When Purple Martins Make It Rain

Coming in to Roost

“Unfortunately, there will be white rain today. And lots of it.” ~ Angie @ DirtNKids

Purple Martins – Insectivore Extraordinaire

Photo credit: Wiki Commons

We have been in love with Purple Martins ever since we learned about them from the from Houston Audubon Society education director on a school field trip earlier this year. They are the largest of the swallow family of birds, and — like other swallows — are communal, both nesting and roosting together in large colonies. This habit is both a boon and a detriment to breeding success, and like other wildlife habitat loss has hit them hard in the last century.

As human populations grew rampantly in America in the 20th century, competition from the more opportunistic birds (sparrows, starlings) decreased their numbers to critical numbers by the late 1980’s. Conservation efforts came to the foreground, and bird lovers everywhere became Martin ‘landlords’ to see if we could save this species from ultimate extinction. So far, these efforts seem to be working and the Purple Martin is making a comeback, adapting to human ecology, even.

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Little Creepy Critters of Summer

Ant On A Thistle

Hawk of the Garden

The Ant That’s Not An Ant
Velvet Ant (Really A Wingless Wasp)

Back Porch Squatter
Orb Weaver Spider

Sign of Summer
Scissor-grinder Cicada Emerging

Apologies for the recent ‘blogging binge.’ I’ve been
away waaaaay too long.

I missed my DirtNKids Playground and friends.
Nice to see everyone again! :D

Coming soon…An Hour in the Garden:
Lazy ‘work’ in a no-till garden in 90-degree heat.

Barred Owl: One Little Victory


“Celebrate the moment | As it turns into one more | Another chance at victory | Another chance to score” ~ Rush, “One Little Victory”

Being Inspired By Others

There’s no way that anyone could have known what a silly blog post started. Early this summer, WingTrip Blog put us on high alert for our yard’s resident barred owls. His post’s photos, narrative, and video was just what we needed to shoot one of our own — with a camera.

brendan_mcgarry_150608_00038The photo isn’t mine. It is the property of Brendan McGarry, so poignantly captured that I relegated is as the background image on my tablet. I have carried his inquisitive looking barred owl image with me ever since, looking at it several times a day as I dream and wish to have one of my very own.

I was inspired, you could say. He couldn’t possibly have known this; I’ve been off blogging pretty much since that day several weeks back. But the video he recorded of chicks napping and calling between snoozes stuck with the kids and I in the weeks ahead. Good bloggers make an impact like that; it’s why I am still with WordPress.

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Guest Post: On The Giving of Names


“When we share our lives with animals, we name them. Not only do we name them, we deliberate, sometimes for ages about what the most appropriate name will be.”

Given the controversy over the senseless death of Cecil the Lion in the news today, I’d like to welcome the author at There’s an Elephant in the Room Blog to share her thoughtful perspective as a former non-vegan and (currently) abolitionist vegan.

We name our pets, name the wild animals in our yards and beyond, even. It is normally done with great thought and deliberation, to best capture a personality whose life is shared up close. And when death takes those animals, we grieve each in our own way for them, writing their names on tombstones and remembering them with anniversary blog posts.

Why is it that we choose specific other animals to not name? Animals who are expendable? Animals that are no less alive, no less full of personality — animals that we eat?

Friends and family — pet lovers or animal lovers — please find alternatives to enslaving and using them for your taste and life pleasures. There are plenty of delicious alternative to be found; after three years being vegan, I can attest to it and can help. Free the billions in bondage by first freeing them from your tastebud.

~ Shannon @ DirtNKids Blog

On the Giving of Names

Today, yet again, social media resounds with vilification of an individual who quite unashamedly killed a fellow sentient individual named Cecil. There was a time when I could never even have imagined the howls of indignation and outrage, the cursing, the contempt that such an event would precipitate. I had no idea that there was so much hate in the world. But there is. And in a culture such as ours, underpinned by inflicting violence and death on the vulnerable and helpless while we delude ourselves that we’re kind and caring, I suppose it’s hardly surprising.

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