Posts Tagged ‘feathers’

Young Blue Jay

It’s not easy to get near a Blue Jay.  Though they’re common visitors to bird baths and feeders, unlike Robins and Chickadees, they’re reluctant to let humans get too close.  Perhaps it’s because they’re fairly slow flyers compared to other birds their size and need more lead time to flee from predators.   However, this week we had the unique opportunity to see a young Blue Jay up close.  It had flown into the front window and lay on the grass recovering for a few minutes before flying off to the woods.  Its plumage was spectacular.

Blue Jay Tail Feathers

Blue Jay Wing Feathers


Blue Jays are strikingly beautiful birds to see at any distance, but up close, their feathers are remarkably awesome.  Their tail and wing feathers are the bluest blue. 

Blue Jay Back Feathers

There are four sub-types of Blue Jay in North America, but the ones we see in Nova Scotia are among the brightest in color. 

A Blue Jay’s feathers appear blue due to light refraction.  This process depends exclusively on the integrity of the feather’s structure.  If a feather is crushed, it cannot refract light and consequently will lose its blueness.  A dull grey feather is the result. 

It wasn’t long before this little creature was on its way.  Though we feared it may have broken a wing, it had no problem flying off on its own to the safety of the woods.

For more information on Blue Jays, see  last year’s post on Blue Jay Feathers

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How would you like to give or receive a little something from nature this Christmas? Wouldn’t the shopping be easier? Wouldn’t the gift seem more unique?

In response to a suggestion from Sahlah to give one another virtual gifts from nature this season, Centria at Opening the Door, Walking Outside, has already offered up some excellent choices from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Yesterday was Black Friday in the US, a day known for crazy Christmas shopping. Wouldn’t a walk in the woods or along the beach seem a more fitting way to begin the holiday season?

So here are some virtual gifts from nature in Cow Bay to all Flandrum Hill readers and especially the regular commenters. Hopefully you’ll find something you like among these treasures.

The ring-necked pheasant feathers shown above were found in my yard where male pheasants often strut.  You could stick one in a hat or place a few in a vase. 

If you’re into novel fashion accessories, the mermaid’s purse shown at left might be just the thing for you even if you’re not a mermaid. 

Or perhaps a green sea urchin is more to your liking.  Found on the beach but sometimes in the woods where they’ve been dropped by seagulls, up close, each one reveals a five pointed star design.  They are delicate so don’t usually ship well, but seeing as these are virtual gifts, that’s not a problem.  Arranged in a bowl, they’d make a beautiful holiday centerpiece. 

If you’re into practical gifts, the opalescent sheen on this razor clam is bound to make any other shaver seem dull in comparison.

Still haven’t found anything you’d like?  Perhaps money is the gift for you then, in which case these sand dollars are sure to please! 

I sincerely hope you managed to find something you like.  And, if you’re Christmas shopping this weekend, you might want to reconsider that trip to the mall.  Maybe your perfect gifts are already waiting for you to find under the trees.

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irishchainpatchTo commemorate Earth Day 2009, I thought I’d design a couple of quilts using earth colors.  Real earth colors.  I created a palette using photographs I’ve taken in my yard over the past six months, made squares and then arranged the squares into a quilt pattern.  I decided on a Double Irish Chain pattern, as the Irish were among the first Europeans to settle in Cow Bay.

The first quilt employs colors taken from feathers and fur:  Bunny Brown, Blue Jay Blue, Jay Tail Feather  Blue, Ring-neck Green, Pheasant Grey and Squirrel Red.  I don’t think Martha Stewart could have come up with a more beautiful selection. 

apatchFor my second quilt I made use of colors found in photos of trees and leaves:  Inner Birch Bark, Spruce Green, Balsam Green, Ivy Red and Sapling Bark.  The white is an authentic ‘Snow White.’

As a quilter, I’ve often wondered how strange it must seem to non-quilters that we cut fabric into small pieces, only to sew them back together again.  As crazy as it may be, the process of creating a virtual quilt (without a program for doing such) is even nuttier. (This is what happens when you spend too much time with the squirrels).

Happy Earth Day!

Irish Chain Quilt with Trees, Leaves and Snow Palette

Double Irish Chain Quilt with Snowy Trees and Leaves Palette

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Pheasant Feather Patterns

Male Ring-necked Pheasant feathers provide a striking contrast against our Canadian landscape.  Along with the bird’s loud crowing, they call attention to the male so that the more camouflaged female can scurry off to safety when danger is sensed.  Imported from China in the 1800s, pheasants have made themselves right at home here in Nova Scotia.


For years I’ve been collecting the feathers that have fallen from both male and female pheasants in my yard in Cow Bay.  I’ve yet to find one of the emerald green ones that are present in their neck area, but I did recently find a couple of tail feathers, probably left as thank-you gifts for the seed they’ve enjoyed at my feeders over the winter months.

a variety of pheasant feathers

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