Pollen

I woke to find my car a different color. 

No, it wasn’t painted by vandals during the night, just coated with pollen.

pollen on my car

I’ve lived from Maryland to Illinois to Texas to Florida and places in between and I don’t ever remember seeing this much pollen coat my car over night.  The wind has even created swirls on the hood.  It’s quite cool looking, but time to clean up now.

Travis wants to wash my car.  I think he wants me to pay him.

Creation Birding

I am a birder and find that the more I go birding with others, and the more I read about birds and science, and the more I find out about birding conservation groups, the more I am discouraged because I don’t agree with the theory of evolution as it is generally spoken about.  Sure I believe that within each kind of species, they change but I don’t believe that the birds came from a swamp thing, or a dinosaur or some other creature.  But most all magazines, conservation groups, university courses, lectures, science DVDs or television shows portray the evolution of birds as fact.  It’s hard to keep listening to, when my beliefs are otherwise.

I just want to enjoy the flying creatures of this earth and study them without evolution.  So last month I Googled “creation birding”, thinking if it wasn’t taken I could start a site with creation-centered birding resources, information, stories, and field trips.  I did find a new site, with it’s first post that particular day.  “Bummer”, I thought.  It was taken.  The website is still in it’s infancy and currently doesn’t offer much but I’ll give it some time.  Meanwhile, I have a few resources for creation-oriented bird science.  If you are a Christian birder, a homeschooling birder, a creation birder or wanna-be then here are some resources to continue your interest without the evolution.

Of course, I recommend www.creationbirding.com.  There are several field trips currently scheduled in Tennessee and Arizona.   There is a comment section where you can ask questions and offer suggestions.  Keep watching.  If it is truly a ministry, it will develop and be worthwhile.

I still find that the any of the field guides are a great wealth of information.  I have several.  Every state has a bird book field guide specific to it.  I have books from South Carolina, North Carolina, Texas, Florida, and Mississippi.  I didn’t buy one for Alabama because the books I have cover this state, too.  I also have the National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America which covers them all.  When I can’t find one in my state book, I look into this one.

Rod and Staff, a homeschool text book publisher that is affiliated with the Annabaptists, is developing a 3 volume series called Birds of the World.  Volume 1 is currently available and Volume 2 is ready to be published (I just got this notice in the mail).   This reference series covers details of North American wild birds.  There are special features such as bird anatomy, function and conservation.  Further, it is a God-honoring, evolution-free reference.  www.rodandstaffbooks.com

I loved using Apologia’s Young Explorer’s science series; especially Exploring Creation with Zoology I: Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day.  There are awesome projects for the children to do and the information is presented in a really fun way.  My goal is to teach the boys about the world from a Biblical Worldview and Apologia makes that goal easier for me to attain.  My boys loved this science class and we did it from our kitchen.  We had a floor to ceiling, double window in the dining area and just outside the window we set up bird feeders, hummingbird feeders, and nesting boxes. We rearranged our garden and planted new plants below the window to attract birds for food and protection from preditors.  We allowed spilled sunflower seeds to bloom into mammoth sized flowers and watched the birds feed direcly from them.  We drew birds, kept a life list, took field trips and learned to see birds and other winged creatures (insects, bats) from a creation viewpoint.   There are printable notebooking pages to fill in but now Apologia sells an optional, spiralbound notebooking journal.  Do I recommend this book?  Highly!  www.apologia.com.

“The Wisdom of Birds: An Illustrated History of Ornithology” by Tim Burkhead was a delight to read.  I don’t recall either an evolution or creation bias.  In fact, other than a mention of evolution somewhere in the book, it is factual from history with beliefs of science throughout the ages.  It doesn’t tell you what to believe, just tells you about the study of birds.  It was really enjoyable. 

And, do go and enjoy all of the birding festivals around the country.  These are really enjoyable and informative.  Not everyone is going to force-feed you bird-evolution.  I just wanted to offer you some alternative sources of bird studies on this blog.

Well, I’ll update this with more information as I find it.  Maybe I’ll still do that website idea, just call it something else.  I do like to write about naturalist studies.  Meantime, enjoy your study of birds.

Flat Stanley pays a visit

My niece, Amy, lives in Pennsylvania and her class is doing the social studies unit using Flat Stanley. She colored her little guy and mailed him to us to take on adventures and then send him back with pictures and information about the area. I guess since we live furthest from the family we were chosen to be graced by his presence.
Flat Stanley has been to the grocery store, our homeschool art class and speech class. “He” helped decorate the 4H Christmas parade float and has been to Bass Pro Shop for the Christmas display. Flat Stanley has been to restaurants in town, the Grand Hotel, the Fairhope art festival and Walmart. We never made it to a Mardi Gras festival (big around here) so neither did “he” but Amy and her classmates were sent some beads for the fun of it.
Upcoming trips before he heads home will be: Montgomery AL, Blakely Battlefield, Ft Morgan for bird banding, across the bay on a ferry and then Dauphin Island. Flat Stanley will most likely ride scooters with the boys and their friends next week and maybe engage in a game of croquet in our backyard.

