And once again it’s the annual review of what’s been going on out on the patio in front of my apartment.  Where did 2012 go, anyway?  That was one fast year.

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A view out front!

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The blurry image on the left side of this picture is a Sharp-Shinned Hawk, one of the hawks that occasionally fly around the area.  There’s a larger Cooper’s Hawk that patrols around too.  One day as I was getting into my car, the Cooper’s Hawk flew over my head and flew into in a nearby tree- totally silently.  I heard no beating wings or rustling leaves.  They are very good at being a surprise.

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Every so often a pair of Blue Jays come by to squawk loudly for a peanut.  Of course I oblige- they have me trained well.

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The pair of Cardinals that lives across the street kept me company from spring through the autumn once again this year.  They’re like old friends now, pinging in the trees until I come out to put a few peanuts on the patio wall. 1212-5 (21)

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By summer, my Cardinals had raised 2 young ones.  Here’s one- note the dark beak which is an indicator of a young bird.  Cardinals seem quite protective of their young and feed them in the safety of trees and shrubs.  This is a good thing since there are at least 2 hawks in the neighborhood.

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By the end of autumn the Cardinals are drifting away- they spend winters in flocks with other Cardinals.  One day they stop showing up in the mornings and evenings, a few days go by, they may visit occasionally, still pinging for peanuts, but then they’re gone, in another area flocking with Cardinals that may have been their territorial rivals in warmer weather.  They will return next spring when they establish mating territory once more.  I’m convinced the pair of birds that come by for peanuts are the same pair from the last 2 or 3 years.  The first year is the toughest in the wild, if a bird makes it through its first year, it has a good shot at living for years afterwards.

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A pair of Carolina Chickadees visit me all year for peanuts.  A 3rd one joined them in the summer- most likely a young one that they raised.  I still see all 3 of them together now.

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Which peanut to take?  This is a serious choice to make!

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Here’s the young one getting fed.

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These birds make lots of fun sounds, and are quite entertaining.  They’ve gotten pretty tame around me. 1212-5 (252)

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Starlings would occasionally drop by.

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Robins are around in all seasons- they survive on berries in winter.  I’ll put out raisins for them in February when the berries are scarce.

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This handsome American Dagger Moth caterpillar crawled up my doorjamb.

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This Cicada was about to become an adult…

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The new wings are drying out…

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And the bug returns to the wild to buzz up a storm!

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One day in the autumn, a couple of Goldfinch nestlings left their nest a little early.  Their mother was around watching them anxiously- but a hawk perched in a nearby tree, looking for them hiding in the grass as they cheeped for their mother.  Time to intervene!  They went on a table on the patio- their mother was close by (that’s her above), but eventually the hawk scared her off.  One of the nestlings was trying to eat on its own, the other was too young and was difficult to feed.  So it was time to take them to the Ohio Wildlife Center, because with the hawk nearby, they wouldn’t have made it otherwise.  The OWC is staffed by volunteers (donations are welcome) and they give many animals a 2nd chance at life.

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The youngest bird would cheep up a storm when the sun shone on it- it was starting to overheat, so it needed some shade.

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The eldest nestling was very curious.  Sorry that they were separated from their mom, but the OWC will take good care of them.

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This young rabbit visited the patio in the summer- it was rather tame, but could take off like a bolt of lightning when it needed to scoot.

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It had a narrow white blaze on its forehead.

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Resting to beat the heat on the cool concrete!

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An action shot of a House Sparrow chomping a peanut.

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This female House Sparrow has something wrong with her left foot.  She got along just fine, though.

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I contributed to a local Leopard Slug boom- they liked peanuts as much as birds.  I’ll do a post on them someday.

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Chipping Sparrows are a favorite of mine in the neighborhood.  They fly south for the winter, but in the warm months they’re always around, making their pleasant chipping noises.  They are fairly tame and modest birds.

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Their beaks aren’t as robust as some other birds, they’d have to work on a peanut to be able to eat it…or I’d crumble them up for them.

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Here’s a juvenile Chipping Sparrow- they look quite different than their parents.

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Chipping Sparrow parents take good care of their offspring.

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It’s always good to see and hear these birds when they return from their winter vacations.

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Gray Squirrels were around as usual!

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That’s one way to beat the heat!

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Carrying 2 peanuts at once just makes sense.

This squirrel was the mother of some young ones- here’s their nearby ‘nest’:

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They were rather shy at first…

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But mom showed them that peanut treats are great.

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I’m a big fan of Crows- they’re very interesting creatures to watch.

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Three peanuts at once- that’s gotta be a record!

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This Crow was off on a squawk, cawing and bobbing its head vigorously.  This may mean, ‘get some more peanuts out here.’

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One day, 2 new Crows showed up with the family group- 2 juveniles.  You can tell them by their red mouths (and the racket they made).

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Altogether there seemed to be 6 Crows in this family group.  Crows will often spend their first few years with their parents to learn all of the tricks about being Crows, so it’s possible that in addition to mom and dad and the 2 new kids, there were 2 kids from previous years still hanging around.  The older kids will help raise the youngest birds.

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This bird is still working on what to eat…or it’s playing, or using a tool, something Crows have been known to do- they’re extremely intelligent.

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Unfortunately, in September, one of the Crow family became ill.  You could see something was wrong the way it sat in trees.

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It seemed to be trying to lay its head down on branches.

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One day, this Crow couldn’t fly, and hung out on the patio.  It needed help.

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Wrapped up in a towel and ready to visit the Ohio Wildlife Center- that beak could pinch hard, but it only did that once, and was calm the rest of the time, even in the car.

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Unfortunately, after being admitted to the OWC, the Crow died 5 days later.  West Nile Virus was suspected- this disease hits Crows particularly hard.  I think it was one of the younger birds.

The Crow family still comes by for peanuts, often 2 at a time.

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Mourning Doves come by on occasion.

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This pair was in a nesting mood!

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This bird has been hanging around a lot, enjoying a scattered handful of safflower seeds in the garden area.

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I wonder if it’s a young bird, it seems to be having a harder time than others in the winter weather.

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I’m keeping an eye on this one.  I believe it roosts in an evergreen tree across the street.

Another year has come and gone- who knows what 2013 will bring?

Many thanks to all of you for reading this humble blog!  🙂  Happy Holidays!