Birds Feed

This Earth Day 2012, the hubby and I hiked a portion of the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve near our home. It was a wonderful outing. The morning was cool, wildflowers and butterflies were out in force (as the hubby's cell phone snapshots show) and we got a great view of the endangered golden-cheeked warbler. Sorry, the bird wasn't nearly as accommodating as the butterflies when it came to picture taking. Many of our neighbors are dismissive of this lovely little bird. What they really don't like is that it gives the U.S., city of Austin and Travis County governments so much... Read more →

Regular readers know that in our precious free time, the hubby and I go birding. We started following birds recreationally when we lived in Maryland, and most of our vacations are a combination of attending some sporting event and visiting a bird habitat. The Midatlantic was a great training ground, with the mountains to the west, the spectacular Chesapeake Bay and Maryland's great Eastern Shore to the east and a nice variety of birding spots in between and within easy driving distance. I'm talking about you, Hawk Mountain, Pa. While Maryland residents, we also took frequent vacations to Florida for... Read more →

Bequest benefits warblers of all sorts

As a long-time birder and a bit of an opera buff, I got a kick out of the story that a U.K. woman who shared my interests had left most of her sizable fortune to New York's Metropolitan Opera and a British nature charity. Even better, there's a tax connection. The bequests to the Met and the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust came from the $16.3 million estate of Mona Webster, whom the New York Times reports was at one time during her 96 years a clerk in the British tax office. But wait. There's still more about taxes. A lot... Read more →

I and the Bird #60

David at Search and Serendipity is the host for the 60th I and the Bird. This particular birding carnival is notable not just because David is a fellow Texan, but also because he's produced the first birding blog carnival to be hosted by video. Amid the more than 30 postings from birders worldwide, David gives up four videos. Be sure to view each, including the outtake reel. But the core of every I and the Bird is, of course, the collection of fantastic reports from birding bloggers, or blogging birders. Among my favorites this time are: The photo blog from... Read more →

Who hoo, hoo-hoo, hoo is there?

Backyard birding continues to be spectacular of late, or in this latest instance, of early. Around 5 a.m. I woke up and decided I needed a snack. Trying not to wake the hubby, I kept the lights off as I crept downstairs and made my way carefully into the kitchen. Just as I was about to head to the fridge, I head the owl. It was a great-horned owl, probably male judging from our Peterson Field Guide's description of the call pattern. The lights were still off, so I eased my way to the back door and stepped out on... Read more →

Happy wren, happy me

I love birding because seeing any bird, exotic interloper or every day neighbor, makes me smile. So does hearing them. I'm not the best when it comes to identifying birds by their songs or calls. But one I do know is the Carolina Wren. Part of that familiarity is because the species has been a regular visitor to our backyard shrubs since we moved to our Austin home. And this afternoon, one of those wrens was in full, fine voice. The exuberant little singer even popped out of the foliage just long enough to give the hubby and me a... Read more →

Congratulations to I and the Bird

I and the Bird, the wonderful biweekly collection of the best that the many birding blogs have to offer, is celebrating its second anniversary. Congratulations to Mike and my fellow avian aficionados who've made this birding carnival such a success. Unfortunately, the hubby and I have been too busy, and it's getting a bit too hot here in Central Texas, to do much birding. Plus, we had that horrible rainy spell. So I don't have an entry in this momentous edition. But I am very thankful that through it, I can cyberbird. The hubby and I also are grateful that... Read more →

Greenbelt means good birding

Greenbelt: An undeveloped swath of land designed to keep a bit of the country in otherwise urban, or quickly becoming urban, settings. Greenbelt: Our home in Maryland for almost two decades, one of three "green towns" built as part of President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal. Greenbelt: As in The Greenbelt, the blog from The Ridger. This week, she's the host of I and the Bird #44. I'll let her tell you about the collection: "Below, grouped (albeit roughly) into these four categories you will find posts of all sorts, having in common a love of birds and the desire to... Read more →

Serendipitous sighting

"Kay, can you come down here right now?" That was the hubby about noon today. Being the good wife, I immediately headed down the stairs, to be greeted with, "Do you have on shoes?" I did. "Come out here." "Here" was our front yard and the reason for the urgency was a flock of at least two dozen Cedar Waxwings. The lovely birds were bouncing back and forth from our next door neighbors' shrubs to the big old oak tree across the street. A couple landed, briefly, in a smaller oak right at the edge of our yard. One looked... Read more →

Beating the cold by birding online

Mary Ann at Five Wells is the host this week of I and the Bird #37. Her Thanksgiving-themed presentation is quite fitting. I have additional thanks today. Since an Arctic front blew into the Austin area earlier today, our temperature never got out of the 30s and the biting winds (gusts also in the 30s, miles per hour, that is) made even going out to pick up the paper or collect the mail miserable. I immediately flashed back to this posting about our Austin home and winter weather; it's still applicable almost nine months later. But today seems colder than... Read more →

