Saturday, May 30, 2020

Patience Pays Off

White-crowned Sparrow with a mouthful

On Friday morning I went out on a practice route for the bird-walk that I would be leading here at the Dallas Retirement Village on Saturday. We have a number of nesting sites that I am trying to keep tabs on, but because it's that time of year when adults are feeding babies, they are ever so cautious as not to give away the nest location.  The adult White-crowned Sparrow in the photo above caught my attention with his scolding peeps, causing me to pause my travel.  How it could accomplish scolding me with his mouth crammed full of bugs, is a complete mystery. I decided to not heed his warning scolds and patiently wait it out and perhaps discover the nest site.  I backed away behind a gate and the edge of a building to conceal myself and wait.  Still it kept scolding.  I realized that the bright yellow Franz bread delivery truck backed up to the building might be what it was actually upset with, so I waited.  Eventually the driver finished his delivery and left, and to my good fortune the bird ceased its scolding and flew to another post, then down to the ground, and after circling a couple of rose bushes, entered the particular bush containing the nest. I waited for it to leave and then did a quick shearch and took a photo with my cell phone shown below.
baby White-crowned Sparrows

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Fist Bird Walk at Dallas Retirement Village

This morning Jeanette and I got to lead our first Bird Walk at Dallas Retirement Village.  It was origninally on the schedule for April 4, but Covid-19 canceled that. So today, adhearing to the protocol of Phase 1, we had 10 participants, all wearing face masks, and keeping 6 feet of distance.  We counted 40 birds total, representing 14 different species. You can see the observation list here. The plan is to continue every Saturday morning with these limits of people, masks and distance until they are lifted.  

The most exciting bird of the day was this fledgling Western Bluebird.  I just missed by fractions of a second geting the dad in the frame feeding this young one.  At a second Western Bluebird nesting site, we got to see another dad waiting for us to leave before taking a mouthful of insects to the box.

Friday, May 15, 2020

Nesting Update

Keeping track of bird nesting activity here at the Dallas Retirement Village is becoming a very engrossing activity for me. Here are a varity of experinces from this morning's bird walk. Click on the photos for an enlarged image.

The most exciting find this morning was this  female Western Bluebird setting on her nest.  This pair had shown interest in the nest early on, but never seemed to settle.  There was never any observation of the pair carrying nesting material, then one day a while back I checked the box just to verify my suspicion that a nest had never got started.  To my complete surprise there was a completed nest inside.  I stepped up my observations, trying to visit everyday, still no sign of them coming or going.  This morning I made another check and this is what I found a female setting on her nest.

Another site we checked this morning was this White-crowned Sparrow's nest in a rose bush.  The female exited the nest as I started to investigate, which led to this photo of four eggs. I had last checked it on Monday and there were four eggs then, so I think this is the total and she is now setting.

This female Violet-green Swallow was seen making several trips in and out of the nesting box.  After she left I inspected the box and found an empty nest, so I'm guessing she is putting the final touches in before she starts to lay her eggs.

Another female Violet-green Swallow was checking out this nesting box on NW Bonanza Ave.  House Sparrows were around here earlier this year, but have not taken up residence here.  I realized today that the entrance may be to small for Sparrows, but this Swallow was able to enter.

I think she might have been suprised that a Black-tailed bumble bee possibly had some interest in the box also. (following visits saw the bumble bees coming and going, but not swallows)

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

"Take-Out" to New High Level

Yesterday we met friends Ron and Mary from California at the The Territory Restaurant in The Independence Hotel. It was the first day of the resturant's re-opening with an adaption to Covid-19 of a new "take-out" ony menu.  We walked into the lobby not knowing we were supposed to phone in the order.  We were their very first customers, and they were very gracous with waitress Jill Peters taking our order right in the lobby.  Because Ron and Mary had booked a room we had access to the Roof Top Deck on top of the 4th floor to use for our dinning.

We had the deck to ourselves and Jeanette had thought of everything, and bringing a table cloth, paper plates, plastic cups, beverages, and cookies.

The waitress called me when our take-out order was ready and I went down and picked it up. Jeanette, Mary, and I had Cuban sandwiches, Ron had a French Dip sandwich. The food was outstanding.

The view overlooking the Willamette River was also outstanding, and we could keep our eye on the Osprey nest while we ate our lunch.

The female Osprey was setting on the eggs, while the male who has just brought in an additional stick for the nest, was waiting his turn to sit on the eggs, which the staff explained now has three eggs.

It was strange to look down on the Canada Geese flying on the Willamette River.  Of course I had to make a bird list, which you can see here.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

A Nest with Eggs!

As I posted last time,  my daily routine here at the Dallas Retirement Village now includes checking several bird nesting sites, and one of the species I showcased was the White-crowned Sparrow who have made a nest in a rose-bush at the Jasper Street walk-in gate. On this morning's rounds I discovered the nest now has three eggs!  Reading up on I learned that White-crowned Sparrows normally have 4 to 5 eggs, so we may have more eggs to come.

