This past weekend, I put in my last two counting days of my Project FeederWatch season. I didn't see a lot of birds, but I did see two memorable ones.
First, I saw a sparrow of some sort; at least I think it was a sparrow. The hopeful part of me thought it might be a female of some more exotic species:
Normally, I'd have just said tree sparrow and been done with it. But what's with the splotchy gray breast, separated from the belly by a horizontal stripe?
What kind of bird is this?
It doesn't really show in the photo, but it almost looked like there was a streak of pale red down the front edges of its tertiary wing feathers. Help?
I also saw my first goldfinch of the spring; they pretty much disappeared from the feeder around the time the really heavy snows started to fall. Look at his sweet little self, molting into his spring breeding suit:
This was the first time I've seen a mid-molt bird--cool!
To cap off my Saturday birding, I found this little arachnid on the sill of the window I usually shoot photos through when it's too cold to be outside:
Calling all bug specialists and entomology chimps out there! What is this spider?
After a beautiful weekend and some days in the 70s, there's not a lot happening at the marsh house today. It's turned cold again, but at least we didn't see as much snow as the Stokes did at their New Hampshire homestead, though. Mostly, it's just been cold and windy, with flurries all day that didn't stick.
Probably my favorite thing in the night sky is the moon (and that's saying a lot), and I learned from reading LauraHinNJ's beautiful blog that April was the month of the Pink Moon to the Algonquin tribes of New England, according to The Old Farmer's Almanac. I first learned about these Native American moon month names from nature photographer Cindy Mead's Dances with Moths blog; April is the month of the Flower Moon, according to Cherokee lore. I don't know how pink or flowery it was, but the Pink Moon/Flower Moon was beautiful on Tuesday night:
I love Native American traditions; they were such great stewards of the land, and all their beliefs seemed to be based on respect--for nature, for others (even their enemies), and for life itself. I have a neat t-shirt that features some of the text of Chief Seattle's letter to President Franklin Pierce, written in 1855; it's a beautiful testament to the Native Americans' love of the earth:
Every part of the earth is sacred to my people. Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every meadow, every humming insect. All are holy in the memory and experience of my people.
We know the sap which courses through the trees as we know the blood that courses through our veins. We are part of the earth and it is part of us. The perfumed flowers are our sisters. The bear, the deer, the great eagle, these are our brothers. The rocky crests, the dew in the meadow, the body heat of the pony, and man all belong to the same family.