New way to make your own bird art: Paint by Sticker


You’ve heard of color by number and paint by number, now the latest thing is Paint by Sticker. There is a birding option for Paint by Sticker from Workman Publishing and I received the book a few weeks ago. I admit I was a bit skeptical at first, but I really am enjoying the book. It is fun to see the work come together into a neat finished project.

As the name suggests, you have a white outline of a picture with numbers and shapes on it. in the back of the book are correlating stickers to be placed in the shapes.

Here are a couple photos to illustrate the new trend. (Don’t laugh, it was my first attempt.) There are 12 photos to do, including blue jay, spoonbill, waxwing and oriole. Below the photos are some thoughts from the publicity department at Workman.



From Workman:

“Nearly a year old, with over 450,000 copies in print, the Paint by Sticker series has surpassed coloring books with its simplistic approach to mindfulness in which “paintings” are pieced together one sticker at a time. These activity books have allowed adults to re-create the Mona Lisa and kids to re-create some of their favorite zoo animals.

 

“Paint by Sticker: Birds is a true celebration of the birds that provide beauty, soundtrack, and vibrancy to our lives. The piecing together of these posters ultimately reveals some of the most stunning birds, from the mandarin duck to the roseate spoonbill. This book fuels creation, while transporting participants into a meditative state.”

For more information, see http://www.workman.com

For the Birds column: What is that bird trillling?

Photo by Chris Bosak A Pine Warbler sits on a deck railing in New England this fall.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Pine Warbler sits on a deck railing in New England this fall.

Here is the latest For the Birds column, which runs weekly in several New England newspapers.

The birds are moving through, that’s for sure.

Mornings in New England are now filled with the songs of so many birds it’s hard to separate the voices. Throw in a mockingbird imitating the songs of several birds, and the confusion ratchets up a level.

A tufted titmouse (peter, peter, peter) broke the morning silence one morning this week for me; a robin (cheery up, cheery oh, cheery up) the next morning. I love mornings filled with birdsong.

Have you heard a bird trilling recently? A long series of quick, high-pitched notes often rings out throughout New England during the spring. But what is that triller?

Continue reading

Gardening with Melinda: Grow an abundant tomato harvest in a pot

Photo by Gardener’s Supply Company Growing tomatoes in container gardens enables gardeners to jump start the growing season.

Photo by Gardener’s Supply Company
Growing tomatoes in container gardens enables gardeners to jump start the growing season.


By Melinda Myers

Harvest and enjoy the garden-fresh flavor of tomatoes right outside your kitchen.  Grow them in containers set on your patio, balcony, deck or stairs. You’ll enjoy the convenience of harvesting fresh tomatoes just a few feet away from where you prepare your meals. And your guests will enjoy harvesting fresh tomatoes to add to their salad or sandwich.

Tomatoes need warm air and soil to thrive. Containers give you the ability to jump start the season. Plant tomatoes in containers earlier than in the garden and leave them outdoors when it’s warm (but bring them inside whenever there’s a danger of frost.)  Protect your plants with the help of season-extending products like cloches, red tomato teepees or garden fabrics.  These will help warm the soil and air around the plants, reducing the number of days to your first harvest.

Select flavorful and disease-resistant varieties for your container gardens. Consider ‘determinate’ tomatoes that are more compact and generally less than four feet tall. But don’t eliminate your favorite indeterminate tomato. Just provide a strong tall support for these plants that continue to grow six feet and taller throughout the season.

Grow your tomatoes in a sunny spot that receives at least eight hours of direct sunlight.  You’ll grow the biggest harvest and reduce the risk of disease.

Fill your container with a quality well-drained potting mix. Add a slow release organic fertilizer to your potting mix if needed.  This type of fertilizer feeds the plants for several months. Give the plants an additional feeding midseason or as directed on the fertilizer package.

Check soil moisture daily, water thoroughly and often enough to keep the soil slightly moist.  Maintaining consistent soil moisture means healthier plants and fewer problems with blossom end rot. This disorder is not a deadly disease, but it causes the bottom of the first set of fruit to turn black.

Reduce your workload by using self-watering pots like the Gardener’s Revolution® Classic Tomato Planter (gardeners.com). These pots have a 5-gallon reservoir for holding water that moves up into the soil to the plant roots as needed.  This means you’ll be filling the reservoir less often than you would normally water other planters.

Stake or tower your plants to save space, increase air circulation around and light penetration into the plant.  You’ll further reduce the risk of disease and increase productivity by growing vertically.

So start gathering your favorite tomato recipes now, as soon you’ll be harvesting armloads of tomatoes to use in salsas, salads, sauces and of course BLTs.

Melinda Myers has written more than 20 gardening books, including Small Space Gardening. She hosts The Great Courses “How to Grow Anything: Food Gardening For Everyone” DVD set and the nationally syndicated Melinda’s Garden Moment TV & radio segments. Myers is a columnist and contributing editor for Birds & Blooms magazine and was commissioned by Gardener’s Supply Company for her expertise to write this article. Myers’ web site is www.melindamyers.com.

Gardening with Melinda: Grow a bigger garden in a smaller space

Gardener’s Supply Company Planter boxes with built-in trellises like this Apex trellis planter enable gardeners to maximize their garden space for growing vegetables and flowers.

Gardener’s Supply Company
Planter boxes with built-in trellises like this Apex trellis planter enable gardeners to maximize their garden space for growing vegetables and flowers.

By Melinda Myers

Whether in the ground or on a balcony or deck, there’s always room to grow your own garden-fresh produce and beautiful flowers.  Space saving gardening techniques and products can help you increase productivity in any available space.