Fairhope Arts Festival 2010

We went to the Fairhope arts festival yesterday; our first since moving here and it was awesome.  I don’t believe I’ve ever been to an arts fair that large, ever.

There were artists I’ve seen before and plenty I haven’t.  I gravitated toward the ones with unique products and wildlife art.  The wildlife art was mostly prints of photographs of birds, alligators etc.  One artist sold etchings of birds, one had miniature canvases of bird eggs.  An artist that needs mention is Debbie’s Birdhouses from Lampe Missouri.  These are highfired stoneware egg-shaped nests hanging by metal hooks.  She also has stoneware bird bottles that hang horizontal. I found them unique and liked them because they will obviously last a longer time than traditional wood  nests.  They are very appealing to look at and cost about $20.  I have a nice selection of wood birdhouses and nesting boxes but I really like these stoneware nests.  You can find her at www.debbiesbirdhouses.etsy.com.

Lynn Reeder has beautiful, unique art.  She places drywall mud on wood and then carves into it before it fully dries.  She then paints the piece and coats it with a shellacking.  Don’t try this at home, though, because she has a secret way of keeping the drywall mud from cracking.  The process also takes a long, long time, too.  She told me of teachers trying to duplicate her work in classrooms and it didn’t work out because of cracking.  You’re better off buying a piece of her art.  Find it at www.thecarvedpainting.com.

Sunflowers

If you have a good idea, someone else will have that idea, too.  It’s a matter of who acts on it quicker and gets it into the market place.  I think that’s the story of my like.  I need to start acting on all of my ideas.  Anyway, I collected old discarded sails  last year with the idea of making a backpack to carry my beach towel and tanning lotion while I rode my bike to the beach.  I thought sail material would be great to use for these bags and wanted to make a whole bunch and sell them.  Well, someone else had the idea and acted on it (I don’t have a sewing machine and I used to borrow one from our Extension office in Sarasota for some projects).  Earth and Sea Gear has tote bags, wallets, dufflebags, and the exact bag I was planning to make (the exact pattern) in their collection.  They use colorful sails as well and line with cotton fabric (which I wouldn’t have done, but it looks good).  Well, until I buy a sewing machine and start making my own for sale, you can find these at www.earthandseagear.com.

I have to mention the food:  there was plenty but we waited to eat lunch at home.  We checked out the Windmill Market merchants (we’ve been there plenty of times) and I want to mention The Cake Lady, Tracie Jensen.  She said she’s there each weekend so you can check out her cakes anytime.  

My guys enjoying the art festival

I enjoyed the festival.  In fact the whole family did, too.  The boys found it sometimes boring but  all you have to do is buy them a snowball or Dr Pepper and life is good again.  We walked a ton (did I lose any pounds?…no) and enjoyed the exercise.  If you couldn’t make it there this year, put it on your calendar for next.

Live Owl cam

We’ve been having a fun time watching Molly, the barn owl, in her nest taking care of her eggs which are about to hatch.  It’s live.  This morning we watched as Molly ate a mouse.  Too cool!  It reminded us of when we dissected owl pellets and found fur and bones.  She’s sleeping a good deal, and her mate comes by in the evenings. 

Now and then it goes off air, just come back later or look at the links to previous live feeds.

Here’s the link: www.sportsmansparadiseonline.com/Live_Owl_Nest_Box_Cam.html

Pi Day 2010

Once again we celebrate Pi Day.  Today is March 14 or 3.14 which is mathmatical Pi.  We almost always have a pie of some flavor on Pi Day.  This year my in-laws were visiting for the weekend and decided we would celebrate with Key Lime Pie.  Yum.

The house up the street is #314.  The boys often state, when we walk by, “There’s the Pi House.” 

It’s also Einstein’s birthday.  Wonder if he ever had a birthday pie?

My Birding Life List…so far

(CA)= updated 2018 (HI)=updated 2012

So, I finally got my birding life list entered on my blog.  It’s 196 and growing. Stay tuned.

