Bird-feeder royalty

January 23, 2020

Pushing and shoving, dive-bombing, squabbling, jockeying and butting-in, the bird-feeder etiquette of our variety of finches is the birdy equivalent of an episode of ‘Survivor’.  There’s also gender bias going on.  Early morning, when the very first flock gingerly descends from the upper branches, nervously eyeing the freshly-filled feeders, the males timid over whether it’s safe to go for it or not, hold back.  Waking up as finches, the males suddenly decide they’d rather be chicken. So, it’s up to their female partners to make the first attempt.  Only then, do the males feel emboldened.

And then, there’s the the Dark-eyed Junco: royalty of bird-feeder land.   Shy, yet able to hold their own, Juncos forego the unseemly behaviour going on above, and instead head for the ground underneath. Gathering in polite groups, they snatch up the morsels the more greedy finch riff-raff above them can’t quite manage to gorge fast enough.

“Dark-Eyed Junco”
watercolour, 3″ x 5″, Arches Hot Press #140 Paper
by Lance Weisser

Murtle Lake November

December 30, 2019

Murtle Lake–housed within the gorgeous Wells Grey Provincial Park–about an hour’s drive from our home in Kamloops, B. C.–“is world-famous as the largest canoe-only lake in North America. Set in a pristine mountain valley, the north and west arms are approximately 20 km long, and the lake averages three kilometres wide. . . ” [http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/explore/parkpgs/wg_murt/]

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“Wells Grey November”

watercolour by Lance Weisser, 140# Arches Cold Press Paper [sold]

 

On the Wells Grey Provincial Park website comes this advice to those who wish to access Murtle Lake for overnight canoe/kayaking trips:

“The outlet of Murtle Lake is the swift-flowing and dangerous Murtle River, noted for its many waterfalls. Visitors wishing to hike to McDougall Falls must use caution in Diamond Lagoon.”

“Murtle Lake is a large lake and subject to gusts of strong wind. The lake often becomes choppy in the afternoon. If moving camp it is best to do so in the forenoon. Never try to out-run a storm; beach at the first available opportunity and wait out bad weather. The Park Operator has emergency communication and a satellite phone link located in the Ranger Cabin on the south shore of Murtle Lake.”

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A Plaid Christmas

December 26, 2019

My partner and spouse Raul loves Christmas the way all Filipinos love Christmas:  he LOVES Christmas.  In The Philippines, the decorations start coming out at the beginning of September.  With no Halloween and Thanksgiving interrupting things, Christmas prep can start as soon as summer is deemed to be finished.  In our house there’s a rule where no Christmas trappings can come out from storage until Remembrance Day.  This year, at 5 am on November 11th I awoke to hearing the Christmas trees being freed from their storage confines.  My weak attempts to postpone all this until after the Remembrance Day observances at 11 am, went unheeded.

This year it was a plaid Christmas upstairs, and a gold and white Christmas in the front alcove/entry downstairs, with a purple and silver tree in the rec room.  Next year?  Apparently we’re having a pink Christmas–but, pastel pink and dove grey.  He can’t wait–but has to, life being what it is, lol.  And now you know what all our storage space is crammed with.

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BTW, all those gorgeously wrapped gifts under the trees?  Empty.  Every. Single. One.

 

Sentinels

December 19, 2019

It is something a fascination how one species of bird spends its nights, in comparison with another.  What they all have in common is a desire to feel protected and beyond the reach of nocturnal predators, like owls.

Ravens and crows go the safety in numbers route, heading in groupings to mutually accepted trees, with crows being particularly fond of the-more-the-merrier approach, with sometimes upwards of several thousand roosting at one time.  Ravens are less inclined to roost in gigantic numbers, and confine themselves to congregate with family and ones they’ve bonded with.

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‘Nightwatch’

watercolour on art board by Lance Weisser

4.5″ x 7″  [sold]

 

 

Forest Eve

December 13, 2019

Growing up, our house fronted a very large and treed city park in Rochester, New York, a city which has always received a great deal more of its share of snow than most due to what is known as lake-effect snow, when moist air over Lake Ontario contributes to great snowstorms, and, to our delight as children, ‘snowdays’ and their resulting school closures.

