Friday, September 2, 2016

Friday's Hunt v 2.10

It's Friday, so that means it's time for Friday's Hunt, hosted by Eden Hills. As usual, there are 3 topics for today: Starts with J, Week's favourite, and Surprise.

Starts with J
Today, I give you the humble, but very sweet, junco.  This is a ubiquitous bird in my area, and it's common in much of Canada and the US.  The official name is the dark-eyed junco (Junco hyemalis) although most people just call it a junco.  (In case you're not familiar with it, that's a hard-c sound, like junk-o).  It's an ordinary little bird, but a very efficient ground feeder who cleans up underneath the feeder where other birds toss seeds to the ground.

What I didn't know about the junco, until I consulted my field guide today, is that there are actually 16 different subspecies that have been described, including "red-headed" and "pink-sided" versions, which I have never seen.  Here, we get what is described as the "slate-coloured" subspecies.  I have the impression that they get a darker grey during winter, but that may be because they stand out more readily against the snow.  Here's one scratching an itch.

They are primarily ground feeders, although sometimes they also perch at my tube feeder.  Here's one sharing space with a red-breasted nuthatch.

They're pretty good at blending with the background.  Here's a junco among my ajuga (which form part of the "lawn" under the feeder).  Did it take you a second to find it?  

Although they are mostly thought of as grey and white, the females, in particular, can have quite a lot of brown on them.  This one is about to enjoy her sunflower seed treat.

Week's Favourite
I was happy with a few hummingbird shots that I took this week.  I find they can be difficult birds to photograph, so I'm pleased when I get a clear shot.  I shot some in my parents' garden earlier this week, but then I got some even better ones at home, so here are a few favourites (can't pick just one!) to share.

This ruby-throated hummingbird is feeding at the last flowers of Chamerion angustifolium, also known as fireweed.  In England, it's called Rosebay Willowherb, which I think is a much nicer common name than fireweed.  That said, it isn't related to roses, bay leaves, or willow!

I love this shot - even though the wings are a blur.

Finally, she took a rest!

I have two bear with me!

First, I was quite surprised this week when I finally saw my clematis sporting some flower buds.  I had watched it grow since we moved to this house in June, and figured maybe it was having an "off" year because there was no sign of a flower or a bud. I've had many clematis vines both in Canada and in my years in the USA, but I've never had one that didn't put out any flower buds until the last week of August!  I didn't expect to see any flowers this year.  There were some old flower tags in the detached garage left by the previous owner, and I sorted through those and found that my clematis is most likely "Ernest Markham," since there was a tag for that variety, and the flower colour matches the tag. Upon researching it, I found that this clematis cultivar flowers from August to October, so it's just about on time.  The first flower opened yesterday, September 1.

There are lots of blooms on the way.  I'm looking forward to more!

Second, I was surprised when Marc installed a special cover on the outdoor electrical receptacle that will power the heated water buckets this winter, as well as the electric fence.  He had already bought a cover and installed it, but he had gone to the hardware store today for other things, and found this cover which has interesting features that he thought would be even better.

The inner panel of the cover pops out to reveal a rubber flex channel that expands outward.  There is a hole in one corner for the wires to go through.

The rubber allows the plugs to fit underneath the cover because of the expansion capacity.

The benefits of this cover mean that even when the snow piles up against the house, which it invariably does in our winters, the outlet is still protected and the electrical connections won't be compromised.  A great feature for our climate!  What a clever hubby I have, and what a good surprise that was!


Tom said...

Junco, I'd never think of that. The hummingbirds are always favorites. Two good surprises, you married a handy guy...good!

Jim said...

The humming birds are pretty birds, Claire. I don't think we have junco birds here. My dictionary says they are also referred to as Snowbirds. We don't get snow here, hardly ever, so I suppose the birds don't come to southeast Texas Gulf Coast. We do get snowbirds, however. They drive down, pulling RV trailers. Your surprise C.C. Flowers are very pretty. The might be as prolific in blooming as our orange hibiscus. It ALWAYS has blooms, even in the winter.

Patty Woodland said...

It's always good to married to a handy guy. I can attest to that! Glad the critters will have warm water in the cold. Love the hummingbird photos.

Margaret Adamson said...

I love all yur Juno's but the Hummingbird is so gorgeous. Then both your surprises are wonderful. well done our husband. Have a lovely weekend.

Veralynne Malone said...

I think your Junco's are lovely! I have a feeder in my yard, and I am always seeing interesting birds. Though mostly they are Bluejays, Cardinals, Titmouse, etc. I even get crows....Your humming bird is wonderful. I see them in my yard but can never get out to photograph them. And what a sweet hubby. Thanks for posting!

Michelle said...

Oregon-race juncos are the most common here. You got some GREAT hummer captures! Loving your posts, a reflection of your happy new life!

Anonymous said...

Juncos visit us in the winter, they are one bright spot in the cold months. Great shots of the hummer. Pretty clematis, looks like you have a lot more coming. What a great outlet cover!

Su-sieee! Mac said...

I wonder if we have junco in our part of California. Maybe it's time for me to learn what the birds are that hang around our house. Those are amazing photos of the hummingbirds.

porkpal said...

Wonderful bird photography - again! And I am going to be looking for one of those all-weather outlet covers.

Anonymous said...

I am going straight to the outlet cover. Awesome idea! The clematis are beautiful. I've never had one, but my sister always had them at her house. Pretty variety that you have. The hummingbirds are a lot of fun to watch. I never did get my feeders up this year with so many yard goats. :-( I never knew juncos by anything but snow birds for most of the time I was growing up. That's still how I think of them. They are very shy until it snows. Thanks so much for joining me for Friday's Hunt. Hope you have a great week!