Consider elevated gardens and planter carts that not only save space, but make gardens more accessible. Movable carts like the Demeter Mobile Planter Cart allow you to grow flowers and produce in narrow spaces, store garden accessories and move the garden into the sunlight or out of the way of guests as needed.

Save more space by going vertical.  Look for containers and raised garden beds with built-in trellises and plant supports.  Just plant your pole beans, peas, cucumbers or tomatoes and attach them to the supports as they grow.  Support the large fruit of squash and melons with cloth or macramé slings. Just cradle the fruit in the sling and secure it to the trellis. You’ll not only save space, but reduce disease problems and make harvesting a breeze. Continue reading

The difference between Hairy Woodpecker and Downy Woodpecker, snow style

I’ve done similar posts before comparing the larger Hairy Woodpecker with the smaller Downy Woodpecker. But I’ll repeat the lesson as I captured them both on a homemade birdfeeder during Thursday’s snowstorm.

The hairy is larger overall, but without a reference it’s tough to tell strictly by size. To really determine the species, check out the bill. The hairy has a much more substantial bill. Females of each species are shown.

Photo by Chris Bosak A hairy woodpecker eats bark butter out of a homemade feeder in Danbury, Conn., Feb. 9, 2017.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A hairy woodpecker eats bark butter out of a homemade feeder in Danbury, Conn., Feb. 9, 2017.


Photo by Chris Bosak A downy woodpecker eats bark butter out of a homemade feeder in Danbury, Conn., Feb. 9, 2017.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A downy woodpecker eats bark butter out of a homemade feeder in Danbury, Conn., Feb. 9, 2017.

Happy Super Bowl Sunday, bird style

Well, the Falcon part is easy. The Patriot part is a bit more difficult. But I guess you have to go with the bald eagle if you are going to try to represent both Super Bowl teams with a bird.

So tonight we have:

 

Photo by Chris Bosak A young Peregrine Falcon flies overhead in Norwalk, CT, Dec. 2013.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A young Peregrine Falcon flies overhead in Norwalk, CT, Dec. 2013.

Falcons 

vs. 

Patriots

Photo by Chris Bosak A Bald Eaglea fies over Little Merganser Lake in Danbury, Conn., Sept. 2016.

 

 

Have fun tonight.

The fox and the mouse (guess who wins)

Photo by Chris Bosak A Red Fox finds a mouse on a driveway in Brookfield, Conn., winter 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Red Fox finds a mouse on a driveway in Brookfield, Conn., winter 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak A Red Fox eats a mouse on a driveway in Brookfield, Conn., winter 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Red Fox eats a mouse on a driveway in Brookfield, Conn., winter 2016.

I was driving around this morning looking for a photo to take for work. When I found the perfect subject – just a sign in a yard to illustrate a story I’m working on – a Red Fox scampered through the scene and crossed right in front of the sign I was photographing anyway.

As the fox continued across the property it paused on the driveway to eat a mouse. I’m not sure if the fox caught the mouse right then and there, or if the mouse was already dead on the driveway and therefore an easy meal. My guess is that the mouse was already dead, perhaps getting run over by the property owner earlier that morning.

At any rate, the fox paused just long enough to pick up the mouse with its jaws, take three or four bites to position the mouse just right and gulped it down.

That is usually the type of thing I see when I don’t have my camera handy. I was lucky this time.

Don’t worry, I’ll have a more pleasant post for Christmas!

Living in the woods


It’s been about a year and a half since I bought a house in the woods. It’s not exactly isolated like Thoreau’s cabin on Walden Pond, but it is in the woods nonetheless. Every once in a while a scene catches my eye and I need to grab a photo of it, even with my iPhone.

If it doesn’t include a bird in the photo, I typically do not post it to this site. With this photo I will start posting them more often. Otherwise the photos never see the light of day. The woods are just too cool not to share.

Below is the color version. Which one do you like better?

ax-snow

 

Bird Book Look: Birding at the Bridge

Here is another bird book that came out this year for your consideration during this holiday season.This one came out in early summer, and is titled “Birding at the Bridge: In Search of Every Bird on the Brooklyn Waterfront,” by Heather Wolf, published by The Experiment. 

It is largely a picture book, but does include interesting text on each of the species featured in the book. Cities, especially a borough of New York City, may not be regarded as birding hotspots, but the author and photographer prove that that is not necessarily the case.

Below is more information on the book, taken from a press release from the publisher.

Be sure to visit the Bird Book Look page on this site for other book gift ideas.


Bright lights, big city, and . . . birds? The Brooklyn Bridge once overshadowed a decaying industrial waterfront, but today it points the way to a new green oasis: Brooklyn Bridge Park. When avid birder Heather Wolf moved from tropical Florida to a nearby apartment, she wondered how many species she might see there, and soon came to a surprising realization: Not only is the park filled with an astonishing variety of birds, but the challenges that come with urban birding make them even more fun—and rewarding—to find.

 Camera in hand, Heather has captured scores of memorable scenes—a European starling pokes its head out of a hole in a snack shop, a marsh wren straddles two branches, common grackle nestlings clamor for food above the basketball courts—in more than 150 stunning photographs that will entrance birders and bird lovers, wherever their local patch may be. From the familiar-but-striking bufflehead duck to the elusive mourning warbler, every species comes to life on the page, foraging, nesting, and soaring in the slice of the city where they’ve made themselves at home. Discover the thrilling adventure of birding in the great outdoors—in the heart of Brooklyn.