Thursday, July 16, 2009

I Want to Fly!

The eggs have hatched, a couple of weeks have passed, and now it's time for baby bluebirds to leave the nest. I watched them getting the courage up to fledge. The mama kept them in for one more day. Once they're out of the nest, they don't come back to it. They will still need her to feed them. It will take the babies a while before they figure out how to feed themselves, but they will be up in the trees and flying around like grown up birds.

The day after this video was shot, they left the nest. I didn't get to see it. They must have gone first light, before anyone is awake. I didn't see them for a couple days, but I could hear bluebird sounds out in the back woods. Then today, the mama came looking for worms on the feeding station. It's a lot of work feeding all these babies and I guess she could use some help.

Bluebirds Fly from Jen Hill on Vimeo.

I highly recommend viewing the HD version. If you would like to see it in HD click here.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Say Hello to My Little Blue Friend

I had kind of given up on the bluebirds, since they didn't nest here last summer and I had only seen one or two stop by on a visit this summer. I figured they must not see this as a good place to raise their young. Sure I had a visit on Thanksgiving of all days from a few male bluebirds passing through. They landed on the nesting box for a few minutes and went on their way.

So a few weeks ago, a male and female bluebird with three babies in tow decided to come live in our yard. They showed up one day and we quickly got some meal worms at the local pet shop to feed them. They liked that treatment I guess, and decided to stay. After a few days the female, I call her Mama, started making a nest in the box.

So they've been hanging out here and I got some up close video of Daddy blue. There's a short clip of Daddy and Mama together but she soon busied herself with other things.

I uploaded a new HD video to vimeo today. You can press the play button to watch it from within this window.

Bluebirds Close Up from Jen Hill on Vimeo.

You can also click the enlarge icon on the lower right hand corner to make it full screen.

I highly recommend viewing the HD version. If you would like to see it in HD click here.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Year of the Toad

Right after I posted about Mr. Toad, I met up with Toad Jr. on the back patio. He was doing well to camouflage himself amongst the plants and bluestone, but Clarence cat cannot be fooled. I notice him noticing the toad and that's what alerted me to him. He's about a third of the size of the window well toad. At the time, I was potting up some plants there on the patio and he kept moving to get away from me as I moved about. He ended up feeling safe on a plastic tray I use to move my seedlings around. He hid among my pepper plants which had not yet been planted.

Later that evening, I went out to move my pepper and eggplants to a safe (read deer free) spot for the night. As I placed my fingers around the edges of the tray, I felt toad. Yes, I touched toad, in the dark, where I could barely make him out, but I knew what it was that I was touching. They're very delicate creatures. They kind of feel like the soft flesh and bone on the back of your hand. So I moved my plants and went inside and told hubby, "Hon! I touched toad!"

Since meeting up with Toad Jr. I've met up with small toads three more times, today being the most recent. Two of them were on the outside of my vegetable garden. One was hopping against the hardware cloth at the bottom. I helped him get inside and placed him in the garden near a tomato plant and a toad house I set up for him (a rock piled on top of some bricks). I could use his help with the insects, which I pretty much feel helpless against, since I don't want to use anything that would hurt a bee.

Toads are indeed delicate creatures. They're greatly affected by the air and water quality. They absorb moisture readily through their skin (as do we by the way). A toxic environment would not suit a toad at all. So I'm taking it as a good sign that I have so many visible toads this year. Soon the plants in the garden will be big and beefy and packed with great hiding places for my toad friends. I'll enjoy them while I can.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Mr. Toad

Every spring when I go out to the vegetable garden and start tilling the soil for planting, inevitably, I find a toad. Usually, it is hopping for it's life trying to get away from me. Of course I feel bad for frightening the poor thing. I'd like for him to stay and eat all the bugs he can handle, but alas I never really see him again after that. I guess garden toads just don't like people.

House toads, however, don't mind people. In the window well of one of my basement windows we have a toad tenant. He's been there for a few years now. I usually only see him when it rains and he comes out from hiding under the leaves that have collected down in the well. I've left the leaves there so as to not disturb his little home. Often I see only the tip of his snout (nose? what do toads have?) sticking out of the leaves. A sapling has started to grow in there too and I think it's just the cutest thing. He has the perfect toad set up.

This past week, we started painting the exterior of the house. I took extra caution to cover Mr. Toad's window well with a big thick tarp so he wouldn't get any paint on him or the leaves. Then I recalled in one of my gardening books, some advice about toads. It said to leave a dish of clean water. They like to sit in it and absorb the water through their skin. So I got a small toad sized cup, filled it with clean water, and reached down into the window well, put it on the windowsill for Mr. Toad and went about my business. I noticed later that he was sitting by it, facing it. Perhaps he was pondering if he would fit inside, or just how he would get in there.

Yesterday was a rainy day and hubby and I decided to do some woodworking in our shop in the basement. We have a sink under the window of Mr. Toad's home. I looked up to see him in the dish of water outside the window. For some reason, it struck me as adorable, so I had to go outside and get his picture. He fits perfectly in the cup of water. He stayed there all day. His toes must have gotten pruney as he finally decided to get out late in the afternoon and sit on the windowsill next to the cup of water. Ah, the life of a toad...