Sunday, January 28, 2007

Nature, red in tooth and claw

WARNING: This is going to be a graphic post, with some blood and obvious bird death. You might want to skip it if you're squeamish.

I've said before that if a raptor were ever to attack birds in my yard, I'd like to be around to see it. Sadly, that happened this afternoon, and I was there for all but the initial attack (thank god for that tender mercy), and although the pictures aren't great (the sun was already just about down, on a cloudy day), it's pretty clear what happened.

I was in the kitchen cooking some cornbread when I happened to look out the window and see a very large bird at the back platform feeder. I thought it was a crow at first, but it looked different; I didn't even imagine it might be a UPDATE! it's a Cooper's hawk, not a red-tailed, per LauraHinNJ--thanks!--until I went out on the porch and saw him there, pecking at something in that characteristic grab-and-tear motion. I shuddered, grabbed the camera, and started shooting:

It was far too dark to digiscope; all those pictures were just blurs. This is on full digital zoom, 8.3X, on Night Landscape mode, with no flash, taken through the open window on my three-season porch.

When he finished and flew off, I went outside. I saw him doing a flyover--he's just a little blobby speck here against the dark snowclouds above:

Here are the photos I took of the (gulp) remains on the feeder:

This next photo is a little bloody--get ready, or just scroll down to the next one. I'll leave a little space:

My heart just broke when I saw that photo on the computer; outside, it was already so dark that I couldn't really tell what I was seeing. I didn't realize it was blood until I saw it on the computer screen.

I was surprised that I couldn't find so much as a beak or a foot; he ate everything but the feathers you see here. I looked on the ground but could find no trace other than a few more feathers. Most were gray, but there were also some brownish ones.

It could've been anything--a junco, a tufted titmouse, a sparrow.

I know that raptors are known for attacking birdfeeders, as they present the hawks with easy prey. And I know that hawk needed to eat; it's cold out there, and he needs food to create the energy that will warm him. It was just really hard to see it happening out there in my peaceful little yard.

Friday, January 26, 2007


I haven't seen any birds at the feeders since filling them last night; I checked this morning when I woke up and again before I left for work, and then again this afternoon when I came home. No birds at any of the prime feeding times when I looked.

So today I went out there, and although I saw no birds at any of the feeders or even in the thicket or the trees around the yard, I did see evidence that there had been some traffic. There were little birdprints everywhere, overlapping and muddling each other in the snow.

I had thought I would see non-stop feeding since yesterday's snowfall, but I guess they're not coming out during their normal times in the morning and late afternoon. I'll have to check my bird behavior information and see if there's some disruption in feeding schedules caused by snowfall. Is this something real birders know?

Anyway, they must be eating, perhaps during the middle of the day when temperatures are at their highest (though today, I don't think we got out of the teens, so I don't know how much higher those mid-day temps would be than in the morning or the evening). I'm glad that they are getting some food, although the feeders were still pretty full and there was still uneaten seed on the ground underneath all of them (I throw some there for the ground feeders).

All the little footprints were cute, though it was difficult to make out any individual ones. I did see these prints, though:

When I saw this little scene, I thought of the lines in that poem you always see all over the place, especially in the tchochke shops, the one about the footprints--I'm sure you all know the one I mean. So I'm looking at these little prints, wondering if they're birdprints or mouseprints or meadow vole prints, and suddenly I thought:
"When you saw only one set of footprints,
it was then that I carried you."

Now, I don't want to offend anyone, but I don't believe in heaven or hell or any supernatural being who's carrying you around through the rough times. (sorry, Mom) Still, those rather syrupy lines just popped into my head and I thought it funny given the context, so I took a photo. I was brought up Catholic, and it's hard to escape religion in all its many forms and manifestations in the current political climate. Still, these prints are clearly those of a small animal. And he's probably carrying just himself. And maybe some sunflower seeds.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Snow fell on Pennsylvania

Somehow that's just not as romantic as "Stars Fell on Alabama."

We are getting our first significant snowfall of the season--on January 25.

I was thrilled to get home at 5:30ish and still have enough light to take some photos. Here's the snowy driveway and neighbor Ed's backyard, with his magnificent barn and Egg Hill in the background:

Speaking of magnificent barns, did I show you this barn from down the road? It's a local landmark:

Around here, they sell postcards with pictures of this barn. I had one, but I mailed it to my parents; otherwise, I'd post it so you could compare. I think their photo was probably taken in the spring; I took the photo above on January 13, the same day I posted that kestrel sighting; I'd originally stopped in that area to take a picture of the barn, and the kestrel was a special lifer bonus.

