Take one of these.

Adult female eastern bluebird (Sialia sialis) perched on a wire (2009_10_31_035929)

Add one of these.

Adult male eastern bluebird (Sialia sialis) perched in a tree (2010_01_12_048126)

Mix them with one of these.

A bluebird house (IMG_3698)

And soon you might have some of these.

A clutch of eastern bluebird (Sialia sialis) eggs in the nest (IMG_2798)

Which turn into these.

Five eastern bluebird (Sialia sialis) hatchlings in the nest (IMG_0799)

Which grow into these.

Five eastern bluebird (Sialia sialis) nestlings sleeping wingtip to wingtip (IMG_1152)

The few weeks punctuated by lots of these.

A female eastern bluebird (Sialia sialis) perched on the nesting box and feeding her young (IMG_1388)

Ultimately resulting in the appearance of these.

Two eastern bluebird (Sialia sialis) fledglings perched on a fallen tree (IMG_1968)

If this happens early enough, the process will automatically repeat.

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  1. Adult female eastern bluebird (Sialia sialis)
  2. Adult male eastern bluebird
  3. One of several bluebird houses at the family farm in East Texas
  4. Eastern bluebird eggs in the nest
  5. Eastern bluebird hatchlings a few days old
  6. Eastern bluebird nestlings almost two weeks old
  7. Female eastern bluebird perched on the nesting box and feeding her brood
  8. Eastern bluebird fledglings


  1. Although several bluebird houses exist at the family farm here in the Piney Woods of East Texas, bluebirds are not the only species who use them.  More on that in a coming post.
  2. Assuming the bluebirds nest early enough in the season—here they often do just that—a second nest might be built in the newly vacated house.  That’s the case here, thus we have adult bluebirds already feeding young in the same house that birthed the five youths shown here.
  3. Moving to East Texas from Dallas in February has offered plenty of nature to photograph.  I now live in the Piney Woods far from urban jungles, so things here are more wild and more abundant.  Alligators are a walk away (from the farm to the bayou), cougars are rarely seen but making a comeback, birds are plentiful and plants are everywhere.  Once again I find I’m collecting more pictures than I can share, but I promise to do my best in that regard.

put on your faces – texas rat snake

Close-up of a Texas rat snake (a.k.a chicken snake; Elaphe obsoleta lindheimeri) slithering across sand (IMG_1960)

Texas rat snake (a.k.a chicken snake; Elaphe obsoleta lindheimeri)

— — — — — — — — — —

Though I focus on in situ nature photos—things in their original locations and states rather than posed or captive—I admit this snake made an appearance only after my father captured it.

A captured Texas rat snake (a.k.a chicken snake; Elaphe obsoleta lindheimeri) trying to slither away (IMG_1965)

While my uncle and dad worked on one of the chicken pens here at the family farm in East Texas, they discovered this “chicken snake” hiding behind a nesting box.  Around 4.5 feet/1.4 meters long, the snake might appear large, but this species can exceed six feet/two meters in length.  This one still has growing to do.

A captured Texas rat snake (a.k.a chicken snake; Elaphe obsoleta lindheimeri) held in the air at arm's length (IMG_1967)

I admit I feel less than enthusiastic about posting these pictures since, as I said, I do not take or share images of captive animals (aside from the domestic variety like dogs and cats).  In this case, however, my dislike of the circumstances is allayed by the fact that we released the animal after I snapped some pictures.  Likewise, admitting it was not “in the wild” alleviates my usual avoidance of such photographs.

Texas rat snakes are one of about 30 species of nonvenomous snakes in the area.  In addition, we have seven venomous snake species, including cottonmouths, a variety of rattlers, copperheads and coral snakes.

End of an era

Death, the undiscovered country,
From whose bourn no traveler returns…
— William Shakespeare, Hamlet

A close-up of Grendel, one of my cats, as he lies in a doorway (2009_03_01_011678)

At fifteen years old, he lived the equivalent of 76 humans years and he battled health problems the whole way, yet he never suffered needlessly.  No, I can never watch an animal suffer.

I did not think Grendel would survive long enough to make the move to East Texas earlier this year, yet as he always did he proved me wrong by rallying, holding his head up and marching proudly and strongly through another woeful bout of poor health.  But all things end, all things wither and die, from stars to people to domestic cats, thus his years came to a close today when his failing body offered more pain and problems than we could conquer.

How I will miss Sponge, the cat who never met a stranger and who always accepted affection from anyone within arm’s reach.  I will miss him wrapping his paws around my arm and pulling it to him to use as a pillow.  I will miss the gentle monster who rode in my lap three hours with nary a complaint, interrupting my driving only when he wanted a reassuring scratch, a kind word, a look to tell him things would be okay.

Today marks the end of an era, an era of rich and full living, an era of love, an era of triumph.  Though his body wished to give up long ago, his soul wouldn’t dream of giving up too soon.

Today marks the end of an era.  Today Grendel hunts in the universe’s vast jungle.  Today he became a lion.


A funnel web spider lurking in the shadows of its web (IMG_2694)

Like a preternatural being skulking in shadows dark and deep, she waits, beautiful and beguiling in her silken home, her image reflected about her silhouette.

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A funnel weaver in the Agelenidae family.

The little things

One need not look far and wide to see natural beauty, for nature hides her splendor everywhere, even in the little things.

A robber fly (Laphria saffrana) perched on an old pipe (IMG_1076)

What looks like a bee represents mimetic adaptation, a robber fly (Laphria saffrana) wearing the apparel of a stinger to protect itself from predators, all the while hunting with the expert skill of a true killer.

A question mark (Polygonia interrogationis) licking minerals from the ground (IMG_0933)

A butterfly alighting within a sandy clearing stops to partake of minerals on the earth’s surface, the question mark (Polygonia interrogationis) appearing to most as a resting insect when in fact it hungrily consumes what it needs.

A blue mud wasp (a.k.a. blue mud-dauber; Chalybion californicum) perched in a dark windowsill (IMG_0788)

Upon a cloudy windowsill a blue mud wasp (a.k.a. blue mud-dauber; Chalybion californicum) lingers, waiting for sunlit warmth that will never come, still as petrified wood hoping no danger notices its lethargic morning.

A common buckeye (Junonia coenia) resting on the ground (IMG_0951)

Wings spread to soak up sunny warmth, a common buckeye (Junonia coenia) is all but invisible from the side.  At least until you stop to look.

Close-up of a regal jumper (a.k.a. regal jumping spider; Phidippus regius) holding its moth prey (IMG_1417)

A male regal jumper (a.k.a. regal jumping spider; Phidippus regius) holds fast to its moth breakfast, even in the face of photographic invasion, and both circle the gate hidden from prying eyes… at least prying eyes that fail to see.

Close-up of a Waved sphinx moth (Ceratomia undulosa) resting on a pole (IMG_0401)

In shadows deep to avoid daytime heat, a waved sphinx moth (Ceratomia undulosa) lingers in rest, waiting for the dark of night when it can pursue its only adult desire: mating.

No, one need not look far and wide to see natural beauty, for natural beauty can be found even in the little things.