Sep

Wildlife in the bay

Our spectacular bay . . .

28 Sep

School of sardines (probably)

Last week, I got to take my class out on the Monterey Bay.  Thanks to the amazing O’Neill Sea Odyssey!  I’d been reading about some spectacular sightings on recent pelagic trips.  I figured that being out with 30+ 4th graders and their parents would minimize my luck in seeing rare pelagic birds.  I was right.  Nary a Tufted Puffin in sight.

However, right off the Santa Cruz Wharf and the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, there was a school of fish –probably some sardines — drew in many species . . . gulls, cormorants, pelicans, sea lions, and a harbor seal or two.  Wow, it was so cool.

Still would have liked seeing a Tufted Puffin, too!  But, it was probably worth missing them to see the faces of the kids when they got to be on a boat . . . some of them for the first time!

By the way . . . O’Neill Sea Odyssey puts this amazing experience together . . . science, navigation, ecology for local kids for FREE!  You can support this amazing program by checking out the events here!

Birding Myths: No Hummingbird Feeders after Labor Day

6 Sep

It’s Labor Day, folks.  The traditional end to summer.  The day we all pack up our white shoes and prepare for the dark days of winter.

Not all rules about Labor Day should be followed though.  While everyone knows that white shoes after Labor Day might call the fashion world to implode and bring back a return of the worst fashion heresies of all time.  Hoop skirts?  Go-go boots?  Need I go on? Sure, that’s one we can all agree on.  I’m putting my white shoes into storage and hitting the rest of my “get ready for winter” list.

One item that must be taken OFF the list is packing up the hummingbird feeders.  In most parts of the US, hummingbirds are beginning their migration south.  Many people believe that they must pack up their feeders or the hummingbirds will stay too long and won’t survive their migration.

Nope.  Myth.  Not true.

Hummingbirds head south when their little hummingbird instincts tell them to do so.  They will go whether there is food available or not.  They are tough little birds.  They can survive some below freezing nights.  But, they will go when they are ready to go. More important is that they are able to eat enough food to build up their reserves so that they can survive the migration flight.  Having a ready food source is essential. The best rule of thumb is to keep your feeder up for about 2 weeks after you see your last hummingbird.  That way, the latecomers can stop in for a drink on their way . . .

Furthermore, on the West Coast, where I live, we have hummingbirds year round.  Our local Anna’s Hummingbirds stay year round.  They will benefit from a ready source of food all year.  In California, keep your feeders up year round, please!  In fact, in the depths of winter, I’ll often bring the feeder in at night and put it out first thing in the morning . . . that way the hummingbird juice is warmer than the air temperature giving the hummers a warm start to their mornings.

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Make sure your friends who feed the birds know to leave their feeders up.  The hummers will thank you!

Sandhill Cranes are amazingly cool

29 Aug

Sandhill Cranes, Yellowstone

I saw my first Sandhill Cranes in Utah but it was a 60 mph sighting.  Thankfully, in Yellowstone, my loving and indulgent husband spotted these beauties as we drove along the Western side of the park.  We stopped and I was able to get this shot.  They were quite far away but I was able to get these shots thanks to my fantastic camera.  Every time I look at this camera, I get excited about these beauties all over again.  How amazing are they?