We’d head to Seneca Park with our Flexible Flyer sleds in tow for entire days of weaving down between the pines and firs, avoiding known rocks, stopping just before plunging down into Seneca Park pond.

The admonition from our mother was, ‘just head home when the snow turns blue’.  Blue snow happened around 4 pm, and we’d make it just in time to change out of frozen snow suits and hit the dinner table, our cheeks bright red, our legs and fingers still tingling.

 

Stillness Broken, 8 x 10, January 2019

‘Silence Broken’

8″ x 10″, watercolour on art board by Lance Weisser

part of ‘The Small Works Show’, Kamloops Arts Centre, Kamloops, B. C., Canada

 

 

Three Pines

December 10, 2019

Ponderosa Pine is everywhere in British Columbia, and one of the predominant pine trees across western N. America, including parts of the Prairies and Plains.  It was originally named by David Douglas in 1829 because the wood was so heavy, and thus ponderous.  Around here, the very long needles which can be found lying shed at the base of these trees are gathered up, washed and used to make pine needle basketry, an art developed by Indigenous peoples all over our region, and wherever this tree flourishes.

Three Pines, 8 x16, Sept 2019

‘Three Pines’

watercolour on art board 8″ x 16″

by Lance Weisser

(for sale, framed and matted, contact weisserlance@gmail.com)

 

Our Kind of Winter

December 3, 2019

Having lived nearly 20 years in Vancouver and Victoria, B. C., Canada, where snow is a novelty and rain is the norm, it is a delight to then have restored the four definite, uniquely-blessed Seasons which we have here in Kamloops, B. C.

I’m a winter and cold month lover.  Let me count the reasons:  sweaters; hot spiced drinks; hearty stews and bread; cold room/many blankets; blue snow at dusk; birds at the feeders; bare-branched trees; lights under snowy pine boughs; woodpeckers at suet blocks; snowdrift patterns; long purple shadows; pre-dawn owl hoots; snow-muffled dog barks; pink-cheeked kids with sleds; fired-up logs; the music of the Season.

'A B.C. Winter' given to Robin August 2019 (2)

‘Our B.C. Winter’

 watercolour by Lance Weisser, Arches Hot Press 140# Paper; 5″ x 9″

 

 

 

November

November 26, 2019

November is my most favourite of months!  In the Southern Interior of British Columbia where we live, November is one of those seasonal cusp months–like March–when no one quite knows what they’ll be waking up to in the morning; a month of mystery and change, full of windy days, foggy mornings, early evenings, and sometimes the schedule-disturbing onslaught of an unexpected blizzard.

This painting–now hanging in the Kamloops Arts Council ‘Small Works Show’–expresses and uses my painterly imagination to bring to the viewer all that I feel about my most favourite Season:

November, 7 x 10, February 2019

“November”

watercolour by Lance Weisser, 7″ x 10″, on art board, for KAC ‘Small Works Show’, November 24 to December 24, Old Courthouse, Kamloops, B. C.

 

 

Small Works

March 15, 2019

In my city of Kamloops, British Columbia, our Kamloops Arts Council hosts a number of different painterly events throughout the year. One of them was called ‘The Small Works Show’, an annual fundraiser whereby the artist gets half the proceeds and the Arts Council gets the other half.

Unlike most art shows, this one allows patrons to walk out the door with their purchase rather than wait till the event is over. No little red dots on title cards here!

Participating artists are allowed up to fifteen pieces, and if/when one piece is purchased, another is immediately put in its place. So I contributed twelve paintings, and was pleased to have sold seven of them.

‘The Scavenger’, 4 x 10, watercolour on art board by Lance Weisser

This little piece (rather crudely photographed before being matted and framed) was given a new home, and as time goes along, I’ll post others which were also purchased.

I am very grateful for the commitment and dedication of those heading up our local Kamloops Arts Council.

Life Partners

March 7, 2019

Ravens take around two to four years to mature and before finding their mate, hang around in teenage gangs according to some research, but once they do mate, they are monogamous and establish a territory for themselves.

