Unless you have wings and/or feathers… 

1 March, 2020            Unless you have wings and/or feathers… 

Turner confronts a brazen bird seed thief in our backyard

…you’d better not be stealing Turner’s bird seed! 

The birds drop lots of seeds on the ground. Rather than letting them go to waste, Turner eats them. Last night when we got home from our walk, a Virginia Opossum (Didelphis virginiana), North America’s only marsupial, thought it would slurp up a few mouthfuls while we were gone. Turner bolted into the backyard and chased it up onto the back fence. It couldn’t “play ‘possum” up there! After I took the picture Turner and I went back inside and presumably the opossum got back to cleaning up seed. 

Speaking of bird seed. Also yesterday – it’s late Winter but it’s also early Spring – I looked out the window and saw a bird I’d never seen before! Do you have any idea how many birds I see out there? I am an encyclopedia of the birds that visit that feeder, so I was thrilled to see a “new” bird. I grabbed my camera and got this shot really quick: 

My first ever yellow-rumped warbler. What a treat! 

I’d never seen one in my life! I used a nifty app called Merlin Bird ID. I just uploaded that picture and it immediately identified the bird as a Yellow-rumped Warbler (Setophaga coronata). In yet another example of birding always keeping me humble, the first sentence of the ID site says “Yellow-rumped Warblers are impressive in the sheer numbers with which they flood the continent each fall.” As old as I am and as many birds as I’ve seen, and I don’t even recognize a bird whose “sheer numbers… flood the continent each fall.” That is really, really fun. 

Since I’ve had those feeders outside my window I’ve gotten tons of gorgeous birds, including of course goldfinches, cardinals, bluebirds, titmice, chickadees, nuthatches woodpeckers and more. But a couple of seasons ago I saw my lifetime first Rose-breasted Grosbeak (Pheucticus ludovicianus) out there. Never knew such a bird existed. Then last year – if memory serves – I got my first ever Brown-headed nuthatch (Sitta pusilla). Every single one is a treasure. 

As the weeks with owls at the river continue, I’ll keep posting pictures. Here’s one from Pony Pasture from this week – my fourteenth consecutive week photographing either one or two Barred Owls on the same branch. Here’s one from this week: 

Week 14 Barred Owl

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A brief mid-blog break: 

So tomorrow (March 2) this blog will be nine years old! This is the 434th post. I’m not sure how many pictures, but a lot. More than 3,000 I’m sure. All the months/years are cataloged on the side of the blog. You can look back at any month of any year back to 2011. You can see snow in some winters, floods some years, a lot of flowers, birds, dogs, people, trees, trains, airplanes, there’s a lot on here. Have a look around! 

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I’ve seen Great Blue Herons in trees twice this week at Pony Pasture. Neither was beautiful but I really enjoy seeing herons way up off the ground (and water). Here’s one from this morning: 

Great Blue Heron / Great Blue Sky

I saw a squirrel hunched in the cold one morning this week. They like to soak up the sun, but they can (this one did) scoot right up the tree at a moment’s notice: 

Chilly squirrel getting toasty in the sun

I saw this pretty flower blooming the same day – in February! 

February flower

Recently I’ve been reading a book called Kindness and Wonder: Why Mister Rogers Matters Now More Than Ever by a man named Gavin Edwards. While I don’t discuss politics on this blog (or in my day-to-day life) it’s unavoidable, or it is to me anyway. So this book’s been real refreshing. Here’s a passage I found particularly comforting. Mr. Edwards was talking about a time when Mister Rogers was speaking with an early mentor named Dr. William Orr. Fred Rogers was taking a course called “systematic theology” and Dr. Orr was his professor. This is how Mr. Edwards told the story: Fred’s question: “Dr. Orr, what is that one little word that would wipe out evil?” “Fred, it’s ‘forgiveness,’ ” his mentor said without hesitation. “The only thing that evil cannot stand is forgiveness. It simply disintegrates in the presence of forgiveness.” Orr emphasized a personal philosophy that was governed by kindness, generosity, and, yes, forgiveness, rather than adherence to a detailed moral code.” 

The shrill tone in politics today – and the lack of kindness – is what bothers me most. This book does not have a single shrill moment. It’s a good reset. For me. 

Speaking of good resets. Here’s Mackey and Turner at the river this morning: 

Mackey and Turner at their favorite place (and ready to hike)

And – since Turner got a “solo shot” at the top of the post – I’ll close with a “solo shot” of Mackey this morning: 

I don’t use “Portrait” mode often but this is pretty. He’s such a handsome boy!

Come back next week! Have a great week! 

All best, 


About Jay McLaughlin

I am a rehabilitation counselor. I have many friends with autism and traumatic brain injuries. They help me learn new things constantly. I hike with dogs at the James River in Richmond - a lot. I've completed an Iron distance triathlon a year for 11 years. My most recent was in Wilmington, NC in November, 2013. I currently compete in mid-distance triathlons. And work and hike and take pictures and write and eat.
This entry was posted in Barred Owls, Birds, Dogs, Flowers, Fun, James River, love, Pony Pasture, raptors, Rivers, Smiles (including "dog smiles"!), squirrels and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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