Saturday, December 31, 2011

Month One--We're on Our Way!


Monticello MN Updates


Monday, December 26, 2011

Happy New Year!


Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas to All!


Don’t Waste the Miracle

  There's a Miracle in Christmas...
There's a Stillness in the Air
And Excitement in the Shining Eyes
Of Children Everywhere.

There's a Miracle in Christmas...
As each Silent Night unfolds,
And We see again the Promise
That this Holy Season holds.

There's a wonder in Traditions,
In the Stories passed along;
In our Thoughtfulness toward Others,
And in Voices raised in Song.

There's a Reassuring Comfort
In the Joy, Glad Tidings bring
And an Inner Peace from
Honoring & Praising Christ the King.

There's a Magic in the Season,
In the Kindness we do,
Whether Joys are Shared by Many
Or among a Special Few.

There's Awareness of our Gratitude
For Blessings from above;
There's a Miracle in Christmas

And the Miracle is Love.

Author Unknown

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Happy Hannukah


Sunday, December 18, 2011

God Bless the Penguins

Photobucket Photobucket


Saturday, December 17, 2011

In the Spotlight


It's not nice to play favorites, but I'll admit, I'm biased. I adore all wild birds but none capture my heart quite like that animated imp “Sitta Canadensis” commonly called the Red-breasted Nuthatch. 

He’s my special little sweetheart, my pal, my “Peanut,”  and thus deserving of Reflections’  first “Avian Star of the Week” profile.

I first fell in love with this bouncing bundle of energy back during the early spring of ‘09, soon after I’d begun my adventures in birding.  Enamored with my new hobby, I decided to move past plain sunflower seeds and experiment with some of the more exotic looking blends that filled the shelves at Fleet Farm.  In particular, Kaytee brand’s Nut and Fruit Mix looked delicious.  I piled a few bags in my cart and headed home to see if my feathered friends found it equally appetizing.

No sooner had I scooped the aromatic mixture of dried cherries, walnuts, raisins, almonds, pecans, pistachios and other delights into the tube than a tiny ball of blue-gray and rust swooped in, just inches from my dumbfounded face.  Chattering his approval, he plopped onto the perch and set about digging thru the delicacies.  It didn’t take long for this forward lil’ fella  to find his favorite.  With a peanut in his beak he nodded “thanks” then flew off for the closest conifer. 

A novice birder, I had no idea what he was, but I sure was impressed with his outgoing personality.  Soon after, a consult with my new bible, Stan Tekiela’s Birds of Minnesota, formally introduced me to the species.

Since then, we’ve been the best of buddies. The nine months each year he resides at Bon Bon Acres are a delight.  I love to watch him hop head first down the conifers and pick thru the mix for that perfect peanut.  Red-breasted Nuthatches usually select the heaviest food source available but often sample  the suet cakes and munch on sunflower hearts.  Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t!

Unfortunately, Peanut’s preferred blend is also a favorite of those avian Darth Vaders, a.k.a. Starlings.    In their insatiable quest for fruit, these pests would push the nuts to the ground which greatly upset Peanut who will not eat off the earth. After a bit of experimentation, I found the perfect solution.  A “cage-type” feeder that protects the tube from larger birds and squirrels worked like a charm and soon became Peanut’s favorite haunt.

The Red-breasted Nuthatch is invariably the last of my migrating birds to leave in the spring and the first to return in late summer.  This year, Peanut left on June 3rd for his summer nesting niche in the woods of northern Minnesota.  In a feathered flourish  he returned the last week of August.  Trumpeting his arrival, he sought me out, yack-yacked a greeting, then flew from feeder to feeder, even checking out the njyer socks and the nectar stations.

Peanut loves it here at Bon Bon Acres.  In addition to a well-stocked smorgasboard, he never has to worry about a winter abode.  Unless too close to the house, dead trees are never removed but rather left for habitat.  Red-breasted Nuthatches are known for taking over abandoned cavities of chickadees and woodpeckers.

Even when I can’t see him, I can most always hear his distinctive song sounding out from the treetops.  Peanut is one of those birds that just exudes exuberance, fun and friendliness.  It’s impossible to be in his presence and not feel of good cheer. 

In the birding world, good things do come in small packages!

Hear the Red-breasted Nuthatch's call 

Friday, December 16, 2011

Make It a Memorable One!


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Merry Merry!


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Have a Doggone Great Christmas!


Woolly Watch

Christmas is a little over a week away and it’s raining cats and dogs at Bon Bon Acres!  What happened to winter?  The recent wave of warm weather has melted most of the snow received a week or so ago:  a pristine alabaster blanket displaced  by a brown and barren landscape! But while the temperate temps pose no problems for the birds, deer and other wildlife, concern is warranted for that fall  favorite,  the Woolly Bear Caterpillars. 

