Summer’s Comings and Goings

Summer at Mule Springs Farm has been busy. We’ve had many visitors, from the Northwest and Alaska, who came to see the finished barn and the new house.  Also, I spent two months pursuing my Master Food Preserver certification, and I have been volunteering to staff the Oregon State University Extension booth highlighting food preservation and food safety on Saturdays at our local Farmers’ Market throughout the summer. I’m now a certification holder of canning, pickling, fermentation, drying, and cheese making. To be a master though—I have a long ways to go.

 

In addition I’ve enjoyed endless hours in the outdoors: daily hiking with the donkeys, gardening, playing fiddle tunes on the porch, and bird watching.

 

As our habitat restoration program on the farm evolves, we are seeing more bird species and more birds around the farm overall.  This year I paid special attention to bird nests.  It’s hard to call myself a close observer of nature, if I can’t find a bird’s nest. Several years ago I read John Muir’s autobiography, and I was impressed by how the young Muir and his brother found the nests of Song Sparrows, Brown Thrush, Nighthawks, Woodpeckers, Kingbirds, Whip-poor-wills and more on the family farm   And, frankly during the first year on the farm here –I couldn’t find a single bird’s nest.

 

But with close observation of birds’ comings and goings, and lots of binocular work, and some help from Bruce, I was able to watch a Bullock’s Oriole build her nest in the branches of the gothic elm in front of our house, and I spied a quiet Mourning Dove atop her scant twiggy depression, and I found a Western Kingbird’s nest built on top of our farm entrance.  I finally feel up to John Muir’s accomplishments at least in the nest finding department.

Sher's 2013 Master Food Preserver class. The course was eight weeks long and we spent lots of time in the kitchen canning.
Sher’s 2013 Master Food Preserver class. The course was eight weeks long and we spent lots of time in the kitchen canning.
The barn swallow built a mud nest on the ceiling of our covered porch.  We enjoyed many days of watching the birds come and go and stare down at us from their mud house.
The barn swallow built a mud nest on the ceiling of our covered porch. We enjoyed many days of watching the birds come and go and stare down at us from their mud house.
The completed barn swallow nest with the bird looking down upon me. Later we had a terrible storm with high winds, and the nest was blown down. Unfortunately one baby was inside the nest and it could not be saved.
The completed barn swallow nest with the bird looking down upon me. Later we had a terrible storm with high winds, and the nest was blown down. Unfortunately one baby was inside the nest and it could not be saved.
Bullock's Oriole's thready nest.
Bullock’s Oriole’s thready nest.
Nest of the Mourning Dove.  This pair had two eggs. One day the eggs were there and the next day the eggs were missing.
Nest of the Mourning Dove. This pair had two eggs. One day the eggs were there and the next day the eggs were missing.
Several of the small ponds on the farm held Red Winged Blackbird nests this year.  These nests were very difficult to photograph, because they were so well hidden by reeds.
Several of the small ponds on the farm held Red Winged Blackbird nests this year. These nests were very difficult to photograph, because they were so well hidden by reeds.
One of our summer visitors, on a particularly hot day,  taking advantage of the bird bath.
One of our summer visitors, on a particularly hot day, taking advantage of the bird bath.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

14 thoughts on “Summer’s Comings and Goings

    1. Hearing about your life down there fills me with longing for a parallel one. You two have created yet another paradise! Good work on the nest searching. You might like this: http://www.birds.cornell.edu

      Victoria- Thanks for the link. It says the revised text will come out during the summer of 2014, which is the first time I might be able to do the course, since I am teaching again for UAS. I might have a break in the summer, or I may teach a 7 week course in Eastern Philosophy; I am waiting to hear on that. I hope you are doing well. Sher

  1. Love your nest reveals Sher! I have a collection of various vacated nests on my mantle in clear glass vases so they can be picked up and inspected, I’ve spent hours with my nest identification guide trying to figure who made what. And the pup in the birdbath – fabulous!

    1. Love your nest reveals Sher! I have a collection of various vacated nests on my mantle in clear glass vases so they can be picked up and inspected, I’ve spent hours with my nest identification guide trying to figure who made what. And the pup in the birdbath – fabulous!

      Hi Elisabeth (and Reggie ) I am sorry I can’t remember the name of the pup in the bird bath. He was such a plopper! And it was such a HOT day too. The water was two inches deep; I wondered how much refreshment it actually gave him?

      That’s neat about your collection of nests. I have two–one sitting in my tack room in the barn and one sitting on the granite counter in the bathroom.

  2. Oooh, what’s the name of that lovely summer visitor in the bird bath? I like him!

    What a thrilling summer you had, Sher – entrepreneurial master canner and eagle-eyed master birdnest-finder. I am applauding!

    1. Oooh, what’s the name of that lovely summer visitor in the bird bath? I like him!

      What a thrilling summer you had, Sher – entrepreneurial master canner and eagle-eyed master birdnest-finder. I am applauding!

      Thanks Reggie. All those things sure have kept me busy this summer.

    1. HA- busted, Share/Cher! (Cheers from Valerie, not Victoria nor Veronica. 😉 ) Sorry– you didn’t appreciate me renaming you? What wold your mother think? best regards, Shar– as most people call me. 🙂

  3. funny… after all your wonderful descriptions of bird nests, sher, i pictured that dog in a nest, not a bird bath! i imagine him preening feathers, maybe waiting for mom to feed him worms!

    as for all else, spectacular photos and observations.

    1. funny… after all your wonderful descriptions of bird nests, sher, i pictured that dog in a nest, not a bird bath! i imagine him preening feathers, maybe waiting for mom to feed him worms!

      as for all else, spectacular photos and observations.

      Heidi- what a great suggestion . It does seem like the dog is in a bird’s nest instead of a bird’s bath. Thanks for sharing that cute idea. 🙂 Sher

  4. I’m always astounded at the sheer flimsiness of birds’ nests: how any eggs survive high winds and bad weather is beyond me. Never mind chicks, trying to shelter from the elements. And yet – every year there are new fledglings. Amazing.

    1. I’m always astounded at the sheer flimsiness of birds’ nests: how any eggs survive high winds and bad weather is beyond me. Never mind chicks, trying to shelter from the elements. And yet – every year there are new fledglings. Amazing.

      Thanks for your comments Alison– agreed — birds are remarkable creatures inspiring wonder. I feel that way almost everyday. 🙂

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