Here in Kentucky, our Cardinals don’t migrate, but stay all winter long. (In fact, Cardinals don’t migrate at all!) They’re a regular visitor to the bird feeder that I keep on the porch, and some have gotten enough used to me that they’ll barely fly away when I refill the feeder.
I ‘m not the only person to have been captivated by these strikingly beautiful birds, and they’ve had admirers for as long as there have been people around to see them. The Cardinal is the State bird of seven different states, and why not?
With that striking scarlet red body, expressive crest, and those clever, bright eyes in his black mask, he’s definitely one-of-a-kind. The female is less bright, but then she needs to be to maintain her camouflage while she incubates her eggs. She’s still very pretty, and they’re delightful to watch as they grab all the sunflower and safflower seeds they can possibly hold before letting anyone else get at the feeder.
Come spring, the male will start to feed the hen as they start to warm up to the idea of starting this year’s family. Scientists think that this “mate feeding” gives the hen a good idea of whether a rooster will be a good provider for the babies to come, and that’s a pretty sensible idea!
Whatever the reason, it’s adorable to see the rooster stuff himself at the feeder, then fly over the driveway to coax the hen into letting him feed her, then returning again for his own meal.
Cardinals will nest twice most years, and so have a better chance of producing babies that will survive into adulthood. Interestingly, Cardinals are one wild bird that’s not disappearing, but is actually expanding its range northward!
Perhaps because birdwatchers like you and I are feeding them regularly, or perhaps they’re just that good at adapting to new environments, but either way they must be a welcome addition to the winter landscape. Few sights are as beautiful as the bright red Cardinal against a snowy background, and the fact that they’ll come to associate you with food has to help.
Cardinal moms get really shy and secretive when they’re nesting. They REALLY don’t like to be disturbed, and will abandon their eggs if they feel at all threatened. If you’re fortunate enough to find a nest, the eggs are a cream or buffy color, with brown spots. The nest is a twiggy thing, but with added bits of bark, leaves, rootlets, and lined with vines grass and hair, then some feathers, it’s pretty substantial.
The Rooster bird will feed the hen while she’s on the nest, and when the babies are within a couple of weeks of flying, the hen begins to build the next nest. That last two weeks before the first chicks become independent, he stays pretty busy, between helping to feed the chicks, feeding the hen, and defending his territory from other Cardinals!
Cardinal hens will lay from two to five eggs in each nest, and she incubates for 12 to 13 days. The male will call her off the nest to feed her, and this is the most dangerous time for the eggs or chicks.
Nests may be parasitized by Brown-headed Cowbirds, but this isn’t nearly as bad for the Cardinal chicks as it is for other, smaller birds. Cowbird chicks grow at about the same rate as Cardinal chicks, and grow to be about the same size, so they don’t suffer from sharing with the Cowbird chick as badly.
So, enjoy these delightfully bright, feathered friends in your yard or even on your balcony! Set up a feeder and watch them enjoy the extras you provide to make the weather out there a little easier to endure. You’ll find they brighten your day as they do mine!
Whatever you call them, these are the cutest little parrots around! Yes, they are parrots, one of the smaller species, but not the smallest! The smallest parrot is officially the Pygmy Parrot, a little green bird with a buff-colored face and a short tail that looks a lot like a teeny lovebird. But back to budgies…
So, lots of people are surprised to find out that parakeets (budgies) are a parrot, because they’ve always just seen pictures of the bigger, really expensive ones that take a LOT of room and attention. But Budgies are really smart; In fact it’s a Budgie that’s recorded as the “talkingest” bird in the Guinness Book of World records! Budgies have a really high pitched voice that’s sort of squeaky, but once you get the hang of listening, it’s adorable.
Another cool thing about Budgies is the variety of colors! They can be found in Blues, White, Violet, Yellow and Green, and the combinations of these are nearly endless. Budgies have been pets since 1805, so they really are domesticated. Breeders have been finding and establishing different color variations for a long time now! Birds are the third most popular pet in the world now, right behind cats and dogs, so there are a lot of fellow ‘birdy’ people out there, too.
Budgies do need to eat something besides that seed mix they sell in the big box stores! Fruits and veggies are great healthy foods, and you don’t need anything special. Carrot shreds are really popular, and bits of greens (well-washed) from your salad makings are great, too. I give mine a couple of halved grapes once in a while, and grass from our lawn (we never spray ours with insecticides or weed-killer).
