Tuesday, 27 April 2010


It's that time of year again when the nesters need supplies.
Arabella has just moulted out her guard hairs and as you can see she has welts in her flanks. It took just over a week to moult and she now has a sleek new coat in with her lovely fawn coloured outer 'guard' hairs.

Usually she is very quiet during moult time, which is twice a year for her, but a nice heart of spring greens got her out for a nibble.

To help the local nesters I collect the fur from Arabella and Wesley and roll it into little finger length bundles. I then place them around the trees where I feed the wild flock.

Wesley is the main contributor to the donations as he lives in an eternally warm den to keep his upper respiratory infection of a blocked nose and occasional sneezing and dry retching from getting worse, so he sheds daily onto the fleeces.
The fleeces hold the hairs perfectly and stop them from flying about. They also help by pulling the excess hairs off Wesley and Arabella at this time.

There are many breeds of small birds that I feed daily, year round and whilst I have never seen any of their nests I am sure I will find white and grey fur happily padding the insides. I think they need all the help they can get when looking for suitable material.

The good thing about providing fur is that it will dispel water fast and will be great at keeping the hatchlings warm when the parents are off insect collecting.

I love the 'old' style of bird paintings and luckily found these in a charity sale for pennies. On the left is a Blue Tit and on the right a Great Tit. I believe that in America/Canada the Tits are known as Chickadees - they look nearly the same kind of small bird to me.

Outside the Greats and the Blues will have nests built already. Spring has been very late this year but now the blossoms are in full bloom and the insects are everywhere.

These two paintings (prints) are probably even older than the top two. They are so old that the the colours have faded. I just love the washed out look with only a hint of colour. I painted the frames black to make the lack of colour more pronounced and pick up on their heads.
On the left are Bullfinches and on the right are Great Tits.

Following on from those are two more exceptional ones! On the left is a photograph of a cormorant from a very lovely lady that I am lucky to know - Pat Knowles a very talented photographer and on the right is an old print of a Nuthatch on a Silver Birch.

Pat is a member of the Etsy for Animals team that I am on and I can attest to her strong love of animals including her own fur family. Pat has an etsy shop for her jewellery Patk860 Jewelry Designs and an etsy shop for vintage pieces 2nd Generation Vintage and Pat has a blog called Images Thru and Open Window and she posts many beautiful pictures of her work there.

Like this rich and dreamy image of a cormorant, which I am delighted to own! and is for sale in Pat's Photography shop on etsy Photogenic Gallery.
I really love the contrast of the light and dark with the strong silhouette of the cormorant. It's so peaceful and always brings a smile to my face. I've framed it with black and metallic greys to make the cormorant really stand out amid the bright reflections.

Pat also has images that she has manipulated like the snowy one above. These are my favourite colours - browns and blues and I love the composition and subject matter of this one.

And Pat also has very beautiful flower photographs. I'm not really a knowledgeable flower person so I have no idea what their names are but this white one has petals that you can literally feel - it's like a dream!

and this one of a blossom of some sort is captivating! Just look at how it presents itself to you with the rest of it's flower friends watching from afar!
You really can just reach out and touch it!

I've noticed that Pat is drawn to the aqua greeny colours and I happened to have a nearly new, rather-on-the-small-size-sweater in just that hue so I made a couple of friends for her - Baby Swan Pretty - with a piece of old vintage lace on her back,

Little Pretty is one of the smallest babies on the lake and is so very energetic. She has taken to her swimming lessons with flying colours!

She is the fastest to cross the lake on her own, can dive down to the very bottom of the edge of the shallows and has no problems popping up onto the side of the pond when she needs to get out.

Pretty has shown great athletic promise and already she is being groomed for first place at the leading fliers V flight configuration team! Pretty is so very excited and every day she has started to flap her tiny little wing tufts in anticipation.

She has also received the Golden Medal for Bravery on the Lake of Saving a Non-Swimmer when she rescued her new friend Baby Hare Fauna from the shallows not that long ago. She is now teaching young Fauna to swim every day and it’s rather a funny sight but she tries not to smile too widely. Fauna is giving her lessons on how to run on land. Now that’s really, really hard work! She prefers to wait patiently on a side table until it is time to go to the pond for her training lessons.

showing the fluffy downy ruffles on her bum in the same pattern as her best friend Baby Hare Fauna -

Fauna is a very impressive sprinter for one so young. She practices down near the lake every day. She sprints amazingly fast over very short distances and is now increasing the length gradually.

She also loves to spend her days at the edge of the lake with her new best friend Baby Swan Pretty.

She met Pretty not that long ago when she found herself in the lake during a sprint and was struggling to get out. Pretty had raced over when she heard the little hare’s cries and bumped her up and out onto the soft grass. Whew! that was rather scary!

Little Fauna is now taking swimming lessons with Pretty every day. Sometimes the water can be rather chilly but she has to run around the rocks three times to warm up first. It takes no time at all and really works!

Fauna is returning this favour by teaching Pretty to run faster on land. Pretty has had a few tumbles and Fauna has tried to stifle her giggles but usually they both end up rolling around on the ground in laughter! Fauna loves to sit on a shelf where she can see her friend Pretty and wait for the right time to go for her swimming lessons.

These two youngsters are now happily in their forever home and young Pretty has left her down filled nest for sure.

