Category Archives: Birds

Lens-Artists Challenge #149 – Blue and Green Peacocks

This week Tina is returning to the color wheel and its cooler members, which include blue (primary) green (secondary) and blue-green or blue-violet aka purple (tertiary). 

When I think of this group of colors, my first thought took me to the post last week in which I included one photo of the peacock. This week I wanted to return to the Los Angeles County Arboretum to share with you what I learned about the history of the Arboretum, the original owner of the land, and the origin of the peacocks in the United States.

Elias Jackson “Lucky” Baldwin (April 3, 1828 – March 1, 1909) was one of the greatest pioneers of California business, an investor, and real estate speculator during the second half of the 19th century. He earned the nickname “Lucky” Baldwin due to his extraordinary good fortune in a number of business deals.

Baldwin was born in Hamilton, Ohio in 1828, the fourth of 14 children. At age 18, he married a neighbor girl named Sarah Ann Unruh and started to farm and train horses. In 1853, at the height of the California Gold Rush, he decided to relocate to California. He joined a large wagon train in Iowa. During the five-month journey, he got lost and save by friendly Native Americans who brought him back to the wagon train. He made a fortune during his remaining wagon journey and became a key player in the San Francisco Stock Exchange. His building materials were used to construct the U.S. Mint, Fort Point and the fort of Alcatraz Island.

In 1875, Baldwin moved to Southern California, purchased Rancho Santa Anita and constructed its buildings and grounds. With cash in hand, he opened the original Santa Anita Park racetrack, a few blocks east of its current location, in what is now Arcadia Park.

Baldwin was married four times. When he married his fourth wife, Lillie Bennett, the Queen Anne Cottage was built at the location where the Arboretum is as a honeymoon present by Lillie’s father.

During the 1890s, his wealth diminished, but Baldwin maintained an interest in horse racing and poker. His wife Lillie and his daughters Anita Baldwin McClaughry and Clara Baldwin Stocker were among many relatives and friends at his side when he died at the Arcadia ranch on March 1, 1909.

The Arboretum began in 1947 with California and Los Angeles jointly purchasing 111 acres to create an arboretum around the Baldwin site. The first greenhouse was constructed, and the first 1,000 trees were planted. In 1956 the Arboretum was open to the public. Construction and renovation of both greenhouses and gardens continued.

In addition to the gardens, the arboretum is home to a flock of some 200 peacocks, which are descendants of original birds imported by Baldwin from India. The peacock is a symbol of the city of Arcadia. The first record of peacock in what is now the United States was the introduction by Frances Sinclair on Kauai, Hawaii, in 1860. However, the first reported introduction into the continental United States occurred in 1879, when Elias J. Baldwin brought 3 pairs to his vast ranch in the San Gabriel Valley of California. Currently, peacocks can be found throughout neighborhoods surrounding the arboretum.

Queen Anne Cottage

The cottage was constructed in 1885-1886 for Baldwin and his third wife, Lillie Bennett, the daughter of the cottage’s architect Albert A. Bennett. Upon Elias J. Baldwin’s death in 1909, his daughter Anita closed the cottage and disposed of all furnishings. Some of the architectural elements of the cottage, such as the stained-glass windows, black walnut doors, and marble fireplace mantels, were stored in the coach barn. The stored items were reinstalled in the cottage during the 1951-1953 restoration.

The cottage has been used for many films and television shows, most famous for the opening of Fantasy Island where the character of Tattoo is ringing the bell in the cottage’s tower and Mr. Roarke is exiting from it.

Sources: Elias J. Baldwin, Los Angeles County Arboretum, Queen Anne Cottage

Peacocks in Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden- Arcadia (CA)

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Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #149 – Blue and Green Peacocks

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Lens-Artists Challenge #144 – Baby Birds Taking Flight

This week, Tina would like us to think of the idea of flying. It could be any flying objects such as birds, butterflies, bees, insects, airplanes, balloons, or kites. I have many bird stories to tell, so I chose to share about the baby birds in my garden taking flights.

