Welcome to my Bird Blog!

Welcome to all my fellow bird lovers and gardeners! I'm so glad you stopped by.

Migratory bird populations have taken a nose dive in the past 40 years. But you can help bring their numbers back by creating beneficial, beautiful and fun habitats in your own backyard. Discover favorite plants and environments that shelter and feed colorful songbirds, as well as how to make them feel welcome by offering their preferred natural foods.

Grandma Pearl
(Connie Smith)

Monday, December 30, 2013

White Violets, Narcissus, Serviceberry Blossoms: It's All About White!

Delicate white violets show their purple splashed throats.
by Grandma Pearl

Today it is all about the white I see in Nature.

White violets are some of my earliest wildflowers to bloom.  To the Victorians white violets meant modesty and innocence,  honesty and humility; the religious connotation is that of faithfulness and spiritual understanding, death and resurrection.
All kinds of bees and bee flies find these dainty flowers irresistible!

Male Hairy Woodpecker enjoying a bountiful breakfast.
by Grandma Pearl
This beautiful white and black male Hairy Woodpecker is looking over his ample choices for breakfast.  I purchased a small bag of fruit and nut bird seed mix and combined it with regular black oil sunflower seeds.  My birds are definitely enjoying the variety.  I also occasionally add pieces of day-old bread as a special treat.  Mr. Hairy obviously doesn't know what to choose first!

Coltsfoot, also known as coughwort,
is used as an expectorant for clearing the lungs of congestion.  It is often combined with other herbs such as marshmallow or horehound to relieve symptoms of asthma, bronchitis and colds and flu.  But recent research has connected the use of this herb to liver disease.
Coltsfoot was probably brought to North America from Europe by the colonists because of its usefulness as an herbal solution to lung problems.

This herb grows in groups in waste areas in early spring, and blooms even before the dandelions emerge and flower.  It is one of the first nectar sources used by honeybees.   Prized by birds as a soft lining for their nests, it appears at just the right time in the spring!
Its leaves resemble a horse's hoof, and fully mature only after the flower has withered.  All parts of the plant were used medicinally. Coltsfoot as a healing resource goes back to the ancient times of Pliny and Galen.

Arabis 'Snowcrop' perennial
by Grandma Pearl

Arabis 'Snowcrop' is one of my favorite little springtime perennials.  The delicate 4-petaled flowers are cold hardy and remain on the plant a long time. It grows in partial shade without a problem, and it is deer resistant.  Snowcrop prefers slightly moist soil, but will tolerate dry conditions as well.  Compact and showy, it makes a very pretty addition to a perennial garden.

White narcissus
by Grandma Pearl

Lovely and familiar, my narcissus stand proudly against the cool spring breezes without batting an eye!  They are reliable harbingers of the season with their sunny yellow centers.  Every day they greet me with a nod and a reflection of brilliant sunshine.  The squirrels scurry back and forth in my bulb garden without causing any injury to these hardy narcissus.  It is necessary to keep them behind a fence though, because the deer think they are just another part of the salad buffet around here!

Serviceberry Tree in full bloom.
by Grandma Pearl
The beautiful Serviceberry tree blooms with oceans of bright white flowers.  It has other names:  shadbush, shadblow and juneberry.  A gorgeous addition to your landscape it produces edible fruits that birds love.  The fruits resemble blueberries but have a very different flavor, and the seeds taste like almonds.  Serviceberries start out red and change to blue as they ripen.  Use them in the same recipes where you would use blueberries, if the birds leave any for you! 

Flowers bloom in May here, then fruits appear in June; which is also the time when shad (fish) start spawning, thus the alternative names.

Mama Chickadee will soon be tending her nestlings.
by Grandma Pearl
White and black chickadees chat happily among themselves while busily tending their nests.  My newest batch of chickadees should be hatching soon.  Several days ago I saw this little bird with a beakful of dandelion fluff.  I'm sure she used it to line her nest inside the bird house she has chosen for her babies' nursery.  Both the male and female spent 2 days gathering materials to add to the loose grass cup they made.  When the babies have hatched, I will attempt to carefully open the birdhouse and quietly take a picture of her brood.

Cherry Blossom up close.
by Grandma Pearl
 My cherry blossoms never cease to take my breath away!  Their delicate and fancy white petals surround a tiny pink rosette center.  What a lovely cloud of blooms they produce!  These are Nanking Cherries that I planted about ten years ago.  Last year they were held back by a snowy cold snap.  But this year they have recovered nicely.  I should have enough fruit for a tasty cherry cobbler soon!

White Quartz Rock
by Grandma Pearl

I have a collection of white quartz that I have found around here.  This piece that is about the size of a hen's egg will be added to my others.  It sparkles in the sunshine, but that doesn't really show up in this picture.  I have also found some sandstone with mica flecks.

Nuthatch foraging under bird feeder
by Grandma Pearl
I love the little nuthatches with their white fronted tuxedo outfits!  They are snappy dressers for sure.  It's the contrast in colors that makes them so distinctive; that and their 'yank, yank,' call.  Acrobatic and agile, they forage under the bird feeders for seeds, and up and down trees for insects of all kinds.  They are year round visitors here, and always welcome in our neck of the woods!

Grandma Pearl
original post 5/13

 Nuthatches:  Little Devil Down Birds


Shauna said...

Connie, I love your tribute to white in this post. This morning 4 White Ibises were walking the easement in front of my property dipping their long beaks into the ground to have breakfast 'out'. It was awesome. They weren't afraid of me at all. I got pretty close to them and took several shots. I haven't uploaded them to my computer yet - I hope they came out!

Oh, I saw my mystery bird again today. She actually came out of her comfort zone and flew up into a neighboring oak tree. I'm not sure, but I think I may have heard a faint peep coming from the spot where I usually see her.

Connie Smith said...

Shauna, What a way to end 2013! I can't wait to see your pictures of the Ibises. How cool was that to be that close to such amazing birds. And how appropriate to this post of White!
I'm glad your mystery bird is back. She probably never left-just stayed hidden from view. Thanks for the awesome updates.
Happy New Year!