Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Catherine - Punk Rock Cat

Here is Catherine. She lives with Janet and Richard in Illinois.
Look at her. Isn't she lovely?

Catherine ' is “resting” from all her hard work. Yes, that’s her toy: Rowdy Rat, which she is using as a pillow.'
She has already visited our blog and check it out here). We are glad she is back again as the cat is known for her special taste:

'Catherine did it again, as she just can’t resist pretending to be a bee where Oriental lilies are concerned.  No harm at all to the plant, but what a chore for her to have to clean herself up.  She WILL, eventually, but in the meantime…. Here is her punk look!
Is that shame I see in those downcast eyes?'
Credits: Citations and pictures by Janet Barnstable

Thursday, July 16, 2015

New Guests on The Patio

I have heard their loud chirps a few times. Yesterday, I finally managed to see them.  First I, spotted ten or eleven of them fly away, then I noticed a row of black, little figures sitting, almost vertically, on the flat, outside frame of a window. It was quite a peculiar view: they looked like a wall decoration, sitting in exactly the same position, as stuck to the wall, all of them turning their heads on the right. Some were peeping uncertainly in my direction so I was trying to stand still, not to scare the cute guests resting on our patio. I was happy to see a 'new' kind of local birds.

how they were sitting

 Later I checked that the species is called:

Chimney Swift 

Although it reminds a swallow, the two species are not closely related. Chimney swift is a great aerialist. Its beak is tiny (about 0.20"/5mm) though its gape (mouth) is much bigger inside - the bird eats insects and little spiders. An interesting fact is that chimney swift is able to focus both eyes at once or one only/independently. The bird winters in South America and comes back to eastern North America in the summer. The species is protected by law in the US, it is also regarded as 'Near Threatened' by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. 

Chimney swifts are monogamous birds

Chimney swifts are really cute little creatures (size: 4 3/4 - 5", 12-12.5cm) and I am happy they are in our area too. Hopefully they find home in our chimney.

Picture and birds' voice from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:ChimneySwift23.jpg

Monday, July 13, 2015

Birdwatching in Texas

I used to think birdwatching is boring.  In the city where I lived, most common birds where sparrows, pigeons, seagulls, crows and ravens. They were all mostly black and gray and I found nothing interesting in watching them. Maybe because I so very much got used to them and, in a way, they were simply part of a well known landscape. Or maybe I because I was too busy. Or maybe both.

Baltic Sea seagulls

In Texas, due to the climate difference, wildlife - fauna and flora - is obviously not exactly the same as in Poland. It is interesting to see birds, plants and animals new to me. I not only enjoy watching them but also learning something about these unknown (to me) species.

In our neighborhood there was an area with a very old wood, trees and bushes untouched by humans for ages. With a little stream, it was a habitat and home for various kinds of creatures including many birds. Their songs and chirps were heard from early morning till the night. I loved listening to their voices. Especially the cardinal's calls were quite distinguished. Since the wood was not far from our house, I could observe the birds sitting in the trees and flying around our yard.

Here are some of them which I really liked.

1. My favorite one - Northern Cardinal.  They sing so beautifully!

The males, so pretty in red, because of their color were easy to spot among the greenery of the woods. The females are pale grayish brown with some reddish pink bill, not that noticeable at all.

2. Blue Jay - size: 10-11" (25.5/28cm)

They are also great vocalists and wonderful singers. Sometimes they even imitate hawk screams.

3. Northern Mockingbird - size: 9-10" (23-25.5cm)

The mockingbird can not only imitate other birds but also incorporate many various sounds into their repertoire (eg. barking dogs). Both males and females are alike in appearance.

4. House Sparrow - size: 51/2-6" (14/15cm)

Male House Sparrow
My favorite city bird which cousins live in Poland also. The male has a gray crown and gray rump. The female is dingy gray. Size: 51/2-6" (14/15cm).

5. Ruby-throated Hummingbird

These are very difficult to spot as they are so tiny (31/4 - 31/2"/ 8-9cm)! I have seen them twice maybe - thanks to my husband who noticed them and showed them to me.

It was so great having all the beautiful singers around! The area was also full of other musicians - katydids, crickets and similar instrumentalists which played their loud music days and nights.


One sad day the wood was cut down and destroyed, and so were the animals' lives. Only a few trees were left. It was so terrible, especially that the little woodland had also been a stop for flocks of migrating birds - since always I guess. When the season came, once we heard lots of birds' cries, we looked out and saw plenty of yellowish birds, sitting on the three trees - the remains of the wild land. Many were flying around as if they had not known where to sit. They looked disoriented and confused. - no high branches to rest, no water to drink (the stream had been covered with concrete), no bugs to eat. It was all so sad! Probably quite a lot of those birds did not survive that migrating season.

Great Crested Flycatcher - size: 8-83/4" (20.5/22cm)

It eats large birds and dwells in treetops. Migrates to Mexico and South America in April.

All in all, with no trees around, most of the birds were gone. So it was nothing to be sorry about leaving the place when our migrating time came.

Some other birds which are quite popular here and do not occur in Poland:
  • Mourning Dove - they are quite lovely. A couple of them visits our patio quite often. I like them too! They migrate to South America in September. Size: 10-12" (25.5/30cm)

Mourning Doves are monogamous birds
Interesting though maybe not that cute:
  • Common Grackle - size: 10-12" (25.5/30.5 cm)
From Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0
  • Great-tailed grackle - size: 101/2-181/2" (26.5/47cm)

Quite noisy guys. Usually there are a lot of them around supermarkets, looking for something to eat. "In Mexico, where it is known as the chanate or zanate, there is a legend that it has seven songs. 'In the creation, the Zanate having no voice, stole its seven distinct songs from the wise and knowing sea turtle. You can now hear the Zanate's vocals as the Seven Passions (Love, Hate, Fear, Courage, Joy, Sadness, and Anger) of life.'" (citation from wikipedia)

Credits: pictures of American birds
Northern Cardinal: By Stephen Wolfe from Columbus, OH, USA (Northern Cardinal I  Uploaded by Snowmanradio) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons;
Blue Jay: By Mdf (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons;
Northern Mockingbird: By Captain-tucker (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons;
House Sparrow: By Passer_domesticus_on_rose.jpg: PewuCom derivative work: Totodu74 (Passer_domesticus_on_rose.jpg) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons;
Ruby-throated hummingbird: public domain, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Great crested flycatcher:By DickDaniels (http://carolinabirds.org/) (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons;
Great-tailed grackle: (Photograph taken by Patrick Coin) [CC BY-SA 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

It Is Hot Again, Take Good Care of Your Pets!

The hot summer season has already been here and hotter and hotter day are to come soon. Remember - you are not the only one who gets hot and tired in the heat, your pets suffer too! Especially, if they are not hydrated properly. So whether you take them on a trip or leave them at home - provide them with fresh water. Not only you get thirsty when it is hot. So do your pets.

Let them stay in and do not keep them outside too long. Cats and dogs do not have eccrine sweat glands in their skin, so they are not able to cool their bodies with sweat.
Do no take them to the beach - staying in the sun may be fun according to you but not necessarily to your dog. Besides, hygiene on the beach matters too - meaning pets toilet time.
And please, do not leave them in the car when you go to take care of your errands. Even when you think it will only take 5 or 10 minutes. They may not survive it.

The summer is here again. Take good care of your pet!


That curious look.......

Our pets enjoying their time out

Pictures shared by Shrader G.