Other observations from my morning include a female Violet-green Swallow in a nesting box, a pair of Dark-eyed Junco in a prossible nesting area, Western Bluebirds engaged in breeding activity, and a family of recently fledged House Finches.  You can see my e-Bird observation list here.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Checking Nesting Sites

male Western Bluebird

The emphasis of my birding here at Dallas Retirement Village is currently concentrating on keeping track of nesting sites.  All three photos shown here were taken this morning while making my rounds. The first nesting site that I started monitoring was a nesting box I put up in the garden area for Western Bluebirds earlier this year.  The bluebirds were active around the box for some time and then seemed to disappear.  I would spot them or other bluebirds at various locations around the Village.  Then, a few days ago I decided to look into the nesting box.  To my suprise there was a completed nest, even though I had not seen any coming or going with materials.  Today when I came by, both the male and the female where in the garden area.  So, I'll just keep on checking back and hopefully at some point I will see evidence of a some baby chicks.

female Violet-green Swallow

The second nesting site I started watching was this nesting box I put up for swallows at a water collection basin in the south-west corner of the Village.  There as been a lot of activity around it with other swallows plus an unwanted House Sparrow.  In the end it appears that a pair of Violet-green Swallows have won out and have started to make a nest.

male White-crowned Sparrow

The third nesting site I have started paying attention to is a nest being made by a pair of White-crowned Sparrows.  I happened to catch a glimpse of one carring nesting material into a rose bush.  Further checking later in the day I found the nest under construction in the center rose bush of a set of three.  This morning the singing male caught my attention on this post above the nesting area.  I'm a little confused because my assumption is that once a nest is started the male is pretty quiet not to call attention to the nest site.  So, only time will tell as to the outcome of all three of these nests.  In the meantime it gives me a reason to get out of bed every morning.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Covid-19 Emergency Kit

Because Covid-19 has restrooms closed, and because we like to get out and go birding every day, one of the biggest limiting factors is restroom availability. In other words, it is only safe to travel a short distance from home. Today our combined genius put together an emergeny kit to solve this problem. Here are the necessary components:

1. Collapsible Bucket - this is a three liter bucket that collapses down to only 2" in height.  We bought it next door at the Grocery Outlet for $4.99.

2. Toilet Waste Bag - we bought these Double Doodie bags from Sportsman Warehouse.  They are a double bag system with a special poo powder in the inner bag that will solidify waste and contain odor.

3. Toilet Paper - because of their compactness, we are using mini Kleenex packs. Bags and TP can be stored inside the collapsed bucket.

We will now be able to travel safely with out the danger of facing a catastrophe.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Overlooked Kingsborough Park

 Jeanette kneeling to get a better look at a bird

Kingsborough Park, located on the western outskirts of Dallas of off Ellendale Ave, is an overlooked park as far as birding is concerned.  Yet, it is rich in bird life, providing us a list of 31 different species yesterday on our morning bird/dog walk there.  We began birding here four years ago, and since then only four other people have ever reported birds to eBird. Here is a link to our bird list and photos from yesterday.    

Rickreall Creek

A big Thank You to the City of Dallas for keeping the city parks open with the limit of Social Distancing in place.

Western Tanager male

Monday, May 4, 2020

Progress in the Birding World

Back in January when we moved into our apartment in The Lodge at the Dallas Retirement Village, one of the first things I did was put up a bird feeder.  I selected a location in the central courtyard that was easily visible from our second floor residence. I knew I would be successful by offering both black sunflower seeds and suet, because I had years of experience in bird feeding.  However, not a single bird showed up in January, same for February, and even March!  So much for my expertise.  Then suddenly on the first of May we got birds. House Finches, both males and females showed up at the feeders.  On the third of May American Goldfinches joined in. And all along White-crowned Sparrows harvested the spillage on the ground. I can once again show my face in the hallways.
House Finch male

House Finch female

American Goldfinch male

White-crowned Sparrow

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Future Ramblings in a Cascade Camper

Yesterday we were thrilled to meet with Ilsa Chapple of Cascade Campers at the I-5 Santiam Rest Area while she was in route from Washington to California.  It was our first opportunity to actually look at the camper build-out we are having her company build for us. Cascade Campers is based in Grass Valley California, and we are scheduled to have them convert a 2017 Ram Promaster City SLT Van to a camper some time in July.  

 Jeanette is discusing with Ilsa the 12volt compressor refrigerator which runs off a battery charged by a 100 watt solar panel located on the roof. Other ammenities include a sink with running water from a 5 gallon removable water tank, and a butane stove for cooking

Jeanette trys out the comfortable couch, which folds down to make a bed. Underneath the couch are five containers for storage. Cooking can be done on the counter space shown with a butane stove that is included.

Jeanette watches while Ilsa demonstrates making the couch into the bed.

For the past several months we have been investigating a number of camper vans; the CarAvan Freebird, the Wilderness Vans West Coast Mini, and the Recon Camper Envy are the main ones that come to mind.  In the end the best fit for us was Cascade Campers. They are the only one that build with a length-wise couch, and seem to have the best thought out design and most practical. And they were also the least expensive.  The camper is very basic and simple and our dream is that it will be the perfect vehicle for us to escape to the coast or mountains for a night or two.

Friday, May 1, 2020

The Balm in Gilead

This is where we paused this morning during a bird/dog walk in the Dallas City Park, a park bench looking over a pond located in the the Delbert Hunter Arboretum.  In these days of the corona virus with all the extreme anxiety and stress, Jeanette and I continue to find a need to escape for some solitude.  Fortunately for us, the Dallas City Park is only a few blocks away.  As we sat on the bench this morning the title of an old spiritual I sang in choir during college around 60 years ago came to my mind, "There is a Balm in Gilead".  I now have no idea where Gilead was or is, but I suspect it could have been a figurative place.  Here are the words of the refrain:
There is a balm in Gilead
to make the wounded whole,
there is a balm in Gilead 
to heal the sin-sick soul.  

Regardless of the literal meaning of the words, it is the feeling in thinking of the title that was important to me.  This is a place for us to feel some healing and wholeness.