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We have been noticing something weird on our back patio. We’ve been finding bits of glass.

Most of them are glass beads that look like they came off of a mosaic.

glass bit

I originally thought the kids behind us were throwing them over the fence for some reason. They’d have to have good aim to get all the way to the patio.

glass bit

But then I found this glass chip. The kids over the back fence a young, and I didn’t think their parents would let them play with hunks of broken glass.

I have a much better idea who is the culprit now.

Here is a clue:

feather

The second clue is that we have a pot of water that collects condensed water from our air conditioning system. In the summer the pot is full because of constant dripping, and we have to empty it every day. Fresh, cold water…

Look for the answer in an upcoming post. Edit: Update post is here.

Did you take a child outside this weekend? I didn’t because I was sick, but my husband did. To prove he was outside, here’s a photograph our son took:
woods lake
As you can probably tell, they were in a boat .

Shortly afterward, his dad took this photograph:
woods lake2

Probably can’t see them, but there are two dots over the tops of the trees, right about above the white hat. They tell me those are an osprey and an eagle. The guys were in a boat watching an osprey catch fish. The osprey had one successful catch and was trying again when a bald eagle came barreling in and chased the osprey. Guess it was quite a sight.

Bald eagles are known to chase and mob ospreys. Usually they seem to be after the fish the osprey caught. The eagle swoops at an osprey that has just caught a fish, and often the osprey drops its meal. Guess who gets the meal instead.

Although an osprey looks like a big bird when it is by itself, a bald eagle is much bigger and heavier.

For more detailed information, check this blog post from Friends of the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge with some great information and photos of eagles and ospreys. (Scroll down to the July 27 Post entitled eagles and ospreys.)

One of our favorite things to do is bird watch. These lively creatures are interesting because they are colorful, active and can be found almost anywhere. We can hear them sing and chirp. This time of year birds are migrating, building nests and raising babies. There is a lot of excitement in the bird world.

You can simply look out the window and spot birds. Take a few minutes to see what kind it is and what it is doing. We learned our birds by figuring out a few at a time. We keep a notebook full of drawings and notes next to our favorite birding window. Each year we've had regulars who we recognize and also new birds. Last year we had house finch males with yellow on their heads instead of the more typical red or orange. This winter we had juncos for the first time.

What can you do to encourage birds? Many people start by making simple bird feeders, such as the classic peanut butter on a pinecone rolled in birdseed. You can make another simple feeder by stringing fruit such as raisins, grapes, cherries or orange sections on a bit of twine or string and hanging it out. Just be careful because scattering food for birds can also attract unwanted guests, including bears in some areas! We have problems with roof rats so we only feed thistle seed. Niger thistle seed attracts colorful birds like finches and doves, but not pigeons or rats. Check with your local Audubon Society for recommendations.

Making cards full of nesting materials can be a fun project that is easy to do with supplies from around the house. Gather index cards or three-inch by five-inch card stock, yarn, thread, hair, or anything else you think a bird might use in its nest. Brainstorm about what might be useful to a bird. Poke holes in the index cards (enough for all participants) with a hole punch or nail (with an adult’s help). Tie a 12-inch piece of string, yarn or ribbon through one hole to serve as a hanger. Loosely stuff the rest of the holes with a variety of nest making supplies, making sure the birds can pull it out fairly easily. When you are finished, go outside and hang the cards in bushes or trees where the birds will find the materials. Check over time to see which materials they chose first, second, etc. Refill the cards as needed.

These supplies are actually useful to birds. We once had a bird fly away with the end of a kite string, spreading the string throughout the neighborhood as it unwound from the spool.

If you get serious about birding, you might think about planting a bird garden. Find out abut which native plants in your area provide food or shelter for birds and add a few to your garden. Providing water through a birdbath or pond is also helpful as long as the water is kept clean and fresh. Check for more information in books, magazines and on the Internet.

Finally, even if it is raining and nothing is happening outdoors, ask your child what it would be like to fly like a bird. Then pretend you are birds. Spread your wings and soar and swoop together.

Happy flying!