October 27, 2017

Spooking the Sparrows

I love all my backyard birds - even the house sparrows that flock in dozens & empty the feeder I refill in about 20 minutes flat, even when they kind of yell at me when the feeder is empty. recently I bought a bird feeding station kit where I can hang about 4 different feeders, it includes a suet cage and a tray and also a small bird bath. I also got a woodpecker feeder for adding peanuts and sunflower seeds. 

The problem was some of the sparrows decided they liked this feed better than their regular mix. It was fine for the most part, but they were aggressive towards the woodpeckers and the nuthatches. The poor downy woodpecker below, tried and tried, but couldn't get a morsel when the sparrows were there. 

After a lot of research into sparrow spookers, I settled to make a Magic Halo! Most of the commercially available ones are for keeping away all birds and this is the only thing I found that helps to keep sparrows away from feeders. I used a plastic bowl, drilled a few holes in it and dangled 6 jewelry wires from it. And it really worked like a magic! It's been a few days since I have put this up and the sparrows are sticking to their feeding station. Almost all the other birds - woodpeckers, nuthatches, chickadees and a few red-winged black birds and grackles have been visiting the woodpecker feeder without having to fight with the sparrows! Every once in a while there is an errant sparrow on this feeder, but they hardly stay on. 

A blurry photo from inside the kitchen doors to show the sparrows sticking to their station & the ground :) Now I am tempted to get one of these stations for the front yard too!

August 18, 2017

Beans from the Garden

As the summer progresses, my gardening woes have also increased! We had a huge hail that damaged most of my squash plants. In its aftermath, all the squash, pumpkin & melon plants have been stressed & developed powdery mildew. In addition to that, we now have squash bugs :( However, not everything is doom & gloom. The pole beans & some of the bush beans not near the squash plants are happy & in production mode. 

Today I am taking the day off from painting & studio chores to spend time tending the garden. I also harvested enough green beans this week & took the time to make a sauté with some peas & coconut. I also have some yard-long bean plants growing on the vegetable garden fence & noticed a couple of flowers blooming yesterday. Hoping for more beans to grow in the next few weeks. 

May 26, 2017


Today the suet feeder in the backyard was empty - with so many birds at the feeders, it seems like a daunting task to keep all of them filled all the time! The White Breasted Nuthatch was having a tough time competing with the other birds on the regular feeder and managed to discover the feeder in the front yard. He even managed to bring a friend along today & this is the first time I have seen 2 of them at the same time. 

The doves also love the front yard more! Sometimes its useful to have the red-winged black birds (female in the picture below) come around to splash some seeds on the ground for the doves.

May 25, 2017

Downy Day

Among all the visitors to the backyard, my favorite is the Downy Woodpecker - the smallest of all the North American Woodpeckers, he is elusive and I have to sit still for a while before he will land on one of the pear trees. Last week he found his favorite suet in the feeder & gave me a chance to get some nice shots...

...till one of the blue jays chased him away for a bit! He came back & hung out for a while and I only accumulated about 5 dozen pictures of him :)

May 19, 2017

Fur, fur, Baby!

The sparrows have learnt to expect a hoard of soft fur when the dogs get shed in the backyard. They wait for me to finish shedding and as soon as the dogs run away, they swoop down to fetch their treasure. Eyes on the prize, they completely ignore me & the camera...

May 17, 2017

Backyard Birds

Recently I have taken to having my DSLR camera with me when I sit out in the backyard with the dogs. We have set up a few bird feeders and a couple of bird houses. It's been wonderful to see so many different birds come to the yard and there's also quite a few of them nesting! Here are some clicks from a couple of weeks back...I am hoping to keep this blog alive with at least posting a few pictures now & then :)

October 16, 2015

Artsy Welcome to 2016

2016 calendars are here and they are selling so fast that I have already ordered a second batch! The theme for 2016 is Mandala Paintings. There are 13 of my popular mandala paintings and 12 of them can be framed after the month is over. 

Printed on high quality premium glossy card stock paper and measures 8.5" x 11". There is also room to write on the dates. Only $16 + $4 shipping within US. Get yours today! 

You can now purchase them directly from my website! 
Click the link here: http://www.artbybala.com/calendar

November 18, 2014

Spicy Sweet Delicata Squash

One of my favorite fall / winter squashes is the delicata squash that I got introduced to a few years back at the Oshkosh farmer's market. This week I quick cooked it in the microwave for a salad topping - with harissa, maple syrup and miso paste. In a glass bowl I mixed 1 tbsp Maple syrup, 1 tbsp white Miso, 1 tbsp Harissa. In went two of the squash cut to small bite sized portions with the skin on. It was microwaved for about 5 minutes, mixed in between a couple of times. It turned out to be more spicy than I expected, but good spicy :) With some of the juicy mixture still left in the bowl, we didn't need salad dressing. It was yummy and we had leftovers the next day with eggs & toast for breakfast. 

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