Bird Watching, 5-17-23

As I sit in the porch looking toward the clothesline where all the bird feeders are hung, I simply cannot believe I am seeing all these fantastic birds passing thru! Today a small flock of orchard orioles arrived and there’s still one brownish tan bird I have not identified. I wish they’d stay all summer – my grape jelly and bird seed bill have skyrocketed however.

Sadly I found this female grosbeak on the ground – they have such recognizable beaks!

I am such a slug – I’m not sewing anything. Yesterday I mowed all day and last night I sat and watched a movie. Just two more choir rehearsals left for the year.

Reader photos:

I have never seen an orchid this color before, have you? It is spectacular.
Hazel ahead of me on the wilderness trail
I don’t know what has happened to my grass – makes me so sad. Hope it improves over the summer. Any ideas?

And that’s it from a little farm in North Iowa.

67 thoughts on “Bird Watching, 5-17-23

  1. Rhoda Ebersole

    Your grass will improve- give it some time.
    Love the quilts
    Happy Spring!!!
    We are heading to Lakewood WI soon

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Rhoda – I’ve lived here for 44 years – how much time does it need???? Haha! It’s been really nice grass until this happened. I’m going to look into snow mold that someone mentioned.

  2. Sandy

    Today I saw an orchard oriole and a male and female indigo bunting plus an assortment of other birds that I usually see at the feeders. Finally got the garden tilled, so I’m ready to sewing for a while here

  3. Sharon Merkel

    That little farm in Northern Iowa looks like a nice place to be. I live in southern Illinois and like you wish the birds would stay a little longer on their way north. Feel blessed to see them however long they stay.

  4. Diane in Colorado

    Mowing all day IS NOT being a slug!! You are probably the most productive person I know—definitely not a slug!
    I’m not sewing because I’m packing to move, so decided to take my machine in for a spa treatment. Then it will be ready for me when I’m settled again. That’s the plan anyway!!
    We are very green here this spring, but my yard is a mess. I don’t know if it’s bunnies or two female dogs, but I have lots of brown. I just re-sodded last summer so it’s depressing. And this is why I am moving.

    1. Jo in Wyoming

      Diane, I think the slug comment is referring to a grub like pest in the grass. Not Mary’s energy level.
      Where are you moving to? FOCO is such a beautiful place.

      1. Diane in Colorado

        Haha!! OK—I knew it didn’t/couldn’t possibly refer to Mary!

        I am just moving a couple of miles east. I will still be in Windsor, just in a patio home instead of my home on a corner lot with a big yard. I’m alone so I’m trying to plan for successful aging in place as best as I can.

  5. Nancy Poole

    Your farm in Iowa is wonderful. It helps me dream of beautiful places. Not Southern California dry fields. And smoggy cities. Miss my childhood home of southwest Minnesota and farms.
    Sorry about the little bird. The feeders do seem to empty fast in the spring. I love my hummingbirds and need to add water every 2 days.

  6. Debbie G in SE WI

    Oh, Mary! Sometimes you just have to take a break! I love to watch the birds also. Hummingbirds are my favorites. I’m fighting the house finches who again are eying up my hanging planters for a place to build a nest! It has been a beautiful day here. Tomorrow I’ll be out doing a bit more digging and moving plants.

  7. Bobbie

    I also like to watch the different birds that show up in our yard. We have had to put out extra water due to the high temps in the PNW.

  8. Paula Nordt

    We have Saint Augustine grass down here. Lots of fungus problems this year due to lots of rain. But I’m not complaining! It sure beats the drought we had last year. I WILL complain about the clouds of mosquitoes though! Their bites make me itch terribly. Birds – we always have blue jays, mockingbirds, cardinals, and woodpeckers. Sometimes we have barn swallows, doves, and bluebirds.

  9. Lois Ann Johnson

    My front lawn has been re-seeded for the third year in a row and I know why! Her name is “Miss Bailey.” Bailey, a 70 lb. American Staffordshire Terrier loves to dig and to scratch. She raises havoc on my lawn so now she has been banished to her backyard dog area which is fenced-in and I don’t care about the grass in there. With all of the rain we received last week, you can imagine how much that grass is growing now!. With this cool weather we’ve been having, it sure makes it nice for working outside.

  10. Deb in Idaho

    I had my first hummingbird today. Lots of ducks and sparrows,doves,robins owls. We don’t get blue jays,cardinal or mockingbirds. Enjoy all the birds. I love the quilt. I haven’t done any sewing either. Trying to get my garden in. Getting hot (in the 80’s) no clouds. I love spring but not summer. To hot!.