I started watching and feeding birds in 2014. Over the years, there were mourning doves, house finches and hummingbird gave birth to their babies. I was fortunate to watch these amazing creatures laid eggs, nurtured their young, guarded them until they took flight.

In 2016, I noticed two mourning doves were courting and mating. This pair built their nest in a tree, but the eggs were stolen. I suspected it was the naughty squirrel. The female dove seemed depressed and was motionless, sitting in the grass for over 20 minutes. The male dove was sitting still two feet from her. Only after she got up and stretched that he also stood up. I was sad for them, but it was beautiful watching these doves mourned for their loss.

In 2017, the same pair of doves built a nest on the top of the stone windowsill under the eaves in the front yard. I thought it was the same pair because the male dove had a ring around one leg, same as the dove in the previous year. Probably someone tried to track him. They built the nest together. She laid two eggs. They took turns incubating the eggs. My research showed that mourning doves are monogamous. The male and female look so much alike, and it seems only the female incubates but in fact they switch shifts. In 2020 I noticed them switching shifts.

The mourning doves used the nest the house finches built on the trellis in 2015 and have used that in 2017, 2018, twice in 2019, and 2020. When the baby doves were ready to fly, they were as big as mature doves.

In 2015, the house finches built a nest on the top tier of the trellis at the front porch. The female bird laid four eggs but sadly the eggs were gone. I had no idea what happened. I have kept the nest clean and strapped a piece of chicken wire to hold the bottom of the nest. The house finches returned to the same nest in 2016, she laid three eggs and four baby birds were hatched. I didn’t see the baby birds flying away. The house finches didn’t use the nest after that.

I’m fortunate to have a baby ruby-throated hummingbird born in my garden in 2018. The nest is like a cheese ball the size of a golf ball. When my husband trimmed the orange tree, without knowing it, he barely missed that branch. When I noticed that cheese ball, I climbed up the ladder to look. Somehow, I touched the nest and scared the baby to fall on the ground. I was more scared than he and quickly picked him up to put him back in the nest. When the baby was ready to leave the nest, he flew to the next tree, clung on to it for a little while before he took off.

All these amazing birds, by the time the babies are ready to leave the nests, they are ready to fly. I wonder if they’ll see their parents again. Amazingly, the baby hummingbird stays. He has been living in my garden since he was born. I’m sorry to say the papa bird died last year. My husband found him on the grass. He was at least four years old. Mama bird doesn’t live here, but she comes by to play with the baby. I think he has a brother that comes by occasionally.

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Lens-Artists Challenge #144 – Baby Birds Taking Flight

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Lens – Artists Challenge #135: Glimpse into your world

This week, the theme from Sheetalbravon is ‘A Glimpse into your world’She invited us to show the things we love that make our world spin or things about our world that make us delirious with joy.

The immediate world that fills me with inspiration and amazement is my garden. My morning routine, especially in the summer, is to visit the garden while I drink my coffee. After coffee, with the gardening tools in hand, I check the flower bushes, trim the dead branches, or dig up weeds.

I started feeding birds from 2014 and the regular visitors are Ruby Throat Hummingbirds, mourning doves, American Finch, American God Finch, Scrub Jay, Song Sparrow, White-Crowned Sparrow, and a few I couldn’t quite identify. Over the years, there were baby Mourning Dove, baby House Finches, and One baby Hummingbird born in my garden.

There are other animals such as squirrels, stray cats, and lizards roaming during the day or at night.

I have many hobbies, more than I have time to fully enjoy each of them. Not included in the images here is photography, which I started as a teenager when the photos were black and white. Another hobby is ceramic. I did the whale free hand with clay. I made it into a nightlight for my baby daughter. When my daughter was nine years old, we took a ceramic painting class together in the summer. It’s something we continue doing separately until these days.

I learned to draw and watercolor painting as a young adult. After retirement, I took classes on both and used some watercolor painting to illustrate the poems in my book.

My immediate community of 35 years is a church fellowship and the group of ladies. They are a part of my world for fun, for friendship and support. Some of these friends’ kids and my daughter grew up together. The ladies gave a bridal shower to Mercy for her wedding. Some friends still send gifts to my granddaughters as their own.

Music has been my world since I was a kid. I didn’t have a family background to nurture my love of classical music. It seems to be a natural favorite. The first time I performed Handel’s Messiah was when I was still in Hong Kong.

Most of my family except for one sister are in Hong Kong. Lynton’s family is my extended family, and we see each other regularly.

The biggest world to me is my daughter’s family. My granddaughters lighten my heart and give joy every day. My daughter has a TinyBeans.com account where she posts multiple photos and videos daily to chronicle the kids’ growth and family activities. There was not one day I go without checking on what they do. Nora’s birthday on March 22, and I wish to visit them.  

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Thank you for reading. I hope to hear what the things you love that make your world spin or things about your world that make you delirious with joy.

Lens – Artists Challenge #135: Glimpse into your world

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Lens Artists Photo Challenge #119 – My Hideaway

Ann-Christine invited us to explore the theme of Hideaway and would like to see our interpretation.


There is no time like this when we all need a hideaway. A place in which we could find safety, calmness, beauty, feel the contentment of being, and sustain the patience of riding out the storms.

My garden is my hideaway. Nature and the little creatures speak to me and I find comfort in their messages. The branches bend when the wind blow. The roots reach deep to draw water and nutrients. The flowers dance in the breeze. Some plants go dormant in the winter. Some creatures migrate south in the cold season. They don’t fight against nature but make the best of what nature offers and maintain their balance at their present state.

Music is my great hideout.

Lens Artists Photo Challenge #119 – My Hideaway

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Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #102: Quiet Moments

This week, Patti is challenging us to capture “A Quiet Moment.”  Maybe it’s a walk early in the morning or the time you sit down with a book and a cup of coffee.  Include shots captured at home or in your neighborhood, or from a trip to a faraway place months or years ago.

Yesterday was the first time we got together with Hubby’s siblings. They live in a quiet place with neighbors who are acres away. We practiced the social distancing, wearing masks, sitting several feet apart. Hubby and I brought our own food, water, and utensils for lunch. It was surreal that we finally see each other after a time that seems like an eternity. We didn’t have a large family party; we only had a precious quiet lunch with a few members.

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A pair of mourning doves fixed up the old nest on June 5, the female dove came back to lay eggs on June 7. Today, June 22, the dove took a break from her incubation. I stole the chance to take a photo of the nest. One squab was hatched. It’s amazed of how tiny the eggs are. According to my observation during the previous years, the dove would nurture the squabs until they are mature. By the time the squabs are ready to fly, they are as big as the adult doves.

The squabs are quietly growing.

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After I spotted a Monarch and a Swallowtail butterflies in my garden, I looked into cultivating a butterfly garden.

The Monarchs face many risks that are resulting in declining populations in both the eastern and western parts of their North American range. The largest effects come from the loss of habitat for breeding, migrating, and overwintering. In addition, pesticides that are used to control insects and weeds have harmful unintended consequences for monarchs, a changing climate may make some habitat less suitable and forcing changes in migratory patterns, and monarchs face many risks from natural enemies, such as predators, parasitoids, and diseases.

The loss of milkweed in agricultural fields is a major cause of decline in monarchs, though there are other factors contributing to the decline in milkweed availability.

If you’re interested, you can download a Milkweeds: A Conservation Practitioner’s Guide https://www.xerces.org/publications/guidelines/milkweeds-conservation-practitioners-guide

I wanted to create a butterfly garden from seeds. I ordered the California native Narrow leave and Showy milkweed seeds.

The seeds are in quiet germination.

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I wait with anticipation to see more butterflies in my garden.

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Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #102: Quiet Moments

 

 

Sunday Stills: Home is the Happiest Place

The theme for Sunday Stills this week from Terri is: Home. 

As much as we enjoy traveling, I always looked forward to coming home before the trip was over. Perhaps the tours I booked were too vigorous, and I got tired by getting up early or sitting on the bus too much from city to city.

I’m comfortable at home. This morning I spotted a Swallowtail butterfly staying on one flower for twenty minutes. I thought she came to lay eggs. I checked after she was gone. No, she didn’t, but I found a tiny grasshopper only 1/3 inch long. 

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About a dozen mourning doves, many house finches, and sparrows perching on the telephone wires around 4:00 p.m. every day, waiting for me to feed them. A pair of mourning doves came to fix up the old nest on Friday, June 5, and the female dove came back last Sunday to lay eggs. Now she is patiently incubating her young.

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My home is shared by a family of four hummingbirds.

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My home is the happiest place to me!

I’m even happier when I’m at my second home, my daughter’s home. Nothing gives me more joy than being with my granddaughters. So far, I only spent time with my two-and-a-half years old granddaughter, Autumn. I love playing with her and reading to her. I haven’t seen my second granddaughter Nora in person yet because of the coronavirus. I look forward to seeing Autumn and Nora when it’s safe to travel.

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My daughter’s home is the utmost happiest place to me!

I love to hear what make you happiest. It could be something, some place, some people, or something you do.

 

Sunday Stills: Home is the Happiest Place

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #97- Pastimes

Thank you, Sue (Mac’s Girl), for hosting the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge this week. COVID19 gives us more time to stay home and spend more time on our hobbies and pastimes.

I have many passionate hobbies, enough to occupy three times of my lifetime. For this post, I only focus on two activities I’m engaged in daily, which are gardening and enjoying the amazing creatures in my garden.

 

There are four fruit trees and two grape vines in my garden. I have a different story about the plum trees this year. In the winter of 2018-2019, there were seven weeks of rain that soaked the plum trees to produce gorgeous blooms. The warm sun came to keep the clovers strong and pretty to invite the bees. The bees found their way to pollinate the plum blossoms which yielded 1,100 plum. Well, the rain, the clovers, the sun, and the bees didn’t coordinate this year, and I could see about 10% of the plums growing compared to that of last year.

 

I appreciate the year-round flowering of the hibiscus and roses. Their graciousness, loyalty, and steadfast to bloom were the inspiration of my poetry.

 

I started watching and feeding the birds in 2014. My regular visitors are the Mourning Doves, House Finches, and sparrows. The Scrub Jay and Pin-tailed Whydah paid occasional visits. I used to put the bird seeds on several spots of the top of the retaining wall closed to the slope where they searched for food. Unfortunately, the stray cats crept under the bushes, darted upward to snatch the Mourning Doves, then dashed away. It made me so mad. I used the chicken wire to fence off the area, but the cats outsmarted me. My new spot for the bird seeds is now on the patio ground.

 

I would like to have flocks of butterflies, but only a few visited. The Mourning Cloak butterflies came a few times. The Monarch came, but there were only two. I planted the Butterfly bush, but the growth is too slow to attract butterflies. Last week, a Monarch delighted me to visit the Salvia plant. The bees and the hummingbirds love the Salvia plant also. Two days ago, I bought four of the 2-gallon pots Salvia and planted them strategically to feed the hummingbirds and attract bees to pollinate the plum blossoms next year.

3 Mourning Cloak Nymphalis antiopa butterfly

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Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #97- Pastimes

 

 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #93 – Morning

The theme from Ann-Christine this week for Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #93 is Morning.

“Although time seems to fly, it never travels faster than one day at a time. Each day is a new opportunity to live your life to the fullest. In each waking day, you will find scores of blessing and opportunities for positive change. Do not let your today be stolen by the unchangeable past or the indefinite future! Today is new day ! Good Morning ” – Steve Maraboli

 

My morning routine these days is about the same as before the pandemic. On any day, I spend an hour to be with myself before getting on any business. There is a family of four hummingbirds in my garden. One of them was born in my backyard in May 2018. Apparently another baby was born this year, but I don’t know where they built the nest. The first thing in the morning when I go downstairs is checking on the hummingbirds. I have one feeder outside of the kitchen window and another one in the backyard. The hummingbirds mostly rely on the sugar water from the feeders, although they also like the nectar from the purple Sylvia flowers.

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After making sure the feeders have plenty of sugar water, I then brew my coffee. My favorite coffee mug has the image of Thomas Kinkade’s painting. It holds 12 ounces. Two cups of coffee would start my day just right.

 

While sipping the coffee, I make my round checking the flowers in the front yard and backyard to see if any spot needs more watering. The two grapevine plants started growing. I usually train the vine before they get all tangle up.


The next thing to do before sitting down at my desk is to feed the birds. There are about twelve to fifteen mourning doves and several house finches coming to my backyard for feeding. Yesterday morning, as soon as I put the seeds on the ground, a scrub jay flew by making loud noises. There are two scrub jays pay me a visit from time to time, but they are not the regular visitors. I was glad to have my phone, so I snapped a few shots. Then a squirrel came by. He is not afraid of me. He even poses for me to take photos. Well, he just stared at me.

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Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #93 – Morning

 

 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #66: Filling the Frame

For Lens-Artists Photo Challenge this week, Patti invited us to look at Filling the Frame. She demonstrated her photos of the differences of not filling the frame and filling the frame.

 

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The bees love sunflowers. This photo was taken in the summer 2018 as I waited to catch this position of the bee.

 

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There are many kinds of birds in my garden. I watch them and feed them and caught this House Finch cracking a sunflower seed.

 

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This photo was taken when we walked around Laguna Lake by our house. There were many turtles but this one was most handsome and colorful. This close-up shot allowed me to see its body texture and colors and the look on its face.

 

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There was a wildfire in Columbia Gorge in Washing, Oregon area in September 2017 caused by a 15-year-old boy igniting fireworks. The sky was covered with smoke. This was early in the afternoon.

 

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The human eyes usually cannot gaze directly to the sun. The smoke was intense and filtered the ray so we were able to look right at the sun.

 

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I used to study the moon cycles and paid attention to the Red Blood moon and the Blue moon. California is not a good location to glimpse the intensity of the colors of the moon. January 2018 was the first appearance of full moon of the year. This full moon photo was taken from our driveway early at night.

 

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This was taken at the same time of the night. I zoomed in to view the shadows of the moon.

 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #66: Filling the Frame

 

 

 

 

 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #63 – My Magical Garden

Ann-Christine invited us to look at our Magical Garden this week for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #63.

I have written several posts about my magical garden. The hummingbirds, the flowers, the trees and the baby birds.

There were more baby birds in my magical garden. On August 13, 2019, A pair of Mourning Doves came to the previous occupied nest, checked it out and decided to use it. Mama bird laid two eggs and nurtured two babies. The bigger baby flew to the nearby bush. Then Mama, Papa and the bigger brother left.  I thought Mama would leave the younger one alone, but she came back to stay with him for a while. Later that afternoon, the younger one left the nest also. The amazing thing was, both babies came back to the nest to spend a night together. They were gone the next day afternoon. I never saw this behavior in the birds in all the years.

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“Everyone likes birds. What wild creature is more accessible to our eyes and ears, as close to us and everyone in the world, as universal as a bird?” – Nature historian Sr. David Attenborough

“Birds are a miracle because they prove to us there is a finer, simpler state of being which we may strive to attain.” – Douglas Coupland

“Birds are indicators of the environment. If they are in trouble, we know we’ll soon be in trouble.” – Roger Tory Peterson

 

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The summer is mild this year with only several hot days. The flowers in my garden delight me without demanding too much work. I posted many flowers previously. This is the first time I post the following flowers.

“If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly our whole life would change.” – Buddha

“If I had a single flower for every time I think about you, I could walk forever in my garden.” – Claudia Adrienne Grandi

“Love is like a beautiful flower which I may not touch, but whose fragrance makes the garden a place of delight just the same.” – Helen Keller

 

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Vinca Valiant Apricot doesn’t require too much water. They are annual flowers, but with proper trimming, the new flowers grow in the following year.

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The Iceberg roses are not demanding attention. The dead flowers and stems fall automatically. I chose to trim them the same way I care for other roses.

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Geranium has gorgeous colors and blooms all year round. It’s a low maintenance plant. I trim them because I like to keep the bushes to certain sizes.

 

 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge # 63 – My Magical Garden

 

 

 

 

 

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