A Midsummer Night’s Dreamy Good-Bye

Dear Friends!

This post is actually jumping the line, since I have another post cooking. It’s percolating in a secret cauldron, bubbling evilly over red glowing coals – however, that particular witches brew needs to ferment a while longer. In the interim, I thought, we should celebrate the end of summer and the promise of crisp autumn air. Labor Day Weekend is approaching fast and with it come all the last minute adverts for the best barbecue ribs or blueberry tarts ever, trying to draw family groups and roaming friends to their venues. If you’re from around here (Central Texas), you might want to join the crowds at the Salt Lick or kick up your heels in Luckenbach or, if you prefer to welcome Fall less raucously, sip a quiet glass of Lenoir at the Junction Rivers Winery – wherever you will be, enjoy these last precious days of Summer!  
I choose to hail this Summer’s Glory by posting a lineup of avian pin-ups. These precious birds have entertained my lonely citizenship vigil at the ranch throughout this summer, and I’d like to let them swagger one more time.
Passeriformes, Emberizidae,
Aimophila rificeps, Cassin 1852
‘Rufous-crowned Sparrow’
Over the course of the summer months, there were individual birds and whole families, who came to drink at and swim in my Corning Ware Bird Bath Contraption – strategically placed right below my office window. As desirable a location this turned out to be for taking oodles of bird pictures, it also proved to be oddly uninspired. I had to take each and every shot essentially in the same angle and perspective. Believe me, I tried very hard to get different shots of our feathered friends! But the hyper acuity of avian sensory perception defeated every deceptive move in my limited repertoire of tricks. They taught me strict rules of photographic etiquette: there must be at least one solid sheet of silicate between bird and human entity! In other words, disappointingly, my window had to remain closed at all times. The camera had to be lifted into position gently and slowly, while I had to remain invisible at all cost. Earlier in the mornings, forget taking pictures! The window faces East, illuminating the room’s interior, allowing the cautious birds to detect the slightest movement inside. Later in the day it became a little easier, since the glass deflected some light, thus screening movement in the room. 
Passeriformes, Corvidae, Aphelocoma californica, Vigors, 1839
‘Western Scrub Jay’
My gorgeous jays were the most difficult to catch. The male would hide in the bushes nearby and cry out, as soon as he spotted movement within my room – it was frustratingly difficult to get a picture of her and I never, ever managed to get even one single photo of the Mister with his almost iridescent blue, fat head (he does have an unusually large head).

There were others, which eluded capture as well. Those were the birds I startled into flight by simply entering my office, or walking passed the window to the bookshelf opposite my desk, preoccupied with other matters. Those inadvertent encounters always ended in a darn-it-oops on my part and a panicky flattering movement outside. Luckily, many other birds enjoyed the Corning Ware tublet in the yard enough, to not mind my surveillance all that much.


My most frequent visitors throughout the summer were a family of Northern Cardinals. You’ve met Mom and Dad before (Cardinals Capers, 06/30/2012), who have since brought three youngsters around.




The scrawny-necked babies were quiet the teenage terrors, disturbing tranquility around the bird bath. They’d swoop in as a gang, fighting each other as well as other, smaller birds. Cardinal bullies! 
Another group visiting as a family, were our Painting Buntings – mom and son being harassed by one of the juvenile Cardinals in the picture above. Nevertheless, Mom came every day for her spa treatment! Dad was actually more intersted in the berry harvest, than a bath. But when he did come for a drink, he, too, was occasionally bullied by our teenage monsters.


Papa Cardinal might have attempted to reign in the unruly youngsters … but we all know, how well that works ;-. It sure ain’t peaceful around your average bird bath, let me tell you!

But I believe most of our visitor enjoyed their little cool-down from the summer’s heat! Like this male Varied Bunting – Madam Varied may have joint us as well, I just don’t know, what she looks like.

Passeriformes, Cardinalidae,
Passerina versicolor, Bonaparte 1838
‘Varied Bunting’

Mrs. Varied, by any chance?
(More likely Madam Sparrow)

Passeriformes, Paridae, Baeolophus atricristatus, Cassin 1850
‘Black-crested Titmouse’ also ‘Mexican Titmouse’

Other visitors included starlings, finches, titmice (titmouses?) and raccoons – indeed, not all our guests were feathered.

Nor did they leave the Corning Ware especially clean.

My favorits, however, will always be the dedicated swimmers and splashers!! My true Sommerfrischler* :-))                          *holiday-makers

Passeriformes, Cardinalidae, Passerina ciris, Linnaeus 1758
‘Painted Bunting’ female

Passeriformes, Cardinalidae (formerly Thraupidae)
Piranga flava (hepatica), Vieillot 1822
‘Hepatic Tanager’
And just the other day, an odd coincidence occurred. The very same day a friend sent me a picture of a road runner, which he had snapped in his yard in Las Vegas, our road runner, my dog Otto’s old nemesis, decided on a Corning Ware drink. First time, I’ve seen him in months! 
Cuculiformes, Cuculidae, Geococcyx californianus, Lesson 1829
‘Greater Roadrunner’ (literally: Californian earth-cuckoo)
I hope you had a great Summer!!

3 thoughts on “A Midsummer Night’s Dreamy Good-Bye

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