One more forgot-to-post photo from days past:

I ran outside the other morning (though I would eventually end up being late to work--again) and took this photo. It was just after sunrise, and there were little spots like this all over the lawn. Is it where underground water has evaporated up and then frozen? The rest of the grass, as you can see in the photo, was frosted in a uniform fashion. These spots, however, were like miniature spiky worlds rising up from the rest of the lawn.

Back to tonight's photos:
I love the way thistles and pinecones hold on to their little tufts of snow--each tuft looks like a tiny blanket.

I filled up the feeders a little while ago (before taking pictures) after leaving them empty for two days because I ran out of birdseed. I emptied the 20lb. bag of birdseed that Santa brought me for Christmas. Hmm--it's Jan. 25; I guess that's not really too bad. I had been trying to ration it out a little lately because I knew I wouldn't be able to get to Wiscoy's, but even if it only lasts 20 days, that's still less than 50 cents a day.

Given the number of birds coming to the feeders now, I imagine that if this snow sticks and we get even more (which is by no means assured during this crazy winter), I'll need to fill the feeders daily instead of every other day. I'm definitely replacing the suet blocks more often, as I now get at least four woodpeckers who make quick work of the blocks. It's exciting to see more and more of them at one time. I still need to go out and find a pileated woodpecker, but the downies, hairies, and red-bellies are always neat to watch.

I should tell you that I'm trying to save (secretly--don't tell Kat!) for a higher-end camera! I LOVE my Coolpix, and for my meager skills, it's a great fit. However, I feel like I'm getting better at photography, and I want to be able to adjust f-stop, ISO, etc. instead of just pointing and shooting on automatic.

I guess I should admit that I'm, well, dazzled by the idea of getting a big Canon like Lillian Stokes has, one that takes 10-megapixel photos, allows you to adjust f-stop and ISO and the rotation of the earth and all that. I would like to someday take the kind of photos you can blow up and frame. I must also admit that this dazzle-ment only started when Bill of the Birds and Julie Zickefoose started talking about their new higher-end cameras, and how great the cameras are, and other cool stuff like getting photography lessons from Lillian Stokes! The Lillian Stokes of book, CD, binocular, birdfeeder, and everything else birdy fame! On a side note, the Stokes field guide I have was designed by Barbara Werden, who was the art director at Taylor Trade Publishing in Dallas back in 200-2002, when I was the managing editor. It's so cool to look at the Library of Congress CIP page and see the name of someone I know. Not to get off on a tangent, but god, I loved that job. And I loved working with Barbara--she was incredibly talented, and I learned a lot from her.

Back to the present: so I'm trying to make some extra money to get a camera. As I'm not really much of a saver, I'll be lucky to make it to the $500 mark, but that should get me a good Canon, depending on what I can find on Amazon. There are just so many other things to spend money on, like house renovations, food and clothing, and other such essentials of my daily life. Still... I really want a higher-end camera. I guess I'm just never satisfied.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Niblet does trigonometry

I have been working on my homework for my trig class tomorrow for THREE HOURS. And I'm barely halfway through; that's how slowly I have to go to make sure I know what I'm doing (that, and I have 75 problems to work). Niblet, however, has been helping. Sort of.

First, he chewed a hole in the pillow I was lying on, on the floor:

Then he looked over my notebook to check my progress:

Then he decided to do some graphing in my little graph paper pad, courtesy of Heather, the new sales rep at work who used to work for

Finally, he tackled the text itself; he found it engrossing. (I stopped him before he ate the corner off the hardcover.)

Then he decided to make out with the table leg; is he just tasting as a preview? Will there be a table there tomorrow?

Finally, I gave him a piece of graph paper so he could do his own work; he promptly took it under the table (so I wouldn't copy off his paper?):

Then Clawsie decided to give him a hand, helping him work problems from above.

This outside interference was too much for him to handle. I don't know if he's ever disapproved this hard in his life; it's a defining moment for him.

