Tag Archive | bird

Juvenile Male Cardinal ~ Cardinalis cardinalis

Happy Valentines Day!

I though today would be a great day to write about cardinals.

Cardinals are monogamous birds whose relationships with their spouses are harmonious, romantic and musical. The male and female sing duets, calling similar songs to each other. Native American lore says if a cardinal crosses your path or attracts your attention, and you’re single, there may be a romantic relationship in your near future. If you’re already in a relationship, you may experience renewed romance and courtship. If you or your partner have been unfaithful, monogamy is the cardinal’s message


Cardinals make a distinct ‘chirp’, that my ears pick-up quickly. I was home writing posts, when I heard the call. This little guy was under the suet puck I have hanging from a shepherd’s hook. Mr. Squirrel was up on the puck, gobbling and dropping a lot of crumbs. Perfect situation for Mr. Cardinal! I crept up to the window and looked down, hoping not to spook him. The cardinals at work are very skittish. Any movement at all has them flying off. This guy here had no fear. As long as the crumbs rain down on him, he was happy and not worried about who looked at him.

Cardinalis cardinalis is what’s called a tautonym: zoological names of species consisting of two identical words (the generic name and the specific name have the same spelling). Such names are allowed in zoology, however not in botany. Clearly, like I’ve said before, botanist’s are EVIL!!! Click here to see the long list of tautonyms available from the Wiki. Some of my favorites: Bison bison, Chinchilla chinchilla, Iguana iguana, Gorilla gorilla. 😉

My gift to you on Valentine’s day; a romantic Native American legend.

The Red Bird

A Choctaw Legend

Once, when time was not quite old enough to be counted, there lived a beautiful Indian maiden. This was a special maiden. She could do all the work that needed to be done to keep her lodge in order and to satisfy her mate. But this maiden did not have what she longed for — her mate. As she sat under the large tree one day, she heard the Red Bird.

“Red Bird, is it so strange for me to wish to have someone to care for, who will care for me?” asked the maiden. “If it is not so strange, why have I not found that one meant for me?”

The Red Bird had no answer for the Indian maiden, but he sat and listened to her because he could hear the lonely in her voice. Every morning for the passing of seven suns, the Red Bird came and listened to the maiden’s story. As each day passed, the loneliness felt by the maiden began to fill the Red Bird.

One day in the Red Bird’s far travels, he came to a handsome Indian brave. The brave saw the Red Bird and called him to him. As he began to talk, the Red Bird felt the loneliness in his voice that the maiden had shown. Soon the Red Bird began to see that these two lonely people had the same wish, to find another who would love and care for them as they would care for their mate.

On the fifth day of listening to the brave, the Red Bird became as a bird that is sick. The brave became concerned, for the Red Bird had become his friend. As the brave walked toward him, the Red Bird began hopping, leading the brave to the lodge of the Indian maiden. Because the brave was wanting to see if the Red Bird was alright, he did not notice that he was going from his home. The Red Bird saw the Indian maiden sitting outside of her lodge and when he came very close to where he knew the brave would then see the Indian maiden, he flew away. The brave saw the Indian maiden and realized that he had wandered far from his home. He went to the Indian maiden to ask where he was.

The Red Bird sat in the tree and watched the brave and the maiden. At first the brave was shy and the maiden would not talk, but they soon were talking and laughing like old friends.

Red Bird saw this and thought it was good. He had done as he could and now it would be up to the brave and the maiden. As Red Bird flew to his home he thought of how Great Spirit had known that someday the two would find each other. Now it was good, thought Red Bird, that maiden had someone who would see for her and brave had someone that would hear for him and that they finally had someone who would care.

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Kayaking Savannah

We really wanted to get out and kayak while we were down in Savannah. The weather wasn’t so bad (for a Midwesterner), however the day we picked turned out to be very foggy. We were a bit uneducated dealing with tide information. Of course we knew what it was, just to what degree did the water change. Considering some of the piers we saw were 100’s of feet long, we figured we wanted to go during high tide, and ride low tide back out for less paddling.
We chose to launch from the Rodney J Hall Boat Ramp, as it was nearby, kayak friendly and free.


MINE! MINE! MINE! Fish heads for the gulls. Ass fisherperson could have thrown them off the ramp, tho.


Note the water is high on the poles. There’s a bird perched on every pole!

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I love how birds sit on the poles.


This guy had a kayak that he peddled instead of paddled! Very cool!!


Not sure what type of birds these are.

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The pelicans followed this guy like begging dogs! Too cute.


I think these are oysters on the shores.



The tide had gone out about 5 feet by the time we came back to the boat ramp.


The water had gone down so much, we couldn’t get near the poles the birds were on at the beginning of the post.

