Irrigation day in the pasture:

Interesting facts about cattle egrets from

  • It has been estimated that Cattle Egrets are able to gather 50% more food and use only two-thirds as much energy when they feed in association with livestock as opposed to feeding alone.
  • The Cattle Egret did not exist outside of Africa until the late 19th century. They likely flew from Africa to South America and since have extended their range through Florida and then further north and west.
  • They have been observed along side the runways of airports waiting for airplanes to pass and blow insects out of the grass. They also follow farm equipment to catch insects that are disturbed.
  • A group of cattle egrets are collectively known as a “stampede” of egrets.

We had a surprise snow goose visitor here a couple of days ago. She was palling around with a pair of Canada geese:

According to, a group of geese has many collective nouns, including a “blizzard”, “chevron”, “knot”, “plump”, and “string” of geese. We often see large blizzards of snow geese here over the winter, but they’ve been gone for several weeks now.

It was when I saw the two together that I realized the significant size difference between the species:

Wherever the pair of Canada geese would go, the little snow goose would follow:

Snow geese migrate north for the summer and breed in the Arctic regions of North America and eastern Siberia. I can’t help but wonder how our little surprise visitor was left behind.

No matter now. I’m sure her friendly Canadian cousins will take care of her until she’s reunited with her snow goose family.

3/1/13 update: Our surprise visitor wasn’t a snow goose, but rather a Ross’s Goose. Thank you, Patrick C!

A lot happened at Morning Bray Farm this year. When I sat down yesterday to reminisce by looking through blog posts, the magnitude of the changes here really hit me. 

The blessing of Patrick came to us in March, followed by our beautiful Muscovy ducklings in April. Fergus left us in July, we adopted our BLM beauty Gracie Belle in August, and Buck arrived in October.

Whoa. It all happened so fast.

Last night, Don and I went through and picked our favorite blog photos/moments from 2011. We’ll share our picks this week. If you click on any of the photos, you’ll be taken to the original blog posts.

January 2011

The fabulous four:

Fergus was such a character:

He did an excellent James Cagney impersonation:

Sandhill crane:

February 2011

Our sleeping beauty:

Our first baby of 2011:

We’re excited. They’ve been returning in waves over the last few days.

The sandhill cranes are back.

I remember reading somewhere that they are one of the loudest, if not the loudest bird species.

Here’s what we’ve been listening to:

This is their unison call. Unison calls are produced by a pair of birds. This call, performed with the birds standing close to each other and in a synchronized duet, is a way of reinforcing the pair bond between a female and a male bird. It may also be used by a pair to threaten predators or other cranes.

The interesting facts from

  • A group of woodpeckers has many collective nouns, including a “descent”, “drumming”, and “gatling” of woodpeckers.
  • As the smallest North American woodpecker, the Downy can drill cavities in dead trees or limbs that measure as little as 10 cm around. This means that it can live in a wider range of habitat than can larger woodpeckers.
  • Males tend to feed in the tops of trees on branches that are small in diameter, females feed midlevel and lower on larger diameter branches.
  • The Downy Woodpecker uses sources of food that larger woodpeckers cannot, such as the insect fauna on weed stems.

Water is the driver of nature.

              – Leonardo da Vinci

As of last week, the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District is moving water again.

Irrigation season has begun.

Change is coming and excitement is in the air.

There’s a party going on…

…and everyone’s invited.

And while some may stay longer than others…

…everyone’s having a great time.

While we have plenty of Eurasian Collared-Doves around Morning Bray Farm, I’m pretty sure this is a Mourning Dove.

She’s beautiful.

I just love how the rings of feathers around her eyes are the color of the sky.

The interesting facts from

  • The oldest documented wild Mourning Dove was 19.3 years old. The average lifespan of wild birds is 1.5 years.
  • It is a game bird; and in many states, habitat is created with the specific purpose to hunt birds.
  • Both males and females secrete a substance from their crop that is high in protein and fat. Called crop milk or pigeon milk, it resembles and smells like cottage cheese and is fed to young birds.
  • A group of doves has many collective nouns, including a “bevy”, “cote”, “dole”, “dule”, and “flight” of doves.


Note: Whoops! Turns out she isn’t a Mourning Dove after all. She’s a White-winged Dove. Thank you CeeCee!

The interesting facts on White-winged Doves from

  • Although the White-winged Dove is most commonly found in Arizona and the southwest, its range is expanding nation-wide and into parts of Canada.
  • In Florida breeding occurs only in introduced populations.

A crane fossil approximately ten million years old was found in Nebraska and is structurally identical to the modern Sandhill Crane, making it the oldest known bird species still surviving.

Some other interesting facts about Sandhill Cranes from

  • Sandhill Cranes are noted for their elaborate courtship displays. Two displays are used to form mating pairs while three other displays occur only between mates and serve to maintain the pair bond.
  • They frequently preen with vegetation and mud stained with iron oxide resulting in a reddish-brown color rather than their natural gray.
  • A group of cranes has many collective nouns, including a “construction”, “dance”, “sedge”, “siege”, and “swoop” of cranes.

To this day, I still think Lonesome Dove is my best part.

                                                                                –Robert Duvall


Two doves meeting in the sky
Two loves hand in hand, eye to eye
Two parts of a loving whole
Two hearts and a single soul
Two stars shining big and bright
Two fires bringing warmth and light
Two songs played in perfect tune
Two flowers growing into bloom
Two doves gliding in the air
Two loves free without a care
Two parts of a loving whole
Two hearts and a single soul

                                                                            – Author unknown

‘Tis the season for baby birds once again. These little guys were sitting on the barn floor Sunday afternoon.

I just love how well-defined their little mouths are. I wonder if they are designed that way to act as beacons for mom and dad.

I always find it comforting to hear their little peeps resonating throughout the barn.

Some interesting facts about sparrows from

  • The Old Testament Bible associates the symbol of the sparrow with loneliness and solitude, while the New Testament views it as a sign of insignificance. Poor House Sparrow.
  • In Japan the sparrow is traditionally a symbol of loyalty, perhaps because of its sociable nature and how it gets along in large numbers.
  • These birds return to their birthplace after every migration (a characteristic known as philopatric). Because of this, local populations have adapted to the color of their habitat resulting in 15 distinct subspecies in the West.
  • A group of house sparrows are collectively known as a “blight”, “humiliation”, and “subdivision” of sparrows.