  11. Lisa in Eastern Washington state

    Re: your lawn. We had terrible snow mold this spring after the snow melted that left so many bare brown patches. Perhaps that’s what you have? Otherwise it possibly looks like a cranefly infestation, but I don’t know if you have those insects in the Midwest like we do here in the Pacific Northwest.

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Lisa – snow mold? I’ve never heard of it. We had hardly any snow at all but maybe that’s why the bare spots are there. I’ll look it up.

  12. Melissa Nickelson

    Might dig down in several different spots to check for nasty, root-eating grubs.

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Melissa – do you mean in those bare spots in my lawn? My sister said their golf course is showing some of the same – they have decided it’s some kind of winter kill. But I might dig a hole just the same.

      1. Melissa Nickelson

        Yes Mary…Grubs will eat the roots of your lawn causing the plant to die and leave bare spots. My buffalo grass lawn was infested a few years ago. Grub-Ex, available the hardware store, works well if you notice white grubs in your flower beds, or lawn when digging down 1-3 inches. Grubs are the larva to June bugs. (What we call them here in Western Kansas.). 🙂

  13. MartyCae

    Birds give me such pleasure!
    I especially like to watch the squirrels and the blue jays fight over corn!
    My lawn is all spotted too. Hubby went out and threw some seed yesterday. Hope it comes back.
    Not much sewing going on but I have plenty cut out.

  14. Sharon Geiger

    I wish we would have the migrating birds here longer, too. I have seen two yellow and black orioles and one orange and black oriole here. We had red headed woodpeckers here and they disappeared for over a year. They have returned and I just love watching them. We have the pileated woodpeckers and they WILL chase some of the more irritating birds away! It’s kind of funny to watch. As always, I enjoy your farm life very much!

  15. Sherrill

    Your lawn looks way better than mine. I have large brown, yucky areas front and back. No clue what the issue is.

  16. Connie R . In N. Wis.

    When a person is used to being busy all day, it ‘a crazy how we feel guilty when we decide to take a break. I’m glad you had a chance to relax and bird watch from your porch. Such a beautiful time to take it all in.
    I’m still chipping away at decluttering while planning my next quilt.

  17. Dorothy Ann Weibel

    I do not comment much but I want you to know I enjoy everyday your blogs. I am a quilter but have slowed down quite a bit being 80 on my next birthday. Wish I lived near you because you would be a nice friend t o have. Keep on going, you are very entertaining. Love, DEE

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Dee -if that’s not one of the sweetest things I’ve ever heard! Thank you. I always say my readers are my best friends that I’ve never even met. Too bad we all live so far apart but thank goodness for this conversation!

  18. Deb

    the blue orchid is dyed by soaking the roots in colored water. My husband got one like that for me a few years ago. It’s actually white. Blooms great, but never blue again.

  19. Diana in Des Moines

    We have loved seeing all the different birds at our feeders this spring. We live outside the city, so lots of wildlife and I think the birds are happier here than in town.
    On a sad note – I picked up my grandson today at pre-school. As I pulled out onto the street, a big beautiful black cat darted in front of my car. He didn’t stand a chance against my SUV. I was devastated!
    A few weeks ago, I was badly bitten by a neighbor’s cat. Had to go to the Dr and get antibiotics. He was vaccinated, but this cat is totally wild. Over the weekend, he killed the last baby bunny in the nest under our pine tree. Mama bunny followed him, but couldn’t save her baby. She just stopped and laid in the grass – grieving I’m sure.
    The point is – if you are going to have a cat -please keep them in the house. I understand about barn cats, but cats in town face such perils every day. If you love the cat enough to name them, keep them safe. I am so sad about the black cat. I have also learned that not all cats are your friends.
    Enjoy your spring – it’s absolutely beautiful today!!

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Diana – I am so sorry for this trauma – accidents do happen all the time to cats and dogs especially feral animals. There was nothing you could do but I understand how upset you probably were. What a shame.

  20. Deb

    I went to the App Store on my phone and downloaded the Merlin Bird ID. It’s from Cornell Univ. it identifies birds from pix you take or bird calls from recordings you make right on the app. It’s really cool! I think you’d like it.