I wonder whether there was any rabbit fur in there?


  1. How nice thoughtful of you to collect Wesley & Arabellas' molted fur for the wild birds' nests. I wish there was something useful I could do with Max & Mollys' hairs as they are moulting at the moment too - I have had to impose a temporary ban from my screenprinting room as, even with lint rollers, I'm paranoid some customers might get a little more greyhound than they bargained for with their purchases! If you know of any way in which they can be used, do let me know as at the moment they are just feeding the vacuum...

    Your vintage bird paintings are lovely, & so are Pat's photos. I love the cormorant print - it reminds me of one of my favourites linocuts by local artist Jess Lovell ( http://jesslovell.etsy.com ). There are lots of birds in her work too ;-) I miss all the wild birds we used to see in our garden when we lived out in the countryside - we had our own little woodpecker family who lived in the wood nearby & flew down every day to snack on our nuts! Now we just have seagulls & pigeons I'm afraid.

    Your wee swan is very 'pretty'(!) too - I love these colours as well. Silly question now: Do rabbits ever swim in real life? (I know that guinea pigs can!)


  2. thanks Jane, yes, rabbits are good strong swimmers when they need to be.
    Ofcourse their flippers are on the lean side :)

    I roll the fur in my hands to make it come together into these long bits, otherwise it is just small 2cm long pieces. Perhaps you could try that with Max and Molly? I collect it off the fleeces with a clothes brush thingy, so it's already rather gathered together by then.

    Nearly all of my work is sent off with a hair or two on it :)

    I love the birds and the mammals too, couldn't live without them! (well, the human mammals I could do without I suppose!)

  3. Annette, I love that you put out the fur for the birds' nests. That's so very sweet and thoughtful of you! I'm sure the birds appreciate it.

    I love Pat's pictures especially the white flower. And Pretty's tail feathers are so cute!

  4. I put the cats' hair out for birds too after brushing (not sure if they'll want it because of the smell, but my mom said they used to take her dog's hair, so it might be useful!)

    I love the vintage bird paintings, and also the photographs. The swan that you made for Pat is beautiful.

  5. This post is full of love! From bunnies to birds....you are a sweetheart! Little Arabella is a dear. As a rodent lover and owner of guinea pigs..I sent hugs to her!

  6. yes annette, i agree with art & sew.... you are a sweetheart - full of love!
    the strangest thing has happened this year.... as you know, i have loads of bird feeders & have a multitude of visitors year round. well this year, the winter fellows left weeks before the spring guys arrived. my feeders were vacant except for a few stragglers for almost a month. i was so sad and out of sorts! my heart was heavy as i daily looked & waited, wondering what had gone wrong!
    well, they are starting to pick up in numbers but still not what i'm accustomed to. i've always known how much joy my feathered friends bring but i now have an even greater appreciation!
    little pretty & fauna are quite happy here! the land running lessons are continuing as they patiently wait for the new pond to be finished. who knows what adventures connecticut has in store for them!
    thanks annette, you are a great friend!

  7. thank you Lisa!
    I'm in the city so every little bit helps them.

    Thanks Katie! I'm not sure if cat hair will go down well? I don't see why not, birds are very resourceful indeed.

    Thanks A&S! You probably know that rabbits and hares are lagomorphs and not rodents - they have 4 upper incisor teeth unlike the two of rodents. (They have two tiny incisors that grow behind the main ones.)

    Pat that is strange indeed. I read that the swallows which migrate here from South Africa took a gamble and some of the ones that came early would have starved due to our late spring and no insects. Could that possibly have happened your way with the migrators??
    Life is not easy and our feathered friends show us this yearly. So glad you put out food for them. I get concerned too when the feeders haven't been emptied the next day, but that's only been a couple of times. Your pond sounds exciting! Glad the lessons are continuing :)

  8. Arabella looks so good .. Princess is that agouti and her mizture of hairs is so intriguing!

  9. How wonderful to use the fur for the feathered friends. I wish I could get Razzy and Sugie to sleep on fleece. They instead tear it to pieces and I'm afraid they will eat the fibers and get them stuck in their bellies. Chloe was a carpet digger and thus the reason I had to get rid of the carpets. Now they stick to the cardboard boxes and paper bags.
    I loooove your swans! Precious and so very clever with the lace!

  10. I love to think there are baby birds snuggled into some soft bunny fur. I must email you the story of the rescued cottontails who were adopted and mothered by a disabled white dove. It happened at an animal rehab in Texas. The pictures are breathtaking.

  11. thank you BBF, I love the amazing markings on her fur too! Must see a pic of Princess some time ~

    thank you Shell! Arabella and Wesley eventually bite/tear they way thru all their fleeces, though I trust them not to eat it. Arabella likes to eat all the furnishings and I'm lucky that she is not gnawing on the (lightly) varnished wood pieces. My carpets have been 'burrowed' into aswell :)

    Christina it is a lovely thought! I would love to hear that story - sounds so heart warming! thank you!

  12. You have very lucky bunnies, you look after them so well, its always a pleasure to read about them, and your art and blog friends.
    Take Care
    Linda :) x

  13. Lucky birds in your area! Some lovely new creations you have too! I consider myself dressed up when my clothes so a bare minimum of bunny fur.....

  14. I love your swans! ^-^ Not as cute as your bunnies though!


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