It's now 10:39 and I've spent over a half hour posting these photos; I'd better get back to work. I still have about 35 problems to go.

sin, cos, tan, csc, sec, cot

Saturday, January 20, 2007

When your home freezes, where do you go?

We are finally getting some real Pennsylvania winter weather; the high today was around freezing, with a wind chill in the single digits. It snowed all day, but it was flurries and really didn't cover the ground much. I took some photos while doing my Project FeederWatch count.

Here are some photos of the ponds where I've seen ducks; the first one is on the marsh, and the second is at the back property line of neighbor Ed's backyard, where a huge willow tree attracts a lot of birds.

All the ponds on the marsh are frozen; I guess the ducks left sometime yesterday or last night. Where do they go when their home is frozen?

I found a dead black-capped chickadee today, probably a window-strike victim. Why didn't I do something about the windows earlier in the season? I guess I thought that because I'd never noticed any window-strikes, they weren't happening here; I thought my birds were too smart or something. I guess I was just pushing my luck, and this little guy paid for it:

I need to get some screens or something before the spring, I think. I've tried so hard to attract birds to my property; to see one killed because of my negligence was almost too much to bear.

On another sad note, my grubworm feeder is a total bust, I think:

Any suggestions on what I should do? Maybe I should just wait until the spring. How long do little dead dried-up grub worms last?

I got some photographs of a woodpecker--I think this is the downy, but I'm not absolutely sure--from my "observation post" on the three-season porch. At one point, there were two downies (male and female) and a red-belly!

I also got some photos of a beautiful little house finch on the tamarack hanging feeder:

I really like house finches, and they seem to love my feeders. Sometimes I'll see ten females and only one male. What's going on there?

While watching the birds from my little perch, I happened to see a little meadow vole poking his head out of a small hole around the big compost/brush pile. I couldn't believe it! Niki and I are always sending each other pictures of cute animals, and the meadow vole is one of the cutest--to finally see one live was really neat! I went down and took pictures of his little doorway; it's quite neat and well-framed, no?

Can you see that little hole just under that horizontal stick? I wish I'd gotten a picture of the actual vole, but I just wasn't prepared. I was busy counting birds with my binoculars, so I didn't have the camera ready.

I got a lot of birds today, including a house sparrow. I was under the impression that they were all south for the winter; what's he doing here?

I also got out the Condor and d-scoped some photos of birds on the platform feeder, but the photos weren't very good:

Mr. Cardinal was up there with three and four house finches at once a couple of times; all were coexisting quite nicely.

One sparrow (I think) I could not identify had a rufous-striped head like an American tree sparrow, a solid gray breast with no spot, and a small black spot behind his eye--maybe a quarter of an inch behind the eye. I couldn't find any matches in my Stokes guide, so I'll have to check all my other guides. Any guesses? I tried to get a photo but he came and went quickly, leaving me just enough time to note and jot down the above descriptives about him. That black spot behind the eye just didn't match any sparrows in the book, but I know it was there. And there was definitely no spot on his breast. Maybe he's not a sparrow? He sure looked like one, but what kind?

I'll have to check my other books and see what I come up with.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Blogging at the university

I'm in Kat's office, waiting for her to get out of class. She's teaching a one-night-a-week class, so I'm here until 9:30pm! I'm sleepy already.

Today I saw a red-tailed hawk here on campus; this is the third time I've seen him. It's easy to find him, because the crows go NUTS when he's around, cawing and flying all around him, trying to scare him off or something. But he's a pretty cool customer, just staying put and ignoring them. After all, he's a hawk. They're crows--Heckle and Jeckle may have been wise guys, but real crows just aren't that scary. (Well, maybe in The Birds)

The first time I saw him he was high in a birch tree, just hanging out about an hour before sunset. Crows were going crazy. The second time, however, was much more memorable: He was perched on a branch of a tree that stands about six feet from the second-floor window of a student lounge here on campus. He let me walk right up to the glass. He looked right at me, and we held one another's gaze for about 20 seconds. I remembered that line about looking into the abyss and having it look back into you--a scary thought. But this was a living, breathing hunter looking at me, not as a meal but as just an object in his view. I like to think he was curious in a way, wondering how I could be up there with him. But he just looked at me.

Then he went back to the business of puffing himself up to stay warm. He sat there for about an hour, with me leaving and coming back to watch him. He left when some people spotted him from the ground and began whooping and carrying on (okay, they were little kids; I don't blame them--but their parents could have shushed them!).

