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Favorite Birds Part I
April 30, 2012

How was your week?

Nothing new or exciting happening here, though the freshly painted living room did warrant new curtains and a new chair to match.

Painting a room always costs more than the paint.

Pictured is native wild mustard in bloom, it can be an invasive weed.

Leaves of mustard greens are used to make salads or mixed with other salad greens. Leaves and stems can also be cooked (greens) and seeds used for condiments.

Brown mustard or Indian mustard (Brassica juncea), like most mustard plants are edible and as the name suggests, the plants and seeds was an important food and medical source for American Indians.

Next time you pull mustard plants from the garden, save some leaves for your salad.

Oriental mustard (B. juncea), originally from the foothills of the Himalaya, is grown commercially in Canada, the UK, Denmark and the US.

Canada grows 90% of all the mustard seed for the international market.

The Canadian province of Saskatchewan produces almost half of the world's supply of mustard seed.

If the weather ever straightens up, I have a boat load to do outside (boy am I glad I did what I did in March).

Many regions will be glad to see the month of April come to an end.

Temperatures weren't that much below normal for the northern regions, however with the much warmer March we not only were spoiled, but many trees and fruit crops budded and bloomed almost a month early and the several April nights of frost and freeze did a number on many fruit crops.

Don't be surprised to pay more for your favorite fruits this year.

Right now, I'm in no big hurry to plant veggies, even if I have in past years.

the cool conditions have cooled down the temperature of the soil, if it remains cool for a few days and seeds will may rot in the ground as it simply isn't warm enough.

Plants like tomatoes and peppers like heat.

Again, planting too early in cool conditions, stunts the plant's growth and sets them back a good couple of weeks.

Might just as well wait the extra time.

I never have I seen so many Red Admiral butterflies (anytime of year) as I have seen this spring.

They are every where and a welcome sight.

The little bird with the big voice.

Migration continues as House wrens have made their way to SW Michigan.

I enjoy the songs of House wrens,
but not they damage they can cause.

Now I must keep an eye on the nesting chickadees as wrens will indeed destroy eggs and kill babies.

A temporary yet very welcome sight and sound to my yard are the White-crowned sparrows.

Every spring I am blessed with a couple dozen of the striped headed visitors.

They typically stay for about three weeks and then they are gone, heading towards their
breeding grounds in northern and western Canada.

White-crowned sparrows spend the winter in much of the lower two thirds of the United states and into parts of Mexico.

Not only are they a joy to watch, I delight in their joyful, happy song.

Saturday brought yet another early visitor.

Rose-breasted Grosbeaks are in SW. Michigan.

A male grosbeak enjoying the sunflower seed

While many head further north, a pair or two will usually stick around.

We begin a new month this week.

That means one thing for sure.

It is time to give your feeders and water sources a real good cleaning.

It is warm enough that you can fill up a bucket or trash can and let them soak and sanitize before you give them a good scrubbing.

I use a good dose of Oxygen bleach (Oxy-clean, Oxi-boost, etc.) in hot water and let the
scrubbing bubbles do most of the work for me.

Not to mention it cleans and sanitizes places I can't reach.

It does leave a white film, so rinse well.

One thing nice, Oxygen bleach is all natural and earth friendly, and no toxins to worry about as you will have with Chlorine bleach.

Good Job Gang.

Last week I asked for your favorite bird(s) and you came through.

Enough so, that I have to put them in a couple of different newsletters.

If you don't see your name and bird today, be sure to look next week and if need be, the following week.

Favorites are something we all enjoy.

It is fun to read about others and their likes.

It also allows me a chance to share about me and to know a bit about you.

After all, isn't that what friends do?

You still have time to share your bird.

Send it back to me with a name and location and I'll get you printed within the next couple weeks.

The state of Ohio came through big time.

Some might say it is blasphemous for a guy from Michigan to give kudos to Ohio, but well done people.

It shows that you like your gardens and birds and catch the inside joke as well.