Here’s another thing about Budgies: Because they’re intelligent, they can get lonely, and if you’re not home during the day, you should leave the radio on for them to listen to for company! A single Budgie will learn to talk better, according to what I’ve read and seen, but I’ve never been able to keep a single anything because I feel so bad for them. I can’t imagine being stuck in a cage for any length of time all by myself, when it’s my nature be part of a flock. So mine don’t talk, but that’s not to say that they aren’t talkative!
So, when you decide to get your own Budgies, here are my suggestions:
1) Please get the largest cage you can make room for! Budgies need to flap their wings, fly as much as possible, and they love to climb up and down and play with lots of different toys. You also want to have a regular time to get them out every day to exercise and socialize.
2) Clip those wings! If you don’t, they can fly fast enough to hit a window and break their teeny necks or wings, so this is a no-brainer! They’ll learn VERY quickly that they can still fly a bit with properly clipped wings, and they’ll surprise you at how well they get around anyway.
3) Be responsible and feed them well. They will reward you with a pleasant disposition, plenty of cheerful chatter, and great company for 15 to 20 years!
4) Don’t breed your Budgies if you can help it! They’re lovely to raise and it’s lots of fun to watch babies grow up, but think of all the homes you’ll have to find! Budgies can raise 6 babies at a go, and three or four clutches every year, so I’m not talking about two or three extra babies here.
With all that said, get some Budgies and be responsible. You’ll have years of entertainment and cheerfulness to your day, at a small cost of time and money. Good Luck, and as always, any questions to me at FlamingPurpleJellyfish@gmail.com will be answered! God Bless:)
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LeslieAnne Hasty is a Dangerously Different homeschooling Mom who grew up in the Arizona desert, but now lives in the foothills of Appalachian Kentucky with her family and lots of pets. An irreverent, irrepressible animal and nature lover, she dreams of a world where every pet and person is treated like the miracle they are.
Ever wonder what the attraction to chickens is all about? Compared to thirty years ago, there are lots of urban chicken flocks, and I’ve had people ask me “Why?”
Well, the obvious answer is, of course, eggs! Eggs are a great protein source, many people love to have them for breakfast, and they come with the added bonus of knowing that your own chickens produced them. I also want to add that a “home-grown” egg bears only a superficial resemblance to what you’ll buy in a store.
I distinctly remember my Mom calling and telling me that she’d given my brother a dozen eggs from her bantam chickens, not long after we got her set up with a small flock of five. My brother had cracked an egg into the frying pan, and immediately phoned her to ask “What’s wrong with these eggs?” “What do you mean, what’s wrong?” she replied. “Well, the yolk is REALLY orange and it’s standing up in the pan!” he answered.
We laughed ourselves silly! I’d had home grown eggs for so long that I hadn’t thought about the differences from store-bought for many years, but we got a refresher that day. Our home-grown eggs did, in fact, stand up in the pan (picture a small yellow-orange ping pong ball in the middle of the spreading egg white), and they were definitely a different color as well. Store-bought eggs are a whole different animal!
The biggest reason that home produced eggs are different is that chickens at home get to run around and do chicken-y things like look for bugs, scratch in the dirt, take dust baths, flap their wings and just be chickens. All the exercise they get makes them a far different animal than the egg-producing machines that are kept in cages so small they can barely turn around. Those poor birds are treated like things, rather than living creatures that need to get out, stretch, run, scratch and breathe.
Home chickens generally are treated as a valuable part of the family, in that they not only produce eggs for their humans, they’ll also happily eat any leftover food that’s gone bad, any vegetable matter like potato and carrot peelings, and be healthier for the extras. Chickens in your yard are impossible to ignore as they chase each other, fight over who’s the boss, and generally act silly. If you scatter a handful of feed in your yard every day when you let them out of their coop, you’ll find yourself calling them over and talking to them. The best part of that is that they’ll talk back! Your own chickens will happily begin to come when you call them, expecting a treat every time, so you won’t want to disappoint! They’ll express their pleasure with your offerings in no uncertain terms, and you’ll find yourself learning their different personalities and quirks.
Another thing that chickens can be helpful with is pest control. Your home chickens will happily chase down and eat everything from flies to caterpillars, and as bonus they’ll entertain you with their antics. There are few things as immediately hilarious as looking out the window to see a line of chickens at full run, speeding off to a corner of the yard, then stopping in a huff to look around for the cause of the hubbub!