Of course I didn't have my camera. Kat's advisor took a picture; I'm hoping it'll come out and I can show you what it looked like from the window. Check back soon.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Another meme from Somewhere in NJ

Here's an interesting meme from Somewhere in NJ, owner of some really cute bunnies:

two names you go by: uh--Delia and uh Delia? I hate the nickname "Del" and refuse to let anyone call me that.
two parts of your heritage: Mexican Indian and Spanish
two things that scare you: wasps and math
two everyday essentials: checking all the birding blogs and giving lovin' on my babies.
two things you are wearing right now: khakis and a thermal undershirt
two of your favorite current bands/artists: Ani DiFranco and Indigo Girls
two things you want in a relationship (other than love): laughter and patience
two favorite hobbies: being outdoors and reading (stole these from LauraHinNJ)
two things you have to do this week: start my trig class (eek) and clean house
two stores you shop at: Webster's Bookstore and Burkholder's Country Market
two favorite sports: pro football and tennis
two shows you like to watch: CSI and Forensic Files
two things you’d buy if money were no object: a top-of-the-line Canon camera and a Swarovski ATHD-80 scope
two wishes for 2007: to be more mindful of my finances and to make more of my limited time with a very busy Kat

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Feeder Frenzy

This morning, I went out to fill the feeders, and I noticed that as soon as I'd filled one feeder (I have three seed, 1 suet), a song sparrow in the multiflora rose thicket on the fenceline began to sing continually--I mean, he really threw it down. I think he may have been calling his friends to tell them I'd finally gotten up today (noonish) and was finally getting their breakfast. Is that what birds do? I've noticed it before, but this time it seemed really obvious, so I thought I'd write about it and see if anyone else has observed such behavior.

Once he started singing, the thicket (which seems to serve as the sparrows' waiting area) began to fill with birds. By the time I went inside to begin my feederwatch count, they were hitting the feeders hard. Two mourning doves hogged the platform feeder in the back and never left--for an hour. Even Mr. and Mrs. Cardinal couldn't shoo them away. The new hanging feeder I put on the pear tree was attacked by purple finches, song sparrows, a tufted titmouse, and a black-capped chickadee. Mr. and Mrs. Cardinal came here as well, along with a really loud bluejay.

Meanwhile, the singing continued--it was non-stop for the entire hour I watched. What a pleasant soundtrack!

The tamarack suet feeder paid host to a downy and a red-bellied woodpecker, neither of whom stuck around for long. The chickadees then began eating their share of the suet cake.

I hung my old hanging feeder (which used to be on the pear tree and can be seen in many of my photos) on a branch of the tamarack. The birds were a little skittish at first, but now they love this location. This feeder and the ground under it saw the most action today, with six white-throated sparrows, three tree sparrows, a white-crowned sparrow, and a couple of American goldfinches eating their fill. Those white-crowned sparrows really are neat-looking, with that black-and-white-striped cap on their heads. I saw the goldfinches eating the little cone buds on the tamarack as well. Must be tasty.

I had twelve different kinds of birds at the feeder today, which is a good count for my yard thus far into the FeederWatch period. My record is fifteen, just before Christmas. I hope the number increases in the spring--boy, I can't WAIT for spring! This gray and rainy winter has been beautiful in its way, but I'm ready for the green burst of new life that spring will bring.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Falcon photos and more

Today I happened to see a small bird of prey--hadn't ID'd him yet--sitting on a utility line, and I even had my camera and binocs with me so I bino-scoped him. These are the best shots I got--cloudy day, handshake, and all:

I checked my Stokes field guide and it's an American Kestrel--SCORE! A lifer! A falcon, small and beautiful. I believe it was a female, but I'm not sure; Stokes says that the female is more red, so I'm guessing female. She was rather skittish about my driving slowly on the shoulder, trying to get closer to her, and took off and alit in several different places before I was finally able to photograph her. Cool!

