I think most of us who live in the mid-west, and southeast Michigan in particular, were glad to say goodbye to April! It was cold, wet, gray, and miserable for the most part. Around here we were calling it “the spring that wasn’t”.
Also, for me, the last 6 weeks of preschool are very difficult. The kids are energetic and bored, the teachers are burned out, and there are a lot of special events and upheavals in the daily schedule — all resulting in stress!
For the past month I’ve had very little “free” time, between work and other commitments. And, despite the weather, we have spent every moment for the past four weekends working on our “birdscaping” landscaping project that began last fall. Every weekend we have made multiple trips to various home-improvement stores, greenhouses, the landscaping stone place, etc. Mark has worked harder than any man I know – digging, planting, mulching, breaking up sod, pulling out stumps, etc., etc.
Here’s what it looked like a couple of weeks ago when things finally started taking shape.
I have been moving feeders around, experimenting, and also buying MORE feeders! 🙂 The goldfinches seem to approve of the new location for the sunflower feeder and thistle feeder.
The branch this goldfinch is perched on is actually hanging down toward the ground but Mark says we will leave it because the finches really love perching on it.
I’ve also started investing in “bark butter” thanks to Kathy at Backyard Bird Nerd. (If you love birds, you MUST check out her blog, it’s awesome! Her photos put mine to absolute shame and she has a fabulous wit!) The downy woodpeckers love the bark butter! I found this knothole in one of the trees the perfect place to put some of the bark butter. Just about every day I have to spread more!
Finally, May 1st arrived with true spring weather! It was grand! It was bike day at the school where I teach in the afternoons and I ended up with some sunburn on my neck! I have to say, it felt GOOD!! The entire weekend was wonderful and along with the lovely weather, I was thrilled with the arrival of some very welcome bird visitors.
Saturday morning was mild enough to take my coffee out on the back patio. Right away I heard singing high up in the branches of the oak tree. Mark got the binoculars and I got my camera so we could both get a good view of this song sparrow.
He turned from his high perch to give me a “look”, as if we were interrupting his serenade.
Later in the morning I was doing my happy dance when the first rose-breasted grosbeak of the season stopped by for a seed or two.
As if that wasn’t enough excitement, a short while later I glanced out the kitchen window to see a house wren checking out the new gourd bird house!
She gave it a good look and went inside, cleaning out a few seeds that were remaining. (I had to get a new gourd last fall because the house the wrens nested in last summer fell from the tree and broke.)
I’m surprised those photos turned out at all because I was taking them through the back door glass which is FILTHY!! LOL
Unfortunately, she didn’t stick around. 😦 I hope they come back and nest again this year.
We also had an eastern bluebird stop in one of the trees out front — perhaps checking out the new mealworm feeder and LIVE mealworms I bought??
Of course, I couldn’t just sit around watching birds all day because we had to go buy more plants and then we spent the majority of the afternoon working on the landscaping. We also bought a new hummingbird feeder and pole to hang it on. We had to quit work early because we had tickets to the Walleye hockey game, it’s the second round of the Kelly Cup playoffs and I have to say it was a GREAT game! I nearly lost my voice screaming!
Sunday was another glorious day and once I got home from church I had to change into grubby clothes to work outside some more. We made another trip to Menards and also to the local farmer’s market for the last of the plants we needed. We spent the rest of the day planting, mulching, digging out the stump, and fighting a losing battle with the sunflowers and lilies!! I have switched to no-mess bird seed, but there are still plenty of the old oilers popping up EVERYWHERE in the new landscaping! Also, the old flower beds that Mark dug up last fall were filled with lilies and now that he disturbed them, they are coming up all over the place!
By 5 o’clock we were whipped and more than ready to sit down to some hard-earned grilled steaks, baked potatoes, and salads. This is what it looked like when we finished for the day.
I am forever full of “good ideas” and for some reason my dear husband indulges me! For the nearly 18 years we’ve lived in this house, we’ve never had a sidewalk from the driveway to the house. So, I asked if we could make a stone walkway that follows along the landscaping in the front. This requires busting up sod and putting down pea gravel and all kinds of laborious things. But, by Sunday night, this is what it looked like.
I must confess that we are old and even though we have numerous tables and chairs in our house, we eat our dinner on tray tables in the living room! So, I had just plopped down on the couch to enjoy my steak when I glanced over my shoulder, out the front picture window toward the new landscaping, and what should I see but a hummingbird checking out the new feeder!! I had my camera right next to me and only had time to turn it on and switch it to Tv mode. I got three shots before it zoomed away. I have to say I was pretty excited to see that two of the three shots were pretty good – for me, anyway!!!
I also bought a new oriole feeder and have put out an orange and some grape jelly. If I can get an oriole or two to stop by, my spring will just about be complete!!
