Saturday, March 26, 2011

Critters, the Tree

We have been enjoying sparrows, cardinals, black capped chickadees, and now, in the last few days, house finches eating the safflower seeds on the window feeder.

Here's a house finch on the top of the garden window, getting ready to go to the feeder.

It noticed me right away, and seemed to wonder what I was doing.

The rosemary plants look like they've made it through the winter.  I'm hoping it gets warm enough for them to go outside in the next few weeks.

Look at that face!  I hope to see more house finches around.

The black capped chickadees are such characters!  They are the most frequent visitors to the feeder, and are still pecking at it from time to time.  I almost wonder if the pecking causes more of the seeds to go into the feeding area.  They seem to face away from the window a lot.

We had a covering of snow this morning, and could get more tonight.  When I looked out this afternoon and saw that it had melted, I also noticed a squirrel eating something by the curb.

Larry added some food to the back feeders this afternoon, and I kept looking out the back door window to see if any birds were eating.  This suet has been out awhile, but only a little has been eaten.  I saw a female woodpecker eating, but the photos did not turn out very well.  Maybe now that it's cold again, they will eat from it more.

Do you think this sparrow is thanking me for putting the rest of the seed mixture out, or trying to figure out if I'm planning on opening the door?

The dark eyed juncos are good looking birds.

When I looked out later, I saw a male woodpecker.  Again, the photos were not so great.  They don't stick around once they see me with the camera.

We have had three estimates for cutting the silver maple down, and are expecting one tomorrow, and one Monday.  The first one was the highest so far.  The last one was a little more than half of what the first one was.  The first company is a landscape company, and the third, a tree service.  They are both certified arborists, licensed with the city, as are the others we are considering.

It is going to be a huge adjustment losing the tree.

I was going to put these photos in a SkyWatch Friday post, but didn't get it done.  The branch veering off to the left is the one that has the biggest hole (that we know of) in the base of it.

This is where the baby squirrel is.  The extension office said it will be out of there in a little over a week.

Larry and I continue to have different ideas for this area.  From what I've read, we shouldn't plant another tree for a few years.  It's going to have to be a smaller one, because the city said it has to be 5 feet from where the sidewalk would start if there was one.  The tree is about 8 feet from that area as it is, and I've read and been told that one should plant the new tree 5 feet from the cut down tree.  It's going to be a challenge.

I need to move the plants at the base of the tree, and some in the planter by the house will also need to be moved.  They won't like the full sun.

At supper, Larry mentioned putting in a raised bed the size of the one that's there.  I told him I was thinking the area with the ground stump would probably be bigger than that.  I said I was thinking we could put some bricks in the area between the planing area and the sidewalk, where we usually have a bench and a couple chairs.  I thought we could put a fence across the front of the bed, and plant some big flowers to make the area more private.  I still am thinking about annuals, but some tango lilies and other tall plants may look nice there.  I had mentioned sunflowers, but Larry reminded me the squirrels usually knock them down. He's not thrilled with more dirt or mulch showing, and said he thought a raised bed would look nicer.  I said, OK, let's put a big raised bed in there, and plant some veggies!  Well, that's not what he had in mind, either.

What would you do with this area until you figured out whether you can plant another tree?

I wonder how many critters are going to be homeless due to cutting the tree down.  I have an area in my garden across the street where I'd like to put a big branch or two in for them.  We hope to cut circles to put in some flower beds, too.

I am linking into Misty Dawn's Camera Critters.  The link is in my sidebar.


  1. Sue, those are great bird shots. We have a pair of house finches that build on the back porch every single year. I like to think it is the same pair!

    I always have difficulty shooting into light from a dark position, inside to outside. There are adjustments you can make, but I haven't mastered that yet.

    As for the tree, I would probably make a curved bed extending the foundation bed down to the sidewalk in front. That way mowing would just be in the center of the yard. Another idea is to make the entire yard a bed still using the gently curving idea with a very small grassy center area where I would put a small flowering tree that is hardy to your area. Some taller shrubs at the property line would give some privacy and a good background to the rest of the bed.

    All this could be done in small stages just using what you have.

  2. Sue, if I recall correctly, you already follow Catherine's blog A Gardener in Progress? She and her husband have just completed a marvellous makeover of their front yard (street facing side) and they've done an incredible job, adding raised beds, gravel, fencing and an arbor...There are some super ideas there, if you're looking to turn this sad tree loss scenario into an opportunity to bring about some change and, at the same time, add more privacy & value to your garden & home...just a thought!

  3. Today's post (although tinged with the sad reality of having to lose your lovely old tree) is full of so much life, joy and happiness with all your amazing little birds and other 'critters' as you call them ;) Also, now having the chance to think about and plan and discuss different options for using the freed up space to its best advantage. That's exciting! I hope you reach a happy compromise :)

  4. Sue ~ Sorry you will be losing that giant tree, but just think of the possibilities. Like Desiree said do check out Catherine's blog. I love what she has done and this is only the beginning.

    Glenda has great ideas too, of curving beds and little grass.

    We have very little grass left around our property, just the way we like it. :-)

    Great bird shots and what a nice variety of birds you have visiting your feeders.

    Have a great weekend ~ FlowerLady

  5. We have those same birds here. I was wondering what the ones with the red heads and breasts were. They are so cute.

    We have a pair of sparrows that light on one of the braces under the roof of the patio cover, right at the point in the center. The male always pecks on the steel brace. I don't know why.

    I know you'll do something beautiful where your tree was. Things die so other things can live and the adjustment will be made with the critters that live in/on the tree. I can hardly wait to see what you end up doing!