You will discover over the next couple of weeks, there is a pattern for some favorite birds.

You will also read on a few favorites you may not have thought of.

Sit back, take your time and enjoy the read.

Jenny near Auburn, Alabama:

I think my favorite bird is the Carolina Wren. He is so cute and curious. Any time I put something different in my yard, he is the first to check it out. They always nest in a little house on the back of my house.

Thanks for starting things off Jenny. Isn't it special how birds continue to entertain us.

My favorite bird is the hummingbird, because than I know that summer is here.

Mary in Holmesville, Ohio:

My favorite bird is the hummingbird, because then I know that summer is here.

Thanks Mary.

As we go along, you may discover yhere are many hummingbird fans are out there.

Joy Rice of Everett, Washington:

My most favorite outside bird is not from this area but from the mountains, the MOUNTAIN BLUE BIRD. There are nest boxes on fence posts during your travels thru , eastern Washington Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon. There song is so wonderful full of a talented tongue. They seem to be photo smart they are courageous. Just plain beautiful bird all around.

Thank You Joy

Joy also raises small indoor birds such as the lovebird and the parrotlets.

Karen in NW Ohio:

I can't say I have A favorite bird, but I can tell you why I like the ones I do.

The hummingbirds always give me such joy when they are around. Even after all these years of feeding them and loving them, I will still stop and watch (or make DH stop) when they are feeding at one of my window feeders. Just love them!

One of my favorite ways to relax is to sit and watch robins hunt for worms in the yard. I am fascinated by how they can spot their food so easily.

I really love to hear the gold finches and chickadees when they visit. The finch songs are so sweet and I get so excited whenever I hear a chickadee in the neighborhood.

Two of my more elusive favorites are cedar waxwings and rose-breasted grosbeaks. They are so unusual for me to see in my backyard so when I do, it is quite thrilling for me.

Looking forward to learning about the favorites of others!

Karen, sometimes it is difficult to choose one favorite amongst hundreds of species.

I think most people stop to watch hummers, and when robins cock there head as if spotting a worm, they are actually listening to hear where they are first.

Happy birdwatching.

Cindy in Calgary, Alberta Canada:

In the Winter, one of my favourites is the Northern Flicker (Red shafted). I attached a picture that I took at one of my suet feeders last winter. I'm not always so lucky to get a picture close enough of one of them. They love my homemade suet, but they're so heavy, they have a hard time hanging on!

(Cindy's Flicker)

Thank you Cindy. Flickers are a bit shy and quick to fly away when i even try to get close. I enjoy the distinctive call (I like to call a war cry) of flickers.

Sandy in Akron, Ohio:

My favorite bird are the hummingbirds. I have several feeders out at our cabin, and I look forward to seeing then return. I can sit for hours and watch them, and they are not shy and come really close to me.

Sandy, our Ruby-throated hummers aren't shy one bit and do bring joy to many. Good thing they aren't around here hours on end, or I wouldn't get anything accomplished.

Linda from Guelph, Ontario Canada:

My favorite bird is the chickadee, because we have so many, and they are so friendly sounding. Next are the Mourning doves, and the sparrows are frequent visitors.

Thank you Linda, gotta love those chickadees.

Kristine of Wilmington, North Carolina:

I love chickadees too, so cheerful and active, and they are fun to watch and up lift me. My Favorite however, are cardinals. I admit to being a little biased, though, I've had a pair nesting in my trees for 2 years now (hopefully, they'll hang around this year too!). They are simply beautiful birds, easy to recognize and they seem to take such good care of their babies. I watched several times last year as the mother sat on my deck railing (only about 6 feet away from me!) and watched her young ones peck around in my grass, she always watched them carefully. Plus, they are a welcome relief in the winter when everything is a little drab. They remind me that life is still going on out there.

Kristine, I must admit that Northern cardinals brighten up a snowy winter's day. Once a bird get used to your presence, many species will allow people to draw close to them.