Thanks for a different bird

On Wednesday evening, the hubby and I added a new bird to our life list, the American Woodcock. It wasn't really through any effort on our part, unless you count getting up off the couch effort. We were sitting downstairs in the den, waiting for the pumpkin pie, the hubby's annual (and always quite tasty) contribution to our Thanksgiving dinner, to finish baking. The spices were really filling up the kitchen, so I decided to wander in there and see how much longer I had to wait before sneaking an early slice. As I headed that way, I glanced out... Read more →

Mulling Migrations

Fall is in full force, so it's only fitting that we take a break to enjoy the beauty of the season and its natural wonders. Yes, birds and butterflies are heading south, but the Migrations we focus on today is Dan Rhoads' blog, which is host of the 35th I and the Bird. IatB is one of my favorite blog carnivals, not just because I love reading about other birders' experiences. But the weekly offering also allows me to vicariously travel -- and observe -- birds and their habitats that I haven't seen in a while or, in most cases,... Read more →

A walk on the Wild Basin side

The last few days have produced a decided autumn chill here in Austin, so the hubby and I took advantage of the drop in temperatures to explore the area's outdoor offerings. For months we've seen the discreet signs for Wild Basin Preserve as we drove along Loop 360, west of the city in Travis County. In a state known for excess, these markers are so unobtrusive that you almost think they're trying to keep anyone from finding the place. Luckily, despite the obscure signage, we did locate the exit and discovered a lovely 227-acre enclave that made us forget how... Read more →

Beyond nest eggs: I and the Bird #33

This is a personal finance blog, with a special eye kept on taxes and how they affect efforts to build a nest egg. But as regular readers know, I'm a firm believer in integrating real life into financial life. After all, it doesn't matter how nicely you feather your financial nest if you don't use some of your earnings to follow what makes you happy. For many people, travel is their passion. And that's particularly true of birders, who take every chance they get to glimpse birds in locales near and far. So as host this week of I and... Read more →

Money can't buy you ...

Love, according to the Beatles, or happiness either, according to professors from, in part, the University of Michigan. OK, so Blue researchers might not be as lyrical as John, Paul, George and Ringo. But they say the connection between how much green you have in the bank doesn't necessarily translate into seeing life through rose-colored glasses. In fact, the more money you earn generally means you are likely to spend more time commuting, working and doing other things you feel you just have to, rather than want to, do. And all these activities, say the professors, tend to provide us... Read more →

Betting my retirement on Avian Select Fund 2006

OK. There's no such fund. But apparently there should be. A New York Times reporter recently visited Central Park with Peter Mott, president of the Big Apple's Audubon chapter, and discovered first-hand how birding skills encompass talents that successful investors also employ. In his story, birder initiate Harry Hurt cites a November 2002 Harvard Business Review interview with David Sibley, of the famed Sibley Guides, and fellow birder Dr. Julia Yoshida. Hurt goes on to quote the interview and, in the last sentence of the excerpt below, adds a personal observation: "Bird watching, of all the natural pastimes, is most... Read more →

Taking down the tents: Blog Carnival Archive

The Blog Carnival Archive was transferred to a new blog page on Jan. 9, 2000. Please go there for the most current information on the various blog carnivals in which Don't Mess With Taxes participated. The midway was getting a little crowded on the old home page, so we're going to strike some of the tents and put a few rides in storage in this Blog Carnival Archive. This is the complete listing of the various carnivals, festivals and cavalcades that included a Don't Mess With Taxes entry. This listing does not, however, include the Carnival of Taxes. Access to... Read more →

Winging it

If you've ever perused my list entitled "Fun beyond taxes, truly!" about midway down the blog's left column, you've noticed a lot of avian references. That's because the hubby and I have been birders our entire married life. Maybe it was the change of terrain that sparked it. We started our marital life in the Washington, D.C., area and bought our first home in suburban Maryland. Coming from the desert scrub of West Texas and the farmland of the state's High Plains, we reveled in the region's abundance of trees, shrubs and water sources. One evening, out walking in our... Read more →

Springtime's natural and financial storminess

Our first spring in Central Texas has been fantastic. Early in the season, we discovered bluebonnets in our yard. When we moved into our house last summer, the flowers had long since bloomed and disappeared. Now we're collecting seed pods to spread around the property and help boost the number of gorgeous indigo patches next year. We also have enjoyed the return of the barn swallows. These graceful birds were here when we moved in, but left for winter. Our garage area has a carport extension that the birds find an acceptable substitute for the bridges where they often nest.... Read more →