Friday, May 22, 2015

Birds of a Feather or Backing the Birds!

Guinea Hen
The feathers on the backs of birds form patterns when birds fold their wings and sit, perch or walk.
  
Slate-coloured Boubou
The male and females of the same species are different because the male birds are usually so much more colorful. (I've often thought that was unfair!) 

Male Woodduck
Female Woodduck

I started paying attention to the bird’s back patterns in Australia when I took a picture of a bird on a tall stick and tried to identify it. (Of course, I can't find that picture for this blog post!) The bird’s back was toward me and the back is not a typical field mark.  Sometimes I’m so involved in looking at the feathers and patterns that I forget to look at the field marks for identification! 


Great Argus

 And color certainly helps form the pattern.


Different sizes and locations of feathers on the bodies and the wings, the way the wings fold together, different colors and the different requirements for flight and camouflage combine to give each bird its interesting pattern.

Australian King Parrot

Western Bluebird


Cedar Wax-wing


Female Cardinal 



House Finch

Common Grackle











Friday, May 8, 2015

The Joy of Birthdays


I've always loved birthdays.  It’s obvious from the photo of my 1st birthday.   Mom made birthdays special with a small party of family and friends, a cake and candles and a small gift.  I always knew I was loved.

Through the years the birthdays changed.  Sometimes I was near family and sometimes I was far away.  No matter – I had a birthday phone call and a package.  My husband made sure we went to dinner or were with friends.  Yes, I have been and am spoiled and loved! 

When we moved to Tucson in the mid 1980’s a group of women just clicked and we started a birthday group.  I did not have a lot of women friends until then and had no idea how rich my life would be because of them.  Our birthday group started out with 4 ladies and the birthday girl could pick a theme (if not, the rest of us did) and she could invite whomever she wanted.  The group grew into rather large group.  The joy that we gave and received from each other brings me happiness that will last a lifetime.  I want to share some of the fun we had.

Here are some of the Birthday Themes (and there were many more!):

Make Your Own Hat Party – everyone brought a hat and decorated it.
 
Halloween - everyone decorates their individual pumpkin

Mickey and Minnie Mouse

Costumes were important!

English Tea Party – individual tea pots, different teas, and individual tea cups

Hot Air Balloon Ride – My husband and I got a hot air balloon ride with our friends sending us up and then everyone met at a restaurant with decorations in the theme

Friends

The Yellow Brick Road – a paper yellow brick road leading to the house, dress like the characters
 
1950’s Yard Sale – 1950’s products set up as a yard sale and the participants dressed in 1950’s style

Victorian Theme with Stuffed Animal – parasols, hats, lace gloves, in a tea room setting with our stuffed friends beside us!

Gypsies – all dressed as gypsies and we hired a palm reader – everyone had 15 minutes of private consultation.

The Big Top – red and white striped tent entrance, circus music, everyone in a circus performer’s costume, rent a clown and have cotton candy!

Circles – everything had to be a circle


So many memories and so many wonderful friends!  Thanks to everyone who wished me a Happy Birthday.  It was! 

Friday, May 1, 2015

The Surprises of the Giant Dagger Yucca in Big Bend




Peter kept telling me that we needed to go to "Dagger Flats' in Big Bend and so we did.  The winding narrow gravel/dirt road required going slowly as we watched for snakes and birds and rabbits. We even met one car on the single lane road.  The further along the road we went the more Giant Dagger Yuccas we saw until we were surrounded and looking at large vistas of them.

Before the bud
 
Hundreds of flowers on each stalk

See all those white dots in the photo?  Those are blooming yuccas!


I was fascinated by the tall stalks laden with white blooms and really started to look at the way the flowers open from one large bud into hundreds of smaller blossoms.  I took pictures of all the stages - lots of pictures - and selected these to show you the life of the blooming stalks.
The surprise - seeing a bright yellow and black hooded oriole singing his heart out among the white flowers.  Awesome!

