The adventuresome life of a Great Pyrenees/Newfoundland dog in Northwestern Ontario

Posts tagged ‘Whisky Jacks’

Winging Through Wednesday

With the shorter days and cooler temperatures, a lot of our summer flappers are disappearing. Elizabeth says they go south where it is warmer, brighter and there is still plenty of food crawling around for them to eat. We still have a few around, though, and of course there are some that stay with us all year. I asked Elizabeth if we could try to get some pictures of them for you to look at. You know… since there aren’t very many new flowers to show you.

Last year, the Robin family decided to try nesting on the house. They built a nest right over the spot where the telephone line meets the wall. The eggs hatched and their puppies fledged. For the most part, they were very well behaved youngsters. They only got rowdy when one of the parental units came with food for them.

Elizabeth took a photo of the robin chicks last year. I don't know why we didn't write about them then. Here they are, quietly awaiting their earthworm supper.

Elizabeth took a photo of the American Robin (Turdus migratorius) chicks last year. I don’t know why we didn’t write about them then. Here they are, quietly awaiting their earthworm supper.

 

The next day these little fellows were flying out of the nest. That was a very good thing, because the very night they were gone, a huge storm blew in. Five trees fell on the telephone and hydro lines, not breaking them, but pulling over the hydro pole. This in turn pulled the wires  the nest was built on right out of the wall! The nest fell to the ground.

This year, the Robins came back in the spring. They decided that maybe that spot wasn’t the best location for a nest. They built a bigger nest in a more sheltered place: right behind the attic fan cover, just under the eaves of the house. It was a smart place to build because the crows and jays were too big to rob the nest, and the fan’s motor drowned out the peeps of the babies. They were ultra secure there.

Papa Robin had a few anxious days when another male started hanging around the nest. Wouldn’t leave, even after Papa made a few threatening dives at the intruder. Elizabeth heard Mr. Robin at the bathroom window one morning and ran in to see what all the ruckus was about. It turns out his adversary was not another Robin, but rather his own reflection in the glass. Elizabeth shooed him away and he seemed after that to realise his mistake.

We saw one of the elder Robins with its juvenile the other day:

They look pretty cold, don't they. I think maybe this cold morning was enough to push them into following a warmer thermoclime south. They eat a lot of insects so, after a frost, food get scarce fast!

They look pretty cold, don’t they. I think maybe this chilly morning was enough to push them into following a warmer isotherm south. They eat a lot of insects so, after a frost, food get scarce fast!

By the way, our European readers will notice that what we call Robins here are a type of Thrush and not at all like European Robins. But the red breasts reminded immigrants of those little European flappers, and the name was passed on…

The Magpie has been back several times. It is still finding lots of grasshoppers to eat. It is extremely shy, however, so we have no new photos to show you.

We have other migrant insectivores that will be leaving very soon, too. Elizabeth captured one such on Sunday as it watched the surrounding area from a Paper Birch:

This Eastern Phoebe (Sayornis phoebe) is watching for lunch on the fly. BOL

This Eastern Phoebe (Sayornis phoebe) is watching for lunch on the fly. BOL

Not all flappers eat insects. Some eat other types of food that are only available in the summer.

This is a Chipping Sparrow (Spizella passerina). They are one of the first birds to come back in the spring. I think these seed-eaters follow the bird feeders North!

This is a Chipping Sparrow (Spizella passerina). They are one of the first flappers to come back in the spring. I think these seed-eaters follow the flapper feeders North!

Some flappers stay with us year round, though.

Elizabeth told me earlier this Summer that she was feeling sad. For almost a year, there have been no Nuthatches around. Nuthatches have a special place in Elizabeth’s heart for some reason. They seem to like her, too. As she was trying to get a picture of an elusive warbler of some sort, a Nuthatch flew in and landed right on Elizabeth’s backside! It stayed perched there for a few minutes, listening for insects. Then it, too, headed over to the more productive Paper Birch.

The Red-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta canadensis) is a pretty little bird...

The Red-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta canadensis) is a pretty little flapper. From its latin name, you can see that it must make a habit of sitting on Canadians.

It is also a voracious insect hunter.

It is also a voracious insect hunter.

It seeks them here, it seeks them there, it seeks those insects...

It seeks them here, it seeks them there, it seeks those insects…

everywhere!

everywhere!

They have specially adapted toes that allow them to climb up and down trees. In the winter, they find the insects sleeping just under the tree bark. I guess they hear the insects snoring.

While she was busy celebrating the return of her old friends (these little fellows can live for over seven years), someone else decided to join the party for at least long enough to discover whether there was any kibble on offer.

No kibble for the Kibble Snatcher family this time. And no. Cameras are not edible! Fly away, you silly clowns!

No kibble for the Kibble Snatcher family this time. And no. Cameras are not edible! Fly away, you silly clowns!

Advertisements

Thanksgiving Holiday

Elizabeth tells me that when she was a two-legger pup, she went to school. So did I, actually. But at her school, the teacher made students write essays on how they celebrated special days two-leggers have called ‘holidays’. Sunday was Thanksgiving Day, and two-leggers here get a holiday on the next day so they can travel back from home. They call it the ‘Thanksgiving Weekend’.

I find it rather awkward to hold a writing tool, but I have my faithful scribe who, by her own admission, has had a lot of practice with this sort of thing. So, today I thought I’d tell you how I spent my Monday off, seeing as I didn’t have to travel anywhere.

You’ve already seen how it started for Elizabeth yesterday. After photographing the deer, she took another picture of some trees I can see from my house:

I have a nice view from my house if I keep my head up. That's something to be thankful for.

I have a nice view from my house if I keep my head up. That’s something to be thankful for.

