Birds on the Brain

Yesterday, my husband called me a birdbrain. He really meant that I always have birds on the brain, which is true. 2021 has been the year of birds for me. It all started last summer when we moved into our new house. Cardinals nested in one of the small trees in my backyard, and I became obsessed. I watched them closely throughout the whole process. Honestly, I’ve never really lived somewhere with a lot of trees before. My current neighborhood is a lot greener than all of my former homes.

So I watched my cardinals and at the beginning of this year (2021), I hung up a bird feeder. I started to notice different birds and about halfway through January, I decided that one of my goals for this year was going to be to learn about birds and identify as many different species as possible. I downloaded the Merlin bird identification app from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and went to work.

Everywhere I have gone for the past four months, I look for birds. I pay greater attention to all of the birds that live around us every day. I use my app to identify the birds and read about them. I’m keeping a running list of birds that I have seen in 2021. We are four months in and I have already identified 27 different birds! Here is my list, so far, in the order that I first spotted them:

  • Northern cardinals
  • Northern mockingbirds
  • Song sparrows
  • American robins
  • Carolina chickadees
  • Cedar waxwings
  • Great blue herons
  • Double crested cormorants
  • Mourning doves
  • Canada geese
  • European starlings
  • Muscovy ducks
  • Mallard ducks
  • Eastern bluebirds
  • American crows
  • House sparrows
  • Blue jays
  • Snow geese
  • Great egrets
  • American coots
  • Eastern kingbirds
  • Red winged blackbirds
  • Brown pelicans
  • Rock pigeons
  • Gray catbirds
  • House finches
  • Mississippi kites

That’s a lot of birds! And to further solidify my crazy bird lady self, I have organized any pictures I take of them into folders on my computer. Granted, it is hard to get good pictures of birds, so many are blurry or far away, but I’m only counting birds on my list if I can at least get some sort of picture to aid me in identification. It’s possible that I have a mis-identification or two, as I’m no expert. But I think most of them are spot on.

Mockingbirds are the most common visitor to my feeders (along with the cardinals). This one even came the day we had an ice storm.
Carolina chickadee
Cedar waxwing at the Hilltop Arboretum
My pictures are all blurry, but the flock of double crested cormorants by the lake at Blue Cross was super fun to watch. They swim like ducks and then take off and fly to perch in the trees.

The Muscovy duck did not show up right away in my app, because it is considered a domesticated duck and not wild. I had to google duck with a red, warty face to learn more about these guys!

Great egret by the LSU lakes
I had gone a few months without spotting any pigeons here in Baton Rouge. A visit to my hometown of Gretna, though, finally got me to add one to the 2021 list!
I had just been lamenting how I hadn’t added any hawks or birds of prey to my list yet, because they are always flying so high in the sky, where I can’t identify them. But yesterday I saw this Mississippi kite in a tree from my backyard!

Cardinals are the original bird that got me obsessed. Yesterday, I found out that I had a new nest in my yard! I took a picture of the cute, fluffy baby. Today, he left the nest and has been hopping all around with his parents learning to fly. There are still two more in the nest.

So now you know my deep, dark secret. I’m a crazy bird lady. And I love it.

Wooden Crate Shelves – DIY

I have been slowly turning the dining room in our new house into a library for myself. There is one awkward nook in the corner that I wanted to use for more shelving/storage space.

I looked at several different narrow bookshelves, but was also trying to stick to a budget. Searching Pinterest, I came across the idea to use wooden crates to make my own shelves. In addition to low cost, another benefit of this plan was that I could stagger the shelves to maximize the use of the space. So I went to Lowe’s and bought 7 wooden crates.

First, we sanded them down to get rid of some of the roughness.

Then I used paint that we already had from our old house to paint the crates. I painted most of the crates a white color and the bottom of the crate a purplish-gray. Since I knew certain parts of the crates weren’t going to show, I did not have to paint the entire crate.

Once the paint was dry, we set them up in this staggered pattern. I didn’t even attach them to each other. I’m just using the support of the walls to keep them tight in place.

Now, I’ve got extra storage for books and pens and such. My printer even fits perfectly in the bottom crate. It isn’t perfectly styled, but it is functional and cute and I’m proud that I made something!