Friday, March 30, 2007

Finally ! A Robin

Finally, the Robins are back. It was wonderful to look out this morning and see them in the field feasting on worms.
Also had a group of 22 hen turkeys this morning with one Tom strutting his stuff and following them around. It's that time of year! The Tom's sure are beautifully colored when the sun shines on their incandescent feathers.
Enjoy :) Coppertop

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Mourning Doves - drying out?

This was a different sight today! These Mourning Doves it appears might of been drying out their undersides. The wind was not blowing. They would just keep lifting their wings and hold their for a few seconds. At one time, two held up one wing at the same time and all I could think of was sharks fins sticking out of the water. As usual it had to happen before I could get the camera to the window! This is the first time I had noticed this 'ritual'.

I love to hear the Mourning Doves coo and their wings 'whistle' as they take off, don't you?

Did you know Pigeons and Doves produce "crop milk," which is a fluid from the lining the crop--a thin-walled, saclike chamber at the bottom of the esophagus? The parents regurgitate the "milk" directly into the hatchling's mouth and throat. They feed the babies this crop milk for the first couple days and then start to introduce them to seeds and insects.

More information on Mourning Doves and here.

Enjoy :) Coppertop

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Beautiful Maine day - backyard critters came a calling!

Wow! What a beautiful day it was here in Maine today. This colorful Tom turkey along with another Tom and some hens came a calling today. It is getting near mating season, you can tell by noticing how their actions are changing. I have seen a young Tom strutting around. The older Tom's have broken away from groups and are traveling alone now. This morning one of the older Tom's was doing some pretty serious strutting for a female he had singled out.

Early this evening we were honored with a visit from these two deer. It is rare for us to see them in the daylight hours. I find many tracks in our field where they have traveled through the night. To be able to see what leaves those tracks is so much better!

As you can see in the pictures the snow is melting but still around. The woods, especially, still have quite a bit of snow. In my walk today there were some places the it came to my knees. For the most part I walked where there was no snow!

This morning I let Ruger out for a good run and boy did he get muddy. The field is so soft and there are water holes in all the low spots. Before I could let Ruger back into the house I took a pan of warm water and dunked in his feet to clean the mud. But that wasn't enough, I had to take a wet cloth and give his underside a sponge (cloth) bath! He had mud from one end to the other! Wonder if mud is good for dog's complexions? Regardless, Ruger thoroughly enjoyed himself running around sniffing out the critters that had been around, fetching his ball and just plain being out in the fresh air.

I wanted Ruger's fur to dry before letting him in the house, so he and I sat on the deck, watching and listening. I saw a Pileated Woodpecker down on our tree line, wish it had been closer to try to get some pictures but not today. An owl was hooting and I thought I heard a second one answering. Oh - I saw my first Robin, well, actually my first two Robins, this Spring, that was an encouraging sign that warmer weather is here! All the time I was sitting on the deck, coffee in hand, all I could think of was, "Let's have a barbecue!"

Enjoy :) Coppertop

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Maine - Springtime?

Well, the calendar tells me today is the first day of Spring, although officially it is not until 8:07 pm this evening. The photo above was taken in my Maine backyard at 6:50am. Does that look like Spring time to you? Sure does not to me! Last night we got an additional 2-3 inches of fluffy snow.
The field has about eight inches of water saturated snow that is solid like a brick and you can walk on the top of. But you have to be careful because every now and then you hit a soft spot and down goes one foot, twisting your body out of shape. Our driveway on the other hand is a mud hole and every step is exercise. The mud holds your foot in place with suction and you pull to release (hoping your boot stays on) and go another step. We are having strong winds now and the temp is holding around 20 degrees, hopefully it will help to dry up some of this moisture.
Tomorrow is another day and one day closer to warmer weather despite what the calendar might say and what we might be seeing outside at this moment. The grass will turn green again, the Robins will come, the flowers will grow and give us color, the hummingbirds will return and we more than likely will be wishing for cooler weather in no time at all. BUT that is why we live in Maine - we love the changing of the seasons and all that goes with those changes!

Enjoy :) Coppertop

Monday, March 19, 2007

Squirrel dexterity

CleverClever and acrobatic, the red squirrel is a entertaining critter to have around your backyard. Won't it be great to be so agile!

Did you know?

