July 2016

Day 2 in Chicago and what better way to start the day but to have found  Nimo!!!  If anyone wants  to see him in person, or in fish, he lives at Shedd Aquarium in Chicago.

The Aquarium was first on our agenda for the day.  Many verbs  are needed to describe  all of the creatures that live there.  We……


Enjoyed  the “pretty fish”.


In Awe of these blue fish as they swam around with it’s fluttering  fins.


Entertained by the Garden Eels that live in the ocean sandbanks.


Amazed by these colorful creatures, whatever they may be…

Anemones, maybe????


Terrified by these moray eels.  The  moray’s rear-hooked teeth and  strong bite mechanism causes severe bites  on humans, as the eel cannot release its grip, even in death, and must be manually pried off.  Yicks!!!!

There were gross creatures  also, but they were not  photogenic.


Outside the Aquarium were several Red Winged Blackbirds in the surrounding  bushes.  Warnings  were also posted that these birds were nesting and not welcoming to noisy humans.

I tried to keep my distance but could not resist his  Dracula  pose.

water taxi

A Water Taxi was the  cheapest  and quickest way to get a boat ride with  Navy Pier as the  logical destination.


navy pier

Navy Pier, which originally opened in 1916,  has shops and entertainment to explore and more- than- you- can- imagine  unhealthy food  and drink choices to enjoy as you sit by the water watching the people,  the boats and the beautiful day .


As we headed back to the hotel,  2 more  birds-of-the-day were easy  spotted.


Thanks for reading and hope you enjoyed  Chicago !!


“I haven’t been everywhere yet, but it’s on my list.”   (Susan Sontag)




July 2016

Chicago – a wonderful mix of the new  with the old.

Recently my good friend, Donna, and I took a last minute weekend  trip to Chicago, determined to see as many  of the sights as we could.  We had a super time while logging in  A LOT  of  steps into my FitBit.

Donna and friends

First off, let me tell you, there are CROWDS  of people everywhere in Chicago, but we tried to fit in as much as we could.   That city  also  has….


Dinosaurs !!!


Walking to our 1st destination, we stopped to see Buckingham  Fountain in Grant Park .  Dedicated in 1927,  the fountain was  made with Georgian  pink marble and contains 1,500,00 gallons of water.  During a display,  more than 14000 gallons per minute, are being pushed through  193 jets.


Two Sisters, by  Pierre Auguste Renoir, 1881

Our  1st official stop was  founded  in 1879 and is one of the oldest and largest in the US – the Chicago  Art Institute.  There were endless  works of art  I fell in love with, but  here are just a few favorites:


Paris Street, Rainy Day,  by Gustave Gaillebotte, 1876


Bust of Queen Luise of Prussia , by Johann Gottfield Schadow, 1819


Art in all forms can be enjoyed at the Art Institute.


As we strolled and navigated the streets, we  also saw many  beautiful old buildings…

old and new blgd

…..tucked in amongst the sky scrapers.


The Old Water Tower, 1869, is a memorial  to the great Chicago Fire in 1871.  That fire burned for 2 days destroying more than 2000 acres, killing  300 people and made 100,00 people homeless.

It started in the O’Leary’s barn, and though, there were many speculations as to how the fire started, the exact cause was never determined.  But blame  quickly circulated  that  O’Leary’s cow  kicked  over an oil lamp, which Catherine O’Leary denied.   There was  anti-Irish sentiment in Chicago  at the time and Catherine O’Leary was the perfect scapegoat being poor and Irish.  The story spread and it was even  noted in the  Chicago Tribune’s first post-fire issue.  In 1893,  reporter Michael Ahern retracted the story, admitting it was fabricated, but even his confession  did not  put  an end to the legend.  The O’Learys were never officially charged with starting the fire,  but the story became so ingrained  that Chicago’s city council officially exonerated them—and the cow—in 1997.

A visit  to the Water Tower,  followed by  consuming a  sinful amount of Ghirardelli  ice cream, then standing in line for an hour at Garrett’s Popcorn Shop and waddling back to the hotel was the close of day one.  You can probably understand now why we chose to walk everywhere.     : )

Stay tuned to Day  Two !






The Cute…. this is a mystery bird but he sure is cute

Friday, August 19, 2016

My backyard birding adventures continue…..


Looks like a serious encounter between this female Cardinal and the mystery bird.


More Cute… looking close you can see the last of those baby-downy feathers on this  fledgling Cardinal.


Cute continued…..  I found this female Goldfinch resting on my back yard bench.  She sat still as I sprinkled seed at the end of the bench and watched ( at a distance)  as she came to eat it.


Cute , but sadly, my parakeet visitor  made daily visits to my back yard for about a month and I have  not seen him since


The Bad… this an adult  Cowbird – known for laying their eggs ( sometimes as many as 3 dozen per year) in other bird species’ nests.

Also happy to let the other bird  foster, feed and raise the baby cowbird.  Cowbirds hatch sooner, grow faster, are larger, hungrier and out-compete the host’s nestlings for food.

This  sometimes leads to the legitimate babies  demise.  Yet, somehow the  foster cowbird still develops their own song, social and breeding behavior.


For example this female Cardinal is feeding a cowbird fledgling.   I thought I had captured a rare moment until I Googled  ” fostered cowbirds photos” and saw what a common occurrence it is.


The Bad continues…..the Red Tailed Hawks that nested in my tree this summer still linger and several times have left me disgusting- looking  heaps of loose feathers, which I can only  conclude was a the remains of  dinner.


The Ugly…..  bald or semi bald Cardinals and Blue Jays  are somewhat common sightings.   The Bird World experts  is not quite sure why this happens but assures us the hair evidently grows back.




These last shots  of mealtime discussions between a  Red Bellied Woodpecker and Blue Jay with  another mystery bird.  Anyone  have a guess who the mystery birds are?


The Bad? or  The Smart?  This fledgling cardinal is a step ahead of the rest and  has no need for  discussion – he just intends to  undo and steal the whole  feeder.


Burkett’s laws of birding

The First Law of Birding: The greater the time spent searching for a rarity, the greater the chances it will be sitting on your car when you return to the parking lot.

The Second Law of Birding: There are two sides of a tree; the side facing you and the side where the bird is.

The Third Law of Birding: When you see the bird that you have always wanted to see, it will be in the last spot you thought of looking for it.

The Fourth Law of Birding: The best bird seen during a trip is usually seen in bad light, isn’t calling or singing, is seen for less than a second, and is the last “trip bird”.

— by Cody Burkett, Phoenix, AZ


Thanks for reading!

Hope you enjoyed my back yard birding!



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