Then we went for our usual morning perambulation. That’s a big two-legger word that sounds like I walk – one syllable for each footstep and a fifth for a wag of my tail! BOL

The leaves are still pretty, but we did get a touch of frost for Thanksgiving. And when the breeze blows, the leaves rain from the sky. But it was calm this morning, and all day. Here are some views from along our walk:

Light at the End of the Tunnel mini

When we got back to the house, the mist was thinning quickly.

When we got back to the house, the mist was thinning quickly.

After breakfast, it was work hard all day in the garden. Well, it was for the two-leggers. They took me on a couple of walks through the day, but I mostly lay in my cone and sighed, got up, rattled the cone on a door or some furniture, flopped onto the floor (that’s much noisier than it reads), sighed again and slept for most of the day.

Elizabeth took me for a quick walk after lunch. She felt sad for me, so she decided to tie my leash to the post at the end of the walkway so I could hang out with her while she harvested the last of the carrot crop. Kay and Malcolm were working at the back garden, so Elizabeth took some photos to show me what they were doing:

Malcolm was dealing with the tangle of tomatillo plants...

Malcolm was dealing with the tangle of tomatillo plants…

then he'd hand the branches to Kay and she'd start plucking the fruit. She got nearly 2.5 gallons from four plants!

then he’d hand the branches to Kay and she’d start plucking the fruit. She got nearly 2.5 gallons from four plants!

The Kibble Snatching Flappers came by, and even though Elizabeth gave them some kibble to keep them busy, I thought I maybe should watch the carrots a little more closely… just in case.

Me guarding the carrots while they dry.

Me guarding the carrots while they dry.

But I'd really rather be chasing deer....

But I’d really rather be chasing deer….

Elizabeth thought she’d cheer me up.

Elizabeth stuck this peculiar carrot in the walkway and said, "Here lies the road to Rome..." and looked at me for a tail wag. I don't get it. Sorry.

Elizabeth stuck this peculiar carrot in the walkway and said, “Here lies the road to Rome…” and looked at me for a tail wag. I don’t get it. Sorry.

But what about that view!

Even when it's cloudy out, it's just so beautiful here. And that's something we are all very thankful for!

Even when it’s cloudy out, it’s just so beautiful here. And that’s something we are all very thankful for!

Thank you, Lord, for all the blessings we share: for beauty, for change, for safety, for friends, for food, for home. Please help us to share some of these blessings with all the two- and four-leggers we meet everyday. Amen.

Whisky Jack

We had our first night when the damp in the air turns hard and coats the growling machine we travel in and some of the greenery.

I wasn’t the only one to notice. Elizabeth actually knew it was going to happen before it did, and she spent the evening before putting two-legger fur over the growing places to keep the stuff the two-leggers eat warm. By morning, though, others had noticed, too. I’m thinking particularly of some free-loading friends of Elizabeth’s, who always seem to come around – especially when it gets a bit chilly in the morning. There are several of them, but Elizabeth has the same name she uses for all of them: Whisky Jack.

The Whisky Jacks are medium sized flappers – a bunch of very friendly jokers who never seem to take life seriously. They really like Elizabeth a lot. We’ll be out in the middle of the woods on her trails in the deep of winter, and a Whisky Jack will fall out of the trees and land on a branch right beside her for a chat. Elizabeth will put out her hand and one will come and sit on it. No other flappers seem to do this so readily as Whisky Jacks. And even though there are only three or four that hang out at the two-legger house regularly, they all seem to know Elizabeth for miles around.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Elizabeth says that, although they seem like clowns, Whisky Jacks are actually very intelligent members of a bigger family called Corvids, which includes some other very annoying larger black flappers Elizabeth calls Crows and Ravens. “I think God put Whisky Jacks here to put smiles on people’s faces. You can’t have an encounter with a Whisky Jack and not come away smiling.” She also says that recent research she heard about – research is something two-leggers do to keep busy – scientists (two-leggers who spend nearly all their time researching) have discovered that Jays (some other two-leggers call Whisky Jacks Gray or Canada Jays) and other Corvids learn to tell two-leggers apart, and teach their youngsters and neighbours which ones are good friends and which ones are dangerous. Maybe that’s why they all like her.

They have a different effect on me. They get my nose twitching. Everytime they come around, and everytime Elizabeth puts her hand out for them to land on, I could swear I smell breakfast. Then one day last week, I discovered exactly why that is. Kay went out and was calling the Whisky Jacks, but they weren’t coming for her the way they do for Elizabeth. She couldn’t wait for them and went back inside. I started to follow her down the walkway, when I smelled something good. On every upright piece of wood along the walkway, Kay had put something tasty for the flappers.

I have trouble understanding why Kay would do this when she has me around. It’s not like I’m unappreciative of treats like these. Why waste them on a bunch of free-loading flappers? I walked on the grass side of the walkway and considered the situation. Then I got back up onto the walkway. I gave a little jump and got my paws up on the railing just below the top. I could just get my nose to the treats, but not my mouth. So, I pushed them off the uprights with my nose, got back on all fours and ran around to the grassy side to pick them up and eat them. I continued almost all the way down to the end of the walkway.

I left the last two for the Whisky Jacks.

I didn’t always used to like them at all. Elizabeth’s my two-legger, not theirs, and often when I saw them, I’d bark and chase them off. They’d flap up to the top of the fence around Elizabeth’s growing place and stare at me, sometimes make a noise back at me. It was almost as if they were quietly laughing at me! But Elizabeth really is fond of them, and they don’t seem to do her any harm. So I tolerate them now. And sometimes, when they fly in low, land on the top of the post that lights up at night… and slide off, even I can’t help but smile a little.

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: