Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Tiny house wrens take flight

This morning when I went to the garden at first the yard seemed quiet, soon I was excited to see here a much anticipated event. I heard the house wrens song but they were calling from high in the trees, far from the bird house full of babies. I sat down and waited then I spotted two wrens on the fence. Soon one of the fledglings stuck it's little head out of the house as the adult songs kept encouraging. The fledgling slowly decided to leap out! It flew about ten feet to the old lilac bush where the robins are nesting across the garden path. Then it kept going moving on to the bonsai table by the lilac much to the robins relief.
adult house wren with it's nest in the bird house 

adult wren watching me while feeding the little ones

fledgling peeping out of house

fledgling ready to leap

fledgling on the table next to bonsai tray 

fledgling looking around the garden 
Once the first baby fledgling was out I realized the two on the fence included a fledgling with it's parent. This then was the second who ended up on the choke cherry tree. There a bunch of grackles appeared making a lot of noisy calls and one of them leaped on the little wren and began to try to harm it or eat it, I leaped to my feet and scared all the birds away. The tiny wren fell into the bushes below the tree. It soon appeared on the chain link fence next to my garden table and eventually moved to the willow beside me.
fledgling landed in the willow seedling by garden table

robin with food for it's nestlings

3rd fledgling ready, set, 

The third fledgling came out about 10 minutes later and went right to the lilac about the same time a robin was returning to feed it's nest. Suddenly the big red breasted robin attacked the 3rd wren which fled to the alley blacktop outside the yard. The adult robin kept attacking the little guy one wren parent came to try to protect it but wasn't having much luck so I ran over and shewed them to stop a tragic event. It hid in the thick bushy growth of golden rod that grows at the edge of the yard.
fledgling ended up on the bark of choke cherry tree 
Once the third was out and making it's way up the choke cherry tree where it was pretty well concealed a fourth appeared at the door and came out safely hunting for parents. The fourth was less powerful and only flew 5 feet to the old Japanese maple tree.
4th fledgling in the Japanese maple
Once all the tiny house wrens excitement was over it was time I turned on the water to the garden faucets. No more danger of a freeze to crack the pipes.  I had seen a mourning dove get chased earlier when I first came out to the garden, by the robin I presumed but I was very surprised to find a dove fledgling on the ground in the edge of our garden. It peered up at me with wonderment. I expect it's tiny heart was beating faster as I took some pictures. I have no idea where this baby was raised but it's well on it's way learning to forage for seeds and bugs on the garden floor.
mourning dove fledgling 

Yesterday a bold cat bird came to visit while I was sitting in the garden and I surmise it was a youthful bird as it came within arms reach to get something red on the ground by the potted plants. Then it took to the sidewalk in the next yard to dissect the treasure to eat with some difficulty.   

Friday, June 13, 2014

Michael Miller Challenge = baby quilt

New Baby Quilt: 32 x 40 inches 
The Modern Quilt Guild was given small pieces of fabric from a Michael Miller quilt fabric company's line called Petal Pinwheels. Five fat eights came in each set to make something quilted for a chance to win a years worth of fabric samples from the company for 3 winners. I used four pieces of the fabric plus two solids in pale silver gray & Curacao turquoise and a yard of orange Michael Miller tiny gingham purchased in a quilt shop.

by hand my embroidered label 

The finished quilt is 40 x32 inches and perfect for a new baby. I used my singer feather weight to piece together randomly the challenge fabrics in 8 inch half square triangles with the solids and plaid as my base neutrals.  This spread the special fabric as far as possible while trying not to loose the big printed designs hopefully with a modern feel. Then for the last guild meeting I made a embroidery label and turned it into an oval.  I like how the curves look on all those hard edges and angles. The quilting is zig zag to match the 45ยบ angles of the half square triangles set in alternating rows. Naturally I used the orange plaid as my binding to bring out the oranges in these patterns. 

the back used remainders for a simple construction and an oval label 

zig zag quilting detail 
Now I need to find a baby who needs a blanket! Maybe this one is to be donated for the 100 quilts for kids project that comes along later this year. 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Meron's garden bird

Our neighbor, Meron recently immigrated as refugee from Ethiopia and was just  officially approved by INS last week to stay legally in USA. She was out in the garden this afternoon handling a baby bird. Keith was alarmed that maybe a robin had fallen from the nest out back and told me to come take a look. I determined this was a great photo opportunity, what ever the reason she was holding the bird so I ran for my camera. Took a few shots and watched, it seemed very attached to her so I decided to go ask where she found this baby bird and what the story is of how it became so attached to her.

