Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Teal are supposed to look like this:


Blue winged.


Green winged.




Except when they look like this.


It doesn’t really look like anything.


Once in a while juvenile blue-winged or cinnamon teal come out this pale straw color.  Not very often; this is the first one I’ve seen.  Can’t tell from the color which one it is.  The size of the bill suggests cinnamon, but it was hanging out with a bunch of blue-winged.



Tuesday, November 29, 2016

It could be said


It could be said that I have issues; that Judy might be better off trading me in for a newer model.


The same, however, could be said for Judy.  We both have issues.


Carrying this thread of logic to its logical (or illogical) conclusion though, as I’m wont to do, leads us to the realization that if it were possible, and we both did it at the same time, the most likely result would be a younger, fitter, couple living in our house!



Monday, November 28, 2016

It's hard to see every bird even just in the neighborhood


When I look at the Birdseye app on my phone to see what has been seen in the last week within a 25 mile radius, I find 177 species sighted.


The “needs” tab says we haven’t yet recorded 3 of those birds this year though.


It’s hard to get every single one.


Actually, we’ve got the domestic Muscovy, but a glitch in the program makes it look like we haven’t seen it yet.  No matter, it’s still a really cool app.  We’ll get the white-fronted goose; we’re on the lookout for that.  The rufous hummingbird might be a little harder, but if one gets regular at a feeder we’ll go stake it out.


We can look at other places too and get more chances.  If we were in Port Aransas right now, we’d have a shot at 9 year-birds.


Or Houston; 16 birds.


Denver has 29 year-birds for us.


Seattle, 45.


Miami, 29.


Maybe we need to get out more.  J


Sunday, November 27, 2016

Saturday, November 26, 2016

This is what the coach looks like now





No chrome latches, but everything else outside is done.  The bay doors fit better and line-up better than when they were new!


The front seats have been reupholstered and found their way back from Brownsville.



The comfy new couch is in place.


And the chrome in Mexico is due back to us by the end of next week.


Friday, November 25, 2016

The National Butterfly Center



Acres and acres landscaped and planted for the sole purpose of attracting butterflies.


They’ve done a fine job and there are butterflies everywhere.


It’s a pretty place to be.




There are over 100 species of butterflies that have been cataloged here.


In our efforts to avoid another compulsion, we didn’t identify a single one on our way to spot some birds.


Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving


Here are some pictures of birds we didn’t eat today.






A warm comfortable day with friends over for dinner, joined by neighbors for pie and ice cream after.


Happy Thanksgiving


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

This is the hole where the muffler goes


All we have to do is get from that open pipe, through a muffler, and out the hole on the left of the photo.


The muffler hangs from that bracket just to the left of center in this photo.


Instead of finding a muffler that exactly matches the original muffler, and reusing the existing pipes, we’ve found a muffler shop that will hang a muffler from the bracket, then bend some pipes to match.

It will be a simple solution to what seemed like a difficult problem and will only cost a couple hundred bucks.




Tuesday, November 22, 2016



I used to raise pigeons.  Dad built me a pigeon coop on the back of the garage.  It was about three feet by three feet by nine feet, with nesting boxes in one end, and hung up under the eaves.  It was sturdy enough I could climb up into it and sit with the birds.


I started with homing pigeons.  They look a lot like the pigeons you see flying around wild.


The pigeon coop has to have a “trap”.  That’s a way for the birds to get back in the coop, but critters other than pigeons can’t get in.  It is typically a platform for the bird to land on, next to an opening in the coop, with wires hanging down that the bird can push through to get in, but can’t push the other way to get back out again.


Once the birds were taught to “trap” (that’s a noun and a verb), we would take them progressively farther away to release them, and see if they found their way home.  Most did.  Probably the farthest away we got was twenty-five miles when Dad would take a basket of pigeons to work with him in the morning and release them.  It would take several hours for them to make it home.


Later on, I started buying and raising fancy pigeons.  Fantails, helmets, tumblers (not really fancy, just deranged), and frillbacks.  Frillbacks were my specialty.  Most other fancy pigeons could be bought for seven or eight dollars a pair.  Frillbacks cost fifteen!


The reason this all comes up is because I was at the Edinburg Municipal Park the other day and came across this bird.


It’s a wild pigeon, but it certainly has some fantail blood in it.


I don’t have any photos of the pigeons from my childhood, so I picked a few off the internet to illustrate.


Homing pigeon.










And my beloved Frillbacks.


Most of my pigeons came from a guy out in Artesia.  Mom would drive me out there to spend the paper-route money I had saved up.  I don’t remember much about him except that he was really old; probably fifty or so.  Artesia was out in the country then, so he had plenty of room in his backyard for extensive walk-in pigeon coops.  He was patient and would walk me all around the coops so I could pick out the birds I wanted that day.  I wonder now if that’s something he enjoyed; waiting out a kid’s decision; sharing in the excitement and discovery, or something he just needed to do to support *his* pigeon habit.


I got these birds back to my loft and bred them to sell to kids around the neighborhood.  Instead of paying attention in class, I worked out the arithmetic for how many clutches a pair of pigeons could produce each year and how many pigeons I’d have to breed to have a thousand dollars-worth, or ten thousand dollars-worth.  I realize now I was only counting inventory, not considering the cost of housing and feeding those prospective birds.


I think the pigeons must have gone away around the time I got a car.


Monday, November 21, 2016

Along the way


A Summer tanager.


Last June.




The summer tanagers are all gone for the winter now.  They summer north of us and winter south of us, so we only get to see them when they’re passing through.


Sunday, November 20, 2016



I found a yellow-throated warbler today.  I’ve been chasing him for weeks!  Got him on the University of Texas, Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) campus in Edinburg.


After I got him in the binoculars, I took out the camera to memorialize the moment.




Can’t see much of the yellow throat from that angle.  That’s the best I could do though.  He left and I couldn’t get him back for a better shot.


So I went to the archives for a better picture from a previous year.  Here is what the front part of him looks like.



Bird number 408 for the year; a new year-record for us!



Saturday, November 19, 2016

A snake in the grass




A Texas indigo snake.

He was a little hard to see.


But the one in the road was easy!




Back in the grass.


Indigo snakes are a southern specialty.  They eat small mammals, lizards, frogs, and other snakes, including rattlesnakes.  They’re our longest native snake.  The Texas variety grows up to eight feet long!