Saturday, March 11, 2023


GREEN cover spread

I just finished a book for young children entitled GREEN. It's about spring's arrival after a long winter.
You can see the entire book here:

GREEN spread 1

Friday, May 6, 2022

Forest Songs

male rose-breasted grosbeak

After hearing reports of these birds in the area, a pair of rose-breasted grosbeaks finally showed up in our yard. The male is stunning with his bold colors...

male rose-breasted grosbeak
...and he wears his heart right out in front, where everybody can see it.

female rose-breasted grosbeak on tree limb

The female looks like, well, like she has a good personality.

male orchard oriole

Orchard orioles have also made an appearance here lately. They are smaller than the Baltimore orioles, and instead of the brilliant orange feathers of their cousins, theirs are dark russet brown.

male orchard oriole on tree limb

The males of both species may be singing the most beautiful songs in our forest, but I think the grosbeak is my favorite by a feather. You can hear them here:


Friday, April 29, 2022

Fruit Basket Upset


male Baltimore oriole on hummingbird feeder

Nearly a week ago, in the early light of dawn, something looked out of place at the hummingbird feeder out our back window. A male Baltimore Oriole, dressed in brilliant orange and black, was perched there trying to sip a liquid breakfast. 


male Baltimore oriole
Male Baltimore Oriole


female Baltimore oriole
Female Baltimore Oriole


These birds sometimes migrate through our area, and although we'd heard reports of them here in the past few years, it has been four years since we've seen any in our yard. Some years, they spend a night or two and are gone, but that year they came in a large flock and stayed for a fortnight. Their antics became a typical conversation starter. Instead of "Get your turkey?" the standard greeting in town was "Are you feeding the orioles?" 


Baltimore oriole on orange

Attached to our deck, near the bird feeder, is a bare cedar tree, and the limbs make good perches for birds. They also provide an excellent place to skewer oranges, so I cut some in half and decorated the tree with the juicy fruit. It didn't take the orioles long to notice. 


Baltimore oriole in hickory tree
Baltimore oriole on orange

Baltimore oriole


They would fly down from their perch high in the hickory tree, land near an orange, and dig in, scrounging out every morsel and picking the oranges clean, like a lion cleaning the bones of its prey. They are endlessly entertaining, and for the most part, the oranges have kept them off the hummingbird feeders.


red-bellied woodpecker on orange

Squirrels and titmice have checked out the oranges, too, and lately, the woodpeckers have been gathering the orange pulp with their long tongues. Unfortunately, as much as we like woodpeckers, they can sometimes make a mess at the hummingbird feeders and also deprive the tiny birds of their nectar. So here's a thought; if we could get the woodpeckers trained to oranges, maybe they'd stay off the hummingbird feeders.

For a while last evening, the hummingbirds were on their feeders, the orioles were on the oranges, and the woodpeckers were eating sunflower seeds and bugs. Everything was as it should be. Then a hummingbird started drinking from the orange. What's next? We can only wonder.


Thursday, March 10, 2022

A Chipmunk's Spring

A woodpile on our front porch hosts a variety of small creatures, and one upright log has become a favorite perch for the first chipmunk of the season. We've named him Primo. On a recent morning, he scrambled to the top of the log and groomed himself as if he had an appointment with Donald Trump that day.

It seems chipmunks might anticipate spring even more than we do. After all, they spend most of the winter in the dark. There is some speculation in the scientific community about what makes chipmunks emerge from their dens. But I like to imagine that a day comes in their underground home when, sundial-like, light makes its way down the shaft of their front hallway and shines on the kitchen table, and they know it's time to come out. Or, possibly they've been hearing the Spring Peepers, as we have, or the Carolina Wrens breaking their winter silence. It must have been rewarding when Primo poked his head above ground to see daffodils and crocus blooming. 

They say if you don't like the weather in the Ozarks, wait a day. The chipmunks must know that one, too. Now the weatherman is predicting snow, so they'll probably be tucked back into their dens tomorrow, hopefully for the last time this season.