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Re: NEW TOPIC: "FOR THE BIRDS"!

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    iStock_102235113_SMALL.jpg

 

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FLAMINGOS ARE NATURALLY WHITE—THEIR DIET OF BRINE SHRIMP AND ALGAE TURNS THEM 

We visited the San Diego Zoo in January of 2011. It was a surprise Birthday party for Mary's brother-in-law. This works out as we visited the San Diego Zoo in January of 2011. It was a surprise Birthday party for Mary's brother-in-law. This works out well for the story below which was written about the San Diego Zoo's flamingos. 

Think pink—and orange? With their pink and crimson plumage, long legs and necks, and strongly hooked bills, flamingos cannot be mistaken for any other type of bird. These beauties have long fascinated people. An accurate cave painting of a flamingo, found in the south of Spain, dates back to 5,000 B.C. Today, images of flamingos are found in literature (Alice used them as croquet mallets in Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll), and immortalized as plastic lawn ornaments!

The flamingo’s pink or reddish color comes from the rich sources of carotenoid pigments (like the pigments of carrots) in the algae and small crustaceans the birds eat. We eat carotenoids, too, whenever we munch on carrots, beets, and certain other veggies, but not enough to turn us orange! American flamingos, a subspecies of greater flamingo, are the brightest, showing their true colors of red, pink, or orange on their legs, bills, and faces.

In order to fly, flamingos need to run a few paces to gather speed. This speed is not related to the ground but rather to the air, so they usually take off facing into the wind. In flight, flamingos are quite distinctive, with their long necks stretched out in front and the equally long legs trailing behind. Their outstretched wings showcase the pretty black and red (or pink) coloration that, with slight variations, is shared by all flamingo species. When flying, flamingos flap their wings fairly rapidly and almost continuously. And, as with most other flamingo activities, they usually fly together in large flocks. The flamingos follow each other closely, using a variety of formations that help them take advantage of the wind patterns.

Flamingos are social birds that live in groups of varying sizes, from a few pairs to sometimes thousands or tens of thousands. Their numbers add to the impressiveness of ritualized flamingo displays; the purpose of these displays is to stimulate hormone production and ensure that as many birds as possible will breed.

Head-flagging: Stretching the neck with head up high and rhythmically turning the head from side to side.

Wing salute: Showing off the contrasting colors with the tail cocked and the neck outstretched.

Twist-preen: The bird twists its neck back and appears to preen its feathers with its bill quickly.

Marching: The large, tightly packed flock walks together as one, before switching direction abruptly.

Flamingos also use vocalizations and these displays to communicate between individuals or alert the group of possible danger. Their vocal repertoire includes growling, low gabbling, and nasal honking.

Greater flamingosGreater flamingos sleeping in the shallows of a lake, some standing on one leg.

Why do flamingos stand on one leg? Scientists aren’t sure. There is less heat lost through the leg if it is tucked next to the bird’s body; however, this behavior is also seen in hot climates. Another explanation is more mundane: it’s probably a comfortable position for standing. You can develop your own theory about this age-old question on your next visit to the Zoo or Safari Park, where the flamingos are always gorgeous and entertaining.

HABITAT AND DIET

Flamingos live in lagoons or large, shallow lakes. These bodies of water may be quite salty or caustic, too much so for most other animals. In some lakes, their only animal “neighbors” are algae, diatoms, and small crustaceans. That works in the flamingo’s favor, as the birds dine on these small creatures!

Lesser flamingos taking off from a lake in KenyaLesser flamingos

Chilean, Andean, and puna flamingos are found in South America; greater and lesser flamingos live in Africa, with greaters also found in the Middle East; the American or Caribbean flamingo is native to Mexico, the Caribbean, and the northernmost tip of South America.

Long legs let flamingos wade into deeper water than most other birds to look for food. And speaking of food, flamingos also have very distinctive eating habits. The bill is held upside down in the water. Flamingos feed by sucking water and mud in at the front of the bill and then pumping it out again at the sides. Here, briny plates called lamellae act like tiny filters, trapping shrimp and other small water creatures for the flamingo to eat.

