Saturday, January 31, 2015

Owl nest season ahead, too

The first year we put up our owl box, an eastern screech owl mama laid eggs and raised at least two owlets. That was spring 2009. Sadly, we haven't had kiddos since. Yesterday, we did a nest box check, and James took a photo (above). Then I emailed Cliff Shackelford, who built our cool Owl Shack. Should we clean out the box? Should we move it? 

"There's no other cavity user besides screech owl that lines the nest/roost with feathers from its prey," he wrote back. "Looks like yours ate cardinal and dove. Yes, leave everything as it is. Owls like it messy, and a feather lining already installed helps. If you think you have cavity competitors, additional boxes might help. Give all the critters free government housing! (To deter snakes) ugly metal flashing around the base of the tree can work, but you gotta adjust it as the tree grows. Rat snakes are statewide, and have been here for millenia. What can you do?" 

Well, we'll just hope for a successful season. That's all we CAN do! Thanks, Cliff! :-)

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Martin season's a comin'

Okay, folks. Here's the plan for THIS year. 

[Editorial note: My past six years of trying to attract purple martins have not been successful. If you'll recall, in year five we did lure one pair that produced four eggs, but the eggs disappeared. I cried. True story.] First off, James agreed to two more gourds so I ordered them via eBay from a grower in Kentucky. Aren't they beautiful? 

This afternoon, my SWEET WONDERFUL CUTE IRREPLACEABLE PRINCE OF A HUSBAND drilled the holes, cleaned out the seeds, and painted them both. He also got the hanging hardware ready.

One of last year's gourds
Meanwhile, I cleaned up the martin house and capped all the entrances. See, that's part of my diabolical plan–I'm going to keep all six entrances plugged in order to keep out those #%&$#@ English sparrows and European starlings. Then, as soon as our friends Matt and Martha get their first scouts in February (they have a boatload of martins every year), then we'll put up our house. What I'm hoping is that the martins will spot our highly inviting house, fly down to check it out, see our gourds, then move into one. If we need more living space (HA!), then I'll uncap a compartment or two. I suspect that I will still have a problem with starlings getting into the gourds. But we'll see. 

If we don't get any martins this spring, then....*sigh*...I may just have to throw in the towel, once and for all.

At any rate, here we go! Scout reports are coming in for Texas now! Good luck, purple martin landlords everywhere!

Monday, January 19, 2015

God's promises

Within the dead of winter comes God's promise of a new, bright spring....
Climbing snapdragon vine
Wild foxglove

Wednesday, January 14, 2015