A Backyard Repast – January 2017

7 Jan

Since I set up the bird feeders that my wonderful Cerritos neighbors gave me when I moved to Minden, I have enjoyed numerous hours of watching my birds come to eat their several times daily repast. I don’t spend hours every day, but I do spend time each day watching who comes to eat, their antics and their little spats over jockeying for the best seeds and other treats. Then there are some regular and, on occasion, unexpected varmints who show up. Sometimes they are in my backyard and sometimes they trot along outside my back fence. (Coyotes, in particular)  (If you wish to enlarge the pictures, please click on them)

Quail, white crowned sparrows and a couple of those winged rats (pigeons) can be seen in this picture. Often, there are so many quail that it looks like the rocks and pavers are moving. I’ve counted up to 40 and then lost track because they are constantly moving and pecking.

Quail, white crowned sparrows and a couple of those winged rats (pigeons) can be seen in this picture. Often, there are so many quail that it looks like the rocks and pavers are moving. I’ve counted up to 40 and then lost track because they are constantly moving and pecking.

American goldfinches (mostly on the thistle bags), some sparrows and a couple of house finches grace this picture. There is one bird in the pine in back. It makes me think of my mom who always said they were ornaments on her spruce tree.

American goldfinches (mostly on the thistle bags), some sparrows and a couple of house finches grace this picture. There is one bird in the pine in back. It makes me think of my mom who always said they were ornaments on her spruce tree.

Here is a juvenile Cooper’s hawk. He’s the party spoiler. The smaller birds scatter to the four winds and/or huddle under the bushes beside the feeding area when the alarm is sounded. When he catches something, he eats it right away and nothing is left except a pile of feathers. Sharp-shinned hawks come by also and perch in the trees in hopes of catching an unsuspecting victim.

Here is a juvenile Cooper’s hawk. He’s the party spoiler. The smaller birds scatter to the four winds and/or huddle under the bushes beside the feeding area when the alarm is sounded. When he catches something, he eats it right away and nothing is left except a pile of feathers. Sharp-shinned hawks come by also and perch in the trees in hopes of catching an unsuspecting victim.

You might have read about or experienced our weather we are having this week. We had rain and snow and some very cold temperatures. As I write this, it is 20º outside, going up to perhaps 30º this afternoon. I couldn’t get my mail yesterday as my mailbox lock froze and I was afraid the key would break if I forced it. So, with it being so cold, I was sure that my birds needed some extra fuel to keep them warm. The quail and other ground feeders got an extra ration of deluxe seeds. An extra seed block was put out near the fence. The quail like that as well as the small white-tailed antelope squirrels (they are cute little varmints) and cottontail rabbits. I didn’t know rabbits would eat seeds, but they seem to enjoy gnawing on the block. Perhaps that helps to keep their teeth in good shape. Who knows?

You can see icicles hanging from the frozen birdbath. A bird is perched on the metal tin in back of the birdbath to get a drink of fresh water that I put out each day. It’s frozen by nightfall, but you’d be surprised that those silly birds will take a bath even when it’s so cold.

You can see icicles hanging from the frozen birdbath. A bird is perched on the metal tin in back of the birdbath to get a drink of fresh water that I put out each day. It’s frozen by nightfall, but you’d be surprised that those silly birds will take a bath even when it’s so cold.

In front of the two wooden bears, is a sunken fire pit that was half full of water the last time it rained. That water froze and then melted enough so that I could get the ice out. I’ll tell you why shortly.

In front of the two wooden bears, is a sunken fire pit that was half full of water the last time it rained. That water froze and then melted enough so that I could get the ice out. I’ll tell you why shortly.

Half of that ice is sitting behind the other birdbath. It’s been there for a couple of days and has not diminished in size.

Half of that ice is sitting behind the other birdbath. It’s been there for a couple of days and has not diminished in size.

I began this epistle last Thursday and it’s now Saturday. Our valley as well as Carson City, Reno and basically from Mammoth north is under flood alert. A Pineapple Express (an atmospheric river of warm rain) will be arriving tonight and our temperatures will be going from the 20s to the high 40s. You can begin to see an issue here. I know that California is supposed to be getting a ton of rain from this and we are too. The problem for us is that the forecast calls for rain up to 9,000’. This means snow will melt and in a couple of days cause our rivers to flood. A severe Pineapple Express occurred in 1997 and caused millions of dollars in damage. Another one (not as severe) happened in 2005.

I removed the ice because I wanted the fire pit to be as empty as possible.  The water usually soaks in in a day or so, but our ground is fairly saturated and I’m afraid it’ll run over toward the house.  I don’t know that for sure because I wasn’t in this area during the last flood.  But two summers ago, it poured and poured and the fire pit did overflow.  Just trying to be cautious.

What’s frustrating is that we’ve had more rain than usual in our valley and quite a bit of snow in the mountains that might help ease the drought we’ve been having for the last 5 or so years. All we can do is sit and watch and wait. We’ll also be hoping for the best. The weather forecasters in this area are noted for not being as accurate as they are in other areas. But, we are being urged to stock up with food, batteries and sandbags. States of emergency have been declared, so it’s hard not to be alarmed. We’ll see. In the meantime, my birds will keep coming for their rations and begging for more than I give them. 🙂

One Response to “A Backyard Repast – January 2017”

  1. Connie Raub January 7, 2017 at 8:25 pm #

    Thanks Cora! I always love hearing and seeing pictures of your backyard adventures (and other adventures as well). I had six or seven deer under my trees in front of my house yesterday. They are larger than Quail! We too have been cold- below 0 one night, but it’s warming up, today it got up to freezing and tomorrow in the 40s. It’s 13º now and I see you are getting more rain/snow mix. Interesting!! I hope you don’t get flooded. You are so good to your little friends! Love, Connie

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