Wednesday, August 25, 2021

The Daily James



"Partners For Life"

A bird can't preen its own head with its bill, so they use their feet to clean head feathers.  In a few social species, like ravens, flock-mates preen each other.
(From:  What Its Like To Be A Bird  by David Allen Sibley)

This post brings you the amazing world of James and Margaret.  I found this pair of ravens on Instagram...
Following this instagram account gives you a daily peek into the lives of the lucky residents of a backyard habitat created by thoughtful animal advocates who reside in the Los Angeles area.  There are many characters to follow.... There's Mumford the Turkey Vulture, Miss Bonita the ground squirrel, and nocturnal creatures captured on cleverly placed cameras near a bubbling water feature.
I encourage you to follow along for a daily dose of joy and to remember that we are not the most important species on this planet....we are just one of many equally important residents.

If you are interested in these pastel paintings please visit my website:

There are many  more to choose from and I would be so happy if you took a look around!

Saturday, August 21, 2021



Pastel 18 x 24 inches

Chickadees are the busybodies of the forest, peering into crevices, exploring tangles, studying twigs and pine cones, and constantly chattering about it.  When they aren't nesting, chickadees are quite social, and travel in small groups of up to ten birds.  Other songbirds understand the chickadee's calls and often join their roving groups.  By relying on the chickadees to watch for danger, the other birds have more time to focus on foraging.  This can be particularly helpful to migrants.  A migrating warbler that has just landed in an unfamiliar woodland at dawn can take advantage of the experience of the local chickadees.  Following them as they move through the forest will be relatively safe, and will lead to the best sources of food and water.  
Despite the fact that chickadees are reliable and consistent visitors to bird feeders (they especially like sunflower seeds), more than half of their diet year-round is animal prey.  In the northern winter, they hunt for dormant tiny insects and spiders, including eggs and larvae, which are found in bark crevices and dead leaf clusters, along twigs, and in other such places.  In the summer, they mostly bring small caterpillars to their nestlings (they can collect over a thousand in a day), but for the first week or so after hatching the adults make special efforts to seek out spiders to feed to their young.  Spiders provide the nutrient taurine, which is essential for brain development and other functions.

From: What It's Like To Be A Bird by David Allen Sibley

Each morning I have the pleasure of sipping my morning coffee in front of our large living room window which looks out to our many bird feeders under our front yard oak tree.  With binoculars at the ready, I can delight in the resident chickadees, finches, and titmice while be occasionally surprised by the seasonal visitor like the grosbeak or warbler.  
Birdwatching became an activity that my husband and I now share after our first date when he packed up a lunch and some binoculars and took me to a local lake in San Diego county and introduced me to the world of birds. What a "nerdy" first date, I thought to myself!  As a native to the city of Los Angeles, the only birds I ever knew were represented in horror films like Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds"!
This newfound love affair with my now husband has led to a 3 decade long love affair with our winged friends of the sky!  Coming full circle after a career as an ICU registered nurse for 10 years then a full time mom to my two amazing young adult kids, I now find passionate joy in the recreation of my feathered kindred spirits in my art.  It is with great joy that I share this passion with you!
Don't forget to look up at the sky and be grateful for the birds.....

Saturday, August 14, 2021

On The Hunt


Coopers Hawk on the Hunt

Alert and quick, the Cooper's Hawk and its close relative the Sharp-Shinned Hawk live on small birds.  These species often hunt around bird feeders in the winter, using hedges, a fence, or even a house to hide their approach.  They suddenly burst into the open near the feeder, like a gray-brown missile, at over thirty miles per hour.  In that fraction of a second they look for a songbird that is vulnerable - slow, inattentive, or just unlucky.  With a quick flick of wings and tail the hawk changes direction, spinning and dodging to follow the smaller bird, trying to get close enough that its long legs and need-sharp talons can reach out and snare the prey.
Cooper's and Sharp-shinned Hawks are the menacing "chicken-hawks" of earlier generations, but they are generally too small to take full-grown chickens.  The related Northern Goshawk is more of a threat to chickens, but quite rare.  A reflexive belief that hawks are evil, and that hawks and humans compete for the same food let to centuries of persecution  Educational campaigns in the late 1800s and early 1900s stressed the economic value of hawks- for example, they help protect farmers' crops by eating mice - and an appreciation of the value of predators led to strict laws to protect hawks.  But hawks are still persecuted in many areas, and this same thinking continues in attitudes toward wolves and other large predators.
(From: What It's Like To Be a Bird by David Allen Sibley)

This painting of a Coopers Hawk is inspired from a photo I took of this visitor who happened to be hanging out in our backyard tree, no doubt spying on the songbirds visiting our feeders.
A rare visitor, always a moment of awe...

This painting is available for purchase at

Saturday, August 7, 2021

The Wonderful World of Woodpeckers


 The Acorn Woodpecker, found in the southwestern U.S., has the unique habit of drilling small holes in trees and storing an acorn in each hole.  This species (particularly in California) lives in cooperative groups that include several breeding adults with several non breeding helpers, and all contribute to making holes and gathering acorns.  Acorns are gathered and stored in the fall to be consumed during the winter when few other food sources are available.  This allows the birds to remain on their territory through the winter, and to be healthy enough to breed in the spring.  The success of a breeding group is related to how many acorns they can store.  Holes are drilled in dead limbs or in thick bark, so as not to injure the tree, and they are reused each year.  A relatively small number of new holes are added each year and a group of woodpeckers builds up a large storage capacity over time.  A typical storage tree with four thousand holes could take over eight years to create, longer than most Acorn Woodpeckers live.  The record - an estimated fifty thousand holes in one tree - probably took more than one hundred years to make!

(From What It's Like To Be a Bird by David Allen Sibley)

In our backyard, we provide suet feeders for our resident woodpeckers.  Yesterday, I observed at least three eating at one time from the hanging feeder while two more watched and waited for their turn.
This painting is inspired by these colorful fellows.  I so enjoy their characteristic chatter as they move about our backyard!

This painting measures 4.75 x 3 inches and is available here:

The Daily James

  "James" "Partners For Life" A bird can't preen its own head with its bill, so they use their feet to clean head fe...