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

House Finch Eye Disease ~ Mycoplasmal conjunctivitis


House Finch eye disease, Mycoplasmal conjunctivitis (MC) was first noticed in 1994 in the New England area. The disease later spread to states along the East Coast, and has now been reported throughout most of eastern North America, as far north as Quebec, Canada, as far south as Florida, and as far west as California.

Birds infected with this disease have swollen, red, runny, or crusty eyes. In extreme cases, the eyes become swollen shut and the bird becomes blind. While infected birds can recover, many die from starvation or predation.

Although infected bird’s symptoms show in the eyes, the disease is primarily a respiratory infection. It is caused by a strain of the MC bacterium, Mycoplasma gallisepticum. The bacterium poses no known health threat to humans.

MC has affected domestic turkeys and chickens for a long time. The disease also inflicts several other wild bird species including, Purple Finch, American Goldfinch, Evening Grosbeak.

There are treatments out there for this disease, however it is illegal to posses a wild bird. The best way to reduce the potential spread of MG and other feeder-bird diseases is to observe the following guidelines:

  • Clean feeders and bird baths every two weeks with a 10 percent bleach solution.
  • Use fresh seed, and keep the ground area around the feeder as clean as possible. During the summer, rake the area to remove accumulated seeds/shells under the feeder. During the winter, shovel fresh snow over the area.
  • Use nonporous plastic, metal, or glass feeders that are easy to clean, and offer ample feeder space to reduce crowding.
  • Keep platform feeders clean and only offer a day’s worth of seed.


© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Savannah National Wildlife Refuge

This is a 4 mile, drive through wilderness preserve. How cool is that?! There are alligators here, so staying in the car was just fine with me.
This area was originally used to grow rice. Settlers cleared the area of trees, and built levees to control the water.
The water here is what is called brackish, a mix of saltwater and fresh. There is a delicate balance going on. Not too much salt, not too little.


This channel of freshwater from the Little Back River was made by the US Army Engineers. The area was getting too much saltwater up from the Port of Savannah as modern needs enlarged the port. The USACE  diverted freshwater (very salt free)  from farther up the river to balance out the ecology.


Unknown butterfly. Folks stop to see what I’m taking photos of, and after they see is not a gator, they pass by, all pissed off. 😛
The speed limit was 20, however hubby just allowed our truck to idle at about 4.5 MPH. There are limited areas to pull over to let folks pass. We pulled over often as folks just flew past us. Why go through such a beautiful area so fast?! Gators were the main attraction. Folks wanted to get to the next gator and didn’t care about anything else.  When a gator was found, a “parking cluster f**k” would occur. No one understands what pull off the road means. And what is it about leaving doors open? You’re not a cop requiring a shield, an escaped fugitive or a standing start racecar driver. Close your dang door!
I didn’t bring two important things on this trip… binoculars or a charged real camera. I left my charger at home.. Illinois home. Gaaaa! So sorry you have to deal with camerone photos.


Alligator Alley is a common name for roads down here!


Yellow-bellied Sliders! My hubby has a great eye for finding things in the brush. It also seemed all the good stuff was on the driver’s side. I ended up getting in the back seat on his side for awhile to not miss anything!


Tree tunnels. Love them! These are ‘Live Oaks’ (Quercus virginiana) covered with Spanish moss. They call them live oaks here because the new leaves push the brown ones out, thus they are never really leafless or ‘dead’. Over the pond, they have evergreen oaks…. these are different.


Snowy Egret. Another snow bird! These guys live by me in the summer and take the long flight down here seasonally. They were everywhere!


Here’s what everyone came for! Mr. Crocodile! 🐊 We spotted this guy about 20 feet away from the road. My guess is he’s about 15′ long. The cool temperatures (50F-70F) keep them kinda sluggish and they generally only come out to sun themselves.


Unknown bird. This guy was right on the side of the road. Not afraid of me at all, hence I was able to get a few closer shots.


Another tree tunnel.


A beautiful line of oaks.


Another beautiful, unidentified  butterfly


Liverleaf Hepatica / Hepatica americana… I think! It looked like beautiful shamrocks.


Not as big as the last one, however still a gator! A fellow tourist pulled up along side of us standing outside taking pix. He asked us in very broken English, “Cross?” And motioned across the road. I think gators were new to him! We nodded no and I made a sleepy type motion to him and he understood. He was safe.  Ha!  Just remember… I dont need to outrun the gator, I just need to outrun you!


Such a beautiful area… I wonder what it looked like with when all of the trees were still here…

Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Red Breasted Nuthatch ~ Sitta canadensis

image I started offering peanuts to my feathered & furry friends about a month ago. Word must have gotten around as now I’ve got a few new visitors! Not only do the Blue Jays and Crows love the new treat, I’ve got a Red-breasted Nuthatch now. I’m so excited to see him!