It's always fun to talk to Meron about the new things she is discovering living here in our northern climate and American culture. This baby bird she first saw on the ground last week near a bus stop and the mother bird was very upset and chasing people away at the bus stop... She caught the bus and hours later, upon returning, found that the baby was laying passed out on the ground so she decided to rescue it and bring it home. Google search told her not to feed it worms but to give it dog food every 20 minutes so she has been very busy this past week. It was clear as we sat down at the garden table to talk that this little bird has marked her as family. It jumped on her and it cries in a sharp loud squall for food. She went in and brought out some soft wet dog food in a little cup that she proceeded to feed it using her finger.
you my mother?

fill me up please 
The baby walked across the table as we talked and moved toward my edge of the table. Stretching it's little wings now and again, she is concerned it hasn't begun to fly yet and wants it to eat bugs and get ready to be out on it's own but is cautious about the big cats that she knows stalk our garden. Next thing I know the little gray creature hops up on my shoulder! She asks if she can take a picture with my camera of her bird on my shoulder. Yes, please do, I say...
what's it doing? 

smile for the camera baby

that's a good bird 

what's next?
She asks me to try and get a shot of it stretching it's wings. Lifting it up and down was a bit difficult to capture but eventually it jumped on her chest and flapped them for the camera. We have baby robins in the lilac bush and baby house wrens in the wren bird house in the back garden. Now in the apartment below a rescued baby we aren't sure what type of bird it is yet but I suspect it is a baby house sparrow. It fell from too great a height to replace it in it's family nest so now it's mom is Meron. Good luck This baby may be yours for good.  What a treat to meet my neighbor's new room mate today it really made my day special.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Flowers in June

The garden is full of flowers slowly blooming in succession in the right time and order. We have managed to get a kind of hybrid and native mixed border garden in our flower beds. The annuals are always so tempting and I usually try to get a few mixed in the beds and pots for color here and at home for mom and brother David. Last week before I went out to visit I took a walk and collected the wild flowers blooming along the drive that runs along the railroad corridor a few blocks from our apartment. They made a beautiful bouquet in a thrift store vase.

Lavender crown vetch, queen anne's lace, and red clover are simple but were very effective bit of nature at the side of my desk.

Ascelepias incarnata or swamp milk weed is a native and grows about 3 feet tall and has these lovely blooms in white and also pink but our pinks didn't survive in the crowded garden this year.

This week the mature hen's and chicks or sempervivum have begun to shoot upward to make their peculiar flowers on tall stems. Its always such a surprise to see them go from low rosettes to a tall projectile that gets little cactus like flowers on the tip.
While I was visiting Manassas I was excited to see how well our porch flowers are doing under mom's careful attention. She and I went to a close out sale on the roadside stand and came home with two big hanging baskets she chose for her porch and I got a few little things marked down 50% from original prices. Big pink begonias and purple trailing verbena were her basket choices.

The in ground flowering has begun with summer phlox and Asian lilies!

 We took on an adventure by buying zinnia seeds and planting them over the now bare area by the bird bath where the spring tulips are planted. Just a ten day period of damp to bring them up out of the soil and maybe we will have red, purple giant zinnias and mix of tiny lilliput flowering later this summer. Fingers crossed, and be careful mom going out to water the seed bed. We also found that the pink dahlia didn't freeze last winter! It came up and is two feet tall already. I got more purple pink mixed cactus type dahlias to replace the pink but now we hope to have both if the new ones can catch up with the sturdy pink ones. This is a clear sign our climate has changed when dahlias keep coming back year after year.
This week I am nearly finished with my Michael Miller Challenge for the Modern Quilt Guild quilt. It's small and coming together very nicely. Can't wait to share it on Saturday at the next DC Modern Quilt Guild meeting. Downtown again at the great little Shaw library on 7th and Rhode Island with in walking distance of the homes I lived in back in the 1990's. All my mates who died of AIDS back in 1990's wouldn't believe how much that neighborhood has changed in the last few years.