The elements often naturally arrange themselves in a pleasing composition,
and the sun creates constrast.
The theme of this cloudy day was green. Very little bloomed.
We’re between the early bloomers and the next wave of seasonal color.
The orange, though small, made a bold statement.
The cedar apple rust grew on a young cedar tree. I’ve known it’s called cedar apple rust; I just never knew why (or even thought about it) until researching for this blog.
Cedar apple rust is a fungal disease on apple trees. Cedar apple rust requires apple trees too to complete its life cycle.The brown galls overwinter on the cedar trees. During moist weather in the spring, the galls produce jelly-like horns. The rest of the information on the galls’ life cycle scrambles my artistic brain.
I enjoyed the aesthetic qualities of this find.
This blog continues the diary of the eastern phoebes nesting in our barn.
They’re obviously smaller than the next pictures. Notice the featherless wing in the right foreground. I took this picture on May 3.
I didn’t take any more pictures until May 7 because of the cold rainy weather. Their nest is in our barn. Notice the growth of wing feathers.
The only way to photograph in the nest was to stand on the axil and tire of the riding mower. I held a small flashlight in my left hand and used the camera with my right. The nest is on the top of a light on a rafter. This means I aimed the flashlight the direction I thought looked the best and did the same with the camera. Needless to say, I took several pictures in hopes of at least one good one.
This picture and the one above were taken on May 8. There was considerable size difference since they hatched. They should fledge when 16-20 days old.
Finally, they were positioned so I could count. There were 5 light tan eggs, and nowwere 5 little ones.
May 10 showed rapid growth, especially in the feathers.
I took this picture and the next one yesterday, Saturday the 11th.
Their size and crowded conditions challenged picture-taking.
I ended up with no finished blog that I wanted to post today. My computer is by the picture window overlooking the backyard. What I assume is the male has perched at different places, flown out to catch a flying insect and headed straight for the barn. We’re considerably below normal temperature-wise, so the female is probably with the young.
This is a reminder of just how many Mothers there are in the world, counting all species!
You can find my first blog on the phoebe nest at:
Flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) made a bold statement on a dreary overcast day.
The flowers aren’t what they appear to be.
The white “petals” aren’t petals. They’re bracts, which are modified leaves.
The buds of the actual flowers crowd together in the center of the bracts.
Two tiny flowers bloom in this cluster of buds.
A different vantage point of the flower cluster.
Polinated flowers produce fruits that are called drupes. Many bird species and mammals eat the fruit.
I spotted an eastern phoebe carrying nesting material into the barn on March 30.
The female built her nest over the only light in that side of the barn. She built it with mud and moss, and lined it with grasses, hair and feathers.
They perch different places around the yard where they have good vantage point for hawking insects.
The barn faces the west. So, that makes taking pictures of the nest better in the evening.
The flash didn’t work for pictures inside the nest. I couldn’t see where to aim the camera for the best pictures. This picture was taken on May 1st.
Then I figured out how to get relatively decent pictures on May 3rd. I set the camera for low light and used a small flashlight. The pictures didn’t work until I stood with my left foot on the axil and my right foot on the tire.
I aimed the flashlight in the direction that looked best, zoomed the lens in and snapped pictures. Obviously, this isn’t the best picture, but under these conditions …..
The pictures improved after a little practice.
I suspect the whitish shape in the right side of the nest is a fecal sac. It has a mucous membrane that surrounds the feces. They’re usually carried off by the parents. I’ve watched birds fly over the yard and drop a fecal sac.
It’s amazing how a rufous-sided towhee can loudly sing its song or repeat its call note and not be located.
It took several days to locate the towhee that called from various places in our yard. They have a knack for concealment, even when in the open.
I accidentially ended up in the right place at the right time to locate the male while he repeated his ”Drink your teeeeee” (wavering the “tea.”)
His call note was a sharp whistled “wheep.”
Rufous-sided towhee’s breeding range covers over half the U.S. and Canada. Southern Illinois is in its winter range. The female is dark brown where the male is black. They scratch for nuts, seeds and fruits to feed on, plus some insects.