The smaller puna, Andean, and lesser flamingos have deeper bills and stiff lamellae. This helps them filter very fine particles, such as algae, through their bill and keep bigger particles out. Greater and Chilean flamingos are larger and feed mostly on invertebrates such as brine flies, shrimps, and mollusks. They get these food items from the bottom mud by wading in shallow water. Sometimes they swim to get their food and sometimes by “upending” (tail feathers in the air, head underwater) like ducks.

At the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, the flamingos are fed a special pellet diet that is made for zoo flamingos. This food has all the nutrients the flamingos need and a pigment that helps keep them “in the pink.” To allow the flamingos to eat in their normal way (taking in water and then pumping it back out), a water source just for feeding is near their food so they can get a “beakful” of water and then food—just like they would in the wild.

FAMILY LIFE
Caribbean flamingo parent with egg on mud nestAmerican flamingo with egg

A flamingo nest is not fancy, just a mound of mud, maybe 12 to 24 inches (30 to 60 centimeters) high. The nest needs to be high enough to protect the egg from flooding and from the occasional intense heat at ground level. Both the male and female build the nest by ​using their bills to pull mud toward their feet. The top of the mound is concave so that any egg laid does not fall off. Neighboring nests are built very close, and bickering between nest mound occupants is common.

Prior to breeding, the male is selected by the female, and he then closely follows behind her in shallow water. The individual courtship rituals tend to be subtle and inconspicuous to ​humans. The pair tends to stay together as long as there is reproductive success. If not, then the female may choose a new mate.

Lesser flamingo with young chickLesser flamingo chick

Flamingos lay one large, chalky white egg in a mud nest build like a sand castle by the parents. A parent sits on the mound, reaches over, picks up mud and dribbles it onto the nest, which can reach 2 feet (0.6 meters) in height and is usually surrounded by a trench as further protection from rising water. At hatching, a flamingo chick has gray down feathers and is the size of a tennis ball. It also has a straight, pink bill and swollen pink legs, both of which turn black within a week.

After hatching, the chick stays on the nest mound for 5 to 12 days. During this time, the chick is fed a type of “milk” called crop milk that comes from the parents’ upper digestive tract. (Flamingos share this trait with pigeons.) Both males and females can feed the chick this way, and even flamingos that are not the parents can act as foster-feeders. The begging calls the hungry chick makes are believed to stimulate the secretion of the milk. As the parents feed their chicks the crop milk, they are drained of their color—so much so that their plumage turns a pale pink or white! The parents gain this color back eventually as the chicks become independent and eat on their own.

By the time a chick leaves the nest, it can already walk and swim quite well. Chicks flock together in large groups called crèches, looked after by a few adults, possibly birds that have lost their own young. Parents visit the crèche and continue to feed their chick with the milky secretion. But how do they find their offspring in such a large and noisy group? Chicks and their parents recognize one another through their distinctive calls! Adult flamingos have few natural predators, as they tend to live in inhospitable places where the lagoons are pretty bare of vegetation, so few other birds or animals come there. But flamingo chicks are sometimes preyed upon by eagle species.

AT THE ZOO

Flamingos as ambassadors: Guests are instantly drawn to our American flamingo flock as they enter the San Diego Zoo. And who wouldn’t be? With their flamboyant color and amusing behaviors, flamingos have been on hand to welcome Zoo guests since 1932, about 10 years after the Zoo grounds opened to visitors. They are our unofficial ambassadors!

While much is known about flamingo breeding behavior, there are never any guarantees. Any major or minor change to the flock or exhibit can start or stop breeding. For example, in the early 1980s, a number of flamingos were relocated. It was completely unexpected that this action would cause the remaining birds to stop breeding for the next 14 years! A number of remedies were tried. Finally, new birds were introduced and the exhibit renovated to improve the nesting area. One or both changes did the trick, and the Zoo’s flamingos began breeding again in 1996 and have bred almost every year since then. The Zoo has hatched more than 170 since 1957. Today, it is home to just under 90 adult American flamingos.

Once a year, there is an event at the Zoo that is unlike any other. After weeks of preparation, three departments are mobilized, dozens of keepers are involved, all of the flamingos are caught up, and everyone gets wet! The occasion? The annual Flamingo Roundup! Why do we catch the whole flock—even the healthy ones—once a year? They are all due for their West Nile virus booster shot. Each flamingo is also weighed and given a general checkup during the roundup.

