Friday, May 29, 2009

Our Baby Bird Rescue - House Finch

Where we live, the most common small bird we seem to see is the house finch. The females are brown, while the males have a brilliant red on their heads. Each year, we have numerous families that nest above our back door, in our lanai. And each year that we have them, we find babies - sometimes dead - sometimes alive on our patio. Usually the fall to the concrete kills them, but if they are a bit closer to the fledgling stage, they are able to flutter their wings a bit and cushion the fall, sometimes surviving. It's always heartbreaking to find them, but we usually don't see them this early in the season as the nests are initially very strong. The bird families will reuse the nests so over time, there is a constant stream of eggs and babies and eventually, the nests become weak and damaged and that's when we start to find fallen nestlings. At that point, I shove some cardboard underneath and along the boards to help prevent more accidents.

This year, whatever finch built the first nest did a less than stellar job. Tony found a nestling dead on the ground several days ago and the next day, we found an egg, probably not viable and pushed from the nest. Well, last night, I went outside and happened to look up, only to spot an adorable nestling, probably about a week old, hanging upside down by his leg, which was tangled in the nest. The poor dear...

We managed to cut him free from the nest with scissors and soaked his leg in warm water to help loosen and remove the debris (nest debris and bird poop) that was bound to his little leg. He looked OK, though his back leg kept extending from time to time as a result of hanging there like that. The girls got a treat and got to hold him a bit while his momma watched about a foot above us in our Cedar tree. The baby did very well and was quite calm, even almost falling asleep while waiting as I shoved thick pieces of cardboard under the nest to prevent any more from falling down.

When I went to put him back in the nest, he actually didn't want to leave the safety of the glove and kept turning around and trying to burrow back into the glove. The girls, of course, suggested we could take care of him, but I've tried that as a older child and it's not an easy feat! Birds are amazing, with the feedings every 20 minutes and it's very difficult to teach a bird to feed itself once they are ready to fly. I had taken a deformed bird we had found once to a rehabilitation center and was told their success rate of releasing into the wild was only 60% and was considered high in the field (this was about 15 years ago).

In any case, here are some shots of our little baby house finch. I still see his cute little beady eyes looking at me with such innocence and trust. I really don't doubt there is some kind of intuition or something going on in there with animals and often think how amazing it is when you hear those stories of animals that get separated and walk across states and miles to be with their families - or ones that rescue their owners, etc. I had read on a bird site once that birds will seek out humans for help in very desperate times. I'm not sure I totally believe that, but it's a sweet thought, nonetheless.

Here's our "Little Chirp"...

Heading back up to the nest :) Can you see his little head poking out - too cute!

So now, I will have to leave you with a sweet ode to birdies...
Sweet baby bird so innocent
So beautiful and wise
The future rests within your sights
Hope fills your tiny eyes
Your body warmed by fluffy down
Shields your heart from the rain
Rest softly on the leaves of brown
Your life has much to gain.

Sweet baby bird, your mouth of gold
Speaks highly of your worth
And yet, there’s much you’ve not been told
About our Mother Earth
You’ve, oh, so much to fear, my friend
And yet, each day is new
Therefore, on faith, you shall depend
For faith shall see you through.

Sweet baby bird, go high and free
Soar where you’re meant to soar
Your life is one of destiny
Fortune is at your door
My dear, one day so soon, you’ll grow
And travel from our tree
But, when you reach each new plateau
I pray you’ll think of me.

© 2008 – Jill Eisnaugle’s Poetry Collection

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Needle Felting My Blues Away...

Feeling blah yesterday, I decided to send the girls off to play upstairs and popped a movie in the dvd while I started to felt. I watched "Incendiary" starring Michelle Williams and Ewan McGregor, which was probably a mistake, because it left me crying through about half of it and through the other half, I was utterly confused...

Anyway, I was happy with what came out of it...A summer doll, Mother Earth, who is going to be gifted to a friend, and an autumn doll. I need to spruce up summer and might remove her from her nest and make her free-standing, but it felt good to work through some internal stress this way :)

Still, it is often through our love of others that sadness comes out...when we feel, when we let go, when we share ourselves. After all, what if I were just a rock (like Sylvester turns into after wishing on his magic pebble)? Then I would have nothing to share and no one to share it with. Hmmmm...being alone just won't cut it. I'll take the tears and the intense emotions, all of them, thank you very much!

Summer Doll

Mother Earth

Autumn Doll

And the dolls together, with Mother Nature and her wild hair in the background, along with my Spring Doll holding my felted bunnies...

How happy is the little Stone
~ Emily Dickinson

How happy is the little Stone
That rambles in the Road alone,
And doesn't care about Careers
And Exigencies never fears --
Whose Coat of elemental Brown
A passing Universe put on,
And independent as the Sun
Associates or glows alone,
Fulfilling absolute Decree
In casual simplicity --

An Odd Week...Playing, Washing & Swimming...

OK, so it was an odd week for us. Since returning from Mt. Shasta, I have not been able to get into the groove. Luckily, the girls have grown up with lots of unstructured playtime, so they are often off exploring and creating on their own, which gives me the time off when I need it. Sure, our house looks like a tornado blew through it and despite my intentions of establishing rhythm and routine in the clean-up sector, my consistency leaves something to be desired...

But here is a recap of some highlights of this past week. For the girls 6th birthday, their grandparents bought them a LOVELY wooden stable which they decided to turn into a "circus" using some colored cloths. The animals went on parade all around it and hours later, I was delighted to see the fruits of their playing when I walked into the family room (not that I hadn't been in the room for hours, but I hadn't really looked around at their set up.)

