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Sunday, February 2, 2014

Icepocalypse 2014, and Birds in the Winter Garden

You might have heard that we had a little weather here in Houston recently. 

The Houston Chronicle ran a great photo gallery of some of the internet memes going around making fun of us, which I got a chuckle out of.

In truth, the only reason I ended up staying home on Tuesday was because Metro had decided not to run any Park and Ride buses.  My thought was, since the weather was supposed to get worse during the day, I didn't want to drive into downtown and then get stuck there, or get stuck in traffic on icy roads coming home.

As it happened, it wasn't too bad at all and I had a fun day at home, watching the rest of the country poking fun at us on Facebook.  (My heart goes out to the poor souls in Atlanta who did get stuck in the ice and snow)

That's not to say it didn't get cold here.  As I went out to feed the birds in the morning, I could feel tiny little ice pellets landing in my hair.  They accumulated in plant containers and on the roof of the house.

Our back garden was certainly popular that day.  I stood inside the back door and took quite a few photos of the birds, availing themselves of the seed I had put out for them.

Not all the birds were welcomed. I was not happy to see this brown-headed cowbird out on the feeder. Their habit of laying their eggs in other birds' nests, often pushing the host bird's own eggs out of the nest, does not endear them to me. He was just a passing visitor though, and he appeared to be on his own.

Our most numerous visitors in the past couple of weeks have been American Goldfinches, although of course, we mostly see them in their "olive drab" winter plumage. Trying to get an accurate count of these, and of the house sparrows, for Project Feeder Watch, is a bit of a guessing game.

At first I assumed these birds were some sort of sparrow but couldn't find them when trying to ID them at What Bird?  I posted a photo in the forum there and discovered that these are, in fact, female red-winged blackbirds.  I would never have figured that out on my own!

Of course, we enjoyed visits from our regulars like this red cardinal all fluffed up against the cold in the Southern Wax Myrtle and our old friend "Woody", the red bellied woodpecker.

So that was "Icepocalypse 2014" and since then our weather has been like a roller coaster ride.

Yesterday I was pottering in the garden in a t-shirt and my husband and I sat on the patio with a bottle of wine in the evening. 

This morning we got woken up by rain pounding on the bedroom window and it was cold, wet and wintry when I went grocery shopping earlier.

The forecast is for highs of 40's and 50's with lows in the 30's, so I think I'll be putting the T-shirt away for a couple of weeks.

And of course, when summer does get here, we'll all be complaining about the heat and humidity.

But this is Texas, after all :-)

Words and photographs by Jayne Wilson, Green and Serene, Jayne's Country Garden.


Dorothy Borders said...

Well, we live to entertain our neighbors so I guess it's good that we gave those poor snowbound folks up north some amusement. Our weather really has been a very up and down affair this winter. Pity the poor plants that have to try to adjust to it. As for my garden, I've had nothing much to report lately. The only thing happening there is the birds. I see you are getting your share of them, too.

Jayne said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog, Dorothy. The weather is crazy everywhere, it seems. We have it pretty mild down here by comparison, but I'm still impatient for spring to get here!

Pam's English Garden said...

Whatever the weather, we are all longing for spring, Jane. I know I've had enough of winter and right now we have a very heavy snowstorm with near blizzard conditions!Thank goodness for the birds -- the only pleasant thing happening in my garden. P. x

Steve Pedigo said...

It's red-Headed woodpecker-not red-Bellied...just ask Woody!

Jayne said...

Hi Steve. Actually, even though he has a red patch on his head, this particular species is the Red Bellied Woodpecker:

The red-headed woodpecker has a completely red head, not just a patch: