Play Ball!

Do you enjoy baseball? Are you a Baltimore Oriole’s fan?? Well, it’s okay either way, but let’s talk about birds! This spring was the first time I had ever seen a Baltimore oriole at all, let alone a nest and babies!

This nest! The female builds this pouch-like nest near the end of a thin branch high in a tree. It looks like it could easily be knocked off that spindly branch, but apparently it is strongly woven in place.

The three top photos are the striking male with his blood orange-color body contrasted by his deep black wings and back. He was helping keep an eye on the young-uns and feeding them, which is the LEAST he can do after allowing his woman to build the nest by herself. Mom was shy about showing herself for the camera, but if you look carefully, she is behind leaves in the last photo. The Baltimore oriole female has a lighter, softer orange underside with brown back and wings and some black on her head.

Thanks for taking a look at my blog!

Hello There!

Hello there! This is my first post EVER. This blog is mainly intended as a documentation of my journey from bird and nature lover to birder and nature photographer. Warning: I am an amateur at best! The isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic has caused me to spend more time outdoors than ever. Fortunately, I have wonderful friends who I spend this outdoorsy time with. These friends have inspired me in many ways over the years. Most recently, they have inspired me to shut up and look around. Oh my, the birds are everywhere! Nature is all around us!! Birding on an almost daily basis has become my joy, my passion. I no longer go outdoors without my binoculars. I have invested in a stronger lens for my camera. Bird songs and sounds are no longer the white noise in the background, but the focus of my listening. It is like a meditation.

This site is named 35sparrows because in my attempt to identify what type sparrow I was eyeing, I found out there are thirty five species of sparrows in North America alone! Dang!! There are forty two references to sparrows in the Bible. There is symbolism connected to the sparrow in our society–common, plain, simple, humble little birds. But sparrows are extraordinary, actually. They are prolific, plentiful, diverse, and some make the most beautiful music! So, I thought using “sparrows” in my name would be fitting as related to the plain and simple reference. Being new to birding, I have found the fact that there are thirty five species of sparrows in North America alone to be a little intimidating.

At the beginning of this journey, I have categorized birds in general terms–a sparrow, a hawk, a crow, a wren, etc. As the months have gone by, the categories have become more specific–a song sparrow, a Cooper’s hawk, a house wren, etc. This transition has happened pretty organically.

How about you? Do you like birding? Are you a beginner like me or a seasoned veteran? I would love to hear from you about your experiences, tips and thoughts! Above is a photo of a song sparrow taken by a dear friend on one of HER birding adventures.

song sparrow by Amy Christianson

Baby Baby!

This spring into summer has been bursting with birds nesting, laying eggs, raising young, feeding them & fledging them. I have had the privilege of witnessing baby bluebirds, house wrens, robins, Baltimore orioles, red winged blackbirds, wood ducks, mallards & bald eagles! I’m thinking it might be a good idea to do a series focused on the babies.

Let’s start with the beloved eastern bluebirds! I don’t think there’s anything I dislike about bluebirds (I actually haven’t met any bird I didn’t like). They have such pretty coloring with their vibrant blue above and their reddish throat and chest. Their song is subtle and pleasant. Unlike most other birds, they seem pretty easy going. They don’t mind humans hanging around, even around their nests. Depending on the region in which you live, they may have one to four clutches (or broods) per breeding season. The birds in my yard usually have two clutches per season.

This is my fourth season with a bluebird nest box in my yard. In fact, I added a second one this spring. The first couple years I used a traditional wood house that was given to me by a local bluebird enthusiast. Now, I have two Gilbertson houses. they are fantastic–durable, attractive, sparrow resistant, easy to clean & easy to peek into.

Here are some photos from this spring’s brood:

The above photos were taken using my iPhone 11, as I feel safer and it’s easier to snap quickly and get the nest box re-attached to it’s stand. While the bluebird parents have been generous with their little ones, I don’t want to press my luck!

We did get to watch the last holdout make it’s first flight after sitting at the door working up his courage for a long time. From the nest to my deck railing where he thought he would just stay forever, I think. He did not want to go a-ny-where! The parents took turns encouraging their late bloomer to fly into the tree with the others. They finally resorted to bribery–a worm here and a bug there. I think it was the bug that did it, and — weeeee! — Off the little fledgeling bluebird flew into the tree with mom, dad and siblings. The parents continued to rush around, providing the babies with food for about a week that we saw.

Do you have a bluebird house or want to have one? I’d love to hear about it. Next time, let’s look at the Baltimore oriole!!

This is the beautiful father of the babies!