Another fun thing they did this week was to wash their own clothes and hang them to dry on the line. Last Christmas, they received wash boards, but I never bought the tubs because I couldn't justify forking out more for shipping them than the actual cost of the tubs themselves. I have been unsuccessful at finding them locally, though I should look again now that it is springtime. For now, they will use our water table, which has been everything from a pool/sea/pond, desert (full of sand), cauldron, mud pie vat, and now laundry tub...worth every bit of the $35 we paid for it 5 years ago!

I can't find my laundry line, so we used their daddy's old Cub Scout rope and I nailed it to our lanai posts. It worked! Make shift, but does the job!

We had to help my dad out this weekend, but in between, we enjoyed his pool. The girls have a blast and have become quite the little fishies. Dad and I ran out with "C" and grabbed some more floaties, as the ones we had through the years eventually gave out. Dad splurged and bought them a huge sea serpent, which we call "Lochie" - short for Loch Ness baby monster. And he bought them a boat with some oars. All the cousins are going to have a blast when they come to visit this summer! Here are some fun shots of our time there:

And a little video, for a change, of my dad, Tony, and the girls enjoying a day at Grandfathers :)

The odd week has continued into this week and I'm afraid I am just having one of those mom moments, which I refuse to term "depression". Just a funk that will give way soon, I hope. These hormones... I don't know...I think I need to get my butt out for a hike and those endorphins will chase the blues away :)

I am excited because this weekend, we'll finally be meeting the owners of the Syrendell site (the Tan family)! They will be at a fiber arts retreat not too far from our house and on Sunday we will be joining them and picking up a bunch of goodies we purchased from their etsy site. I will be sure to bring my camera and am excited to meet this wonderful, creative family :)

Thank you for reading and if you have any silly stories or poems to uplift my spirits, I'd love to hear them :) Whenever I have times like this, I am very humbled. I know we all go through them & there is a reason for them, but I'm not quite sure what that reason is...a lesson in strength, patience, and tolerance perhaps?!?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Old Father Sliffslaff-Slibberslak...

Here is an illustration from the lovely book by Sibylle von Olfers, published originally in German in 1906, called, "The Story of the Root-Children".

In this illustration, the root children have come up to the surface and meet "old father Sliffslaff-Slibberslak", the snail - a creature that the little violet root child had never before seen, hence she hides behind a tree.

We recently suffered from our second stomach illness in the past month and poor "C" was recovering. While I dislike when my children aren't feeling well, aside from building their immune system, I am happy for the one-on-one time I get to spend with the healthy twin. Neither of the girls has had much one-on-one time, being twins and all, so it is a treat for us!

"E" loves to work with her hands, whether it's puzzling or creating something. She has already taken to needle felting and wanted to make something with me while "C" slept. So she picked her favorite colors...

And we set to work making something slimy and sluggish...first she worked on the shell...

And then the body...

I helped her where she needed it, but she quickly wanted to take over, very carefully. We added eyes and it was almost finished...

We headed outside and I caught our 11 year old corgi-mix, Farley, squeezed in between two young trees against the house, staying cool in the shade...

Before we knew it, "E"'s Sliffslaff-Slibberslak took off very slowly in the grass...
She quickly found a friend sleeping on the retaining wall...can you spot the snail poop?

And I realized this would be a fun science moment! The girls want to learn all about animals and living creatures of every form this summer, so I found these simple Rookie Science books perfect for pre-K and Kindy age. They have detailed pictures and limited text for a nice introduction to the subjects at hand...

Soon, Sliffslaff-Slibberslak convinced us to gather two friends and we watched as they came out of their shells, one less shy than the other. Their bodies come out a bit, followed by the eyes...peeking around at what or who is nearby...

We just observed and appreciated the gentle, slow pace of these interesting creatures...

Soon, my little slibberslak learner wanted to hold them, so we put on some gloves so she wouldn't be so squeamish about being slimmed...

And then we tried to feed them. They didn't want the grass, so I grabbed some lettuce. One of them seemed to curl around it, giving it a taste, but quickly decided it wasn't that tasty and it made a be-line for the grassy knoll!

We read the Snail's Pace book, then the Story of the Root Children and then came inside to read another snail story from the wonderful series by Clara Dillingham Pierson. In the book, "Among the Meadow People", there is a story about a lazy snail who asks others to gather his food, because it's "too much work". Soon they get frustrated with him and stop gathering it, hoping that he will learn to carry his own weight. Unfortunately, he withers and they take pity on him, coming to his aide again. It has two wonderful lessons in it about helping others because it is the right thing to do and about the dangers of not working hard for things we want or need in life. This book was originally published in 1901.

There are several books in the series, including "Among the Forest People", "Among the Night People", "Among the Pond People", and "Among the Farmyard People". Each contains memorable little tales about the creatures that inhabit those places and it's a nice way to introduce some science and knowledge in a colorful and imaginative, fun way. Here are two pictures from the Meadow People book...

The books were recently reprinted by Yesterday's Classics, but are also in the public domain now and can be found here for free:

What a fun day it turned out to be - we learned so much about snails by just watching and playing with them. It turned into a mini-unit study for us :) We even made more snail bread that night and munched up Old Father Sliffslaff-Slibberslak, in bread form only, of course :)

"If you tell me, I will listen.
If you show me, I will see.
But if you let me experience, I will learn."
~ Lao-tzu