Fair Weather Friend




Fair Weather Friend

Smarty Pants, Smarty Pants, where does he keep?
He hunkers right down with his friends for some sleep.

Smarty Pants, Smarty Pants, with the sun as his guide,
Arrives on my deck for some peanuts to hide.

But now who’s the Smarty Pants, my fuzzy friend?
I’ve tossed out the shelled ones to eat, not up-end.

Smarty Pants, Smarty Pants, comes and he goes;
Today he’s got frost on his whiskers and toes.

He knows me by sight, and will not run away.
Smarty Pants warms up a bright winter day.

junco junkie ©2017


O Christmas Tree!*



I can get a little crazy when it comes to preservation of the wildlife in my backyard. I am determined to have a heated birdbath on the deck by Christmas and right now, the variety of food out there includes: sunflower seed (shelled and unshelled) finch mix, torn bread crusts, walnuts in the shell, peanuts in the shell and a few organic carrots for the as-yet-unseen rabbits who leave their scat and tracks all over the yard.

One of the wackiest things I’ve ever done, was to drag a neighbour’s Christmas tree from the edge of their drive where it was awaiting pickup post-festivities, and lay it out in my own backyard at the townhouse where we lived nearly 20 years ago.  It served as shelter for not only birds, but also chipmunks, squirrels and even a family of mice!

This year, I was set on having a tree on the deck to provide a bit of shelter for the small birds who visit every day.  We have an artificial tree indoors because we have cats and the tree needs to be portable. Right now, it’s sitting on my dryer, awaiting its time of glory on Christmas Eve, where it will have a place of prominence by my great room window. With our cats, it’s always best to get the tree out of the way before you go to bed.

The price of real trees is rather steep! We shopped around for a small tree and finally found one being sold by a local charity in the empty garden centre of our local Walmart.  I offered $20 for it and that was accepted.  The tree fit in the back of our Toyota Scion, so it was ideal.

We celebrated an early Christmas with my husband’s side of the family because my husband and I are busy with rehearsals and preparations for singing over Christmas with our church choir.  Both my husband and I have senior parents in their 80s (my mother lives with us), and so it was good timing for all of us to get together on the 10th of December.  The lighted tree on our deck added to the convivial Christmas spirit of the day.

My neighbours have no notion of it, but I will be keeping an eye on who puts out their real tree after December 25th.  I plan on shifting the small tree to another spot (perhaps below my window) and replacing it with a full sized “donated” tree to live out the winter as shelter for all of my winter garden residents. There will be photos!

Thanks for reading,


*O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum, wie treu sind deine Blaeter!
(old German folk tune by Ernst Anschütz, 1824)

(translation: O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree, you stand in verdant beauty)




It’s been an interesting few days in the winter garden. We’ve had some respite from the falling snow, and even  some lovely sunshine which made the snow sparkle and put a smile on my face.

Over the weekend we picked up some fresh finch food and a bag of pre-shelled sunflower and peanut mix. I had to dig a tunnel with my little red shovel to reach the hanging feeder (see “Snow on Snow” for image). It was partially filled with as yet untouched black oil sunflower seed. I dumped this out onto the icy birdbath that sits in the middle of my deck. The red feeder is now holding about 2 cups of the new mix, but nobody has shown any interest.

Conversely, the black oil seed on the birdbath has been a big hit. So much is this the case, that we now have some new regulars who have been giving the juncos a bit of competition. Mind you, the juncos know how to handle them. In fact, they’re not even that gracious with their own when it comes to getting food down their tiny gullets. It’s a bit like a bumper-car ride out there most of the time. They collide with each other in an effort to get the choice seeds and within seconds the bumped one hops back into the fray! The newcomers, who are a pair of lively little chipping sparrows, do not seem too disconcerted by this. Rather, they have adapted to the game almost instantly, often winning out.

Never a dull moment on deck!

The Calm After The Storm



The Junco Bunker


Weather-wise, yesterday was a brutal day. Winds were high, snow was blowing, but my junco buddies were undaunted. These tough little birds just kept coming back, to dig furiously with their little back feet until the snow gave way beneath them to reveal the tiny specks of seed.

I donned my parka, hat, scarf, gloves and winter boots, to slip out the sliding doors with my cup of bird-food, not once, but three times. I had shoveled the deck as much as I could first thing in the morning, but the storm forced me to keep clearing space for the juncos, so they could land and dig.

Today, I cleared the deck at 7:00 a.m. The whole time, I could hear the peeps from a neighbour’s tree where a bundle of them were patiently waiting for me to finish.  As soon as I grabbed my shovel and went back inside, six or seven of them landed in the bare willows off the deck and began to alight on the snow to feed.

The sun has been out sporadically today which has been a delight and my friends have been coming and going on and off.  I am gratified.