All in all, having a few chickens in your backyard is inexpensive, amusing, and unless you insist on keeping a rooster, pretty quiet! The eggs seem to be more of a bonus for us, and being able to give eggs to your family and neighbors is a fabulous way to share your bounty and make friends.
P.S. My Mom had to re-home her flock after just a few years, but by then the neighbors were all so addicted to fresh eggs that she had three offers of homes for them!
Rabbits aren’t just adorable outside pets anymore – they actually make a great apartment pet that’s quiet and pretty easy to care for. If you’re looking for an easy-going room-mate who doesn’t play the stereo too loud or spend all their time watching the television, a house rabbit might be the one for you!
All our domestic rabbits are descendants of the original European rabbit (Orctolagus cuniculus)! Variations of color, size and even ears are the results of careful observation and breeding over many generations. From the Flemish Giant (up to 22 pounds!) to the tiny Lionhead and Britannia Petite (never more than five pounds), any well-socialized rabbit can make a great roomie and a convo starter for the single person or student.
Photo by Sandy Millar via Unsplash
The upshot is that rabbits aren’t just for the farm anymore! If you’re a big pet lover, but don’t have the time or space for a cat or dog, maybe a house bunny will be just right for you!
And as always, feel free to email me at FlamingPurpleJellyfish@gmail.com if you have a question! I’ll find the answer if I don’t already know… 🙂
So you have a Chin or you’ve thought about getting one? There are some fun things that you might not know about them, here’s a few!
Chinchillas can JUMP! As high as SIX feet, maybe more! So if you get one, you have to have really tall panels to “fence” them into their exercise area! They also need a tall cage with lots of shelves and perches so they can climb and hop while you’re not there.
Chinchillas like company, and two females are probably your best bet. Two males usually don’t get along after they’re adults, and one will get picked on. Or you can get your boys neutered by a veterinarian that does exotic animals!
Their teeth grow continuously, and if they don’t chew a LOT, the teeth can overgrow. This becomes a health issue that you can’t fix yourself, so it’s much more practical to just keep lots of good chew blocks around.I
A Chin that’s been ‘caught’ can actually “blow” its fur. They’ll loose a lot of hairs and have a bald spot, but it can happen. They only do this is they feel really threatened, though.
A happy Chinchilla will stand up on its hind feet and dance! Some Chins have been caught on video dancing to their favorite tunes, it’s just adorable. They are very sensitive to sound, and some owners leave the radio on for company.
Chinchillas like to have a bath EVERY day, but they don’t care for water at all. They take dust baths to clean their fur…
Chinchillas have the most plush fur – it’s so dense that they’re never bothered by fleas or ticks like most furry critters.
Chinchillas have very fragile bones ( a lot like bird’s) so they aren’t thought of a s a good pet for smaller or more active kids. It’s too easy to get excited and start dancing with a happy Chin and stumble or trip…
Your kids really want to get a Chin of their very own? Get this Journal and learn lots more useful information before you take that big step!
Yesterday we saw our first Bluebirds of the year! I’m always thrilled to see these gorgeous birds, and my husband and son have been building and posting Bluebirds boxes for years. Back home in Arizona, Jim had around twenty boxes posted all along our fenceline. Of course, there we watched Mountain Bluebirds like this one…
There isn’t anything I’ve seen yet like a flock of 50 or 60 of these incredible birds flying in waves over our stockpond, landing, taking off, all in unison like one giant bird-thing – all looking like bits of sky themselves!
Here in Kentucky, we’re watching Eastern Bluebirds, though, and I’ve not seen them flock the way Westerns do. They’re still incredible beautiful, and in reading up on them, I found that there’s a Kentucky Bluebird Society whose aim is to foster awareness and encourage people to hang boxes for these gorgeous cavity-nesting birds.
Bluebird populations had dropped dramatically over the last hundred years here in the US, but are making a comeback partially due to the building and hanging of bluebird boxes in many parts of the country. Bluebirds like to stake out their nesting cavity very early in the year, and now is a great time to hang one in your yard.
Bluebirds will raise two or three clutches each year, and it’s advisable to clean out the nest box every winter at the least, so you want a box that has a hinged lid.
If you have a flat bottomed bird feeder that’s squirrel-proofed, you can add some dried or live mealworms to it as soon as you spot a Bluebird in your area to draw them in.
Bluebirds don’t start actually nesting until around March, but they’ll defend their chosen territory as soon as they’ve picked their spot. When she does start to lay eggs, the hen will stay really close to the box even when she comes out to feed and go potty.