Safari Park successes: ​At the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, the first greater flamingo egg was laid in 1998; six years later, another greater flamingo chick pecked its way out through its shell and into history in 2004 as the facility’s 100th hatching of this subspecies. Today, the Park has the largest flock of greater flamingos in the United States at around 150 birds. We have hatched 173 chicks, so far. The Safari Park is also home to lesser flamingos and Chilean flamingos.

CONSERVATION

Over time, people have used flamingos for food and medicine.Currently, no flamingo species is endangered, although the puna or James’s flamingo was thought to be extinct in 1924; it was rediscovered in 1957.

But as with many wild species, the threat of habitat loss due to road construction and housing development is causing some populations to be threatened. In 1989, about 100 Caribbean flamingos died in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula from lead poisoning, due to the ingestion of lead shot. Lead bullets are now prohibited in that area.

The Andean flamingo is considered the rarest of the flamingo species. It lives high in the mountains of Chile, Peru, Bolivia, and Argentina. People have been collecting the flamingos’ eggs and expanding into their habitat with farms, road construction, and urban development. Chile has now established a national flamingo reserve around one of the lakes used by the birds for breeding colonies and is taking steps to protect other lakes for the flamingos.

The Flamingo Specialist Group was created in 1978 to study, monitor, and help conserve the world’s flamingo populations. Working with the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the group monitors and surveys wild flamingos and develops action plans for species that may be threatened.

Posted by Dave the Lighthouse Keeper
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Message 52 of 64

The Bald Eagle is such a beautiful and stately bird.

Wonderful pics Dave!  Especially this one:

FB_IMG_1557417119936.jpg

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We have visited Decorah, Iowa and the nest a couple of times. 

      

  1. Where is this live cam located?

    This live cam overlooks a bald eagle nest just north of Decorah, Iowa. The nest sits in a white oak tree in a tiny forest bordering a secluded valley.  

How big is this nest?

Bald eagles are known for building massive nests over a period of years, and this is no exception! This nest is seven feet across at its widest point and nine feet long at its longest. It sits about 56 feet off the ground and the nest itself is 5.5 feet high. 

The first nest (DNN0) was built in a pine tree. The branches collapsed after the second nesting season and the eagles moved to a dead elm tree. They nested there for just one year before moving to their current location in late 2013. In August of 2018, their nest collapsed and slid or fell out of the nest tree during an extremely heavy storm. None of the tree branches were broken or damaged, so they decided to build a starter nest in the same spot. 2019 will mark their sixth season and second nest in this spot.  

How big are the Decorah Eagles?

Bald eagles measure 34-42 inches long and have wingspans between six and eight feet. They can weigh up to 14 pounds. 

How many young do the Decorah Eagles have at once?

Bald eagles typically have two eggs per year, but sometimes one or three. Both parents will incubate the eggs and after the eggs hatch, at least one parent will stay with the young at all times. 

Young bald eagles are entirely brown until they are about five years old, when they develop the distinctive white feathers on their head and tail. This is also the age when bald eagles begin to breed. 

Bald eagles tend to mate for life, and will return to the same nest year after year, as they have in this case.  

How long do bald eagles live?

Bald eagles have very long lifespans and can live upwards of 28 years in the wild. In one case, a bald eagle was banded in 1977 in New York state and was struck and killed by a car in 2015--38 years later.  

Do bald eagles migrate?

Some bald eagles migrate great distances while others are year-long residents of their habitats. The migratory patterns of bald eagles depend on age, weather, geography, and food availability. 

Where do bald eagles live?

The national symbol for the United States, bald eagles are found only in North America. Their range stretches from far northern Canada and Alaska down to northern Mexico.  

What do bald eagles eat?

A bald eagle's diet depends on its habitat, but typically bald eagles prefer to eat fish as well as birds and small mammals when fish are not available. Bald eagles are also known to eat carrion. These bald eagles eat live and dead fish from the nearby stream, as well as squirrels, birds, rabbit, deer, possum and other small animals. 

 

Link: https://youtu.be/pIEUiJaMPQ4

 

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Image result for balinese starling

This is a Balinese Starling. 

