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Nature

We are so lucky living in the big city surrounded with beautiful wild life. We have all kind of animals live under our rear deck, woodchuck, skunk, squirrel, and lots of chipmunks. We also have a deer family ( growing every year, every spring we are having new babies ), and my favorite creatures, colorful birds, all around us.
When we had remodeling at the back of the house couple years ago, we were stressful about our chipmunks because they particularly lived and hibernated in that area. We thought we lost them forever. Luckily when spring arrived, they came out with puzzled face,checking our addition then rushed to have a even bigger family.
I want to share their pictures with you, which shows they are big part of our life.








Every year we are having new babies from our deer family..



There is a magical moment, when you wake up and find new born babies just front of your living room window. What better way to start a busy day ??


This beautiful,striking red color birds are "Northern Cardinal". Male's overall color is a brilliant red body,black face and large crest; female is a grayish -tan overall with reddish tail and wings.


We always feed our birds during winter, early spring and especially their migration season. When the spring arrives with daffodils and hyacinths scents, we "welcomes back" them to their garden. Suddenly garden fill with their chirping and nests all around us. Fall season is an inspection season , we check every nests, try to figure out; which trees they chose as their home.. This fall we found really cute,little one; we've never seen before. So delicate,so small,hard to believe their eggs can actually  fit in that. For us living-observing nature is real stress management companion.



American Goldfinch (yellow color )  and Indigo Bunting (blue color )



Those birds above Cedar Waxwing.Truly elegant, and sleek with distinctive black mask and throat,and waxy tips on wing feathers. It's hard to attract them with bird food,they usually come-fly with group of birds and clean insects on certain trees.

This one "Rose - Breasted Grosbeak"..In early spring their delightful songs are heard from the tree tops. The song of this bird; bursts onto the spring scene,evoking an inevitable "wow,listen to that ".

Woodchuck is taking a sun bath and enjoying spring breeze while checking inside of the house.

In June 2005, when I saw the peacock in our back yard, I know nobody would believe me. Luckily I had my camera with me, and I got this priceless picture. Couple years later I saw him one more time in same location. Unbelievable..

Male and female Northern Cardinals are enjoying their feast on bird feeder..Like many other animals, male is more atractive and colorful than female.

Brewer's blackbird is sharing the open buffet lunch with male Cardinal.
Brewer's blackbird to be seen in the full sun, the male Brewer’s Blackbird is a glossy, almost liquid combination of black, midnight blue, and metallic green. Females are a staid brown, without the male’s bright eye or the female Red-winged Blackbird’s streaks.


Black-capped chickadee’s black cap and bib; white cheeks; gray back, wings, and tail; and whitish underside with buffy sides are distinctive.
This tiny bird has a short neck and large head, giving it a distinctive, rather spherical body shape.This bird can be the first visitor of your bird feeder.

Watching bird nesting in your garden can be very rewarding.. Here is the full nest from one of our trees.Three babies are waiting for food. Baby birds have their feather barely..
Some birds such as Robins prefer a low nest site that you can check the babies without disturb them. The biggest problem is, low nest easily can be disturbed by other animals especially squirrels..

Hummingbirds are among the smallest of birds, most species measuring in the 7.5–13 cm (3–5 in) range. They can rapidly flapping their wings 20-80 times per second.They are also the only group of birds able to fly backwards.They named after characteristic hum sound made by their rapid wing beats.Hummingbird drink nectar from certain flowers.
They are fast flyer, you'll have only seconds to take their pictures.




Couple years ago we've been starting to see red fox family in our neighborhood. Red foxes usually live in family groups, and use urine to mark  their territories. Expanding coyote populations (a potential predator of red fox) have pushed red fox further into residential areas in recent years. Their diets are mainly small mammals and birds. Additionally, red fox have a sweet tooth as they have been seen to eat ripe grapes and apples in the early autumn.
They love to gather around our big pear tree, and take a sun bath near the house.Last year we found a cute baby just by our driveway.



The eastern gray squirrel is a food collector; they bury food in numerous small caches for later recovery.Some caches are quite temporary, especially those made near the site of a sudden abundance of food which can be retrieved within hours or days for re-burial in a more secure site. Others are more permanent and are not retrieved until months later. It has been estimated that each squirrel makes several thousand caches each season. The squirrels have very accurate spatial memory for the locations of these caches, and use distant and nearby landmarks to retrieve them. Smell is used once the squirrel is within a few centimeters of the cache.Eastern gray squirrels are more active during the early and late hours of the day, and tend to avoid the heat in the middle of a summer day.They do not hibernate.

Eastern gray squirrels eat a wide range of foods such as tree bark, berries, many types of seeds and acorns, walnuts, and other nuts, and some types of fungi found in the forests, including mushrooms.Eastern gray squirrels have a high enough tolerance for humans to inhabit residential neighborhoods and will raid bird feeders for millet, corn, and sunflower seeds. On very rare occasions, when its usual food source is scarce, eastern gray squirrels will also prey upon insects, frogs, small rodents, including other squirrels, and small birds, their eggs and young.
Couple years ago, we were trying to atract cedar waxwings with hanging apples around the garden. Before the birds,squerrels discovered the tasty afternoon snacks.



Finally we had 6 inches snow last night. When we wake up,we found out every corners in our garden covered by beautiful white carpet..These are the views from our kitchen windows.Thankfully we've filled the bird feeders couple days ago for our little friends.










WELCOME SPRING !! This weekend we found our first spring welcomers "snow drop"s all around the garden..
There are 25 species and varieties of snow drops, but all are white.They can show up weeks before crocuses do.. Best part of planting snow drops is their early arrival.They will often poke through the snow or in South they may even bloom all winter long..
Since they are small, mass planting can create a dramatic effect. Deers and other rodents don't like to browse them.