  21. Sandy

    Hi Mary, sometimes your body tells you to take a rest! Nice to hear about all the birds visiting , and to see the dogs and quilts. I pinned a quilt this morning, it will be for a friend who has just won an organic garden award,Hanoi has taken over a field at her family farm to grow vegetables for her extended family and teach others how to garden. If anyone is interested you can look at Auntys garden on the net. Take care everyone, best wishes from Sandy

  22. Kathy in western NY

    Such nice quilts and sweet dogs. Love seeing the pictures.
    Tonight we went to a brewery to meet some friends and the brewery has 3 dogs that hang around the tables. The German shepherd was so funny putting his head in my husbands lap. Thank goodness there is a sign no feeding the dogs! So it was a lot of fun with their dogs visiting us while we enjoyed angus burgers. Sometimes I crave a good burger and nice to see a busy place on a cooler night.

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Kathy – now there’s a place I’d go to eat all the time! The three dogs could just hang out with the customers? Love it!

      1. Kathy in western NY

        Mary, it seems more and more common place now with indoor/ outdoor breweries and wineries with the owners having pets to roam with customers. This particular one was out in the country but people drive and support it. One brewery in our town is a leading advocate for rescue animals so holds fundraisers for them and people bring their dogs in. It’s also educating them on larger dogs. They are only open till 9:00 so they don’t attract late night parties. I will try to get a picture for you of the 3 dogs last night we saw as they were very docile and sweet….German shepherd, a huskie and a miniature long hair huskie. I too can’t wait to go back! Lots of picnic tables around the premises and nice barns and views of green forests.

  23. Carla in Michigan running around down south

    Love hearing from you every day. Yesterday and today were spent riding and navigating. Graduations this week and next, will be gifting the quilts I shared the pictures of last week.
    We got a pic from the son who is dog and house sitting of Tig holding Belle’s collar in his mouth. Collar is off Belle. Not sure of the circumstances but Tig sure looked proud of his work.
    My wildlife views were dead armadillos and a heron now and then. Cows and horses too.

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Carla – now there’s a story there, don’t you think? Tig, being the rowdy puppy, has probably been the instigator!

  24. Sharon G.

    I thoroughly enjoy your blog. I love the photo of Hazel on the Wilderness Trail. Looks like a fun place to be!

    It’s beautiful warm weather in the PNW. The robins, stellar jays, sparrows, and chickadees have been busy in my yard as well as the squirrels. I guess I should put up the hummingbird feeders. I’m planning to mow tomorrow.

    Today I met an old work friend for lunch. We’re both retired and widows. We had a wonderful time! We went to a fabric store. It was my first time in a fabric store in 3+ years. My friend (who is a very talented quilter), being in the fabric store, and this blog with all of the lovely quilts, have inspired me!
    Mary, I think I’m ready to fire up my sewing machine!

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Sharon!! That’s wonderful – a new project, something fun and not stressful will be just the ticket! Did you buy some new fabric today?

      1. Sharon G.

        Oh yes! I bought some fabric, a panel, a few fat quarters, and a jellyroll. Probably more than I should have, but that’s okay! It certainly won’t go to waste!

  25. Jo in Wyoming

    I haven’t heard a woodpecker in 3 days…possibly they have moved on🤞🤞🤞.
    We had 6 deer moving around the front area today. They are mesmerizing to watch. All females and no babies.
    My neighbor has an orange orchid. I’ve never seen that color. She has an official name for it of which I can’t pronounce. Some people and their green thumbs.
    The quilts and puppies were fun.

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Jo – no woodpeckers???? I hope they’re gone! Might be an answer to prayer for you. You didn’t ever find a Halloween mask?

  26. Sherry Whalen

    Our grass looks pretty rough this spring too. Al mowed for the first time yesterday and the grass that is there was kind of long, but it seems so sparse in a lot of spots. I planted some lettuce, spinach and kale yesterday but we’ve been enjoying asparagus and rhubarb, along with a few bunching onions sets that survived winter and lettuce seed that germinated overwintering. Tonight – we even had a bonfire and cooked hot dogs and made smores for supper. The smoky haze kept the temps lower today, so the fire felt pretty good!

  27. Betty Klosterman

    Oh, what a change from winter. Over the weekend my rain gauge said 2 1/2″. The grass /weeds were at least 9″ high and everybody was mowing Monday morning. This afternoon I got about 1/2″ at the house, but places around town got at least 2″ again. We should be so lucky as it was so dry. Now the sun came out and we have heavy smoke and smell from the Canadian fires and the sun was firey red-orange. At least we don’t have the fires.

    I was thinking that your feed bill must be high with all the extra mouths to feed? But all the love and entertainment. Are you going to get baby chicks this year?

