Red, White, and Blue...Birds that is

     Today is Memorial Day. Do you know how it started? What memories come to your mind? I can remember being a young band student poorly playing patriotic songs on my cornet in a small cemetery of heroes near Lockington, Ohio. Ancient looking veterans of past wars decorated graves of heroes with small red, white and blue flags. Surprisingly, Memorial Day’s official beginning was not until 26 May 1966, when signed into proclamation by President Lyndon B Johnson. His proclamation gave sole credit to the town of Waterloo New York’s tradition “when businesses shuttered and residents draped black crepe and adorned soldiers graves with flowers and flags”. While many other towns dispute its origins, it really began like this....One day in 1864 a young widow received a letter.

     It read as follows:  “ I, John Roney, 1st Lieutenant, Commanding Officer of Company “M”, 11th Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry do hereby certify, that I was well acquainted with Simeon Shidler, who was a private in Company E of our Regiment, during the period of his service in said Regiment; that this said Simeon Shidler was wounded at the battle of Mission Ridge near Chattanooga Tennessee on the 25th day of November A.D. 1863, and that he died of his wounds at Chattanooga Tennessee on the 12th day of December 1863, and that he received the wounds which caused his death while in the service of the United States and in the line of duty. Given under my hand this 4th day of May A.D. 1864”.

     That widow with five young orphaned children was Hannah Shidler, one of my Great Grandmothers.  I have no flagpole in my yard yet to commemorate this day (the Editor did not approve my flagpole design)  but I do have these Red, White and Blue birds are for you Grandpa Simeon. Thank you for your service and ultimate sacrifice that led to me. Blessings. Harry

Happy Memorial Day...see that tombstone over there?

Yes, I see it there under the tree...tell me about it..

It all began with a letter in 1864...

We are here to reflect on the meaning of Memorial Day...

It is a time dedicated to reflect on our heroes...past and present..

This pair of young Eastern Bluebird babies that just learned how to fly

This baby Bluebird is the apple of it's daddy Bluebird's eye...It has fully fledged and feeding on its own now..

This Bluebird Momma spends a lot of time getting bugs for the kids...

Thankfully the Bluebird babies still have a daddy to watch over them and teach them to fly..

A young widow named Hannah Davis Shidler was not as fortunate as the Bluebird family..her husband and soldier Simeon lies here in Chattanooga. Thank you Brian Selsor for taking this photo of our Great Grandpa. 

Spread your wings....

     The setting full moon in the predawn blue hour appears as a bright orange glowing ball over the treetops. We had a nice gentle soaking rain last night giving the spring foliage a much needed quenching. The coffee pot is ready, its familiar aroma fills the air. Time to head for the dock.

     The tide is low, the outgoing flow is channeled into a small muddy streams. This makes the minnow hunting much easier for the various herons and egrets, which count them as daily fare provided free of charge from our Maker. I wonder how they know each day just when will be the best time for fishing? They don’t have watches as far as I know (but since I retired, neither do I).  A Great Egret glides gracefully over the marsh grass and lowers its feet. As it spreads those broad white wings to land I capture the touchdown as its feet reach for the muddy bottom.  Later I watch as George, the Yellow Crowned Night Heron and his mate Georgia, hunt for small blue crabs. The Editor and I have been entertained watching George doing his classic mating displays (however, not close enough yet for a photo op). While one of my dear friends and shipmates writes of mowing grass in snow flurries in Wisconsin, I watch snow of a different kind. A Snowy Egret stalks the waters edge in its daily quest for food. Like all good aviators it does a thorough wing inspection before spreading its wings and taking flight for other parts unknown.

     Got your wings ready? As I read the news about the deteriorating and fast changing world situation, I can only imagine the day soon coming when those who watch and wait do a final check and inspection before leaving for parts unknown (but eagerly anticipated). Blessings. Harry

The setting moon appears as a huge orange glowing ball  in the predawn blue hour on the Broward..coffee time..

Spread your wings..A Great Egret lands in the shallow outgoing tidal flats..

Time to eat..look out minnows..here I come!

Down the hatch..

George the Yellow Crowned Night Heron is definitely feeling that spring thing. 

Fresh crab...my favorite says George!

We still have some "Snow" on the Broward. Snowy Egrets that is..

All good aviators do a thorough wing inspection.

Then they spread those wings...

Then they spread those wings...

And take off....can't wait for the day I do too..

Billowing clouds in the late afternoon over the Broward

Who Dey?

     Yes, I am a Bengals fan and love their "Who Dey" chant...I also am a huge Barred Owl fan. On one of my workshops last year the boat captain, Ron, pulled out a speaker and played an “APP” with a Barred Owl recording. Within what seemed only seconds, a Barred Owl appeared on a tree on the other side of the channel.  It then flew to a tree right beside the boat to see “Who Dey”...think they are intruding on my territory. When the owl discovered our ruse, it was apparently not amused and gave us “the look” before flying away.

     We have some local Barred Owls that live in the trees in the schoolyard close to our property. Determined to duplicate this ruse for a photo opportunity, I downloaded “the APP” and got a “bluetooth” speaker. I sat on my back porch playing with the APP and speaker only to look up and see a huge Barred Owl swooping towards my face only about 10 feet away and land in the tree over my head. Rats! I missed the shot while fiddling with “the APP”.  The owl flew off. Later I saw it fly over the house to the front yard. I called the Editor and we moved to the front yard where I set up the speaker again and within seconds a pair of Barred Owls were on the limb of one of our trees staring down at us. Click...Got a few photos this time. Then the crows chased them away.