The Balinese Starling is also known as Jalak Bali, was originally found in the northwestern parts of Bali island, in an area called Curik. You can easily identify this unique species by its clear, white feathers, distinctive blue marks around its eyes, black wing tips and a striking plume of feathers atop its head. Both males and females have similar appearances, however the males are slightly bigger than the females.

saving-the-bali-starling-from-extinction

Other names for the Bali Starling are Bali Mynah or Rothchild’s Mynah. The latter name was given as a tribute to the British bird expert Walter Rothschild who first discovered the bird in 1911. To date, there are less than 100 Jalak Bali left in the wild. This is due to habitat loss and poaching. It’s fascinating to note that this bird can’t be found anywhere else in Indonesia although it was once said that some Jalak Bali were found in Lombok. Unfortunately, not a single bird can be found there now, so the fact remains that Jalak Bali is indigenous to the island of Bali.

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Bohemian Waxwing

bohemian waxwing

 

Bohemian Waxwing is a medium-sized songbird with distinctive crested head and black masks. They are brownish-grey overall and wings have white and yellow edging. Thus, Bohemian Waxwing is among the most beautiful passerine birds in the world.

Bohemian waxwings inhabit in boreal forest across North America and Eurasia, mostly in Canada and Alaska. In winter, they migrate in large flocks to the Northwest parts of the United States. They nest on tree branches. Both male and female Bohemian Waxwings are known for their high pitched calls. They mainly feed on insects and berries.

 

I've never seen or even heard of this bird.  But it is so beautiful and full of color,  I thought he or she should be sited here for all to see.

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We saw these birds on our trip to Costa Rica in August 2006. They are very friendly birds that would come to our table and beg for food when we at breakfast a the outdoor cafe.

FB_IMG_1557519402788.jpgFB_IMG_1557520522270.jpgFB_IMG_1557520538603.jpgFB_IMG_1557519458297.jpgFB_IMG_1557519450348.jpg

 

They also have a black throated magpie in Costa Rica. They are part of the Raven family. 

 

WHITE-THROATED MAGPIE JAY


Common Name: Magpie Jay

Type:
 Bird

Family: Corvidae

Range:
 The White-throated Magpie-Jay ranges from Mexico to Central America. These are available in the Mexico and most of the Central American countries like Costa Rica, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua and El Salvador. They have a preference of the driest climates. The Guanacaste Province of Costa Rica has a large population of white-throated magpie-jays. They are also available in the National Parks of Costa Rica such as Carara National Park., Palo Verde National Park, Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve and Rincón de La Vieja National Park.


Size:
 White-throated Magpie-Jay body length ranges from 46 to 56 centimeters. The Wingspan normally has a length from 178 mm to 193 mm. Tarsus length varies from 39 to 46 mm and bill length from 29 to 34 mm. Average length: 50.8 cm. Range wingspan:. Their average length is 50.8 centimeters and their wingspan ranges from 17.8 to 19.3 centimeters.

Weight: White-throated magpie-jays are big brilliantly colored bird’s body weight normally ranges from 205 g to 213 g.

Diet : White-throated magpie-jays are omnivores, they feed mostly on caterpillars and assorted small fruits. They also eat katydids and grasshoppers, frogs, small lizards, nestlings of small birds, and Acacia fruits and seeds. Other food includes assorted large fruits, arthropod egg and spiders. Their Diet differs from season, adult birds consuming generally fruit during (August-December) the dripping and late dripping season; caterpillars during the (May-August) early wet season, and a blend of miscellaneous fruit and acacia fruits during (January-April) the dry season.

Average life span: White-throated magpie-jays are likely to be relatively long-lived. While information on the lifespan of this particular species was not available, it is not uncommon for other species of corvids to live from 15 to 25 years.

Habitat: The White-throated magpie-jays habitat in a wide rage of environment. They mostly reside in drier habitats, mainly dry forests of the Costa Rica. They are also available in areas of semi-humid and woodland. They also make habitat near areas that are under cultivation. They are also available along the forest edges. They are frequently found near the places of human living and coffee plantations in the Central America. Preferred territories are usually flat, but they also found in hilly areas from sea level up to 1,250m ( 4,100 feet).

They usually make their habitat on thorny undergrowth and trees, mainly Acacia trees, which provide feeding in the dry season, and Cresenctia alata and Acrocomina vinifera trees that they utilize for nesting. Sometime they select an isolated tree in the middle of a clearing for nesting.

Breeding/Reproduction:
 White-throated magpie-jays are supportive breeders, family members provide help in breeding pair to raise young.

They generally breed from January to April. Each female lay 2 to 6 eggs. One female breeder is normally responsible for hatching all of the eggs of a small group of birds and seldom leaves the nest. Other females bring food to her during the incubation process. White-throated magpie-jays male do not play any active role in the reproduction process. The hatching period lasts about 23 days.
They generally breed once in the first 4 months of the year, however if the first nest is lost, the birds will lay more eggs. The age of the sexual maturity ranges between 8 to 14 months.


Magpie Jays
 are found in America in large quantities. They are quite different in appearance from the other members of their family. They are very loud and noisy birds and they usually travel in flocks.

The white throated Magpie Jays are mostly confused with the black throated magpie jays. They have a great resemblance.

They have the following three subspecies:-

1) Nominate race: It is found in southern Mexico.

2) C. f. Azure: They are mostly found in southeastern Mexico and western Guatemala.

3) C.f. Pompata: They are found in between eastern Mexico and Costa Rica.

C.f. Pompata have a height of 43-56 cm and they weigh about 205-213 kg. They usually have a long tail and have slightly curved shape soft bendable feathers on their head. These feathers have blue and black margins. Breast, belly and the underside of the rump are white. The mantle and the tail are blue with white margins on the tail. They have black colored eyes and legs. The beak is grey in color and the birds are of small size.

White-throated magpie Jay are not limited in terms of habitat. They can live in a diverse habitat. Similarly, they consume a lot of variety of animals and plants. They feed from the nectar in the flowers to the smallest insects. They will usually never have a shortage of food due to their ability to eat a lot of things.

Magpie Jay
 do not have the tradition of migration like other birds. They prefer to stay in the place where they are born. This is probably because the birds who have less food resources or who are not adjusting to the environment migrate to other places. But this is not the case with them as they can survive on a variety of foods and can adjust in different environments.

Magpie Jay are mostly referred to as compensating breeders. Every nest has a dominant female pair and several helpers to help in the growth of the offspring. They have a unique behavior that the female offspring remain in the nest to help their mother while male offspring are dispersed. The female offspring and helpers have the work of feeding the dominant female and its offspring. The dominant female mates only the dominant male. It is very faithful while all the other males are searching for a chance to mate with the dominant female. On the other hand the female workers want to be dominant in the group. Thus, everyone in the group wants a higher position. A new nest is only started when the first nest fails. Thus, another female gets the chance of being dominant.
These species are not listed as endangered. They can be found in great numbers in Costa Rica.

The young birds born need several years to be fully grown up. Their nests can be found in isolated trees in Costa Rica. They prefer to live alone.

History says that White throated Magpie jays rang as far south as the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica.

They also also have a a black throat with a distinctive plume.

 

220px-Calocitta_collieiPCCA20051227-1964B.jpg151122471.jpgfull-whitet-hroated-magpie_jay.jpeg

Posted by Dave the Lighthouse Keeper
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Image result for blue jay steller's jay

 

Blue Jay Adult

 

I know there are many, many different types of birds.  But the Blue Jay is my absolute favorite.  

 

Blue Jay Information

Blue jays are large for songbirds, typically measuring between 9 and 12 inches long, and weighing between 2.5 and 3.5 ounces. Distinguishing characteristics of the blue jay include the pronounced blue crest on their heads, which the blue jay may lower and raise depending on mood, and which will bristle outward when the bird is being aggressive or becomes frightened. Blue jays sport colorful blue plumage on their crest, wings, back, and tail. Their face is typically white, and they have an off-white underbelly. They have a black-collared neck, and the black extends down the sides of their heads - their bill, legs, and eyes are also all black. Their wings and tail have black, sky-blue, and white bars. Male and female blue jays are nearly identical.

