Sunday, April 29, 2007

Goin' to the Zoo, Zoo, Zoo

With the help of music from Peter, Paul, and Mary, we take a light and tumble journey from the Colvin Run Habitat to the National Zoo.
Click the panda bear to start the streaming video. Please be patient while the video streams/buffers to you computer.

Friends of the Colvin Run Habitat will notice that the Colvin Run Habitat signature red-tailed fox makes a cameo appearance.

Dogwoods in Bloom

The dogwoods, the official state flower and tree of Virginia, are in full bloom.
This photo was taken a bit earlier in April on an overcast day, so their white flower is not quite realized.

Friday, April 20, 2007

In Remembrance: Virginia Tech

With Governor Kaine’s declaration of today as a statewide day of morning, the entire Commonwealth of Virginia, and perhaps the entire nation and global community, remembered the lives lost earlier this week on the Virginia Tech campus.

As a family living and working in Virginia, the connections to Virginia Tech were surprisingly close – professional colleagues, and children of friends and fellow church members who were on the Blacksburg campus at the time of the shooting. Others – my oldest son, his friends, friends of my other children – who had lived in the West Amber Johnson dormitory or who have since graduated from Tech, but remain a part of the tight knit Hokie Family.

As a parent who delivered his first born son to Virginia Tech in Blacksburg for a four-year education and experience, I was always amazed at the values resident and practiced in that community – respect, integrity, honor, and dedication to education, to excellence, and to service. While Virginia Tech is, by any standard, a large university – in its geographic size and reach, in its number and diversity of students, in its educational breadth - the Hokie Community always remained focused on the growth, education, and needs of each individual member. Those values and characteristics make the tragic events of this past Monday so unexpected and unbelievable.

We remember in our thoughts and prayers all who were killed, injured, or impacted in anyway through the events at Virginia Tech this week, as well as all those throughout the world impacted in any way by hate and violence.

Two photos: the Virginia Tech banner on a field of Hokie stone and happier times for the Hokie Community with the pomp and circumstance of the 2000 Graduation.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Sparrow Chicks – In the Wreath, On the Door, Deep in the Heart of Texas

Small birds – sparrows, wrens, and even starlings – are well known for building nests nearly anywhere.
My son-in-law (reporting from Frisco, Texas) provides these photos of a sparrow’s nest, complete with hatched chicks. The location? The sparrow parents tucked their nest behind a wreath hanging on the front door.
Perhaps the good news is that these are sparrows and not mockingbirds. Mockingbird parents would be dive bombing any guests careless enough to come and knock on the front door.
Now, if my daughter (Mrs. Comstock, the kindergarten teacher at Etheridge Elementary School) can only keep Peanut the Cat from opening the front door.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Torturous Song of the White-Throated Sparrow

The White-Throated Sparrow sings a simple, melodic song. For those of you that are musicians, the song consists of three half-notes, the second (I believe) is down a half tone from the first, the last is down a third on the scale. You can hear here. I only this week associated this song with a common visitor of the Colvin Run Habitat. And only today caught this guy singing his melodic song (second photo). (My apologizes to the bird sound experts reading – my concentration is recording their images, not recording their audio).
Actually, the white-throated sparrow has been heard each of the last four (and possibly more) springs – every morning from sunrise until mid-morning right outside our bedroom window – three simple notes, every morning, for hours, over and over and over again. And, there are many of these guys in the Habitat. I think that you get my point – too much of even a great thing can become a torture.
If this sparrow is in the Habitat, he will answer any time of day if you mimic this song. But, be careful what you ask for – once these guys start singing, they sing for quite a while.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Springtime Watching and Waiting

The changing of the seasons brings a changing of not only the birds and animals at the Colvin Run Habitat, but also a change in the habitats of birds and animals seen year-round.
Over the last few weeks, I watched with eager anticipation for the arrivals of the hummingbirds and the bluebirds. On the advice of a colleague who advised that the hummingbird feeders should be up no later than ‘tax day’ (April 15 in the US), the first of the hummingbird feeders was put up this weekend. A new bluebird house, a gift from my daughter and son-in-law, was installed about eight weeks ago. While a pair of bluebird was observed on February 1 in the Habitat, the bluebird house and the hummingbird feeder remain unused. Like spring, hope springs eternal.