**The red squirrel will drink maple sugar? They bite into the tree until the sap flows. The squirrel will return to drink when the water in the sap (which when fresh is only 2 percent sugar) has evaporated and the sugar content is about 55 percent.

**The red squirrel's teeth grow continuously? Their incisor's will grow six inches per year, but stay short due to the constant wear they receive.

**A squirrel's brain is about the size of a walnut?

**A baby squirrel weighs approximately one ounce at birth, and is about one inch long? They do not have hair or teeth, and are virtually blind for the first six to eight weeks.

**There are over 365 species of squirrels in seven families? They include the tree squirrel, ground squirrel, and flying squirrel. Plus many squirrel-like mammals such as the gopher, ground hog and prairie dog.

More Red Squirrel facts here.

Enjoy :) Coppertop

Friday, March 16, 2007

Another sign of Spring - yet a Snow Storm!

The last two days our field and bird feeders have been taken over by the Common Grackle , Red-Winged Blackbirds, 4 Crows, Wild turkeys and a few Starlings. The picture above is of a single grackle but believe me there had to be at least 50 of them!

Yesterday the wild turkeys (8 hens and 2 Toms) hung around all day. They were going from one end of the field to the other, pecking here and there. Or they would be gather by a rock wall resting and 'sunning' themselves. A couple hopped up on a lower branch of an apple tree and sat for a spell. Today I have only seen the 2 Toms, guess the hens got a belly full yesterday!

The regular Blue Jays sat back for the most part as the Grackles took over. Every now and then a Blue Jay would get brave and fly right into the middle of the Grackles for its share. This surprised me that the Blue Jays mostly sat back, I always thought they were a bold bird! Perhaps they just felt out numbered. As the bird seed disappeared so did the birds. I ventured out in the afternoon and put out a little seed, I no sooner got back into the house and the field was full of grackles again! That sure is some radar they have!

Certainly have seen signs of Spring with the snow melting and about 75% of our field bare again. The chipmunk showing up, the grackles and other black birds showing up BUT we are in for a Northeastern this evening and could get 8-12 inches of snow with 1-2 inches of rain/ice on top of it! Now that is NOT spring weather. I know we had a pretty mild winter for Maine, BUT does it have to extend into our Spring. Oh, I know we have a few more days before it is truly Spring by the calendar, so perhaps this Northeastern will have had it's fun and be all gone by the first day of Spring. (Tuesday, March 20th). Do you suppose?

Enjoy :) Coppertop

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Checking in on the nesting Maine eagles

In checking in to see how the nesting Maine eagle is fairing, I found a video that shows what is believed to be the time when a second egg was laid on March 8th. The video clip is found here.

This blog is incredible! The latest entry gives a full detailed account of what and how a research biologist collects samples from eaglets and bands them for future identification. A very informative and interesting post!

Be sure to check out the live video cam often and see how the nesting eagles are doing!

The following eagle clip I found on YouTube and thought you might enjoy it also. The Director of the video is known as bigwallypants. The soundtrack is Return to Innocence by Enigma.

Enjoy :) Coppertop

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Sign of Spring - Chipmunk emerges

Looks like Spring is here! This little chipmunk showed up in my backyard yesterday, filling up on sunflower seeds.

Facts about the chipmunk:
**The chipmunk is a small rodent in the squirrel family.
**Predators are the fox, weasel, bob cat, badgers and snakes. Birds such as hawks, eagles and owls are also enemies but the worse enemy of a chipmunk is the house cat.
**Communicates by both sound and gestures. They can be lough, shrill "chip-chip-chip" sounds to softer and slower "chuck-chuck" sounds. When combined with body gestures such as tail waving, they effectively communicate with others chipmunks.
**Diet consisted of seeds, nuts, fruit, insects, worms, mushrooms and when need be, small mammals or birds.
**The chipmunk lives in burrows made of an intricate series of tunnels.
**Food is stored just below the nest.
**Breed in early spring. There is a 30-day gestation period. Litter size ranges from 4-6 naked and blind young.
**At about 10 days, the young chipmunks begin to grow hair and their eyes open at 33 days.
**Chipmunks mature within five months and will breed the following spring.
**During late summer, the chipmunk begins to collect and store seeds for hibernation.
** Late November, chipmunks go into their burrows, where they spend the winter.
**Chipmunks are one of the first animals to emerge in early spring.
Enjoy :) Coppertop

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Red squirrel teases Ruger!

This little red squirrel is as cute as a button, but boy can it wind up Ruger, our dog! It will sit on the rock wall or even on our deck railing peering into our house. All the time, Ruger is pacing back and forth and squealing with excitement. Yet, the moment I put the camera on tripod at the window, Ruger will sit by my side and watch me take pictures!
I bet this critter is glad that Ruger is on the inside! Just the same it appears to sense that Ruger is not a threat as long as he is in the house.
This little critter was so cute, I just had to do a design for merchandise at my cafepress store!
Enjoy :) Coppertop

Snow buntings have returned

Well, it has been seven days since I last saw the Snow Buntings! They were here late yesterday and have been off and on all day today. They are so much fun to watch as they fly around the field, such active little birds. Yesterday it was quite windy and they were huddled in groups on the snow flapping their wings constantly. They would disppear into hollows in the snow as if they were getting out of the wind for a bit and then would pop back out. You can just see the top of one's head in this photo.
Between our field and next is a strip of tall dead grass, they have been there quite a bit after the seeds I would guess. They will pick up the seeds that have dropped from my bird feeders but I have yet to see them light on a feeder.
I do believe Spring has arrived in Maine! The snow is melting, the driveway is a mud hole!
Enjoy :) Coppertop

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Maine Red Fox

The Red Fox is such a beautiful creature! The one photographed above was passing through our backyard, a couple years back. I came across the photos while looking for some video clips. I remembered how excited I was when I realized the movements in the tall grass along a rock wall were that of a Red Fox. I quickly made my way to the room where I keep my video camera on a tripod and ready to go. These photos are actually stills captured from my video camera that was hooked to a scouting camera. I did enhance them somewhat in software program Photoshop Elements.

This fox was absoluetly gorgeous, his fur was so shinny and his tail so fluffy and full. He/she stayed hidden for quite a few minutes in the same spot moving it's head only to check out the wall. Suddenly the fox bounced out and along the rock wall as if on a mission, it quickly disappeared into the woods. How long it had been there before I noticed it? I do not know. Did it get a meal? Not while I was watching.

When we first moved here in 1998, seeing a Red Fox hunt through our field was not uncommon, then they seemed to disappear. The one photographed above (2004) was the last red fox I saw until I happened to captured one on a scouting camera last fall.

Enjoy :) Coppertop

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Maine eagles are nesting

Today was a really bitter cold day in Maine and the night isn't any better. The wind is fierce and temperature at my house is showing a cold zero degrees. I can't help but think of the wildlife and birds that have to endure this type of weather. Some species of birds are nesting and laying their eggs now. I came across a live web cam today set up in Gorham ME and shows a pair of nesting eagles. It seems that on the evening of March 5, 2007, the female laid her first egg. You can find the live eagle cam here.

This link will take you to a blog where they tell you much more about the eagles

This video clip shows the male comes and takes his turn keeping the egg warm. You can go to YouTube and see more video clips of these eagles here.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Snow Buntings in Maine

Well, the Snow Buntings have not returned since my last posting. Was so looking forward to seeing them flying around our field this year. At least I did get to see them that one day.

For those of you who have never seen or heard of a Snow Bunting before I dug out my videos from previous years and have published a short clip for you. Enjoy :) Coppertop

For more information on the Snow Bunting and their song, you can click here

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Surprise - Snow Buntings

Big Surprise today! A flock of 20-30 Snow Buntings showed up in my backyard late this afternoon. I was not able to get a really good picture of them, hopefully tomorrow will be a nice sunny day and they will return.
If you have ever seen a flock of snow buntings you know where they got their name, they look like snowflakes as they fly around. Snow buntings don't light for long on the ground, they are continuously moving. I am so fascinated by them.
Back a few years, I could count on seeing the Snow Buntings the end of January, first of February, they were always included in my count for the Backyard Bird Count in Feb. A lone bunting would arrive and then within a couple days there would be a flock of over 50 flying around our field. Last year we did not see any Snow Buntings and I wondered what had happened. This year it appeared we were not going to see any again, but today, they surprised me and I was so thrilled.
You can check here for more information on the Snow Buntings and hear their song.
Enjoy :) Coppertop