Otherwise known as the larval form of Pyrrharctia isabella, the Isabella Tiger Moth, the annual appearance of these sweet, harmless fuzzballs signals a change of seasons.  Legend has it the woollies can predict winter severity—i.e. the wider the middle brown section the milder the winter—but science says it’s more to do with the creature’s age and the moisture they’ve received.

Each autumn I collect up the little brown and black brushes and tuck them on shelves in my unheated garage where they can curl up and safely  hibernate away the winter.  Thanks to their heavy bristle-like coat—called setae-- and the ability to produce natural organic antifreeze, they can actually survive temperatures up to minus 90 degrees Fahrenheit!

These tough, tiny winter warriors, however, can become confused during prolonged periods of unseasonable weather. At that point they come out of hibernation and could face starvation. Fortunately,  it doesn’t take much for us to help as inadvertently warmed woollies can easily  be “re-cooled” until spring.  Simply scoop up the little fuzzballs—taking care not to damage  their whiskers--and put them in an airtight food container, like Tupperware, and store in the crisper section of your fridge. Then, when the cold temps return, or, if you prefer, when spring arrives, return them to the great outdoors.  

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Today's Smile

These wonderful photos illustrate the bond of love and friendship that can occur between species. These animals, like many others, have the ability to look beyond physical differences and straight into the heart. Love comes in all colors, ages, shapes and sizes! More lessons we can learn from the animal kingdom.


Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas Birding Opportunity


The Audubon Society is currently recruiting volunteers to assist with its 112th Annual Christmas Bird Count.  From December 14th thru January 5th,, avian enthusiasts throughout North America take to the great outdoors to observe and record wild birds in their neighborhoods.  This yearly avian tabulation is the longest running wildlife census and one of the most important.  Information gleaned is used to assess the health of species populations and also serves as a guide for future conservation efforts.  All you need to participate is a pair of binoculars, a checklist and a love and commitment to wild birds.

The Audubon Society encourages birders of all levels of expertise to participate. Counts are conducted via a “circle,” or team approach, so novices are paired with experts.  Whether you are new to birding, or an old hand, this is a great opportunity to meet and work with other bird lovers in your area and make a real difference to preserve our wonderful wildlife.

There is a $5 registration fee for participants over the age of 19.

To learn more about how to participate:


Saturday, December 10, 2011

Great New Holiday Tradition!

by Linda Pascatore
©1996 The Gobbler: Winter Crystal

Last Christmas we visited a home with a beautiful tree decorated with nuts and dried fruit. The best thing about using this type of decoration is that you can share your Christmas tree with the birds and squirrels after the holiday. They'll appreciate the midwinter treats when you put your tree out after Christmas. All edible decorations should be hung with biodegradable materials, such as cotton string or thread.

Some birds, such as Brown Thrashers and Northern Mockingbirds, will enjoy apples and oranges. Cut the fruit slices horizontally, perpendicular to the core or stem. Then dry them either in a food dehydrator or in a warm oven. Hang them on the tree for a lovely, natural decoration.

Strings of popcorn and cranberries are a traditional favorite, for both humans and birds. Buy a bag of fresh cranberries in the produce department of the grocery store. With a needle and thread, string four or five pieces of popcorn, then one cranberry for a colorful red and white pattern. This is a good activity for children and can be done while watching a Christmas video or TV special.

Everyone knows that squirrels love nuts. Buy mixed nuts in the shell for a variety of shapes and textures. Use a drill to make a hole completely through the nut. Then feed a string through the nut and make a knot at the bottom. Hang individually on the tree rather than stringing them, and later a squirrel can pull them down one at a time to eat them.

Cut sections of corn on the cob also make an interesting decoration for your tree, and will be appreciated later by the squirrels. You can get dried corn on the cob from a local farmer, at an farm store, or at some hardware stores. Colorful Indian corn could also be used. Cut the corn in one to two inch sections, drill a hole, thread a string through, tie a knot, and hang.

After Christmas, leave all natural decorations on the tree, whether you have a bagged balled tree to plant or a live cut tree, and put it out for our feathered and furry friends. If you use an artificial tree, natural decorations can be hung outside on any tree after you take the Christmas tree down.

There are some bird foods that either won't keep indoors or don't look that good on your Christmas Tree, but would still make a great treat for the birds. These could be used to decorate a separate "Wildlife Christmas Tree" outdoors, or they could be hung on the Christmas tree when you take it out. Children love to help make these Christmas presents for the birds and animals.

One of these treats is bird seed pine cones Make a mixture of peanut butter and cornmeal and stuff it into a pine cone, then roll it in birdseed. You can also make bird sandwiches. Use stale bread or dry out slices of fresh bread in the oven. Spread peanut butter on the bread and sprinkle with birdseed, then punch a small hole in the bread to hang it. Bird pudding consists of suet or peanut butter mixed with birdseed which is hardened and hung out in a net bag.

