Sunday, May 2, 2010

Setting Up the Bird Cafe

One of the very first things we did after returning home to Colorado Springs - even before we went to the grocery store - was to go to "This Place is for the Birds" and get bird food for the feeders: sunflower chips, suet and Niger thistle. Our second stop was "Wild Birds Unlimited" for some birdacious bird butter - peanut flavor.

The House Finches are regular visitors - and the first birds to return once the feeders were full. This time of year, the males sport red heads and even redder chests. The females are duller.

Even the Grackles are pretty in the Spring. Look at his blue head! Our pond took quite a beating while we were away. The raccoons moved the stones around, completely destroyed one of the waterfalls and tore the filter/bubblier out of the water - pulling the hoses out from under the wall of the upper pond. It will take some work to rebuild. The good news is that our fish made it through the winter. I haven't counted all of the noses yet - but it looks like most are accounted for. The rubber duckies were glad to have us home too.

We've had several Northern Flickers stop by. I wonder if they are the baby flickers we saw last summer.

We've had more Mountain Chickadees than I've ever seen before. They like to sit on the fence or in the Russian Olive Tree. A female chickadee (after noisily mating in the tree just over my head!) checked out one of our bird houses - but I haven't seen her go in again.

The Black-billed Magpies are easy to identify. They are large and beautiful with black, white and blue markings and a long tail - but they have nasty dispositions and yell at the other birds.

I think the Robins have the prettiest eyes! My best friend growing up in Havertown was named Robin. They both arrived in early April.

Of course, I can't forget our ever-present visitors, the squirrels. I think someone in the neighborhood must be feeding them as several are so fat, they can barely make it over the fence. They seem to have little fear of humans and I swear if I invited them into the house - they would gladly come in. I'm careful not to let them see me throw seeds and berries on the ground for the ground-feeders as I want them to stay wild.

It's interesting to watch the way different birds feed. Most stay at the feeders and eat all they can, but the chickadees seem to carefully select the perfect seed and then take it somewhere else to eat. They come back and forth from the tree to the feeder. This little guy liked the bird butter as well as the seeds.

Last night, Bill's daughters came over for dinner: Laura and Terri; husbands, Tim and Brent; and grandchildren Camron and Sidney. We were especially pleased that grandson Nate and his girlfriend also joined us. Bill smoked some pork chops (they were overdone - but don't tell Bill) smashed some potatoes and, inspired by our trip through the south, baked delicious corn bread in his iron skillet. For an appetizer, he made cheese balls using a Tastefully Simple mix that good friend Wendy gave us. YUM! I made a salad and opened the wine. What a great evening!

Today started out with sun - but the wind was brisk when we came home from our morning workout at 24-Hour Fitness. The dark clouds were building over Pikes Peak. Bill made a delicious kale and chicken soup - fitting for the cold weather. As it simmered, the skies opened and the snow came down! When I was a child, my father called the late spring snow the "Onion Snow."

I had hoped to plant flowers in our planter boxes today - but it was too cold. It snowed hard for a couple of hours, then the skies cleared and the sun came out again - melting all the snow. Ah, the wonder of Spring in Colorado!!

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