His identity had me a bit confused. I swore he was some kind of sparrow. I have White-breasted Nuthatches around and they really don’t have the same body shape. I think the Red-breasted is shaped and sized more like a Chickadee.

I was also hoping for a better photo than these  😉 Boy, that little guy is fast!


The Red-breasted Nuthatch’s diet changes throughout the year, as their southernmost areas may actually be quite far north. In summer, they eat mostly insects, while in the winter, they switch to seeds. At feeders, they like sunflower seeds, peanuts and suet. In true Nuthatch fashion, they wedge nuts in tree bark and hatch the fruit out by hammering it with their beaks. They also like to stash food for winter.

Red-breasted Nuthatches nest in tree cavities that they excavate themselves. Both parents will work on the nook, and it can take up to eight weeks to dig it out. The nest is primarily built by the female and she uses, grass, moss, shredded bark, needles, and rootlets.

One of the coolest things the Red-breasted Nuthatch does is to collect resin globules from coniferous trees and attach them around the entrance of their nest hole. The resin may help to keep out predators or contenders. The homeowners avoid the resin by flying directly through the hole.

They have an enlarged hind toe and a short tail, which allows them to move in all directions on a tree trunk, along with the undersides of branches. They don’t need their tails to move on the trunks like woodpeckers do.

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He’s not picky at my feeders! Sunflower seeds, niger seed, peanuts or suet work for him =-)

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Rainbow Lorikeets ~ Trichoglossus haematodus

We recently visited the Nicholas Conservatory and Gardens in Rockford, and there was a Lorikeet Exhibit going on. They love sparkly objects and are so playful! I have always wanted a bird, however they are a lot harder to care for than dogs. We were each offered a cup of nectar to entice them out of the trees. Due to bad timing on our part, we entered the exhibit right after a large group of unruly children. These birds are very intelligent…. Would you land on a person that is waving their arms, yelling at you to, “Come here bird, come HERE!!!”?? Of course not. Hubby and I hunkered down in a corner, away from the chitlins and all the birds came to us quite quickly… Sadly, so did the chitlins. After one child nearly knocked me over, dumping her nectar all over my jacket. I told her loudly to say excuse me when you bump into people. Are manners even being taught now-a-days? Mom didn’t do a thing. Huff!!!

These parrots are from Australia. They are commonly found in the eastern shoreline stretching from Queensland to South Australia and northwest Tasmania. They are also found in eastern Indonesia (Maluku and Western New Guinea), Papua New Guinea, New Caledonia, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. Rainbow Lorikeets usually live in rainforests, coastal bushes and woodland forests.

The rainbow lorikeet is a medium-sized parrot, with the length ranging from 10-12 inches (25-30 cm).

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Unlike other parrots, Lorikeets in the wild eat mainly nectar and flower pollen. Lorikeet’s tongues have uniquely adapted “brushes” on the tips to help them harvest these foods from the plants in their environment.

Like all parrots, Rainbow Lorikeets love to play and need to be provided with plenty of toys to keep their minds and beaks busy (or you’ll be sorry!!)! They are avid chewers, so many Lorikeet owners suggest stocking up on “destructible” toys made of safe woods.

Rainbow Lorikeets are very intelligent birds, and can be easily “potty trained” if an owner so chooses.

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Rainbow lorikeets are monogamous and pair for life. It’s possible to tell the sexes apart from their actions and, in general, the males have a larger orange patch.

Many fruit orchard owners consider them a pest, as they often fly in groups and strip trees containing fresh fruit. In urban areas, the birds create nuisance noise and foul outdoor areas and vehicles with droppings.


This guy noticed the bling on my phone and I though he was going to attack it!!











© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

What to Do If a Bird Hits the Window

imageSo, here I am working on my ‘puter when I here BLAM! I know that sound. Even though I try to warn the birds with colored clings and special ‘bird eyes only’ clings, a few still don’t see the warnings and connect. Most times, they shake it off and fly away. This time, Mr. Mourning Dove was seeing stars and planets, and was just sitting quietly on the ground. As there have been many birds of prey around lately, I didn’t want him to be a sitting duck, err, dove. I had to something to help the little, dazed guy out.

This is not my first rodeo when it comes to head injuries… I’ve had a few of my own 8-D

If the bird hasn’t moved in a few minutes, it may have a concussion. This guy was toootally out of it, he could hardly stand-up and was wobbly. Many websites tell you to put the bird in a brown paper bag and put it in a dark place… I liked my box idea, as it gave him a shelter, a place with little to no stimulation.. Basically a safe place to chill-out. Of course it was open so he could leave when his world stopped spinning. I didn’t try to give him food or water, as that could have caused a whole ‘nother rash of problems.

