From My Carolina Home

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March Mountain Living

Looking out of the kitchen window earlier in the week, there were about 22 turkeys in the meadow. I took this to be the female flock, and it had grown from the 13 or so that usually come by. I decided to try to sneak out to the veranda to get a picture of them before they all moved into the forest. Moving slowly, trying to be quiet, I eased out of the door onto the veranda with camera ready. Much to my surprise, Bert and Ernie were in the group, and their heads came up immediately. Then they began running toward me! Oh rats, I hadn’t brought any bread out!

February Turkeys 2017 at From My Carolina Home

So, here they came. Bert, the larger and more dominant one, did a full fluff and tail fan, trying to impress me. He was trying so hard, that I went back inside to get them a bite.

February Turkeys 2017 at From My Carolina Home

Magnificent, isn’t he?!! Yes, they both got several bites of whole grain bread. Out in the meadow, part of female flock left behind stood like statues watching the boys strut, while the others had already melted into the forest. None of them ventured up closer. I thought later that was probably a good thing, I really don’t need to be supplementing the diets of that many turkeys!

February Turkeys 2017 at From My Carolina Home

Bert gobbled at me loudly a couple of times, which I find hilarious. I talk to him, and he answers sometimes. Ernie is quiet, never says a word and doesn’t generally fluff up. But he is attentive, and gets his share.

February Turkeys 2017 at From My Carolina Home

One more wildlife picture I haven’t had a chance to show, the turkeys came by one day in January with their deer friends. The deer are so skittish that I rarely get a picture of them. This one was taken from inside the Carolina room in the back, so they couldn’t see me. So fun to see wildlife around here!

Turkeys with Deer at From My Carolina Home

The picture is dark, and this bird has the sun behind him so it is hard to see.  His slate grey back, spotted chest and skinny legs point to being a Sharp-shinned Hawk. Although he was beautiful, I hope he doesn’t stick around, as they prey on small song birds as well as small animals.

Hawk March 2017

Sunday morning, we were treated to a rare view of our local deer herd, six females grazing in the meadow near the neighbor’s split rail fence. The nice zoom lens on the camera got some fairly decent shots.

Deer herd visit -1

It was a quiet morning, early, and they all seem to be grazing contentedly.

Deer herd visit -4

The least little movement or sound will scare them off, so I didn’t even attempt to go onto the veranda. Still, they were gone in a few minutes, taking the trail into the woods that the foxes like.

Deer herd visit -5

Up on the feeder, the goldfinch flock was hungry. They seem to be getting a bit brighter with the warm weather, but not to their summer color yet.

Goldfinches March 2017 - 1

Goldfinches March 2017 - 3

Chickadees, nuthatches joined the group later in the morning.

Chicadee March 2017

This little guy was the recipient of a bonanza of acorns. I had picked up a basketfull last fall, and started scattering them out this week. I know that springtime is the lean time for these guys. DH thinks I am crazy to do this, but the squirrels need to eat too.

Squirrel March 2017

We had a couple of nights of really cold temperatures, so I made one of my suet cakes and DH hung it up for the little birds. The chickadees found it pretty fast.

Suet feeder March chickadee 2

Later I saw this female hairy woodpecker on it too.

Suet feeder March woodpecker

Then a real surprise on Wednesday morning. A large group of wild turkeys were in the meadow. Thinking that it was the girls with Bert and Ernie, I went out to the veranda with some bread heels. But, it wasn’t them! It was another flock, 17 birds in all with 3 males. Two of them are in full fluff and tail fan, the third is on the right with his tail feathers almost up.

Mountain Living at From My Carolina Home

I grabbed the camera while they strutted and preened for the females. At one point two of them stood absolutely still, while a couple of the girls looked them over. I love to see them do this. After all, it is March, and mating season for turkeys.

Mountain Living at From My Carolina Home

They kept strutting, and totally ignored me and my bread offering. Later, Bert and Ernie made an appearance right when DH was going to leave the house. We know from experience that they will show a bit of aggression towards the car, gobbling loudly and chasing it. So, I gave them a bread treat and we waited until they had moved on for him to do his errand.

So, what’s going on in your neck of the woods?

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Making a Meal for our Feathered Friends

Winter finally arrived with some really chilly temperatures and snow!  This morning the total is approaching a foot, and it is still coming down. This picture was taken about an hour ago, already 6-8 inches everywhere. The forecast for my area is 12-18!  With the leaves gone, our winter view is able to see the mountain to the east of us.

January 2016 Snow 2

On the bird feeder, our local avian community has been working hard to empty the seed reservoir over the past few days.  I know that extra protein and fat are essential for them in really cold weather.  There are literally hundreds of recipes on the internet for suet, using all kinds of things for fat and protein.  So, I thought I’d try something with what I had on hand.

Suet Feeder 1

I had lard left in a pan after cooking bacon that I allowed to become solid, so I skimmed off the top and put it in a cup. Then I added about an equal amount of peanut butter.

Suet Feeder 2

Shelled sunflower seeds were added.

Suet Feeder 3

And cracked corn in the form of grits.

Suet Feeder 4

Mixing them all together, …

Suet Feeder 5

I filled two paper cups …

Suet Feeder 6

and packed the mixture down to make two round suet cakes.

Suet Feeder 7

I found a suet feeder at the hardware store.

Suet feeder basket

It was a bit thinner than my little cakes.

suet cake 1

But I flattened them a bit to form a nice round cake.

suet cake 3

DH figured out how to attach it to the feeder pole, under the main feeder but still out of the squirrel’s reach. He put it out a few days ago. I wanted the birds to have time to find it before this blizzard hit.  It took a day for them to find it, and the Carolina Wrens were first.

wren on suet feeder

The cardinals weren’t too interested while the weather was good, but that changed this morning.

Cardinals January 2016 - 2

Today they all looked cold, with their feathers all fluffed up against the cold. DH says some of them are just fat. Still, he is the one that buys them the better seeds, already shelled. But now I have proof of my theory. Here is the junco, as he landed.

January 2016 Snow birds junco 1

Then a moment later, he fluffed himself up. Same bird, now much bigger.

January 2016 Snow birds junco fluffed

This morning, everyone was competing for morsels of this high calorie meal. A chickadee and a titmouse share the wealth.  I was surprised to see snow on top of the cake.  Didn’t seem to bother the birds, though.

January 2016 Snow birds 6

Then a woodpecker stopped by.

January 2016 Snow birds 7

And another!

January Snow birds 21

I didn’t know what picture I had until I was pulling them off the camera. This one is neat, with the little wren still hanging off the side of the feeder, while the titmouse flew away.

January 2016 Snow birds 16

I had to keep grabbing the camera, as more birds stopped by for a bite. Here, a female cardinal has a morsel in her beak, while a nuthatch attempts a landing.

January Snow birds 23

Yes, he made it.  The male cardinal has had a few morsels, but I didn’t get a good picture of him.

January Snow birds 24

All the birds seem to be sharing nicely. DH says he will put the other suet cake out, and refill the seed reservoir a bit later when the snow lets up. I think I’ll make some more cakes with just vegetable shortening for later. They seem to be scarfing it up. Next time I am at the store, I think I’ll get some mealworms and see if the bluebirds are still around.

Are you feeding your birds?

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