Feeling powerless

Gila woodpecker
A gila woodpecker loves the Bird Buddy.

I’ll keep this short. We have a planned power outage today for an upgrade to our electrical panel. It’s four to five hours without electricity. Who knows? That’s why I’m powerless today. I’m using my iphone as a hotspot to write this post. I want to conserve my iphone and laptop battery until the power is back on — so I won’t ramble on too much. FYI the upgrade has to do with solar panels.

As far as my Bird Buddy goes, I haven’t been posting any photos lately because a covey of quail jumped on it all at once and the bird feeder flew off the fence into the wash. The solar panel roof hit hard on the ground, popped off and the usb-c connection broke in half.

I contacted Bird Buddy to see if I could get a new cord, but they said I needed to order a new solar panel roof. They sent me a code for a discount, but the solar panel roof isn’t expected to ship until late February or early March. Also, we need to find a better place for the Bird Buddy so it’s stable and can’t be knocked over by wind or greedy feeding birds.

If your power is out, what’s do you miss using the most?

When you don’t have electricity, do you find yourself forgetting the power is out and try to use something like the microwave? I found myself hitting the lights in the dark bathroom.

King of the mountain and other quail games

I brought the Bird Buddy AI feeder inside until after Christmas. I found it on the ground one morning after our GIla Woodpeckers were hanging on it upside down and got it to slide with their weight. It’s strapped on the fence with a velcro strap that came with it, but it’s not secure — obviously!

We decided to cement a pole into the ground and do away with the velcro sliding strap. That was the project for last weekend, but I got sick. I think we’ll wait until after Christmas when we return home after spending a few days with family.

In the meantime, I bought some “critter crunch” bird seed and tossed a scoop on the ground. The quail went nuts!

I didn’t get any birds in the yard except for quail!

You can visit my Instagram @e.a.wickham to view quail dancing to Brenda Lee’s “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.” I didn’t know how to add music to the video on WordPress or I would have.

I’m not decorating for Christmas this year, so I’m looking to wildlife to make it festive!

Does anyone know how to add music to photos or videos on WordPress? If so, can you share?

If you have an Instagram account, would you share it in the comments so I can follow you?

Testing my Bird Buddy

Bird Buddy smart bird feeder

My Bird Buddy arrived.

My son told me about Bird Buddy. The company he works for helped get it off the ground. It took more than a year to arrive due to supply chain issues.

I was almost ready to give up on it. I ordered one for myself and one for my dad — for last year’s Christmas presents. Now it’s here in time for this year’s Christmas.

I had difficulty with the assembly. Putting one little screw in the back of the camera to fasten it to the bird feeder got the better of me. I have shaky hands so I asked my husband to give it a try. He was able to get it done.

Also, the solar panel roof had to be plugged into the camera but the space was so tiny that my fingers got in the way. I managed after many tries.

Screenshot from the Bird Buddy website.

What so special about Bird Buddy? It’s a smart bird feeder that takes photos of birds who come to visit. It also identifies them. You can live stream from your phone, too. It sends notifications when visitors arrive. Plus, I ordered mine with a solar roof, so I shouldn’t have to take it inside to charge it.

One way to describe a Bird Buddy is a bird feeder with a solar powered Ring Camera.

Now all I need are some bird visitors.

Bird Buddy box

This is the box it came in. It was mostly assembled except for the two things I mentioned above. I had to charge the camera and pair it with my iphone. That went smoothly.

Live stream from Bird Buddy

This is a screenshot of a livestream from my phone. The Bird Buddy looks back at our home. It’s a pretty good camera. Come on birds — I’m waiting.

Have you ever heard of a smart bird feeder before? Have you ever participated in crowdfunding? For what type of product?

Gila woodpecker in my bird buddy

My first visitor. A Gila Woodpecker. Of course. They are bully birds that drain the nectar from my hummingbird feeder, create nests in our saguaro and scare other birds away.

Random thoughts

Roadrunner.
Roadrunner in my backyard.

On my morning walk I saw a huge coyote run across the street into my friend’s yard. I marveled at his beauty and wasn’t afraid like I’ve been before with a coyote sighting. His speed told me he wanted to get far away from us.

Olive the cat and I watched quail in our backyard. They were squawking and fighting as they scouted for birdseed. I’m amazed at how quickly the babies grew up. All the quail are the same size now. I wonder if the quail stay together as families from newborn chicks through adulthood?

I’ve been fascinated watching Harris hawks glide and circle above my backyard. I’ve tried to video them, but it’s difficult because the sun is in my eyes and I can’t see if I’m capturing them. Perhaps I shouldn’t put birdseed out because it attracts the quail — who then are prey for the hawks. I should have learned my lessons when the hawk crashed into a window and broke it!

I went to the hardware and grocery store and everything I needed was in stock. In the spring there were empty shelves. I remember looking for Tater Tots for weeks, but they weren’t available. We were having friends over for burgers and I wanted to serve Tater Tots.

During the pandemic, I would grocery shop for my dad who was in his late 80s (he’s 90 now). We didn’t feel it was safe for him at his age to go out. I felt like I was putting my life in danger grocery shopping. They were always out of my dad’s favorite Jimmy Dean’s sausage, egg and cheese biscuits.

Who would have thought Tater Tots and Jimmy Dean breakfast sandwiches would be in demand during a pandemic?

Quail in the backyard.

Watching a Harris hawk circling in the sky.

Besides toilet paper, what do you remember having trouble finding during the pandemic?

Sights from the weekend

cactus with scarlet blooms
I love the color of these cactus blooms. I’m surprised to see cacti blooming again.

We’ve had a busy weekend — post vacation. We picked up friends from the airport Thursday and they invited us over to their house for dinner the next day to repay us for our trouble. They lived a stone’s throw from us in Palm Springs and we both moved within a mile from each other in Arizona — without prior knowledge we were both doing that. Our kids went to school together from kindergarten through high school. Now our kids live near each other in the Bay Area.

Here’s a view from our friend’s place up the street from us.
woodpecker standing on a vertical wall.
Woodpecker standing on the wall. I don’t know how it does that. There’s nothing to hang onto.

We had neighbors over for appetizers, wine and games. We played my favorite card games, Demon and Texas Hold ‘Em. Our friends brought over a game they thought we’d enjoy. My husband and I laughed when we found out it was Catchphrase. That’s a game our kids played endlessly at swim meets with their teammates under the pop-up tent. We’d be at meets for at least four hours and they’d swim a few minutes. Downtime was spent playing cards or Catchphrase.

It’s been years since I’ve played games and it was a hoot. We laughed and had fun. it was a perfect thing to do with people we’ve only known for a few months.

For appetizers I made deviled eggs, stuffed shishitos with honey goat cheese and sweet Italian sausage chunks on toothpicks with honeycrisp apples. Also a veggie platter that was barely touched.

sunrise in Arizaona
Here’s the gorgeous sunrise Saturday morning.

I enjoyed watching the kitty watch birds and bunnies. The quail families are growing up!

What card games do you like to play? Did you play lots of games growing up? Do you think kids today play games or is everything on screens now?

Benefits of early morning walks

javelina in a neighbor's yard
Javelina

One of the benefits of walking at dawn is the wildlife we get to see. This morning it was this herd of Javelina in front of a neighbor’s house. I texted the photo to the neighbors to show them the shenanigans going on in their driveway while they were sleeping.

What is a javelina you might ask?

Javelina (Tayassu tajacu) also known as collared peccary, are medium-sized animals that look similar to a wild boar. They have mainly short coarse salt and pepper colored hair, short legs, and a pig-like nose. The hair around the neck/shoulder area is lighter in color giving it the look of a collar. Javelina have long, sharp canine teeth which protrude from the jaws about an inch.

One major adaptation for survival is the fact that javelina live in large family groups. The average group size is 10 or less, but a few herds have known to number up to 53 animals. Each group defends a territory which includes their sleeping and feeding areas. They communicate with their own family group and other groups using sounds and smells.

Javelina live in desert washes, saguaro and palo verde forests, oak woodlands, and grasslands with mixed shrubs and cacti.

They can be found in the deserts of southwest Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, southward through Mexico and Central America and into northern Argentina.

https://desertmuseum.org/kids/oz/long-fact-sheets/Javelina.php

Other creatures we have seen are tiny baby bunnies, quail families, coyotes and mule deer.

mule deer in the street
Mule deer that crossed the street at dawn.

We are going adventuring in the area this weekend and I’ll write about that next week.

Have you seen javelina before? What plans do you have for the weekend?

It’s wild!

bobcat
I’ve spotted the bobcat at our house two days in a row. I watched him leap over our fence and also walk along our windows on our patio like he owns the place.

When the bobcat arrives our yard is deathly silent. Gone are the squawks of the quail and woodpecker. The bees stop buzzing and the beautiful song of a cardinal is nowhere to be heard.

Normally our backyard is alive with sounds. I’ve spotted baby quails when I’m walking around the neighborhood. I put out seed on the ground outside the casita this week. I was thrilled when a family of quail visited our yard! They are the tiniest, cutest little things. The babies follow mom and dad in a line.

Here’s a video of the quail family eating the birdseed.

Mom and dad with seven or eight babies.

Another joyful sight was a cardinal who is enjoying the seed I put out. He is so gorgeous and his song is beautiful, too.

Our beautiful scarlet cardinal.

I had stopped feeding the birds last year because a hawk flew into a window with a plump quail in its beak. The window was broken and it scared me to death. I got a bill for $600 to replace the double-paned window. The quail and hawk survived, though.

But I’m back to putting out seed a year later. I hope I don’t have a repeat of the hawk incident. I’m enjoying the bird and bobcat watching. It’s truly wild!

Do you enjoy bird watching where you live? What types of birds do you have?

What type of wildlife do you have?