LOONS-Gaviidae

Common Loon

GREBES-Podicipedidae

Pied-billed Grebe, Western Grebe (CA)

ALBATROSS-Diomedeidae

FULMAR, PETRELS AND SHEARWATERS-Procellariidae

STORM-PETRELS-Hydrobatidae

TROPICBIRD-Phaethontidae

BOOBIES AND GANNETS-Sulidae

Northern Gannet

PELICANS-Pelecanidae

American White Pelican, Brown Pelican

CORMORANTS-Phalacrocoracidae

Double-crested Cormorant, Great Cormorant, Neotropic Cormorant, Brandts Cormorant (CA),

DARTERS-Anhingidae

Anhinga

FRIGATEBIRD-Fregatidae

Magnificant Frigatebird

BITTERNS, HERONS AND EGRETS-Aredeidae

Cattle Egret, Great Egret, Reddish Egret, Snowy Egret, Great Blue Heron, Little Blue Heron, Tricolored Heron, Yellow-crowned Night Heron, Green Heron,

IBISES AND SPOONILL-Threskiornithidae

Glossy Ibis, White Ibis, Roseate Spoonbill

STORKS-Ciconiidae

Wood Stork

FLAMINGO-Phoenicopteridae

Greater Flamingo

DUCKS, SWANS AND GEESE-Anatidae

Mallard, Fulvous Whistling-Duck, Canada Goose, Common Merganser, Hooded Merganser, Red-breasted Merganser, Trumpter Swan, Blue-winged Teal, Bufflehead, Black-bellied Whistling Duck, Wood Duck, Mottled Duck, Green-winged Teal, Canvasback, Redhead,

LAPWINGS AND PLOVERS-Charadriidae

Black-bellied Plover, Piping Plover, Semipalmated Plover, Snowy Plover, Wilson’s Plover, Killdeer, Pacific Golden Plover (HI)

OYSTERCATCHERS-Haematopodidae

American Oystercatcher

STILT AND AVOCET-Recurvirostridae

Black-necked Stilt, American Avocet

SANDPIPERS-Scolopacidae

Dunlin, Least Sandpiper, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Lesser Yellowlegs, Willet, Ruddy Turnstone, Red Knot, Sanderling, Short-billed Dowitcher, Greater Yellowlegs,Wimbrell, Long-billed Curlew,Least Sandpiper, Black Turnstone (CA)

GULLS AND TERNS-Laridae

Bonaparte’s Gull, Herring Gull, Laughing Gull, Ring-billed Gull, Caspian Tern, Forster’s Tern, Least Tern, Royal Tern, Sandwich Tern, Black Skimmer, Common Fairy Tern (HI), Western Gull (CA), California Gull (CA)

SKUAS AND JAEGERS-Stercorariidae

Pomarine Jaeger

AUKS-Alcidae

VULTURES-Cathartidae

Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture

HAWKS AND EAGLES-Accipitridae

Osprey, American Swallow-tailed Kite, Mississippi Kite, Bald Eagle, Northern Harrier, Red-shouldered Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, White-taled Kite,Sharpshinned Hawk, Cooper’s Hawk,

CARACARAS AND FALCONS-Falconidae

Crested Caracara, American Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon

CHACHALACA-Cracidea

TURKEY AND QUAIL-Phasianidae

Ring-necked Phesant, Wild Turkey, Northern Bobwhite (sound),

RAILS-Rallidae

King Rail, Sora, Purple Gallilnule, Common Moorhen, American Coot

LIMPKIN-Aramidae

Limpkin

CRANES-Gruidae

Sandhill Crane, Whooping Crane

DOVES, PIGEONS -Columbidae

Common Ground-Dove, Eurasian Collared-Dove, Mourning Dove, Ringed Turtle-Dove, Rock Dove, White-winged Dove, Feral Pigeral

BUDGERIGAR, PARAKEETS AND PARROTS-Psittacidae

Monk Parakeet, Blackcapped Parakeet

CUCKOOS, ROADRUNNER AND ANIS-Cuculidae

BARN OWL-Tytonidae

Barn Owl

TYPICAL OWLS-Strigidae

Eastern Screech-Owl, Great Horned Owl, Barred Owl

NIGHTHAWKS AND GOATSUCKERS-Caprimulgidae

Common Nighthawk (sound), Chuck-Will’s-Widow (sound and sight), Buff-collard Nightjar (sound), Whip-poor-will (sound)

SWIFTS-Apodidae

Chimney Swift

HUMMINGBIRDS-Trochilidae

Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Costa’s Hummingbird (CA), Black-chinned Hummingbird (CA)

KINGFISHERS-Alcedinidae

Belted Kingfisher

WOODPECKERS-Picadae

Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Plieated Woodpecker, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Red-headed W oodpecker, Northern Flicker “Yellow Shafter”,

FLYCATCHERS AND WOOD PEWEES-Tyrannidae

Acadian Flycatcher, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Eastern Kingbird, Gray Kingbird, Black Phoebe (CA)

SHRIKES-Laniidae

Loggerhead Shrike

LARKS-Alaudidae

MARTIN AND SWALLOWS-Hirundinidae

Purple Martin, Barn Swallow, Cave Swallow, Cliff Swallow, Tree Swallow

JAYS AND CROWS-Corvidae

Blue Jay, American Crow, Fish Crow, Common Raven

CHICKADEES-Paridae

Black-capped Chickadee, Carolina Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse,