    It always amazes me to see the very basic quilts people make that are just beautiful. God knew that our scraps could do great things!! I’m working on 3 “I Spy” quilts. The first one is all laid out so it will go together quickly. The other 2 are for boy/girl twins and I’ve got a bunch of blocks picked out for each but haven’t laid them out yet. Then it will be back to the big quilts.

    Also have to get to the basement sorted out. A bunch of stuff is going to a give away tomorrow at a church. And I discovered 6 nice Alfred Dunner tops in the closet. I’m not going to be naked!! Wonder what I’ll find in the basement?

    Take care, everybody. Betty in Rapid City

  28. Susan K in Texas

    The wrens are back. They just love to yell at the cats. I stay out with the cats (Magnus and Klaus) when they’re outdoors. The wrens hop just out of reach and squawk and squawk.
    I can see our four bird baths from the sewing room. I watch robins, blue jays, cardinals, doves, etc from my upstairs window. In the heat of the summer I see squirrels laying splatted on the tree limbs.
    There is a Mississippi kite building a nest in a tree across the street. It’s the third year she’s been there.
    We have hawks and lots of noisy crowd too. And crested night herons that love eating cicadas once they’re out later in the summer.
    One only has to keep an eye open and there is lots to see.

  29. Dee from Shell Rock

    I’m in North Iowa. The dog and I check our pond daily, which is up due to the rain earlier this week. We have turtles as big a really big dinner plates! Lots of them too. Also tonight I saw one of the barn kitties playing on the hay wagon with a Fox! I was so surprised to see it, I’ve seen them over the years around but none for a couple years. He had the bushiest tail.

  30. Ruth FInch

    I don’t think I’ve ever commented before, but just need to let you know how much I enjoy your blogs “about nothing”. I look for the link every day in my email, and am concerned when I don’t see it right away. THANKS for sharing the details of your life–they are so interesting! One of these days I’ll have a quilt picture to share–I started in in 2013, and finally am finishing it (and have made many other quilts in the meantime). My husband says I never make anything “just for us”, only to give to others, but this one is for us.
    Please don’t stop sharing!
    Ruth in VA

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Ruth – we would all love to see your quilt so send a picture to my email. I don’t think my life is all that interesting but my days are very full!

  31. Mary Ann

    It’s 29 degrees here in Connecticut. I brought my plants into the garage last night as they haven’t been planted yet. The weather has been ever changing as it is around the country.

    I watched the Glass Castle last night on Netflix. Thank you for your recommendation. I loved it.

    I look forward to your blog every morning.

  32. RS in Ia.

    Enjoy hearing about the different birds in your shady yard. There is only a 15 ft. tall crabapple in my yard. The various feeders have been coming out as the birds show up: hummingbirds, orioles, and finches. One day a dozen goldfinches showed up, after having just one or two sighted the last five years or so. We had many for a long time, then they just quit appearing. I was told there was a die-off one winter where they had migrated.
    There are many patches of that dead grass in the lawn here, too. Those areas don’t even have dandelions! Don’t know what happened to it. If the grass doesn’t come back, will have to patch with seed.
    Like to see the dog photos. They always look well behaved in a photo, makes me wonder how long that lasts!

  33. Joy in NW Iowa

    Hi Mary and everyone! The birds are so abundant this spring! The jelly price went up, grrr! Oh well.
    We have dead spots in our lawn. Some towns are worse than others. rock Valley is especially bad. We had rain on top of snow and it froze so hard, it must have smothered the roots. Lots of lawn work going on.
    Love all the quilts and animals!
    The garden is in! Yippee! Good job hubby. We have been eating an abundance of asparagus! Yum!

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Joy – I think it might be called snow mold – go online and see what you think.

  34. Jeanne in Co

    I went to an orchid show at the mall in Davenport one year, many years ago, I think it was the mid seventies. There were orchids on display and for sale of every color under the sun. I purchased a bright orange one because that was the “in” color, along with gold and olive green. I have never seen an orange one since then. We enjoyed it for a few years until it met it’s end.
    I hope you get as much enjoyment from this deep purple one as I did from my orange one.
    Jeanne in Co.

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Jeanne – this picture came from a reader who received it for Mothers Day. I only wish it was mine – ha!

  35. NancyTD

    Just finished planting my garden. We have had so much rain, but the top 2 inches are dry.
    About the brown spots in the grass. Could be grubs, snow mold, or some creature eating the grass under the snow. We have patches that have turned green and some that haven’t. Bought Grub Ex to apply first of June. It is a granular like fertilizer. Take a picture and show at the garden center— they may be able to help you. Good luck!

