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So, over the week of July 4th we took a drive through New Jersey in what seems to be a new tradition. — Though, putting it in writing will probably put an end to it. We chose the hottest … Continue reading
Nope, not THAT Cardinal!
We have a family of cardinals that live in a nearby tree. They like to drop by every day for the sunflower seeds we put out during the winter.
After missing a few opportunities, we started leaving the camera by the window. When I heard the cardinal Saturday (pictured left) I grabbed the camera for a rare photo shoot. 😉
He was looking for left over seeds from the Ferris Wheel Feeder that was tipped over and left draining after the previous day’s rain.
You might have seen the Ferris Wheel Feeder video that I posted after the last snow storm.
If you follow me on twitter, you might recognize the image on the right. It’s the very first picture I took of the cardinals in my neighborhood. It was a huge surprise for me to discover we had cardinals in South Philly. Seriously, I’ve lived in (or around) Philadelphia all my life. I have never seen a cardinal in the city.
This last picture is my favorite from Saturday. The border around the image was not added. I was shooting the cardinal through some house plants. I also had the blinds down because I was trying not to scare the cardinal away. The final result is pretty cool.
There are some superstitions surrounding birds that appear after the death of a loved one. Some believe that birds “sometimes appear as envoys from the spirit world — fleeting emissaries of loved ones who have passed on to the other side.” I like that idea. It would be nice to think that my friend Fran was just dropping by to say hello. Most likely, it was just a member of a family of cardinals picking through the debris, looking for sunflower seeds to feed his family. Either way, it was nice to see him.
As the adage goes, it’s the little things in life that sometimes make you the happiest. For me it’s true. I may not win the Powerball anytime soon, but as long as the cardinal comes to visit once in a while, I’ll be happy.
Oh, and I took a short video too! 🙂
What we are mourning here…
is the passing of two 99¢ goldfish.
In the spring of 2009, we re-purposed an old cast iron utility sink as a small goldfish pond. It would also serve as a makeshift water feature for the tiny 10 X 14 ft concrete space that we affectionately refer to as our “South Philly Backyard”.
Salvaged bricks frame the cast iron sink, which served as home for a family of five goldfish. Bertha, Creamsicle, Ice, Fish One, and Fish Two. — Bertha got his name because he eats everything. …and it shows.
We made good use of a discarded plant display rack from our local home center. The steel frame footing served as a guide for the bricks, which are loosely mortared together. (We rent, so nothing can be permanent.) The bricks support the sink and raised planting beds on either side.
The magic word here is upcycling. We spent very little money on our “back yard”, but the results are truly amazing. Our small concrete lot is transformed into an oasis as winter turns into spring.
It’s interesting how the addition of our little pond created a micro-ecosystem. Even though a small pump kept the water moving, some insects still found places to breed. Those insects became food for our fish and the birds who used our little oasis as a rest stop. Mourning Doves and Cardinals were a big surprise to me. Next year we’re going to try to attract humming birds.
If you follow me on twitter, you might have read comical grumblings over the winter as I performed the necessary task of chipping away at the ice that formed on the top of the water. — Even frozen fish need air.
Several weeks ago, we discovered a raccoon trying to hunt the goldfish. A Raccoon? Really? In South Philly?
After four years of heatwaves, blizzards, and chipping away at ice, we were not about to allow our goldfish to end up as a midnight snack for some wayward raccoon.
No sirree Bob! Not on our watch.
The simplest idea was to steak chicken wire around the open water, and lay a weighted board over the pond at night. This, along with sprinkling a raccoon repellant around the perimeter of the yard seemed to work.
After a few weeks, and no more signs that the raccoon was making nightly visits, we let our guard down. Three later, the raccoon had his meal.
Five summers is a decent lifespan for goldfish, but we’re still a bit saddened and somewhat incredulous. I’ve lived in or around Philly all my life. I’ve never seen evidence of raccoons.
I’ll miss those little guys. I’ll miss the way they come to the edge of the sink whenever they heard the backdoor open. I’ll miss chipping away at the ice in the dead of winter.
And yes, I’ll even miss the disturbing image of the eternally hungry Bertha with the occasional mouthful of the errant slug. YUCK!!
R.I.P. Bertha and Creamsicle.
…or was that Fish Two?
A baby grasshopper sits on the leaf of a Crown of Thorns plant (Euphorbia Millii) in our back yard – Which is really just a 10′ X 15′ patch of concrete behind our South Philly row home.
Grasshoppers have invaded our garden. I wouldn’t mind it so much, but they’ve been eating our basil.
In the years since we moved in, several of our neighbors have also started gardens in their small paved-over lots.
We’ve got quite the little microcosm going.
It’s snowing today. It’s not sticking to the ground. It’s more of a wet snow. …okay, it’s rain.
A sound from the back of the house drew me to the kitchen. It was a bird call I’ve heard before, but couldn’t identify. From the volume of the twittering song, it sounded really close. But I couldn’t see it.
Like many of the houses in South Philadelphia, ours has a small, paved over area we affectionately call our “Back Yard.” This is a misnomer of course, because the only grass to be found is the bits of sprouted bird seed left over after the squirrels are finished raiding the bird feeders.
Our “back yard” has an awning which hangs over our south facing kitchen windows. The awning’s supports make a convenient perch for birds to find shelter from inclement weather. They also have the added benefit of positioning those birds right outside our kitchen window. If the kitchen lights are off, and the blinds aren’t open too wide, we have a front row seat to the soap opera that is a day in the life of the Sparrows and the Finches.
Occasionally, during sweeps week, we are graced with the presence of a member of the Cardinal family. Usually it’s the female.
So I’m looking out the back door for this illusive bird. I’m moving slowly and quietly because I don’t want to scare it away. Love asks, “What are you doing?”
“I’m looking for the bird that’s singing. It’s in the back yard, but I can’t find it.”
“It’s the Cardinal,” he says. “I can see it from here. It’s under the awning.”
It’s not that I hadn’t thought to look out the window, I had. I just didn’t want to risk frightening it away by adjusting the blinds.
Sure enough, there he was in all his scarlet glory, happily singing away. Love opened the blinds a little wider, carefully so as not to scare the bird away. The cardinal stopped momentarily to assess the situation. He looked at us, then down at the empty feeder, back at us, then began singing again. “He’s looking for seeds.” said Love. “He’s not singing. He’s complaining that it’s raining, he flew all this way expecting to get a bite to eat, but the diner is closed.”