Blue jays typically live in small flocks, and are highly protective of their nesting site. When flying alone, blue jays are subject to predation by hawks, eagles, and other raptors, however when in groups they will 'mob' much larger birds in order to fight them off. Blue Jays can imitate calls of their predators, especially hawks, and may use these calls to test whether or not these predators are in the area. They will also occasionally use these calls to scare other birds away from food sources that the blue jays have come across. In addition to raptors, blue jays may attack other animals, including humans, which come too close to their nests.

    

Blue Jay Facts

  • The coloration of the blue jay comes from light interference due to the internal structure of their feathers - if a feather is crushed, it will not maintain its blue coloration.
  • Blue jays are highly curious birds, and young blue jays have been known to play with bottle caps and aluminum foil.
  • Blue jays breed from mid-March to July.
  • Blue jays prefer to nest in evergreen trees and shrubs 10 to 35 feet off the ground.
  • Blue jays typically form monogamous pairs and stay together for life.
  • Blue jays normally fly at speeds of 20-25 miles per hour.
  • Blue jay eggs may be predated by squirrel, cats, crows, snakes, raccoons, possums, hawks, and various raptors and mammals.
  • There are four subspecies of blue jay: the northern blue jay, which live in Canada and the northern U.S. and has fairly dull plumage and pale blue coloration; the coastal blue jay, which lives on the southern coast of the eastern united states and is vivid blue; the interior blue jay, which lives throughout the midwest U.S.; and the Florida blue jay, the smallest subspecies, which is similar in color to the northern blue jay.

 

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Courting Behavior: Male Feeding Female
Km
Source

During courtship, the male feeds seeds to the female. She will often flutter her wings and beg like a chick.

Male Cardinal feeding female
Male Cardinal feeding female | 

Nesting

After the courtship is over, the female builds a nest of twigs, vines, some leaves, bark strips, grasses, weed stalks, and rootlets, and lines it with fine grasses. She builds it in a thorny bush, thicket, or bramble, or in a dense shrub or tree. Up to six days later, she begins laying eggs, up to three or four total. They are somewhat glossy, grayish, bluish, or greenish-white, and spotted or blotched with brown, gray, or purple.

The female incubates the eggs for 11 to 13 days. A couple normally raises two to three broods each year.

Mother on nest (l); Nest with first egg (r)
Mother on nest (l); Nest with first egg.
 
 
 
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Kauai has thousands of feral chickens. But how did they get there and why are they so well-adapted?

 
Photography
 

The Hawaiian islands, incredibly remote from any continent, were largely absent of large animals prior to Polynesian settlement in (this is disputed) somewhere between 300 and 800 AD. There were no mammals, besides some bats, and the largest animals were some mid-sized birds. Most everything in Hawaii, geologically speaking, is new, which is why imported animals can wreak so much havoc. A prime example would be the wild cattle of the Big Island, but on Kauai, a different kind of livestock has taken hold: the chicken.

Kauai is home to thousands of wild chickens, a particular variety that’s vibrant in plumage but of mixed value to the ecosystem of the island. They eat the venomous centipedes native to Kauai, a trait that people seem to like, but they have no natural predators besides pet cats and dogs, and the population is growing at an alarming rate. Some have even moved to other islands in the archipelago, like Oahu, where they’re not so welcome. But a team of researchers from Michigan State University is interested in the birds for an unexpected reason. Is it possible that the Hawaiian chicken could lead to hardier varieties of birds?

 

chicken.jpg55f214061700009a01569ec0.jpeg07CHICKENS1-jumbo.jpg55f213e42c00003600aaf791.jpegferalchickens.png

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Message 60 of 64

@DaveMcK 

Hey Dave 

Beautiful beautiful pics and great info Great job

I love watching & feeding birds

Also whether true or not I was told about a year ago that when you see Red Cardinals its a love one you've lost visiting you This was so comforting to me since lost my Mom Dec 2015 then lost my best friend of 25 years March 2016 & few others that year... last 3 years been tough but thank God time does heal

Makes my heart happy & I speak to them like said such a comfort has helped me with loss & think of happy times since we 3 loved birds & all fed numerous Hummingbirds each year 

Thanks for sharing look forward to seeing more

Have a beautiful week Thanks

Ginger  : ) 

Smiley Happy Smile & the world Smiles with you Smiley Wink Pass one on....its free
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