When I got home, it was rush hour at the tamarack tree--where I have the suet and a hanging feeder (just put the hanger up there). I got some poor shots through the car's windshield (I didn't dare get out of the car yet), using the max optical and then digital zooms on the Coolpix 4800:

A white-breasted nuthatch:

the downy (smallish head and beak) woodpecker:

and a really puffed up mourning dove:

There were white-throated sparrows, house sparrows, a house finch and a purple finch, black-capped chickadees, a tufted titmouse, and Mrs. Cardinal as well, but I didn't get photos of them. The day's just too gray and dark. Still--it was a busy day at the feeders. I haven't seen any bluebirds on the grubworm tray yet, but I'm still hopeful. Of course, yesterday morning the grubs were frozen solid, but I guess they'll thaw. I hope the bluebirds don't mind a little freezer burn. Should I maybe dump those guys and replace them with fresh ones?

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Birding on a windy day

I don't think birds much like blustery days like today; the wind is howling outside, and many feathers are in a visible ruffle. It's currently 59 degrees, with a westerly 25mph wind gusting at up to 35mph. (thanks, WeatherPop) When I first got up, it was completely overcast, but in the hour since then, we've gotten more peeks at the sun through thick gray clouds. I awoke to the sound of the yew tree outside my bedroom window being beaten hard against the house by this wind.

If you look at the time of this post, you quickly deduce that I woke up around noon today; it was a long week, and I needed the extra sleep. However, that means I didn't get out to the feeders until noon, so I only got a few diehards out there during my hour-long watch. (I'll go out later too, to catch the late-afternoon diners.) Maybe this wind will die down. I only saw Mr. and Mrs. Cardinal, a tufted titmouse, a couple of goldfinches, and three house finches.

Beyond my backyard watch area, I saw some rock pigeons flying over the marsh, about thirty mallards on a little marsh pond, and a pair of bluebirds on the posts of Ed's (the neighbor) back fence. You'll remember I got some grub worms to try to attract them closer; no actual sighting of them eating the grubs yet, but every day the grubs gone by the time I get home from work. Of course, they may just be blowing off the top of the post I put them on, so today I nailed a little plastic bottom tray from a small pot up there. The lady at Wiscoy ( said to put out ten per day and see what happens. So--we'll see what happens.

I didn't take the camera out today, deciding I would just watch. I wish there'd been more birds to watch, though. Not a lot of activity on a blustery day like today. Still, I did get to see the sun for a bit, blasting its rays through the clouds, glistening on the marsh ponds and the bare branches of Ed's willow, and two bluebirds. Not bad.

UPDATE: I remembered just as I hit PUBLISH that I needed to look at that nest in the post, the nest with the bones in it. Here's a better photo (thanks to a stool):

I also looked more closely at one of the bones:

All the bones seem to look like this one; I saw no skull, no smaller thinner bones, no nothing. Just these little bones, all the same. Jimmy commented on my New Year's Day post that it might be an old bird; he must be right. What else could it be? Too big to be a mouse. I just wonder where the other bones--scapula, skull, wing, etc.--are.

One more thing: no sooner had I come in to blog than the bird world peeped a collective "Let's go hit the feeders!" I saw a red-bellied woodpecker, a white-throated sparrow, and the downy. I saw him so closeup through my binocs that I began to realize something--something big:

The easiest ways to tell the difference between a hairy and a downy: the hairy's beak is longer than a downy's, and their calls are different. Let me show you a blurry bino-scoped pic of the female I saw just now:

Unfortunately, you can't tell how long her beak is--but it's long. This is a female hairy woodpecker. Now I'm questioning all my "Downy" IDs of the past! The only thing that is keeping me sane right this second is knowing what I've heard. According to Audubon, the hairy's call is "A rolling and rattling series of notes, chikikikikikik." The downy's: "Short, flat piks and unusual horselike whinnying calls." Okay--I have never heard the woodys in the backyard do anything other than short separate "piks" -- no "rolling" continuous pik-ing. Okay. I'm calm. I will not go back and change all my Project FeederWatch data entries. I will simply be more observant!

Now that I look at the photos in Audubon, the woodys' heads are very different--the downy's is small with a stubby beak. The hairy's is longer and more sleek. I think I've seen more hairys than downys, but I just don't know--the only calls I've heard are definitely separate little piks. Sigh.

I got a sharper photo of the hairy--or at least the suet feeder where he'd been only a split second before:

Darn those flitty woodpeckers.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

First bird of 2007

Being a beginning birder (I wonder how long I can consider myself a beginner?) I am only now becoming aware that it's a "thing" to record your first ID'd bird each year. I've seen such entries on Birdchick's blog, BOTB's blog, etc., so I need to add this practice to my birdy ways.

Luckily, I remember what happened when I went outside on Jan 1 to fill my feeders and watch birds. My first bird of 2007 was a downy woodpecker (male), on our tamarack tree, feeding on suet. He ended up coming back several times during the rest of the afternoon, making a complete piggy of himself. (Well, I suppose it could've been several different males, actually.)

Not a bad first bird for 2007.

I have a few bird-related goals for this year, too:
1. Bird more, including taking a vacation to someplace on the coast (East) where I can see some pelagic birds.
2. Keep practicing my digiscoping and photography.
3. Learn to ID at least ten birds I have not yet seen, so that when/if I hear them, I'll know to look for them so I can get more lifebirds--such as

a. scarlet tanager
b. barn owl
c. Cooper's hawk (I've never made a positive ID on one of these)
d. cinnamon teal
e. red-breasted nuthatch
f. wood thrush
g. bobolink
h. horned lark
i. eastern pewee
j. eastern kingbird

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Digiscoping on New Year's Day

January 1 was a gorgeous sunny day here in Spring Mills, so I set up the whole rig in the backyard and d-scoped some birds at the feeders. Results were mixed, but I got some decent shots.

Had a lot of house finches again, including this little female who posed for me with her seed:

Sadly, I saw one male with what looks like conjunctivitis. First one I've noticed with any sign of it. Sorry the pic's kinda blurry, but his eyes are obviously pasty or whatever:

Here is the best photo I digiscoped all day--of the BACK of the male house finch:

Oh well.

I also heard and then spotted a very noisy belted kingfisher male on the marsh; he was causing quite a disturbance among the ducks on the small ponds back there, with his almost continuous calls. My Stokes guide calls it "a woody rattle" and says kingfishers are "very vocal." I'll say.

It was cool to get a decent shot of him, especially compared to the shots I posted back in the summer/early fall, using my binoculars. Still about 200 yards away, but this photo is way better than those others! This time I used the Condor scope and my Coolpix, holding the camera to the eyepiece with my left hand cupping them together.

He kept flying from one perch above a large pond to a different perch over a smaller pond. Both ponds had ducks, who were not amused by his racket. They kept quacking annoyedly, flying around from pond to pond, like they were trying to get away from him. I caught a couple of them in the air, looking like a pair of figure skaters, perfect mirror images of one another in flight:

I also caught a photo of my downy male, though I never was able to get him through the scope. I snuck up on him here:

I then walked the fenceline and found this post, and when I looked inside I found an old nest:

Now correct me if I'm wrong, but are those bones in there? Eerily enough, Birdchick posted today about a nest she found with baby chipping sparrow bones in it. These bones, however, look a little too large (and green?!) to be a baby bird's. Not sure what's going on here. Would this be a bluebird nest? I wasn't tall enough to really get up over the top of the post and shoot down into there, get a good view of the nesting materials, etc.--and I don't have a book on nests yet. It looks like a lot of mud in there, and some grass from the neighbor Ed's yard (he has that broad-leafed St. Augustine; I have Bermuda and weeds). I know bluebirds often perch on the posts on that side of the yard, but is this a bluebird nest? Is this an appropriate cavity for a bluebird to build a nest in? I'll have to go get a better look--probably not until Saturday, though.

When I came in later, I gave Niblet a treat--a Christmas present from his Oma and Opa--"Rabbit Blend" by Wild Harvest. It's got all kinds of crazy stuff in it, including these long red bits that look like dry cat food. He LOVES this stuff--though I will admit we took a half hour or so the other night to sort out all the catfood-looking bits (nothing like living in a household with two other really meticulous people). I don't know what the heck they are; Kat tasted them! She said they were icky, so we took them all out. The rest is dried split peas, fruits, nuts, oats, wheat, "oat groats" (?), and timothy pellets. Of course it's not as healthy for him as his timothy, but THE BOY LOVES IT. So we give him a tiny bit each night. Here's the nightly drill:

1. I get out the bag and Niblet almost jumps into it:

2. He buries his little face in his bowl:

3. He says, "whadda YOU lookin' at?" when we watch him:

I hope Oma and Opa know how happy they've made their grandson.

Meanwhile, Clawsie begs us nightly to play Em's "Herd Your Horses" game--isn't it obvious?

She loves that game.