Dark-eyed Junco, Squirrel and Christmas

Dark-eyed Junco, Squirrel and Christmas

It’s Christmas Eve and there is no snow on the ground.

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The cyclamen is starting to bloom.  The grass is green and we have had a lot of rain recently.  It was 60 degrees earlier this week.

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We have had a lot of dark-eyed juncos in the yard this year.  Maybe it is all the leaf litter under the Chinquapin oak tree that they like.  Sometimes I have seen six of these little birds poking in the leaves in the morning at once.

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This picture is a little fuzzy, but I like how soft the feathers look.  Dark-eyed juncos are primarily seed-eaters, so there is a lot of pecking and scratching going on.

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The bird bath has been freezing and thawing this autumn.  The birds peck at the ice and sometimes get a drink or a bath.

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It seems like each morning around 9 am the squirrel comes to the crabapple tree for a snack.

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Sometimes it is a stretch…

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Squirrels are so acrobatic they keep us entertained.

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The birds don’t seem too interested in these crabapples, so glad someone is enjoying them!

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Tiny hands, beautiful fur, playful antics…

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One day Dan brought home some nuts from the airport that were pretty stale.  I put them out on the ground and three squirrels were enjoying them.  This guy is eating an almond, which is maybe out of his usual diet.  The other squirrels had a pecking order and could only get near the nuts when the big squirrel let them.

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The last of the collards have survived the cold so far.  I might pick a few leaves for dinner tonight.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Northern Cardinal, Snow and Last Garden Greens

We have had a pleasant autumn.  This past week we had some snow, but it did not stick on the sidewalk, so no shoveling.  It has melted now and we had a lovely walk in the woods this afternoon.

There seem to be quite a few northern cardinals in the yard these days.

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Male northern cardinal trying out the crab apples outside our kitchen window.

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Let’s see how the next one tastes…

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Some years the crab apples go uneaten, so glad they seem edible this year.

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Female northern cardinal working on a red yew berry.  I think the cardinals have found and eaten all the berries on the hicksii yews now.

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House sparrows hang out in the bare branches of the American plum tree.

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This shot was taken a few weeks ago from the kitchen window.  Can you see the neighbor cat who comes to visit?  Generally I don’t like the cat reducing the biodiversity in the yard, but I guess I don’t mind the help if it is getting rid of some of the house sparrows.

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On Wednesday we had a pretty snowfall, but it quickly melted away.  The winter shadows are long now.

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I just took this shot of the remains of our garden.  We continue to pick a few collard green each time we cook, and we got a few tiny Brussel sprouts today.  Mint, parsley, oregano, and thyme are still green if I want them.  Last Sunday a took some buckets, filled the trunk up with horse manure from the local stable, and spread it on the garden.  We also turned the compost pile yesterday and harvested about a foot of compost from the bottom of the pile and threw in the garden.  We can spread it around where needed in the spring.  I see the squirrel’s tail as it makes a get away on the back fence…

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Winterbor kale is still growing.  Wonder if it will make it through the winter and start up again in the spring.

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The little bluestem grass is wonderful this time of year.  It turns red with feathery seed heads.

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When we went to the forest preserve today the woods were quiet and peaceful.

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These scraggly roots are just a glimpse of the living matter under the ground holding this forest in place.  All the leaves are down now and the deciduous forest can rest until next spring.