Hooded Oriole





Buds and opening


The end of the bloom

Friday, May 22, 2015

Birds of a Feather or Backing the Birds!

Guinea Hen
The feathers on the backs of birds form patterns when birds fold their wings and sit, perch or walk.
  
Slate-coloured Boubou
The male and females of the same species are different because the male birds are usually so much more colorful. (I've often thought that was unfair!) 

Male Woodduck
Female Woodduck

I started paying attention to the bird’s back patterns in Australia when I took a picture of a bird on a tall stick and tried to identify it. (Of course, I can't find that picture for this blog post!) The bird’s back was toward me and the back is not a typical field mark.  Sometimes I’m so involved in looking at the feathers and patterns that I forget to look at the field marks for identification! 


Great Argus

 And color certainly helps form the pattern.


Different sizes and locations of feathers on the bodies and the wings, the way the wings fold together, different colors and the different requirements for flight and camouflage combine to give each bird its interesting pattern.

Australian King Parrot

Western Bluebird


Cedar Wax-wing


Female Cardinal 



House Finch

Common Grackle











Friday, May 8, 2015

The Joy of Birthdays


I've always loved birthdays.  It’s obvious from the photo of my 1st birthday.   Mom made birthdays special with a small party of family and friends, a cake and candles and a small gift.  I always knew I was loved.

Through the years the birthdays changed.  Sometimes I was near family and sometimes I was far away.  No matter – I had a birthday phone call and a package.  My husband made sure we went to dinner or were with friends.  Yes, I have been and am spoiled and loved! 

When we moved to Tucson in the mid 1980’s a group of women just clicked and we started a birthday group.  I did not have a lot of women friends until then and had no idea how rich my life would be because of them.  Our birthday group started out with 4 ladies and the birthday girl could pick a theme (if not, the rest of us did) and she could invite whomever she wanted.  The group grew into rather large group.  The joy that we gave and received from each other brings me happiness that will last a lifetime.  I want to share some of the fun we had.

Here are some of the Birthday Themes (and there were many more!):

Make Your Own Hat Party – everyone brought a hat and decorated it.
 
Halloween - everyone decorates their individual pumpkin

Mickey and Minnie Mouse

Costumes were important!

English Tea Party – individual tea pots, different teas, and individual tea cups

Hot Air Balloon Ride – My husband and I got a hot air balloon ride with our friends sending us up and then everyone met at a restaurant with decorations in the theme

Friends

The Yellow Brick Road – a paper yellow brick road leading to the house, dress like the characters
 
1950’s Yard Sale – 1950’s products set up as a yard sale and the participants dressed in 1950’s style

Victorian Theme with Stuffed Animal – parasols, hats, lace gloves, in a tea room setting with our stuffed friends beside us!

Gypsies – all dressed as gypsies and we hired a palm reader – everyone had 15 minutes of private consultation.

The Big Top – red and white striped tent entrance, circus music, everyone in a circus performer’s costume, rent a clown and have cotton candy!

Circles – everything had to be a circle


So many memories and so many wonderful friends!  Thanks to everyone who wished me a Happy Birthday.  It was! 

Friday, May 1, 2015

The Surprises of the Giant Dagger Yucca in Big Bend




Peter kept telling me that we needed to go to "Dagger Flats' in Big Bend and so we did.  The winding narrow gravel/dirt road required going slowly as we watched for snakes and birds and rabbits. We even met one car on the single lane road.  The further along the road we went the more Giant Dagger Yuccas we saw until we were surrounded and looking at large vistas of them.

Before the bud
 
Hundreds of flowers on each stalk

See all those white dots in the photo?  Those are blooming yuccas!


I was fascinated by the tall stalks laden with white blooms and really started to look at the way the flowers open from one large bud into hundreds of smaller blossoms.  I took pictures of all the stages - lots of pictures - and selected these to show you the life of the blooming stalks.
The surprise - seeing a bright yellow and black hooded oriole singing his heart out among the white flowers.  Awesome!

Hooded Oriole





Buds and opening


The end of the bloom