  6. Sue,

    Have you talked to the tree and asked it what it wants to do? Might want to hug it and as? It has have a huge job of being your only tree in the front yard. Also consider the other plants that depend on it to shade them from the sun and the birds and other critters.

    I think if it was me I'd try trimming it back and seeing if it'll recover (SAFELY). I'm not an arborist, but I would dearly miss the only big tree in my front yard. We have 4 acres and lots and lots of trees, we'd not miss but a few of them.

  7. This is the 1st time i got rosemary to last inside. I put it in my kitchen, but there are some new shoots that are leggy.I have used a few when cooking.I wondered if you trimed it back or just let it go.

  8. You have a lot of great bird feeding areas.
    I like annuals and mulch in new planting areas while I'm deciding what to put there permanately. Not as much work to move later. A raised bed would still give that area a focus and not just be flat with the rest of the yard. I don't think our city has any restrictions on how far a tree has to be from the sidewalk. We're a "tree city usa" designation and they promote planting trees a lot so I think that would be mentioned if they cared, but as property owners, we are responsible for some of the cost of replacing the street sidewalks if needed. A whole new idea may come to you before you realize it too.

  9. Wow so much to start light with beautiful birds and then head towards the hefty news of the tree removal and discussions. I wish my other half cared as much about plants as I did. I'd love to have those discussions. I feel terrible for that eventual loss. Here's what I would do....and this is just me because I've had to do it. Once you figure out which company you want to remove the tree....ask around for referrals which it sounds like you have......have them come out. Rid the tree and have someone ground that stump up to the ground. While it's difficult, I would leave that space open for awhile with a raised bed/arbor as several have suggested. You could slip a couple veggies/herbs in there for a compromise:)I don't know about waiting 5 years to replace with a new tree, but give yourselves at least a year to weigh in on the options and research the perfect tree that will attract more birds or maybe something else entirely:) That's my two cents. Tree hugs. It will be okay...just a transition. I'm enjoying an empty space right now in my garden as I think about what will go in place of the aging and sickly Ash that we removed back in January. Hard...yes. I helped cutting it down and was there for the job. Glad I did it....yes. Right now I am planting rosemary in its place until I begin the next phase of the project:)

  10. Great bird pictures! We get flickers here at our feeder, and they are very nervous about me standing there taking pictures.

    I really like your idea of putting in a large raised bed and planting veggies. I did that in our previous house. We took two trees down in the front, and I found I really liked having more morning sun on the house. Before that, it was very dark and dreary inside. Well, at any rate, I like the idea of another big bed on that side, to match the one on the right.

    I also really like your plan to save some branches, and some rounds from the tree. I wish I had done that.

  11. That's one BIG tree.
    Love that window feeder.

  12. I just love your window feeder. It is neat to see your birds up close. Sorry about the tree, we have to have a large pine cut down next to our house and I keep thinking about the poor birdies loosing their home. But we do have lots of trees.

  13. Dear Sue, The window bird-feeder works well for you! I love you bird photos. We had two large trees removed in 2009, and put a raised flower bed where one was located, and still haven't decided what to do with the other. In the meantime, I put containers there - planted with annuals - as it looked so bare. Even though it is sad to loose trees, it is exciting to have a new space to fill. P x

  14. Love the pictures of the birds.....sorry you are lossing your big tree......I am sure you are going to miss it...but I am also sure you will make that area beautiful.....
    Prayers, Bo

  15. Awww. .you have a TON of great birds to enjoy!! Good for you! Not sure what you have for shade around the rest of your front yard. .but I have a love affair with blue spruce. .and there are so many dwarf varieties. .wondering what a small grouping of those would look like. .however. .if you need the shade. .a tree would definitely do better! Thanks for sharing your cold weather down here. .my kids are hoping that they will cancel school tomorrow because of the miniscule amount of sleet that we are getting. .at 45 degrees. .who am I to squelch their enthusiasm. Ha!

  16. Great bird photos Sue. I can sympathize with your feelings on losing your tree. We have a mature pine in our back yard that got very stressed by the construction of our house, followed by a hurricane, followed by a drought. We're doing everything we can to help it, but there's always the chance it may go into further decline and have to come down. We will really miss it.

  17. Love seeing the birds that visit your garden!
    Sad about the tree. I hope you will soon be enjoying putting new plans into effect for that area.

  18. Does the front of your house face the west or east?

  19. I think I've started a grieving process for the fact that the tree will come down. At first, it didn't seem real to me, and now, I'm unhappy about it. I guess I'm not mad, though. It is going to be a big adjustment.

    Thanks again for all your words of sympathy and encouragement.

    Greggo, the tree is on the south side of the house. We are going to see a change in our cooling bills. We should get a little shade from the west from a tree next door, though.

  20. I'd leave 10-15' of the trunk intact, then have virgin's bower clematis climb and drape all over it. You'd have a clematis tree. Plus, birds would thank you. It seems like you could do something neat and unusual with the trunk, and still maintain an afterimage of the maple.

  21. Sue, your blog is looking so good, luv all the crocuses.

    You have more bird activity than we do, but then you have more feeders.

    Sorry about your Silver Maple. For some reason I remember my dad telling me many, many years ago that Silver Maples were faster growers, but didn't last long. Not sure if that's true or not.

    Hope you are all well. donna

  22. I like the juncos. The look hearty. Kind of chubby and cuddly.

    And the other birds, the one with the black cap on their heads, maybe they are just shy or like privacy. It's too bad though, I would have liked to see their faces.

    That's a good question about the tree. I'm sure whatever you decide it will be good.


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