Sunday, 29 June 2014

Night Moves

From time to time I like to set up my night camera to see what fellow creatures are exploring outside. A small snack is offered to bribe subjects within shutter view.

Last night I trail-cam-bagged a skunk, two raccoons (maybe three) and a neighbourhood cat.

Night Moves from Out To Pasture on Vimeo.

Friday, 27 June 2014

Foster Foolery

Today I saw a young cowbird hanging out on a feeder. It performed a begging display to every bird that came close. What poor little bird wound up with this illegitimate egg dropped on it's doorstep, er, nest? Soon all was revealed. A frantically foraging little song sparrow was doing her best to satisfy the demands of the fraudulent child. In all likelihood, the sparrow's own chicks were ousted by the faster growing young cowbird. Better luck with your second clutch, little sparrow. 

Young cowbird coaxing to be fed.

Song sparrow foster mother feeding her adopted chick.

A small harvester spider makes only a tiny snack.

Also tempting my camera were some well dressed gentlemen of the feathered kind. 

A male Baltimore oriole takes a cooling dip.

Male purples finches have a lovely raspberry hue.

This male rose-breasted grosbeak has an interesting bib pattern.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Masked Visitor

Yesterday I was surprised to see a Yellowthroat Warbler peering in through a rain soaked window. The male's unique black mask sets him apart from other North American warblers. Not a feeder bird, this male was either looking for insects or checking out his reflection. At any rate, it was a treat to watch this vigorous little fellow with his sunshine yellow throat pay a surprise visit to my window on such a rainy day.

With a wren-like stance, this male yellowthroat warbler twitters his message.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

More Flutter

Summer has arrived and the backyard birds are busy raising their new families. All this hectic fluttering about brings many customers to the bathing/drinking facilities.

A goldfinch waits for the cedar waxwings to finish bathing.

A female redwing blackbird points her sharp beak at an unconcerned robin.

A grackle's turn to soak.

As in many previous years, barn swallows have built their mud nest on a small ledge in our open-ended garage. Such a pleasure to watch their 'top gun' style hunting on the wing. When not busy with child feeding duties, the couples converse with long and musical twitterings.

Four fuzzy barn swallow chicks.

Arriving parents produce a quartet of begging.

The female delivering a meal.

The male has darker colours.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Luscious Locust

These days, the young black locust trees are decked out in outrageously cascading, creamy white blooms. Their wonderful fragrance is luring in butterflies and bumble bees, but not a single honey bee for which I planted the trees in the first place. I'm hoping the supplier will soon ring me with the welcome news that my order is ready for pickup. Meanwhile, native pollinators are making sure the bounty is put to good use.

Beautiful and fragrant black locust blossoms.

The entire tree is decked out in bridal finery.

A bumble bee digs into a sweet blossom.

Hm-m-m, simply delicious!

Friday, 6 June 2014

Where Is The Buzz?

You may be asking, "Yes, we've seen plenty of 'flutter', but where is the 'buzz'?

Well, I'm really missing the buzzing myself. These days when I walk past a luscious, pollen laden dandelion, or a sweetly scented apple blossom, I look for but do not see my lovely honey bee ladies harvesting the bounty.

After my disastrous winter die out of all six of my hives, I ordered two replacement nucleus honey bee colonies.  The cold and windy Spring has delayed queen rearing in this area, but it shouldn't be many days now until my new bees will be ready for pickup.

My brother, Robert, had wanted to acquire honey bees when he was a boy living on our family dairy farm. Dad said, no, they might sting the milk cows. Truth be told, I suspect Dad just did not want to add any more work to his already gargantuan list of chores.

Anyway, in the summer of 2009, my wonderful cousin, Peter, gifted me with two colonies of Italian honey bees as well as with hive tools, an extractor and with his expert mentorship. I was instantly hooked. In 2010 I bought a couple of Russian strain honey bee nucleus hives. The Italians were golden coloured and a bit reluctant to venture forth on cool mornings while the Russians were darker coloured, more active in cooler temperatures and more inclined to swarm. Both strains were sweet tempered. The bees currently on order are small dark bees whose ancestors were brought over from England in the middle 1800's. The great, great granddaughter of that beekeeper continues to raise those bees to this day. She says they are gentle, little dark bees that winter in small clusters and explode their population in Spring. I can hardly wait to welcome them home and watch them hard at work and buzzing their happy songs as they keep me company in the garden. No, I have not been drinking Pollyanna juice. I just adore bees.

Master beekeeper, Peter, checks the brood pattern.

Peter's Italian honey bees harvesting globe thistles.

Two frame extractor from Peter. Robert made a new crank and bucket clamps.

Alkanet flowers and a honey bee carrying black pollen.

A working lady harvesting nectar from a licorice mint bloom.

One morning I saw the girls doing a kind of line dance on this bottom board.

Our honey bees produce a delicately flavoured wildflower honey.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Party Of Eight

Cedar Waxwings are groupies. No doubt about it. Not nesting until late summer when their favoured food source of berries begin to appear, they are now hanging out in gregarious parties. With their sleek feathers, crests and black masks, they remind me of revellers at a renaissance masquerade ball. Lovely costumes little birds, but must you all come dressed the same?

A party of eight congregate on a bare branch.

Very spiffy.

Who can resist a refreshment stand?

Meanwhile, well into their nesting season, the tree swallows are brooding eggs within their boxes. 

An older box, somewhat in the style of a privy.
A handsome man of the house watches me gardening nearby.