I most often observe Ravens in our Interior British Columbia setting in pairs, unlike their crow cousins which gather in huge numbers.

Together Forever‘ , 10″ x 10″, watercolour on art board
by Lance Weisser

“The raven is symbolic of mind, thought and wisdom according to Norse legend, as their god Odin was accompanied by two ravens: Hugin who represented the power of thought and active search for information. The other raven, Mugin represented the mind, and its ability to intuit meaning rather than hunting for it. ” [https://www.whats-your-sign.com/raven-symbolism.html]

Sometimes our guests awaken in the morning and come in the kitchen looking confused, ‘what is that strange sound coming from the back of the house? It sounds like a bunch of chickens being strangled.”

There are a number of birds named after their call–for example, the Whip-poor-will, Bobwhite, Killdeer and Chickadee. Now add to those the Chukar Partridge, which populates our back mountain ridge and does this: “Chu-Chu- Chuk-Chuk-Chuk-Chuk-ChukCHUKCHUKCHUK!!!!”

This is always the male progenitor of a brood (known as a covey) of some dozen or so chicks who often is announcing their collective descent down the ridge to wreak havoc in our vegetable garden. All one needs to do then is saunter down the back steps to suddenly frighten them to death as they go up in a giant, dreadful whir of feathers and squawking, after which the male will scold at me from atop the biggest rock, his ego bruised.

Native to Eurasia and Asia, including, Israel, Lebanon, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, along the inner ranges of the Western Himalayas to Nepal, Chukars were also introduced to Europe and N. America. [wikipedia]

‘Hiding In Plain Sight’, 10.5 x 7, watercolour on art board by
Lance Weisser


They are to me one of the strangest creatures I’ve ever come across.
They are either brazen as hell, or scared out of their freekin’ minds. Their markings are as odd as their call, their mannerisms are as odd as their habits (in our garden their choicest morsels are the tops of our onions–I mean, who eats the tops of onions?)

When you google them as a subject, you usually find sites generated by hunters in the ‘Lower 48’ who are on the prowl for ‘the illusive Chukar Partridge’ all decked out in camouflage. I’ve yet to hear of any hunters in our area on the prowl for them, but believe me, we’ve got Chukars and they ain’t illusive.

Here’s one in action, for your listening pleasure: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q09GNpev6sk

The Old Rookery

February 21, 2019

EVERY SO OFTEN I go truant and abandon my blog, but at least this time around it hasn’t (quite) been an entire year (!) I might be alone in this, but my temptation is to spend so much time daily exploring the interesting posts of fellow bloggers that I end up spending less and less time actually painting. My solution to this apparent addiction is to leave my own posts in limbo until enough progress has been made to once again continue.

In any case, thank you for your patience and understanding, and here is my latest painting entitled ‘The Old Rookery’, depicting a scene from my imagination, drawing on the spirit of book illustrators from the days of my youth:

“The Old Rookery”, 11″ x 14″, Watercolour on art board, by Lance Weisser

Thank you for reconnecting with me and I hope your Winter is going well for you!

‘School’s Out’

April 9, 2018

Not far from our Kamloops, B. C., home is the village of Pritchard which used to have an original one room school occupying a corner of a farmer’s pasture–a school he himself reputedly attended as a boy–that no amount of seeking to have it lovingly restored bore any fruit with historical groups or municipalities.

Fearing its derelict floors and frame would be responsible for causing trespassing children accidental injury, he reluctantly tore it all down some five years or so ago.  But fortunately I managed to capture its classic image with my camera while it was still part of this farmer’s horse paddock, and I’ve painted a series of watercolours using it as a focal point.

Since it no longer exists, I choose to place this old school in settings that depart rather dramatically from where it actually had been (on a rather non-descript flat field right beside Duck Range Rd).

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‘School’s Out’, watercolour by Lance Weisser, 14″ x 16″

Arches Hot Press 140 lb. Paper, Sold

The ‘how’ of ACEOs

April 6, 2018

To gain more know-how about the way ACEOs are collected and acquired, just go to eBay and view the huge number of them being sold/auctioned:  https://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_nkw=aceo+original+painting&_sacat=0&_from=R40

You’ll see the quality contrasts, the styles, the subject matter variety, the variety of mediums, too–as well as price, with some going for $40/ea to $1/ea.