Our garden starts fill with color and scent again. Early welcomers start emerging their heads from soil; daffodils, hyacinths, muscari and magnolias start blooming elegantly. What could be better time then spring !!





For bulb gardening; my strategy is always have lots of container planting during spring.That way,in spring we have colorful flowers around the house, after they are done their blooming I replace them with summer bloomers. I plant them in the yard, under the trees.. Even naughty squirrels dig them out all the time; you'll end up nicely growing bulb gardens at the end.

One of my favorite " Dr. Merrill Magnolia " is the first blooming magnolia..Air fill with their lemony-vanilla mixture scents.Unbelievable delicate flowers scream for spring !!

Forsythia is an early flowering scrub but can grow up to 3 to 9 feet tall. Flowers are produced in the early spring before the leaves.
We have many forsythias in our garden, but especially 3 giant ones near by our living room which give bright - yellow light inside of the house.



Azaleas are blooming from every corner of our garden.
In winter some azaleas and rhododendrons stand out with large evergreen leaves. In spring the flowers are showy and has vibrant color. Summer and fall their leaves add a deep green color to our garden. Some azaleas have bright fall color on their leaves.
Filtered sun light is ideal for their thrive. Deers love to browse them, if you have a deer population in your area, you have to protect azaleas and rhododendrons with fence.

I love Redbud trees. Their dark barks shows magenta pink lovely flowers elegantly. 

For me,nothing can be more elegant than magnolia flowers. I love when they are in full bloom, I love when their flower petals are on the lawn, I love their bare branches in winter.
One of our saucer magnolia (hybrid variety ) tree pictures..

We have a color parade in the garden that gives us eye feast everyday. 4-5 tones of pink and magenta, purple, yellow, white, even blue is surrounding the yard and emerging from under canopy. Blue is an unexpected color and has amazing effect in the garden, especially when you combine with pink and purple.
We planted  trays of  blue and pink variety of " forget me not " plants couple years ago. Every year they are keep coming back larger and spreading all over the area. Now, we have blue and pink carpets under the trees.

Can you explain the spring better than this picture ?

In our garden, first blooming magnolias are "Dr. Merrill" and "Royal Star" with white, delicate flowers, then saucer magnolias follow them with a grace, then show stopper is always "Elizabeth" with creamy- yellow color, lemony- vanilla scent flowers.





It's lilac time, not just our garden filled with their sweet-peppery scent, also our house has inviting blooms and fresh scent in every room. All the vases even mason jars are filled with mix color bunches.

When you are cutting lilac flowers like all the woody stems flowers, you have to either smash the stems with hammer or make couple of angle cuts on their stems. That way they can drink water easily.

Lilac flowers love warm water. Best way to keep them alive for 3-4 days, put them in a clear vase to check their water level every morning and evening. Make sure all the stems are in the water.First couple of hours after cut, they can drink water like a sponge.
 





AMAZING !!  This beautiful lady is nesting in our front yard under the magnolia tree. When we first accidently discovered the nest and couple eggs inside, we couldn't believe our eyes. She is laying one egg and staying couple hours in the nest each day. Right now we have 8 eggs in the nest. We placed boiled potatoes and water as a food supply near by the nest. We also are going to skip to mow the grasses around the nest area when incubation period starts. We sprinkle some repellent pellets against the coyote and racoons all over the front yard to make sure our babies safely arrive in this world.
SO EXCITING !! WE CAN"T WAIT TO SEE THEM !!

Wild Mallard duck typically nest on the ground, usually around tall grasses and shrubs. Female and male duck stayed together during selection of the nest site and the laying process, but  female began to leave him for long periods during incubation..Mallard lays one egg each day until she has accumulated a full clutch. A full clutch means usually 12 eggs. During the laying period, she visit the nest only about one hour a day. While there she lays an egg and works on nest construction. Mother will add grass, twigs, and copious amounts of her own down to the nest, resulting in a well insulated and surprisingly well camouflaged nest bowl. Incubation begins after the clutch is complete, and typically lasts for about 25-29 days. During this period she will usually cover the nest and go off to feed for about an hour each morning and afternoon.  







Irises are blooming beautifully from every corner of our garden. Every flowers and trees have memories for us. These vibrant color flowers were my moms gift to our garden, besides she has 6 trees and countless bushes. I remember like yesterday, we bought / pick best iris bulbs together from one of botanical garden's bulb exhibition.

Bearded irises, with their fan like leaves and spectacular flowers are very easy to grow, carefree plants and multiply annually without any help. They trive in partial shade but even can tolerate full sun, that giving you lots of design option for your garden. They are not just showy in garden, can be excellent cut flowers in your home as well..











Last weekend when we were running at the Lake front near by park; our mind was numbed and fully occupied with Boston runner’s pain, then suddenly silence and sadness broken with lots of loud bird sounds, brought big smile on our face again. We’ve never seen these birds before, after doing little search we learned they are “black- crowned night heron” and started to nest in that area since 2007. They typically arrive in the Chicago area during late March and early April and build nest together, lay 3-5 pale blue-green eggs (incubation time lasts 24-26 days ). Both parents brood the young birds, after 2 weeks babies leave the nest, but they don’t go far.

Unfortunately that day I didn’t take my camera with me for being light, but still captured couple shots with phone camera. The first available time, I will take my camera and get nice pictures for you and my archive.







Here are couple shots from our spring garden. Hope they can cheer you up..










I'm posting more from our spring garden blooms and as I promised " better quality " black capped night heron pictures..








Time for my precious ' Elizabeth " again, every year better than before..







Black capped night herons are still working with their nest.. Amazing to see huge nests and birds all over the trees..

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