The extremely active Cooper’s and red-shouldered hawks of winter have not been observed for some time. The Coops have not been seen for the last 8 weeks. The red-shouldered hawks were clearly preparing to mate in early March; the last observation of either red-shouldered hawk was four weeks ago. These photos show the hawk flight through four weeks ago.
Similarly, the red-tailed fox has not been observed for three weeks. Hopefully, the fox pair is busy with denning responsibilities.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Readership Up Nearly 100% in Two Months - Now Includes Readers from 153 Cities in 38 Countries

Since the Colvin Run Habitat Blog was started, 143 stories have been posted. Since October 9 when I began counting, 865 unique visitors from 153 cities in 38 countries on 6 continents have stopped by and read 2390 pages. Two months ago, the numbers were 101 postings and 1230 pages read by, 487 unique visitors from 86 cities, in 27 countries, on 6 continents stopped by and read 1230 pages. If you are interested in seeing a map of reader locations, you can click on the world map on the bottom of the right hand column or go to a shared Microsoft Live Search Map showing Colvin Run visitors (which does not show all of the North American cities yet).
During the last two months, the Colvin Run Habitat Blog has appeared on several first pages of search returns for Google, Yahoo, and other search engines. For example, search on 'red-tailed fox' on Google. Also, the photos from the Blog have been made available independent of the blog postings. You can always see the photos by clicking on the Colvin Run Photo Archive photo at the top of the right hand column.
As you can see from today's last photo, the Colvin Run Habitat enjoys visitors who clearly do not read the blog. This is Coco, my favorite dog in Virginia, who if let loose will follow his nose to the most recent resting place of the fox.

To all of you readers, many thanks. To all who have posted the link to the Colvin Run Habitat Blog on your blog, a special thanks.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

How Many Grackles Can Sit on the Birdfeeder?

While the actual numbers vary considerable day by day, the Colvin Run Habitat continues to have a steady set of blackbird visitors each day – grackles, cowbirds, red-winged blackbirds. As none of these birds were in the Habitat after mid-May last year, I suspect that they guys are part of a continuing migration north that will end in the next few weeks.
Grackles in the first photo: red-winged blackbird in the second.

The answer to the question? Seven grackles sitting on the birdfeeder. No other bird type seems to be that social or willing to tolerate that many fellow birds on the feeder.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Spring Snow

Just when you think that winter is over and spring is in full swing…it snows!
The cold temperatures visiting the Mid-Atlantic States for the last week were joined by about an inch of snow during the last weekend. In the Colvin Run Habitat, the snow accented the fully blooming daffodils and pansies.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

American Goldfinches in Spring Colors

Three weeks ago, I wrote that the male American Goldfinches were showing signs of spring.

Well earlier this week, the male American Goldfinches fully completed their change to their spring/summer colors. Last fall, I wrote about their change from summer to fall/winter colors, and now they have completed the circle.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

April 1st: Strange Happenings in the Habitat

Significant rain fell during the night. And sunrise yielded a never before seen animal in the Colvin Run Habitat. This never before seen animal has left me, well, speechless. Take a look at the first photo.

Yes, an American alligator right between the birth bath and the bird feeders. When the sun finally dried out the soggy lawn and the gator headed south.

LuLu paid a visit today as well. In a surprise display of courage, the little white dog from Texas took on the red tailed fox in an attempt to protect the squirrels when the fox made a charge. See the second photo.

After LuLu straightened the fox out, the two became best of buddies. See the third photo.

Oh, did I mentioned that it is April Fool's Day. Hope you enjoyed the fun!