Below are examples of how I personally approach doing ACEOs:

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‘A Westsyde Winter’, ACEO by Lance Weisser, Arches Hot Press 140 lb Paper, sold.

Once one of mine is matted and framed, it is generally priced at $25 to $30US.  Unframed, $20US.  But I’m not beyond letting interested people barter for them because what is most pleasing to me is having a person get an original watercolour that is within his/her means.  As painters, we really just want people to enjoy what we do, and know our work is being appreciated and displayed.

If interested, please just email me at weisserlance@gmail.com. 

I can work from an emailed attached photo, or your personal subject matter ideas.  It can be mailed to you wherever you may be — postal costs will be built into the final price 🙂

 

ACEO #2

April 4, 2018

Here’s another 2.5″ x 3″ art card–the same size as a baseball card.  My experience with them is that watercolours simply have to have protection from the elements, so the only way I’ve ever sold ACEOs is matted and framed behind glass.

I find 3″ x 3.5″ metal frames and cut mats to fit, and sell them that way.  The notion that they are to be traded and sold in the same way baseball cards are is to fail to take into account how a miniature original watercolour needs to be treated in order to be acceptable for the buyer.  IOW, they may be the same size, but they aren’t baseball cards, lol.

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‘Lone Pine’, watercolour by Lance Weisser, 2.5″ x 3″, Arches Hot Press 140 lb Paper, Sold.

 

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[source:  https://creationsbygena.zibbet.com]

An ACEO is 2.5″ x 3″ — artwork the size of sports trading cards — otherwise known as a miniature.  I personally love the challenge of painting something that small.

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Old Barn, watercolour ACEO, 2.5″ x 3″, Arches Hot Press 140 lb paper. Sold.

Have you ever done them or bought one?  I’d be interested to know!

 

Happy Easter

March 29, 2018

As children, we loved writing on eggs with crayon and then colouring them, the smell of vinegar used in setting the dyes filling the kitchen, and our fingers almost permanently stained purple and orange and green–yet we weren’t very keen on then having to eat cold hard-boiled eggs, pretty though they were.  Our mother held a big church breakfast at our parsonage home, card tables decorated up, little ‘favour’ cups filled with mints and peanuts, lots of hot chocolate for people returning from sunrise service.  And of course, lots of coloured, hard-boiled eggs.

I enjoy painting watercolour on eggs, which receive it quite well, the best eggs being duck eggs whose satin-smooth surface is perfect for watercolour.  The eggs then have to be blown out and finally spray-lacquered to protect them.

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duck eggs, email size a

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Christmas tree ornament egg done using the traditional Ukrainian beeswax and dye method.

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‘Little Bunny’, watercolour on Saunders Waterford Hot Press Paper, 4″x6″, sold.

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‘Arctic Hare’, watercolour, Arches Aquarelle Hot Press Paper, 4″x6″, sold.

A blessed and Happy Easter everyone!

where the heart is

March 24, 2018

Our city, Kamloops, B. C., is a native word meaning ‘the joining of rivers’ (where the North and South Thompson meet), and was founded by the Hudson Bay Co. in 1812.  As it grew and developed it became a railroad city (one of two cities in Canada where both CN and CP intersect).  The most gentrified residences are found on St. Paul Street, where many bear historical plaques for passers-by to read and gain knowledge of.

Turn of the Century–c1904–homes are difficult to maintain and keep in tiptop condition, as many reading this can appreciate.  Keeping up any house is expensive and challenging.

I befriended a woman who has outlived her spouse and is just able to keep the basics going while having to block off the upstairs from heat in the Winter.  Budgeting simply to stay put and keep living in her beloved heritage house before facing the inevitable and dreaded ‘downsizing’, her joy is feeding Crows, Ravens and Starlings using cat kibble poured into oversized vintage bird baths.  This certainly doesn’t make her the darling of her neighbours, but has earned her the moniker ‘the crow lady’.

