veeryThis cute little bird is a Veery. It belongs to the group of birds known as Thrushes, therefore, it has a more familiar cousin, the American Robin. A Veery is slightly smaller than a Robin.

All Thrushes have lovely voices. The link below will bring you to a site where there are audio samples:

I found these birds hopping around my yard, at camp. It’s not surprising that I find them there. They live and nest in damp forests. These feathered sweethearts, primarily eat small insects and berries. The one, below, was flipping over leaves and gobbling up insects as she moved along. I usually find them to be shy but either the food source was just too enticing or the nesting drive too strong, to scare these photo subjects away from my lens. There were two birds present and, it seems safe to assume, that they were a mated pair. Their coloring was identical, so unlike Robins, there is no easy way to tell “Mom” from “Dad”.

038These birds build nests on the ground, or very near the ground, under dense shrubs. They occupy Canada and the Northern U.S. during springtime and summer but migrate to South America for the winter.

036Their cheerful voices always fill me with happiness. How fortunate I am to have them as summertime neighbors!

NATURE KNOWLEDGE: Black-Capped Chickadee

Black-Capped Chickadee

A sweet little backyard bird is the Black-Capped Chickadee. They can be very bold around people often landing on and feeding from your hand if you stand patiently still.

Black-Capped Chickadees are the State Bird of Massachusetts so it is fitting that I took these photos in my own backyard.

They belong to the Titmouse family and 70% of their food is insects. The rest of the time they are around bird feeders spreading delight.

Both male and females look the same. Usually male birds are more colorful or distinctly larger than females.

This link will bring you to a site where you can hear their song and get more information.

Chickadees stay in their region all year round. I pay special attention to keeping my feeder full when winters are harsh here in Massachusetts. If freezing temperatures are maintained for long periods, I put out bowls of warm water. Dehydration is a concern for wintering birds.

Since their song is so very recognizable, I introduce my day care kids to listening for it.

Introducing kids to identifying birds by their songs is a great way to expand their listening skills and ,of course, further an appreciation for Nature.

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Random Word Story 10~One Stroke at Life

The random word generator can be found at


RULES for this creative writing exercise: Using the words above, weave a short story in one brief sitting.

My story:

“..Did you ever read  about  the frog who dreamed of being a king, and then became one? Well except for the names and a few other changes , my story’s the same one…”

“Oh sing it to me, Neil.

” I am…I said, to no one there…

Singing as she ran, Joan noticed the time.

“Geez Louise!”

If she was going to take the lead in the marathon, and keep it, she’d have to “kick it up” a notch or three. Running made her free. Not the “run of the mill” free. Flying with angels, free. After a short sprint, her legs operated independently from earthly constraints. She may as well have been on a merry-go-round ‘cuz she felt as though she was standing still as the world spun past.

She recalled what the doctor had said to her after the stroke.

“Better get used to crutches. They’ll be your best friends in time.”

She’d thrown those crutches in the rubbish two years ago today. HA!

“Call the network and give them a scoop Doc…no way!”

Joan was talking out loud to herself again. Talking limited breathing, which limited power and speed, she redoubled her efforts and burst into the lead.

Joan always, well lately, ran while listening to music. She saved “Eye of the Tiger” for the sprint to the finish. So far, it hadn’t let her down. The sun beat upon the course and she thought about chocolate chips cookies fresh from the oven. Where did all these thoughts go when she wasn’t running?

The Rocky Theme escorted her through the tape to victory once more. As she cooled,stretched and walked  toward the winner’s circle, the Queen song, “We Are The Champions” was piping into her ears. She paused from her rhythmic cool down routine and shouted aloud, “Damn straight!”


Northern Cardinals in Western Massachusetts

This winter has been very mild here in Massachusetts. No snow on the ground. Our only measurable snow came in late October. Mild temps have kept this area in a perpetual early spring like pattern.

I love watching birds and have noticed patterns of their appearances, in my backyard, over many years. January 25th has been the day when I started hearing, what I call, the Northern Cardinal Spring Song for the last 3 winters. It was so very predictable that I felt as though I had stumbled upon a Natural timing that most were unaware of. This year,I have yet to hear it.

It is February 7th, 2012. Other birds are singing but the predictors of the approaching of Spring, are silent.

I have 2 theories about this unusual event.

1. It may just be that food sources are so easily found this year that the cardinals are more wide-spread. My own bird feeder has needed few refills. I have therefore spotted fewer cardinals stopping for my ready meal.

2. The weather somehow has had a confusing effect on the timing of the Northern Cardinal’s courting. They may well know that winter is on its way with a vengeance.

Whatever the reason, I have enjoyed the balmy weather, this year, but have felt a bit lonesome for the Northern Cardinals serenades the past few weeks. They will sound all the sweeter when they do.

PS. After searching for the best video to add to this post, I learned how diverse the cardinal songs can be. Wow! I know ours by heart and feel privileged to know my local avian friends on that level.

I finally heard their song on Feb.13th,2012

My Favorite Summer Sound

To be greeted with a sweet song in the morning and the same one at day’s end.

The song of the American Robin. Sweet music at both ends of a summer day.

TRUE STORY: I once had one of those clocks which rang a bird song on each hour. 7:00 am was the American Robin. My work day began at 6:00 am and so I became very accustom to the robins after I was up and running. On my weeks vacation in the forest, I heard their lovely morning serenade only to jump out of a quasi-sleep announcing,”I’m late!”

The hardest part of the summer heat is that my windows are closed and my air-conditioner is the only sound.

I relish those days at camp where the sweetest voices make me smile before I open my eyes to a new day.

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Bird songs and Baby

Seems as though the cardinals in our area have not looked out their windows. We have a predicted snow storm that will put the accumulated snow in my front yard above my 4′ fence!

I mention the cardinals because I have noticed, for the third year, their “spring song” has begun. Two years ago, it began on January 25th. At least, that was the first day that I noticed it. Last year, I heard it on January 26th and this year on the 26th also. It pleases me to be so “in tune”.

Many birds have more than one song. One for the courting season, and one they are identified with. Seems Katherine has been listening. Her Mom was puzzled over what she thought was a new bird song last week. Katherine told her it was a Chickadee and when she asked me about it, she was right. I didn’t really pay attention to such things until I was an adult. It “tickles” me to know she is listening 🙂