I came and checked on the little, window rapper every half hour. He seemed fine under the paper towel, while he tried to make sense of which way was up. After about 2 1/2 hours, he was gone.

I didn’t feel there was anything else wrong with this guy, so I didn’t feel the need to try to contact a bird sanctuary. Sadly, these guys are very common and on top of it, it’s dove season here!!

Now, if you come across a bird (or any other animal) that is clearly injured (broken wing, you see blood…), you will need to contact a professional wildlife rehabilitation or you’re gonna be in big trouble. Unless you’re trained, you cannot possess a wild animal. It stops idiots from trying to keep wild animals as pets. There is a great need for rehabbers! Wanna learn how?

Rehabers are very easy to find via a web search. It’s best to do this ahead of time, so when you do see an injured animal, you know what to do and time is precious when injuries are involved. Sadly, I toootally understand rehabers are far and few between, usually have little help and do god’s work, however in the four times I’ve needed them, only once did I get through to someone and they actually helped me (with a barn sparrow). You can try a local veterinarian, however be prepared to accept the bills also.

My best piece of advice, be prepared that your ward may die on your watch. It’s sad, but that’s life. Bury them in a nice part of the garden and remember them fondly when the nearby flowers bloom. That’s how I’m getting it done. Au Natural.

Post publishing:
Sherry Felix gave me a great link to help injured birds in general. This link discusses what to do with any injured bird. Thank you again, Sherry!!

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

American White Pelican – Pelecanus erythrorhynchos

These guys were spotted during our trip to Trempealeau National Wildlife Preserve, just outside the town of Trempealaeu, Wisconsin, on the Mississippi River. This preserve was established in 1936, and has grown to its current size of 6,446 acres. These pools are spring fed and overflow into the Mississippi. We saw so many birds we’ve never seen before. Bald eagles, cormorants, various ducks I couldn’t identify along with many songbirds. This area is part of the National Wildlife Refuge System whose mission is to administer a national network of lands and waters for the conservation, management, and where appropriate, restoration of the fish, wildlife, and plant resources and their habitats within the United States for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans.


Kayaking allowed us to get pretty close!


The American White Pelican and Grey Pelican (P. occidentalis), are the only two species of pelican in North America. These well known birds are all white except for its black-edged wings that are visible in flight. They have long necks, a large orange bill with an expandable pouch and short orange legs with big webbed feet. These birds are one of the world’s largest birds, weighing in as much as 30 lbs (14 kg) and wingspans of 9 feet (3 M).

  • Unlike Brown Pelicans, who dive for their food, American White Pelicans swim and scoop their bills into the water for theirs. Birds often cooperate when feeding. They coordinate their swimming to force schooling fish into the shallows, where the pelicans can easily scoop up the corralled fish.
  • American White Pelicans and Double-crested Cormorants are often found nesting together. They sometimes hunt together (though they mainly seek out different fish and at different depths).
  • Pelicans are excellent food thieves. They have been seen stealing from other pelicans trying to swallow a large fish. They also try to steal prey from Cormorants that are bringing fish to the surface.
  • Pelican chicks can crawl by 1 – 2 weeks of age. By 3 weeks they can walk with their body off the ground and can swim as soon as they can get to the water, and by the age of 9 to 10 weeks, they can fly.
  • They forage almost exclusively by day on their wintering grounds, however during breeding season, they commonly forage during the night. Even though it’s hard to see, nighttime foraging tends to result in larger fish being caught.

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

American Crow ~ Corvus brachyrhynchos

Crows are a favorite bird of mine. Their slick, black feathers are magnificent! I enjoy hearing them call to each other, as they are very social birds. Many stay together in their family units, which can contain up to 15 birds. The younger birds (under 2 years old) of the family help take care of the fledglings, as crows don’t generally mate until they are four years old. Although they have family units, crows tend to flock with each other and can have roosts as large as a million birds. That’s a lot of crow 😉

Crows are known to mob larger prey birds to scare them away from their nests. Although, crows will also be mobbed by other smaller songbirds when they try to take their fledglings.


Crows are opportunists when it comes to food. They eat berries, insects, small rodents, other birds (and their young) and will eat carrion. Their beaks are large, however not very sharp and can’t penetrate skin very well. They need to wait until another creature breaks open the skin or the carrion has had time to decompose and become easier to rip apart.

Crows will also use tools to get hard to reach food. They will use sticks to poke into nooks to reach hiding insects, understand water displacement and can understand how levers work.

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Most crows do not migrate for the winter. Their foraging skills and talent for finding edible garbage keeps them full and happy during our nasty winters.


© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl