Hummingcrow & Co.

Kate  Catching Some Rays  Seán

On a particularly hot, sunny day earlier this summer, I was out identifying plants in the garden when, rounding a bend, I was met with this sight on a mossy mound of rock near the bird bath:

robins sunning

They were absolutely still, frozen in their respective poses:

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Kate  #Meanwhile

A bottle fly blows bubbles to the soundtrack of baby house wrens getting fed in their nest box.

Kate 🎶  On Sunday She Left Us A Cherry  🎵Seán

On Sunday she left us a cherry On Saturday: water-logged bread On Friday she left us most of a rat On Thursday: a snake with no head

A corvid is feeding her offspring Each afternoon, soaking their food To some birds, the bath is for bathing But for Raven, it helps feed her brood

On Wednesday she left us cat kibble On Tuesday: a handful of rice On Monday she left us some swollen dog food A week’s worth of leftovers— nice

A corvid comes by, on a mission Each afternoon, feeding her brood To some birds, the bath is for bathing But for Raven: a sink for her food

On Monday she left us another bird’s claw On Tuesday: some limp deli meat On Wednesday she left us a ratty mouse tail On Thursday: a peanut-shell treat

A corvid comes by, on a mission Each afternoon, soaking her food To some birds, the bath is for bathing But for Raven, it helps feed her brood

On Friday she left us a snail shell On Saturday: bits of fish skin On Sunday she left us a chicken leg-bone And soon she'll surprise us again   Read on to reveal the inspiration for this bird bath ballad (warning – if you're squeamish about dismembered animal bits, don't scroll all the way to the end).  

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Kate  Path to Enlichenment | Part II: Lipstick Powderhorn

While closely inspecting some shingles this spring, I came upon this scene that looked as though a spider was getting ready to hang its laundry out to dry:

spider clothesline Cladonia macilenta

This is another Cladonia—meaning “club-like”—lichen, similar to the first in this series, the pixie cup. You can tell how this one got its common name, “lipstick powderhorn”:

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Seán   Who Needs a TV When You Have a Bird Bath?  Kate

As the beaming rays of the summer sun begin to broil our hilltop habitat, rarely a minute of the day ticks by without some feathered visitor or other seeking a sip or a swim at our weather-worn stone basin. But a bird bath is far more than just a small pool of water providing relief for panting beaks – it's a crossroads of avian activity which sets the stage for all sorts of stories to unfold, featuring familiar characters, surprise guests, and thrilling plot twists.

Here's a sampling of the many fine programs on offer through BB-TV in case you're considering subscribing:

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Seán   #Meanwhile

A robber fly celebrates a successful heist by slurping out the liquefied innards of its ambushed prey.

Kate  Quinton the Quail... & Co!  Seán

One sunny afternoon in early July, we took a peek down our slope to find Quinton staring warily at us, seemingly on guard:

quinton watch

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Kate  Mystery of the Alien-Pod

A couple weeks ago, Seán found a mysterious, silvery pod on the ground beside the house, about the size of a lime. It appeared to have been there for a while, as it was very light and seemed dried out. We took our guesses: was it a plant-pod? Some kind of egg sac? I thought it might be an owl-pellet, due to it's hairy outside texture, shape and size. We decided to lovingly refer to it as the “alien pod”:

alien pod

There was only one thing to do in order to solve the mystery – cut it open:

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Seán   Springy Summer Visitors

Kate's new friend

This spur-throated grasshopper nymph may be a major agricultural pest, but it sure is cute and fascinating to behold up close in person at this instar. Not all species in this subfamily are considered problematic, but this particular individual seems to be a two-striped grasshopper (Melanoplus bivittatus), which are highly problematic crop eaters. That being said, it's also a tasty meal for birds... and perhaps for humans as well?

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Kate   Little Paintings: Robin in the Bath

Seán and I have recently been scheming new ways to creatively capture scenes around the Hill, so I halved some card-paper offcuts I got from an art store. Now we have a nice stack of 3x3.5'' pieces that we're gradually making into tiny paintings.

One of my first attempts is a common sight around here: a fluffed-up, staring robin soaking in the bath:

robin bath in hand

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