She’s never seen this painting because I fear it may upset her, yet it was painted with affection and as a tribute to her intrepid spirit and unwillingness to let go of that which she dearly and completely loves:

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‘Where the Heart Is’

watercolour on Arches 140 lb Hot Press Paper, 12″ x 16″, collection of J. Weisser

 

 

Raven Trio

March 10, 2018

Portraying moonlight is something of an intriguing interpretation for painters.  Some, like the famous American painter Frederic Remington, chose a greenish hue for its earthly glow….

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Others, like the American painter Maxfield Parrish, often used yellow as the predominant colour of moon glow….

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I’ve noticed other painters depicting the colour of moonlight in hues of blue.  And in this little painting of Ravens, my choice is sepia and white….

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Three Ravens‘, 8″ x 10″, Arches Hot Press 140 lb Paper, Sold

By including my own, I’m certainly not attempting to put myself in the league of a Parrish or Remington–but merely drawing attention to how our eye finds mystery in the way the moon reflects and illuminates the landscape.  When I go outside on a full moonlit night, I feel it is a blueish reflection on snow, and more earth-toned on our backyard mountain and rocks.  And even though I never quite manage to see moonglow  as green, I simply adore Remington’s moonlit scenes and illustrations.  He convinces me it really is green!

What is it for you?

 

‘Raven Nights’

February 20, 2018

In keeping with my fascination over trying to capture night in watercolour, here’s another attempt at mood and texture:

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‘Raven Nights’, watercolour on Saunders Waterford Hot Press 90 lb. paper, 9″ x 10″, Sold

It is snowing again, and is likely to continue through today and tonight and into tomorrow.  As my friend Shiela says, snow today is water tomorrow, meaning we live in a characteristically arid part of British Columbia (our backyard mountain ridge has many cacti plants) and so every source of water is cherished.  The snowmelt from the mountains is crucial to ensuring our lifeline, the Thompson River, is of normal size.

Around here, many people kind of roll their eyes and sigh when learning we’re getting another ‘dumping’, but I’ve always delighted in snow and can now sadly envision a day when there won’t be any.  Our living situation is such that I can handle clearing the driveway without much effort, otherwise I might be joining one of the eye-rolling crowd.

Here is the painting ‘Raven Winter’ that is now framed and ready to be presented to my friend Patricia Kellogg as a possible choice in our painting exchange deal:

 

stage 3 final painting of Raven Morn

‘Raven Winter’, watercolour on treated art board, 9″ x 12″

 

Stage One: ‘Raven Winter’

February 13, 2018

My watercolourist friend Patricia Kellogg [https://www.facebook.com/Patricia-A-Kellogg-357357001050096/] and I are doing a painting exchange.  I acquired one of hers of an artichoke plant in late autumn–that expressive form plants take when frost renders them lifeless, yet beautiful even so.  And because she has a couple of mine with ravens in them, she wanted one more and so here’s the first stage of it.

stage 1 of Raven morn

The surface for this painting is treated mat board and the medium is transparent watercolour.  It is a 9″ x 12″ piece.  Once it is finished I will enjoy taking it over to The Red Beard Cafe where we have our monthly coffee and seeing if she likes it.  I’ll also bring a couple of others with me to provide a choice.

As a child there was probably no bird I wished more to see than a Waxwing.  In on-location photographs they just looked so exotic and intriguing–their colouration and little tufted crowns–the whole package was and is so appealing.

In those days we lived in Eastern N. America where Waxwings aren’t found and so it took many decades–after I’d moved to British Columbia–for my chance to encounter these birds.  And it happened as I stood at our front picture window looking out at the Red Maple just beyond the glass–a tree which had nestled within it a deserted Robin’s nest.

Suddenly there appeared a large group of birds I’d never before seen, Cedar Waxwings, darting about the nest, examining it animatedly and calling to one another.  I watched in fascination as they systematically began dismantling this Robin’s nest, their little bandit’s masks seeming very appropriate to their deciding to make someone else’s home theirs for the taking.

