In the Woodpecker Family

We have seen very few Flickers at the lake, but this fellow visited at the suet feeder recently. That’s unusual because, as the Cornell site describes the Northern Flicker, they are mostly ground feeders. They dig for beetles and ants using their slightly curved bill.  Shy Flickers are mostly known for their flicker of white rump feathers as they fly away. But they are a wonderful combination of colors:  a peach color head, with blue-gray feathers at the low back.  And between their wings, high up on their back, is a wonderfully bright “V” of orange/red. They’ve got dots of black on their bellies and sort of bars of black in their wing feathers. Maybe the best dressed Michigan woodpecker.

This one stayed at the suet for a good long while, pecking out good sized suet chunks.

Soon after the Flicker visit, we had our first Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker at the feeder. Maybe one of the silliest names for a bird, but appropriately descriptive. This woodpecker has a yellow belly and a head a bit out-sized for his dinky body.  He pokes shallow holes in trees to suck, you knew this already, to suck sap.  Here, he’s hiding out a bit behind the suet feeder as it swung in the wind.

Sock Yarn Hippo

My hippo is knit in  Zweger Garn Opal 4-ply sock yarn, held double. There are currently 361 of these hippos on Ravelry’s project pages. This guy is one-of-a-kind, though.  You have to imagine he’s gotten out of the river and rolled around in the mud, followed by rolling around in leaf litter. And somehow he also got into the mustard.

This is one of the animals in Susan B. Anderson‘s Itty-Bitty series. Hippo is from Itty-Bitty Toys. There’s lots of cute critters sprinkled throughout Anderson’s Itty-Bitty work, which currently includes Itty-Bitty Nursery and Itty-Bitty Hats. She’s left Itty-Bitty land for the moment and has created a kid’s book, with knitted patterns, for the “Spud and Chloe” line of yarn. Those are the “sweet yarns for real life,” with “luxe yarns in mod colors,” that are  “all carefully selected to let you create dreamy pieces” people. I suppose the little girl is the Chloe of the pair, but I prefer to think of her as the Spud half of the duo. Obviously, I haven’t read Susan’s book, otherwise I’d know for sure. Some of the patterns in the new book are cute as a bug’s ear. (That’s a compliment, not an insult.)

What Oriole Wants, Oriole Gets

This Baltimore Oriole was hungry enough and curious enough to head to the seed block. Even chasing away the full-of-himself Bluejay. The weather’s been cold and rainy, with flower production seriously delayed. Steve felt sorry for the Oriole, knowing what he really wanted. So. Out came the sliced orange. Oriole is the Oriole equivalent of happy now. With an entire case of Costco seedless oranges on hand, we can be generous.

Sad Purple Finch Story

It’s been a strange, very cold, very wet Spring in Michigan. On the last day of April, we saw what I thought was our first Common Redpoll ever at our feeder. I’m referring to the chubby one on the left seeming to give the cold shoulder to the leaner male Purple Finch. He hung around for hours and did not fly away when we came near the feeder. Books describe Common Redpolls as being Chickadee-like in their approachability, which certainly was true of this fellow. Apparently a trusting nature makes the Common Redpoll an easy prey. Looking at photos and drawings of redpolls, I was not at all sure of my ID.

This fellow ate oiled sunflower seed after oiled sunflower seed. He did not chirp or sing. He flew from feeder to feeder. We watched him drinking from a puddle in the grass.  His feet looked like purple finch feet.  So did his tail.  I thought the beak was different, but then I started questioning that too.

The bird was not well. On MayDay, we found him dead near a tree in back of the house. No sign of trauma.

Our place by the lake was where he ended. He is memorialized in our log book of animal sightings. And now, here.  So, had we seen a very sick purple finch or a bird that is more of an exotic for Michigan?

Richard C. Hoyer, “birdernaturalist” on the knitting site Ravelry, identified him for me: a sick Purple Finch.  Richard says  “sick birds fluff up to retain body heat.”  I did not know that.

Blocking 101: Keep the Cat Off

No, this is not the aftermath of a Giant Hershey Kiss binge. Blocking Stora Dimun required some new strategy. Hoover, my Flame Point Siamese, loves to loll about on knitted stuff. The newer the better. He doesn’t even care if it’s still wet. I wanted to keep this shawl pristine and cat hair free for at least a bit. It worked!  This time, anyway.