Today the stone company delivered a pallet of stepping stones and a load of pink gravel. I used some of the gravel to fill in around the birdbath, the rest will go between the steppers. Mark got a lot of the stepping stones laid out, but it was too late for me to take another picture. I will have to update again when it is all complete.
Tomorrow is my birthday and I have been campaigning hard for a water feature — a fountain or something similar with moving water! This would mean Mark would have to put in an outside outlet at the front corner of the house. Do you think he will say yes?? 🙂 I really think that a moving water feature would be the perfect addition to our landscaping project, don’t you?? Just think how much the birds would love it!
We did buy a really cool retro-look glider for the front porch, a place where I will be able to sit and photograph the birds, but for some reason Mark hasn’t gotten it put together yet, LOL. I will have to post again when everything is complete — and who knows, maybe there will be a fountain in the photos! 😀
Wow, your photos of all the birds are beautiful! I have never heard of bark butter before but that’s a very interesting concept! The landscaping seems to be coming together nicely. I know it can be a big task but it’s so worth it in the end when you can sit down and enjoy it! Happy early birthday and I hope you get your fountain! 😉
Thank you, Kate! The bark butter is pretty cool, it’s kind of a peanut-butter based softer version of suet, I guess. You can spread it anywhere just about. The woodpeckers have really gone crazy for it! I really need to stay out of Wild Birds Unlimited stores, that place can be my undoing! LOL
If you could see what the front yard looked like before, you would be amazed at the difference! It hardly looks like the same place. The hardest part now will be keeping up with the weeding and pruning. Just about everything is supposed to be seed or fruit bearing for the birds or give us year round color/interest. Oh, and it’s all supposed to be “hardy” so people like me with black thumbs can’t easily kill it! 😀
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I will definitely have to try out the bark butter when I get a house. The weeding and pruning will be certainly be worth it to enjoy the gorgeous landscaping and all the birds that will be visiting!
Hey Amy! Happy Birthday!! Love your post and the photos of the hummingbird drinking is really good, you can see its wings it looks cool! Mark is a very hard working and you are blessed to have him.:) Enjoy your day and invite me over soon so I can take some bird shots too. SEE U
Thanks, Juli!! Yes, you will have to come over when you have a day off sometime! It would be fun to hang out! 🙂
Wow! Your project is really coming together…and the birds already seem to love it! I love where you spread the bark butter. And thanks for the kind words too. 🙂
You deserve heaps of praise!! 🙂
It looks like a lot of work (Poor Mark), but the results will be worth it, and you’ll be able to enjoy it for years to come. An added benefit is that you’re adding curb appeal to your home, which will help if you do ever decide to sell.
I do hope that you’ll post a few more photos over the course of the year, as I can imagine how nice it will be to sit outside and enjoy the oasis that you’re creating now.
I will try to give everyone a taste of what it looks like when things are finished and the flowers start to bloom. I just wish I could figure out how to do the photos where they actually convey what’s there. These photos are definitely lacking, but they give the general idea. 🙂 It’s amazing the difference it has made in the look of the house. Our neighbor (who helped yank the old stuff out with his tractor last year) keeps coming over and saying he can’t believe how different it all looks. I wish I had a good before photo to compare, but I don’t.
I can see that you’re getting ready for serious bird photography! That’s great Amy! I’ll pass the word to all my avian friends to visit you! 🙂
Thanks, H.J! Send them north to me!!! 🙂
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I love this post, Amy. I am so excited for you. I can’t imagine having all of those different avian species at your front door. Yes, you definitely need a water feature. You’ll probably get even more birds. 🙂
Thanks, Bob! It’s pretty exciting right now, because there are a lot of new birds passing through. I will tell Mark I have your vote for a water feature! 🙂 (I was showing off your killdeer photos to him the other night! 🙂 )
Bob, I looked at your blog and enjoyed the killdeer babies so much. We have killdeer in our pastures, I always hear them but I have never seen a baby one. They are so cute/ugly! LOL That is really special that you got to photograph the babies.
What a wonderful selection of colourful visitors you get…and all very nicely captured too.
Thanks, Tom! Some of them, I didn’t have much time to set up the shots properly, but most of them came out well despite my limited skill. 🙂 I was excited to have Baltimore orioles today!
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You skill doesn’t seem very limited to me.
You are very kind, Tom! I appreciate the encouragement!
Wow! What a nice project you guys are doing! The birds will delight and so will you…sitting comfortably on your porch taking gorgeous photos 🙂 Thanks for these great ones! I particularly loved the rose-breasted grosbeak and the goldfinches!
Thanks, Tiny! It has been soooooooo hard to go to work this week, I want to just sit at home and watch the birds!! Thankfully, only a little more than a week left until I am off for the summer and can enjoy to my heart’s content! 🙂 I will enjoy our new bird-scape to the fullest!
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I can see why it is difficult to leave…but happy you can soon enjoy your gardens and all the birds “full time”!