     Some interesting facts about Barred Owls: 1) their primary nemesis is the Great Horned Owl.  A Barred Owl will leave its territory when a Great Horned Owl is nearby. 2) Pleistocene fossils of Barred Owls, at least 11,000 years old have been dug up in Florida, Tennessee, and Ontario. 3) Barred Owls generally don’t migrate or move around much. Most stay within a six-mile radius. 4) Originally found only on the East Coast, with habitat destruction issues, they have however migrated into the Northwest now displacing and hybridizing with Spotted Owls.  5) Young Barred Owls can climb trees by grasping the bark with their bill and talons, flapping their wings, and walking their way up the trunk. 5) The oldest Barred Owl on record was at least 24 years old (Source: Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology).

     The Barred Owls familiar call of “Who..Who..Who Cooks for you?” beckons me to pull out “the APP”. However, I won’t do it too often. Owls are indeed wise and it would soon learn “Who Dey” is just “Lil Ole Me” and then ignore me (just like the Editor sometimes). Be Blessed. Harry

"The App" worked. Our local Barred Owl flies in to see "Why Dey is" that is intruding on it's territory.

I wasn't ready for the flight shot again..

I call the Editor and set up the speaker in the front yard. Soon our pair of Barred Owls is starring down at us.    

The larger of the pair is most likely the female and she seems the most irritated and vocal.

The male just seems to think we sure are some strange looking owls (especially the Editor :)).

The female sounds exactly like "the APP".

The local crows began to harass the owls.

Enough of these crows and Owl wanna bees. We know "Who Dey" is. We are outta here. 

Happy Mother's Day

     Happy Mothers Day..The Editor and I wish all of you Moms the very best. Speaking of the very best...we got to spend the day with a very special Mom. Mrs. Dorothy Begley spent a very peaceful day with us. And to top it off the Editor sprang for that lens I have been wanting (it was an early birthday present). And just in time, I had a special day at the zoo with another special Mom. She is a real tiger.

     Dorcas , the mother tiger, gave birth to a female cub named Kinleigh Rose last November. The female cub is almost six months old and recently recovered from a broken rear leg. Saturday the “Snapshot Society” got to hang out and spend some time with the tigers and a few other animals. Kinleigh Rose loves to stalk her mother and attack her. Dorcas puts up with the cubs playful antics but like all good mom’s, she knows when to administer a loving smack when needed. Tigers are the largest of the cat species and can reach a body length of over 11 ft. and weigh up to 857 lbs. There are only about 3 to 4 thousand tigers left in the wild worldwide. This makes Kinleigh Rose a very special tiger cub.

     The good book tells us “Let your father and mother be glad, let her who bore you rejoice”. We are also to honor our father and mother..there is a reward for that. The Editor and I are indeed rewarded each day. Blessings to you special Mom’s this day and always. Harry

Who's your Momma? Happy Mothers Day

Who's your Momma? Happy Mothers Day

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY TO DORCAS THE MOMMA TIGER AT THE JACKSONVILLE ZOO

HI!, I'm Kinleigh Rose..I am almost six months old now...I broke my leg not long ago..

I like to hang out with mom on her special day!

I sure love you Mom! How bout a hug!. 

Shhh..I'm gonna attack Mom and scare the stripes off her...

Otto the Otter says CALL YOUR MAMA and tell her you love her! Then show her you love her.

Majesty above...beauty below

     The cool balmy days of spring are waning fast. Wouldn’t you know I picked this weekend to start a dock project of my own. By 11 am Saturday the temperature was in the 90s. I am not complaining...that is just how it is in Florida. Thursday is trash pickup day so on Wednesday I roll my trash bin to the curve. I notice tell tale pieces of bark and wood chips scattered on the ground. Sure signs of our Pileated Woodpecker excavating a new nest and scattering the chips so that we earth dwellers don’t know where the new nest is. As I retrieve my trash bin the next morning I look up and see a Bald Eagle soaring over my head heading out to hunt in the early morning light.

     The words of Henry David Thoreau come to mind as I observe the silent majesty above me.  “We who live this plodding life here below never know how many eagles fly over us”.  I head to the dock and see the Tricolored Heron below me on the hunt for minnows. The heron is all decked out in breeding plumage. Its bright blue beak, maroon legs and white plume make this bird a striking beauty to behold. It is mating season and this fellow must have mouths to feed nearby. I get low on the floating dock to get a birds eye view of the hunt. If I stretched and coiled my neck like this heron I would have to visit a chiropractor every week. The outgoing tide provides concentrated channels of water full of hapless minnows. I have many times now noticed it looking skyward as if listening for something. I have learned to lookup when they do and sure enough I see a juvenile Eagle above us heading back to the nest. The local crows hurry it along. With the danger past and his belly full, the Tricolored Heron lets out a squawk and heads off to the nest to feed some hungry beaks.

     I find myself looking skyward more often now. I don’t want to miss those soaring eagles. The birds have taught me a lesson for sure. Someday it will be me soaring home..and watching the beauty below me. Until then, we keep plodding along. Blessings..Harry

This Tricolored Heron is looking skyward, all decked out in breeding plumage with maroon legs, a bright blue beak and white head plume.

I too look up to see a majestic Bald Eagle fly overhead...I remember the words of Thoreau..

Below me the Heron continues its hunt for minnows..I get low for a birds eye view..

This handsome Tricolored Heron looks like he has a feather in his hat..

The heron resumes the hunt...if I did that to my neck I would need to see a Chiropractor..

I see another minnow...got a few more beaks to feed tonight..

I may not soar like an Eagle but I can fly with the best of them..not like you poor earth dwellers...keep plodding..

email: selsorhd@me.com

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