Other foods can be strung to hang on the tree. These include peanuts in the shell, raisins, and sunflower seeds. Wild foods can be collected in autumn to use; such as whole sunflowers, berries, rose hips, hawthorn haws, and dried seed pods. The smaller items can be placed in a net bag first.

Small bowls to hold birdseed can be made from orange or grapefruit peels. Cut the fruit in half and peel the flesh out to make the bowl. Punch four holes around the edges and tie with string. After hanging on the tree, fill with birdseed. Millet or bird seed can also be sprinkled on the ground around the tree for ground-feeding birds. The seeds that drop will nourish these and other small creatures like field mice. If you put corn out, you might even attract wild turkey.

Shallow pans of fresh water will also be appreciated by birds in winter. The water has to be replaced often because it freezes. An old frying pan works well for this, because any ice can be easily turned out.

Making a wildlife Christmas tree is a great family activity for the holiday season. You'll spend many enjoyable hours watching the birds and squirrels feast on your Christmas gifts to them.


Friday, December 9, 2011

Appreciating God's Handiwork

Stained Glass in Motion

Its formal name is “Greta oto” but this miracle of nature is commonly called The Glasswing Butterfly.   A native of Central America,  this alluring yet elusive creature  is found from Mexico to Panama. 

With wings as delicate as finely blown glass, this rare tropical gem is studied closely by rain forest ecologists.   When their numbers are up, it’s an indication of  a healthy habitat.  But if their populations dwindle, it’s a sign of ecological danger.   

Rivaling the refined beauty of a stained glass window, the translucent wings of the Glasswing Butterfly shimmer in the sunlight like polished panes of turquoise, orange, green, and red. 

The Glasswing Butterfly is just one example of God's blessings that surround us.  No matter where you live, look around and revel in the wonder of nature.  Behold the beauty that is ours to enjoy.


Foto Funnies

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Arrest Granny!?

Dateline December 2011:  Economies are collapsing in Europe, there’s rampant unrest in the Middle East and North Africa, and on the home front a lingering recession has left millions of Americans either out of work or underemployed.   Yet the residents and city officials of Lynn Massachusetts are in an uproar over a kind-hearted old woman who feeds the waterfowl.  Talk about priorities!

As an animal lover who spends more feeding the wildlife than I do on myself, I find this story disheartening.  But what makes it worse is the timing:  Christmas-the season for love and charity and kindness.  Where is the compassion for this lady, or for the animals struggling to find food in the winter? 

She’s flaunting this and the neighbors are fed up with it,” said Allissa Kummel, who lives near Flax Pond.  Happy Holidays to you, Neighbor of the Year!

Where is the common sense?  Where is the sense of community?  I have no doubt that an equitable solution could be found if only these folks would set aside their pettiness.  How about designating one section of each pond—away from foot traffic--as the animal’s feeding station?  Or how about a neighborhood brigade to wash down the sidewalks?   If everyone pitched in and  helped it wouldn’t be that much of an effort.    These are just a couple of ideas off the top of my head.  I have no doubt the Lynn brain-trust could come up with even better ideas. 

Additionally, the Lynn community needs to become better educated about waterfowl waste—especially regarding Canada Geese.  These majestic animals have been maligned and their “threat” to humans vastly overstated. 

This story has made national headlines.  Let’s hope the attention and outcry force the city of Lynn and its residents to rethink the situation and come up with a compromise.  Now that would be a Christmas miracle!


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Happy Holidays from Bon Bon Pond!


The holidays are hectic,
but take a moment out 
from your busy schedule.
Sit back, savor this blessed season, 
relax and enjoy something special
from Minnesota's very own 
premiere acapella group--
The Blenders

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

In Celebration of Squirrels


In the wise words of youtube poster outwardbound34: "If we had the determination of a squirrel, we could accomplish anything."   So, be inspired, and reach for the stars, or, maybe for today, just a nut!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Today's Smile

Enjoy this incredible tribute to our animal kingdom! The music and photographs will fill your heart with joy.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Winter Wonderland

The first measurable snow of the season truly makes it feel like Christmas around Bon Bon Pond.  There is something so pure and refreshing about this pristine precipitation as it prepares us for a brand new year of endless possibilities.  Soon we will celebrate a miracle:  the virgin birth of a messiah.  It’s magical; a time to celebrate.  Anything seems possible . . . May all your Christmas dreams come true.

Dust of Snow
by Robert Frost (1923)
The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree

Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Scrooge Lives in Fridley

Lighten up there, Mr. Leong.  The sounds of ducks and geese are joyous.  There are certainly a lot worse noises--like loud parties, crying/screaming children--that you and your sourpuss neighbors could have to endure.  Happy Holidays to you, too.

Cast of Characters


Thursday, December 1, 2011

Exciting New Blog Updates!

Photobucket New Web Address  Photobucket 

New Contact Info