  36. Joy in NW Iowa

    Mary, I think you are correct about the snow mold. We do have issues with grubs in our lawn. For 51 years we have battled. I just can hardly believed it’s been 51 years ago we bought our farm. It’s been a good life and good raising our family here.
    Has anyone else had issues with the smoke from Canadian fires!? We have had a few days of it and it’s a bit better today. It actually gave some people headaches and coughs! Nasty.
    I bought a jelly feeder for the oriole birds from Amazon. It’s not the best. No wonder they were cheap! Ha!
    Well, best get busy getting birthday cards, etc. ready for the graduation and birthdays this weekend!
    Have a great day! Love you Mary and friends!

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Joy – I have to go after more jelly today. I’ll take a picture of my jelly feeders which work great but also not very expensive. I have bought my fertilizer for the snow mold areas – I have a lot of them. I wonder if it’s just our area of the country. Anyone in Illinois, Wisconsin, the Dakotas or Minnesota have snow mold? Thankfully I don’t have to battle grubs, too. Yes, the sun here was very orange a few days ago but smoke doesn’t bother me and I don’t know about others.

      1. Deb

        We have a heavy ceramic soap dish with a high back, that we use for bird jelly. It looks like it was meant to have the bottom installed in a tile-top counter. Anyway, it’s very solid and sits on our deck rail board without tipping. Our red finches are as aggressive about the jelly as the Orioles are!

        1. Carla from Michigan

          Deb, finches clean up some of what the orioles live in the orange halves we hang.
          Orange hazey sunsets in Michigan from the Canadian fires. I’ve only seen pictures as we are in southern Alabama for a couple of more days. Then eastward an hour and a half for more family times.
          We walked through grounds of Ft. Morgan today. The area was originally claimed by Spain. It was a pre- revolutionary war fort that was used off and thru WWII. Interesting history.

  37. Vicki Ibarra

    We had snow mold one spring…not so much from the snow, but from the leaves that covered the ground upon which the snow lay. We had to seed grass in those spots. And after that, every fall we made sure no leaves remained on the ground there. No snow mold since then.

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Vicki – oh, wow! I hope you’re wrong because there’s no way I can rake this whole lawn. I’ve never raked it and have never had this snow mold before. I’m going to really look tomorrow to see if the places would have had lots of leaves. Ugh.

  38. Kate

    Since I can no longer mow because of health issues and because I don’t want my husband to have to spend hours mowing when he is off work, we have decided to start a wild flower and grasses field in our back yard. We stopped mowing altogether and my husband made a place to plant grasses, bushes and wild flowers and now we are just waiting and watching it grow. At first, I wasn’t sure about it, but now that the grass is growing tall and reseeding itself, I am liking it a lot. The flowers, peonies, irises and others are showing off really well in this environment and we no longer have bare patches where the dogs have laid or ran through. We notice that the bird population has grown also because they fill protected and can find more bugs in the grasses. Some people like the well groomed, mowed look, but we have learned to like this rather wild and tumbled look in our back yard.

  39. Helen Jane (Tx)

    Hi Mary…like you, our lawn has plenty of bare patches. We actually say “yard”…the grass is two kinds St. Augustine (suffering) and Bermuda (recovering). Lawn Lab said “we have a fungus and they applied a product. We had ice in February but no snow and current rain storms. We are 815+ miles from Garner. This seems to be a scattered grass problem across the country. About the blue orchid, Kroger florals had all colors about Mother’s Day. Yes, I admired them! Mary, your outdoor plant (s) area looks “so good”… Thanks for all you write about…Get Well Wishes for Rick…

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Helen Jane – wow! 815 miles away has the same fungus as North Iowa. That’s kinda cool, isn’t it? I’ve really never had this before so I’m encouraged that maybe fertilizer will fix it. Did you treat it recently? Has it made a difference?

  40. Fiona at

    We have had unseasonably huge amounts of rain. so everything is lovely and green, but it gets very humid as soon as the sun shines! My bird feeders are outside my kitchen window, so that I can watch the birds when I am working in the kitchen. The Chickadee chicks have hatched en fledged and are noisy demanding food on a branch of the climbing rose that grows over the kitchen window.

    1. Mary Etherington Post author

      Fiona – I don’t think I’ve ever seen a chickadee baby – are they very tiny? They must be – and what food are they demanding?

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