Some interesting facts about Bluebirds:
*Pairs are usually monogamous through the breeding season, and may stay together for longer.
*Both birds will defend their territory, with the male bird taking on the edges and the female the nest site.
*Adult Bluebirds return to the same area every year, but very few juveniles return the same place where they were raised.
*Bluebirds have great vision – they can spot an insect or caterpillar in tall grass over 50 yards away!
*Family groups will flock together until Fall, when they’ll form larger groups by joining other families.
Another interesting thing I learned is that some Bluebird young will hang out with their parents and help feed the next bunch of baby birds. I’ve not seen this behavior, but I do know this is fairly uncommon!
And, here in Kentucky, we’re considered part of the South, and Bluebirds don’t necessarily migrate every year, so it very well could be that our birds here are year-round residents.
Here are a few more fun facts:
*Bluebirds can fly up to 17 miles per hour.
*Bluebirds are native to North America, and aren’t found anywhere else in the world
*Bluebirds have to contend with competition from Starlings, especially for good nesting spots!
So, enjoy watching out for Bluebirds this Spring, and hang a couple of boxes in your yard to make them feel welcome!
You know that incredibly cute animal at the flea markets that they call a sugar glider or honey bear? Well, they’ll sell you that adorable thing without telling you some REALLY important information!!
Before you spend your hard-earned money on a TINY creature that “isn’t any trouble at all”, make sure you read this!!
One: Sugar gliders are NOCTURNAL. This means that they come out at night, and that’s when they want attention, food and water. If you aren’t a night person, think about how that will affect your home life! They WILL run around in their cage, run on their wheel, and they do BARK when they want something!!
Two: Sugar gliders REQUIRE a special diet to stay healthy, and they can easily live 15 years! This means you will have to make batches of food ahead and freeze it in ice cube trays, in order to feed them properly. The ingredients aren’t hard to find, and it’s not difficult to make, but you can’t just feed them dry food like you can a dog or cat.
Three: Sugar gliders are NOT a child’s pet! They will nip or bite if they get scared, and they have very sharp teeth! They can also nip you accidentally when you are giving them treats, and they CAN draw blood easily!
Four: Sugar gliders require DAILY handling. If you are a person who gets tired easily or has to travel a lot, this is NOT the pet for you!! You MUST get them out of their cage EVERY DAY to play, jump and climb on you.
Five: Gliders do NOT potty train (as a general rule)! They will mark you as their territory and this means you get pooped and peed on every day! If you are very picky about this sort of thing, this is NOT the pet for you!
SIX: Male gliders CAN and SHOULD be neutered! They will continue to breed the females as long as they are alive! Neutering decreases their odor, and ensures that you don’t end up with a colony of 30 from the original 3 you brought home (True Story)!
And besides all that, they need some other things! A REALLY BIG special cage, designed for gliders or small birds, in order to have lots of toys and branches to play on while you are sleeping is an absolute necessity. A veterinarian who has training in exotic animal care to get your male gliders neutered when they are old enough (this will help limit the strength of that smell as well as prevent you ending up with the colony of 37 instead of 2). Oh, did I not mention that they can be SMELLY? Yes, sugar gliders DO have a “musky” odor. If you don’t get your males fixed, they can be pretty strong. Most of us glider people don’t mind the little bit that remains.
There is a lot of information on the Internet, but honestly, you really have to dig to find ACCURATE stuff. There are multiple glider rescues out there who are in the business of helping people who get overwhelmed with life,for instance they end up having to move, only to find out that the state they’re moving to has a law against owning gliders. It’s very easy to work with these people and they will educate you on all the things you need to know!
There are plenty of reputable breeders out there who are doing a great job of tracking where their babies go and who’s breeding with who. If you decide that you want a baby, PLEASE find a GOOD responsible breeder! This means that you won’t end up with a glider whose parents were siblings, has multiple health problems or who will die just as you really get attached. A GOOD breeder will always want to keep in contact and help you out. They can help you find a local veterinarian who does annual checkups, neuters and answers questions!!!
There are several reputable Glider owner and rescue groups on FaceBook. If you’re not sure where to look, drop me an email at FlamingPurpleJellyfish@gmail.com and I will be happy to get you hooked in!
Also, I recommend “My Sugar Glider Journal”, (available on Amazon at https://amzn.to/2xlars6 ) as a way to get some more information, and to give yourself time to really decide if gliders are right for you!
In conclusion, Sugar gliders are NOT for everyone, but if you decide you want to be one of those special people, PLEASE be responsible and do it right. There are too many gliders out there who suffer in terrible conditions, and you don’t want to make it worse, do you?
Copyright 2018 LeslieAnne Hasty All Rights Reserved
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Every year our American Robins migrate south for the winter, and the next year I’m always pleased to see the first one of the year!
My hubby says that I’m easily surprised, and , really, they do re-appear every year, so why does it make me happy to see them?
I guess most of it is the knowledge that Spring is surely close behind, and Winter has gotten to be pretty miserable by this time of year. It’s also a reminder of the mysterious ways that the creatures we share the planet with continue to do what they do, ignoring people and getting ready for the renewal of Spring.
Robins are such a familiar sight here in the Appalachian mountains that most people don’t pay much attention to them. I’ve been fascinated with birds for many years, and love to watch them hop around in the grass searching for insects.
In looking for more information about our native Robins, I found some interesting facts. You may have noticed that if you’re our mowing your lawn, the local Robins will be darned close behind, looking for easy pickings in the bug population. They actually much prefer your lawn to be short and regularly mown, as it’s easier for them to capture their prey!
Another interesting study I read about showed a clear correlation between the Robins migrating out in the Fall and the rise in West Nile Virus in humans just after. Apparently the mosquitoes that carry the virus can’t feed on the birds and so switch to humans, speeding up the rate of infection in humans!
Here’s a funny Robin fact for you; a group of Robins is called a “worm”!
That warm reddish orange breast, cheerful song and their appearance when winter’s starting to lose ground to warmer weather makes them my early spring favorite. They’re a member of the thrush family, all of which seem to have pretty songs, and apparently only live for a couple of years in the wild. They have the prettiest sky-blue eggs, too…
And in case you didn’t realize it, the European settlers named our American Robin after the English Robin, who’s actually in the flycatcher family and acts nothing like ours!
Robins like to live in open woodlands and urban areas. In the Deep South, they’ll be found near big shade trees surrounded by lawns.
If you want Robins in your yard, make sure not to treat your lawn with insecticides – when you do that, you create a virtual ‘food desert’, and they’ll not bother to stay once they realize there’s nothing to eat there!
What If you could have your genes custom modified? What would you change about yourself and why?
I’d seriously consider getting spliced with a leopard or jaguar!
Think of how your senses would change – how much more intense the scents around you would become, how different lighting would be and how much more information your brain would suddenly have to process!😘
If I were part jaguar, I’d be a lot more muscular, and probably grow a fur coat. I wouldn’t care much to be out in the bright daylight, and would much prefer fresh meat to cooked anything! I wonder how regular humans would react to someone so different, and I think most would be uncomfortable with the whole idea. But really – Why? Are humans still that insecure that they can’t share the planet? If you look around you, you know it’s at least partially true.
In the future, will we be able to change the color of our skin, our eyes and hair? Will we be able to grow our own replacement organs, so donation would disappear? Why not? What if it was commonplace to change your entire outward appearance, your internal biology, and how would it change society?
We humans are so visually oriented, and so judgmental, that it would be impossible for most people to come to grips with such a thing.
What kind of person would choose this course (besides me)? What would the motivation be, to make such a radical change in your physical self? How would your family react, and your neighbors? Your co-workers?
My birds wouldn’t be at all comfy around me, my sugar gliders would completely freak out, and imagine the dogs and the horses!
So my husband came down with a really bad head cold last week and has given it to our son. Eek! I’ve been avoiding them as much as I can in this big house!
On the positive side, the last three days I’ve been able to watch a pair of Downy Woodpeckers at the feeders, and I always seen to forget just how gorgeous that black and white plumage is! They’re not very big, so the Titmice keep trying to chase them off, and the hen is a lot more shy than her mate. She seems to fly for cover at the least little disturbance , while he busies himself at the suet block with a real nonchalance!
The sunrise this morning was gorgeous, smears of rosy pink against a lavender grey background, hopefully that means we’ll see the sun today.
I moved my daddy budgie in with the young ones yesterday, he seemed pretty lonesome now that mommy bird passed away. They are so funny when they scold each other! He tried really hard to pretend he didn’t want to be held, but honestly I’ve been bitten by ants that hurt a lot worse. He wasn’t making much effort, not even closing his beak!
Here’s a look at three of the babies: