Category Archives: Birds

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.

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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

 

 

 

 

 

Lens-Artists Challenge #61: Precious Pets – Hummingbirds

This week’s Lens-Artists Challenge Tina introduced the theme “Precious Pets.” She mentioned spending time with her brother and his wife in Colorado, watched how they tended the hummingbirds. Tina now has anew found appreciation of the little creatures and captured some wonderful photos.

I started feeding the hummingbirds in the summer of 2014. Did the hummingbirds stay all year round? I had no idea. If they flew south during the winter, did the same hummingbirds come back to my garden? I didn’t keep track of them until June 2018.

The orange tree in the backyard grew big and tall. My husband trimmed it. After trimming the tree, on June 14, 2018, I discovered a hummingbird nest. He just missed it by one branch. Whew!

 

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Baby Hummie poked his head out of the nest waited for the feeding. I grabbed the ladder, climbed up to take a photo. I moved some leaves out of the way to get a clear view, but scared the baby. He flapped and popped out of the nest. It scared me because he was not ready to fly. I quickly got down the ladder, picked him up in my cuffed hand and returned him to the nest. Papa fluttered above my head. I retrieved from the ladder quickly.

Apparently Baby Hummie was hatched days before I discovered him. I only watched him in the nest for four days and caught him flying away. He flew behind the cypress trees. Eventually Mama brought him and showed him the bird feeder. He stayed close to the bird feeder for six months.

 

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Winter came. My research shows a baby hummingbird cannot fly south to Mexico from California in his first year. The mature birds fly 900 miles straight only stop to feed. Mama and Papa stayed until it was very cold. Finally, early January this year, only Baby Hummie stayed. I worried about him every day especially when it was cold and wet. Baby was smart, he perched on the low wire surrounding his favorite Salvia bush next to a three-feet high brick fence. It sheltered him from the pouring rain and open wind.

 

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Papa came back after three weeks. Mama came back a few days later. They were excited about the reunion, dancing and chasing each other. Papa led Baby Hummie fly away from the feeder little further at a time.

 

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On April 7, 2019, I didn’t see Baby Hummie the whole day. I was heartbroken, thinking of all the scenarios. Did the squirrel eat him while he hibernates at night? Was he attacked by other animals? Was he grown enough to be gone? I prayed for Baby Hummie. It was okay if he was gone, as long as he was safe. The next day, I saw him just once with Papa early in the morning. Perhaps Papa wanted him to fly a further distance. He then came back a couple times a day. And it became more and more frequent returns.

I’m happy to let you know that the last three months, Hummie stays in my front yard and the backyard all day. Papa and Mama come to visit, do their acrobat dance several times a day. As for Hummie, he perches on many favorite spots.

Besides the bird feeder, his favorite nectar is from Slavia and other purple trumpet flowers. I make sure the feeder is full and his favorite flowers grow well.

 

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Lens-Artists Challenge #61: Precious Pets – Hummingbirds

 

 

 

 

 

Lens-Artists Weekly Photo Challenge #46 – Delicate

This week, Anne-Christine invited us to look at a delicate matter, may it be soft or light – like the scent of a rose…; having a thin, attractive shape – delicate hands for example…; fragile or easily damaged – like fine china…; pleasant but not easily noticed – like a delicate floral pattern on the walls…or just being ”a delicate matter.”

There are many bird egg stories in my garden. The incubation seems like a delicate situation for birds.

In the summer of 2018 when we came home from a trip, I found a nest hanging on the Date Palm branches with an abandoned egg. There were three different sizes of nests on the ground and one broken egg. My neighbor said there was windstorm while we were gone and caused the disasters for the birds’ motherhood.

The House Finches built a nest on the top layer of the trellis in my front porch in 2015. The three eggs disappeared after several days. I was sad and went online to ask an expert of what happened to the eggs. The answer was it happened all the time because animals could climb up to steal the eggs. I took a while to get over with the sadness.

A pair of House Finches rebuilt the nest in the same location in 2016. The female bird laid three eggs and hatched four birds. I watched and took photos during the entire incubation and hatching period. The female bird would fly away if I came close to the nest. I tried to be slow when walking in front of the nest until the babies were hatched, matured and flown away.

 

 

Similar stories happened to the Mourning Doves. In 2016, a female dove found a location in a tree and sat there. The male dove brought twigs to build a nest around her. She laid eggs but came down from the tree after a few days. The female dove was sitting on the grass, motionless for an hour as if she was mourning for the loss. The male dove was standing a couple feet away, also in a still position. He only adjusted his head when she stood up. I was hiding under the patio table watching and taking photos. I didn’t know what happened to the eggs.

Then the Mourning Doves built a nest under our eaves and laid two eggs in 2017. Male and female doves took turns to incubate the eggs. When the babies were hatched, they watched them close by until the babies flew away.

 

 

When I found three nests on the ground in the summer of 2018 after a windstorm, I saved a better shaped one. I placed it on the top layer of the trellis, supported it with chicken wire, hoping some birds might use it. I didn’t look at the nest a just a few days. On May 9 this year, I found a mourning dove occupied the nest. It looked like they built a nest with twigs on top of the existing nest.  I only saw one dove there and I worried that she might be hungry. I put some bird seeds on the ground a few feet from the trellis. At first, she didn’t seem to come down to eat. The last few days, she came down briefly to eat.

 

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I did a research today and found out that, the male and female doves look alike. The male may incubate during daytime and the female does it at night. It takes 14-15 days for incubation and the young will leave the nest in 12-14 days.

I hope that the doves will be successful in hatching their babies this year.

 

Lens-Artists Weekly Photo Challenge #46 – Delicate

 

 

 

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Feathers

This week the topic is  Feathers.

Feel free to use your photo archives and see what photos you have that fits the current week’s challenge, or even better yet grab you camera and take a new photo!  ENJOY and have FUN. – Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge

 

I had seen peacocks in a zoo but hadn’t seen them up close roaming freely until my trip to Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden in Arcadia. The local historian traced back to a few peacocks Elias J. Baldwin picked up on a trip to India around 1880. He brought them back to his 8,000 acres of land then known as Rancho Santa Anita in Los Angeles.

After Baldwin’s death in 1909 at age 81, his daughter Anita sold off parcels of the ranch. In 1947, the state and the County of Los Angeles jointly purchased 111 acres to create an arboretum around the heart of the old ranch. Later the county purchased additional parcels, bringing the Arboretum’s total acreage to today’s 127.

In the 1880s, there were some 50 of the peacocks on the ranch. In the early 1960s, there were around 350. The Arboretum got tired of having so many and auctioned off down to 200. The peacocks could find food and plenty of places to lay eggs and continue to multiply. Since the Arboretum isn’t totally fenced in, today, they are a regular sight on city streets. – Source

 

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Click the link to join the fun and challenge:

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Feathers

 

 

 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #34: Close-Up

Anne Christine’s theme this week for Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #34 is: Close-Up.

There are many activities in my garden for me to take close-up photos. Here are just several of them.

I love to have bees around to pollinate the fruit blossoms, as a result, I took photos of the bees whenever they hover over the flowers.

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