 

‘An Ear-full of Waxwings’ — work in progress — Saunders Waterford Hot Press Paper, 140 lb.

 

A grouping of these birds is known as ‘an ear-full’ almost certainly because they go about in bunches and are constantly chattering in a distinctive, rather conversational voice that is more insistent than melodic or song-like, yet charming even so.

….Chickadee Miniature

April 21, 2016

This Winter along with the usual Mountain Chickadees at our feeders, we were pleased to have Black-Capped Chickadees as well.  Coming from Eastern parts, they are the ones associated with childhood and so have a special place for me.

Right now we are experiencing amazingly warm temperatures–85F (30C)–and gardening is ramped up as a result.  Dividing time between perennials and painting is a pleasure. As an Autumn and Winter person, I continue painting with that pallet of tones and colourations, and so ask you to cut some slack if/when I post snow scenes in April.

chickadee miniature

‘Pause That Refreshes’

 5"x 7", Watercolour, Saunders Hot Press #140 paper

Cool Facts

  • The Black-Capped Chickadee hides seeds and other food items to eat later. Each item is placed in a different spot and the chickadee can remember thousands of hiding places.
  • Every autumn Black-capped Chickadees allow brain neurons containing old information to die, replacing them with new neurons so they can adapt to changes in their social flocks and environment even with their tiny brains.
  • Chickadee calls are complex and language-like, communicating information on identity and recognition of other flocks as well as predator alarms and contact calls. The more dee notes in a chickadee-dee-deecall, the higher the threat level.
  • Winter flocks with chickadees serving as the nucleus contain mated chickadee pairs and nonbreeders, but generally not the offspring of the adult pairs within that flock. Other species that associate with chickadee flocks include nuthatches, woodpeckers, kinglets, creepers, warblers and vireos.
  • Most birds that associate with chickadee flocks respond to chickadee alarm calls, even when their own species doesn’t have a similar alarm call.
  • There is a dominance hierarchy within flocks. Some birds are “winter floaters” that don’t belong to a single flock—these individuals may have a different rank within each flock they spend time in.
  • Even when temperatures are far below zero, chickadees virtually always sleep in their own individual cavities. In rotten wood, they can excavate nesting and roosting holes entirely on their own.
  • Because small songbirds migrating through an unfamiliar area often associate with chickadee flocks, watching and listening for chickadee flocks during spring and fall can often alert birders to the presence of interesting migrants.
  • The oldest known wild Black-capped Chickadee was at least 11 years, 6 months old when it was recaptured and re-released during banding operations in Minnesota.

source:  https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Black-capped_Chickadee/lifehistory

….House Finch miniature

April 16, 2016

It is so heartening to have requests from bloggers and site visitors who have arranged to have original bird miniature paintings sent to them.  The last posting of the Raven miniature, “Keeping Watch”, is currently winging its way to Hawaii, and the March 5th miniature entitled “Raven Moon” is sitting on Byron’s desk in Wisconsin.  Another of a wintering Chickadee is with its new owner, Cynthia the poet, https://littleoldladywho.net/ in Maine.

Some bird species are seemingly germain to just about anywhere, the House Finch being one.  When we moved from Eastern Canada to extreme Western Canada, there they were.  And on fellow blogging sites like H. J. Ruiz’ Avian 101 (https://avian101.wordpress.com/), there they are in the Peach State of Georgia.

house finch april 2016

‘House Finch’ — watercolour on Saunders Waterford 140# Hot Press Paper, 2.5″ x 4″

They are, along with wintering Goldfinches, the most frequent visitor to our feeders, and have such a delightfully melodious song.  Unlike the slightly larger Purple Finch which probably isn’t found in the West, they do not so much look like they’ve been dipped in raspberry concentrate, as they’ve stuck their heads in wild cherry cream soda.  Their disposition is mild, insofar as they aren’t pushy or argumentative when at the feeders.  If another species is bossy, they simply flit down to the snow and eat the remains below, along with the Juncos.

If you are ever interested in owning one of these posted bird miniatures, simply email me at: weisserlance@gmail.com and we’ll work out the arrangements.  Thank you to all who are so very supportive in comments and visits!

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