Cardinals and chickadees are the two most recognized birds and usually grace the bag or package of your bird seed.

Molly from Middle Peninsula, Virginia:

I can't decide which bird is my favorite. All winter long I have been treated to the songs of the Mockingbird although I know some people hate them. I have been hearing a wren who apparently has nested in my big rose bush near the house and I love to hear her too. Of course my bluebirds are
sitting on those 6 eggs, I am missing my hummingbirds although I have had feeders out here and at work for weeks, they are very late this year. I can't think of a bird I really don't like.

I hear an owl in the oak tree at night but have never seen him. So I can't say there is one I like better than others it depends on which one I am seeing at the moment.

Thank you Molly.

It is often difficult to pick a favorite bird, just as it can be difficult to pick a favorite flower. Often it is the one you see or in bloom at that given moment.

Patience, the hummers will come.

Jeanie, from South Central Oklahoma:

Oh My. I love all birds, but here are my favorite three. Painted bunting (so beautiful). Cardinals add color to a dreary time of year and the chipping to his mate. And of course, the hummingbirds flitting about, tireless little jewels.

Thanks Jeanie, I see cardinals and hummers are forming a pattern here.

I would like to see a Painted bunting one day.

A little story from Sue in Montgomey, Michigan:

Many, many years ago, my dad had bird feeders. If he happened to let them get empty, there was a chickadee that would tap on the window to remind him to fill the feeders. He was a hard working man in a time of bad economy and he passed away very young, but he did have the joy of feeding the birds for several years. And that pert little chickadee gave him something to smile about.

Chickadees Rule Sue.

Thanks for the little story on your dad and the black bibbed wonder.

Judy lives in Northeast Pennsylvania:

For years Wrens were my favorites because of their comical quests looking for spots to build their nests and while I still love them, I've have a new favorite...the Pine Warbler. This sweet little bird, quite fearless, hopped on my shoulder and then my arm as I was carrying the suet feeder to its hanging place. What a thrill! My goal is to entice it to feed from my hand.

Thanks Judy.

With a little patience and time, you can get the birds to feed from your hand. Keep us posted.

Rhonda Bowman of Corydon, Indiana:

Hummingbirds because they are just amazing and beautiful and I always feel sad when they leave (saw my first one of the season Saturday...feeders were ready...we are having cold nights and cool days...hope he stays.)

But my favorite all year birds are the finches. When I hear them, they
sound like they are asking questions. I love it.

Thank You Rhonda.

A couple of good choices and both can make a day happier.

I haven't seen a hummer yet (still a bit early for me), but the feeders are out and ready.

JoEllie Queen of Tempe, Arizona:

My favorite is the Hummingbird. A pair of Blackchinned are at my feeders all year. Around Feb Annas will feed for a short time . I keep 2 feeders on each side of my yard. 1 cup water 1/4 cup sugar.

I can totally understand the hummingbird thing JoEllie, What a joy it must be to have hummer year round.

Arizona and Texas have the most species of hummingbirds fly through and many winter over.

Count your hummingbird blessings.

I'll end this week with.................

Doug on Vancouver Island, British Columbia:

My favourite bird is the Stellar Jay, sociable but independant and a beauty in the shade or in the sun. Next is the kingfisher.

Thank you Doug.

Not many people choose any kind of Jay as a favorite bird, good for you.

Belted kingfishers, You have to admire their talents and one of the few species of birds where the female is more colorful than the male.

it is time to fly for now.

More favorite birds next week, be sure to look for your name.

Until next time,

God bless.

"Courage is not simply one of virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point."

Courage isn't simply a virtue, it is an action.

Courage requires us to be on our toes, stand strong,

"Be on the alert, stand firm, act like a man, be strong"

1 Corinthians 16:13

"Treat the earth well:

It was not given to you by your parents,

It was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the Earth from our

Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

Ancient Indian Proverb

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

PS. If you enjoy these letters, please forward them to friends, family and co-workers.

Better yet, have them sign up so they can receive their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.

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