CREEPER-Certhidae

Brown Creeper

BULBUL-Remizidae

Red Whiskered Bulbul (HI), Red-vented Bulbul (HI)

BUSHTIT-Aegithalidae

NUTHATCHES-Sittidae

THRUSHES-Turdidae

Eastern Bluebird, American Robin,

MOCKINGBIRDS AND THRASHERS-Mimidae

Northern Mockingbird, Gray Catbird, Brown Thrasher, California Thrasher (CA)

STARLING-Sturnidae

European Starling

VIREOS-Vireonidae

Red-eyed Vireo, White-eyed Vireo, Blue-headed Vireo

WOOD WARBLERS-Parulinae

Pine Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audubon’s), Yellow-throated Warbler, Northern Parula, Ovenbird, American Redstart, Orange-crowned Warbler, Cape May Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler, Palm Warbler, Cerulean Warbler, Black-and-white Warbler, Kentucky Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Swainsons Warbler

BANANAQUITS-Coerebidae

TANAGERS-Thraupidae

Summer Tanager

CARDINALS, GROSBEAKS AND BUNTINGS-Cardinalinae

Northern Cardinal, Blue Grosbeak, Indigo Bunting, Painted Bunting, Red-crested Cardinal (HI), Yellow-billed Cardinal (HI)

WRENS-Troglodytidae

Bewick’s Wren, Carolina Wren, House Wren, Winter Wren, Canyon Wren (CA), Cactus Wren (CA)

DIPPER-Cinclidae

WAGTAILS AND PIPITS-Motarcillidae

WAXWINGS-Bombycillidae

Cedar Waxwing

SILKYFLYCATCHERS-Ptilogonatidae

KINGLETS-Regulidae

GNATCATCHERS-Sylviidae

SPARROWS AND TOWHEES-Emerizinae

Chipping Sparrow, Clay-colored Sparrow, Grasshopper Sparrow, Eastern Towhee, Savannah Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Field Sparrow, Fox Sparrow, Black-throated Sparrow (CA)

OLD WORLD SPARROWS-Passeridae

House Sparrow

BLACKBIRDS-Icteridae

Red-winged Blackbird, Eastern Meadowlark, Common Grackle, Boat-tailed Grackle, Shiny Cowbird, Bronzed Cowbird, Brown-headed Cowbird, Baltimore Oriole, Orchard Oriole

FINCHES-Fringillidae

House Finch, House Finch, Pine Siskin, American Goldfinch, Evening Grosbeak

HAWAIIAN SPECIES

Common Waxbill, Red-billed Leiothris, Red junglefowl cock, Red junglefowl hen, Red Junglefowl hen, Yellow-fronted canary, Common Myna

ACCIDENTAL SPECIES

CiCi’s fundraiser for 4H

Last Tuesday night the CiCi’s Pizza in Foley AL held a fundraiser for our 4H Club.  Ten percent of reciepts turned in between 5pm and 8pm plus tips left behind go to our club.  We did great  and have another night scheduled for next Tuesday, March 16.  It’s Spring Break and Cici’s is on the way to the beach.  Please stop by next week and support our kids and their projects.  They’ll be clearing tables, refilling drinks and helping customers in anyway possible.

My Travis, the foodie and restaurant-owner wannabe, signed up to help and got his first shot at restaurant work.  It was a great experience for him.  He had a great time and plans to be there again next week.   I enjoyed watching the kids work.  It wasn’t really work to them, but an opportunity to team up and have fun with a goal in mind.

Our 4H club is a drama-oriented club.  Of course the members can do any type project they want but most are in our club to perform in our two performances each year.  This spring is a Veggie-Tales related story.  These kids are so talented.  The show is free but we’d love a donation made at the door and we’re selling refreshments, too.  Money made goes toward paying for the next production.  Come out and see us, March 19 at

Junior Master Gardener

I became a certified Junior Master Gardener instructor/leader today. The Alabama Extension office had a meeting for interested individuals today in Fairhope.
I am a 4H leader and homeschool teacher and hope to bring this information and program to our 4H club.
The program brings gardening and science into the classroom and afterschool programs in addition to coordinating with other groups (scouts for example).
The student webpages can be found at http://www.jmgkids.us. Take a look through and see if its something you’d be interested in bringing to your community, then contact your local extension office and to get started.
We did some projects during class to get an idea of other fund ways to teach about gardening. We made sunhats from newspaper, a chia pet, and drew a “hamburger” plant.
The program has its own curriculum that you can order for your program or if you become a 4H club, you have access to the curriculum. I encourage you to look into it.