Get ready to shine this holiday season

God provided rounds of tidbits in Mountain City this past week, big and small, with and without wings.

A hawk appeared on a bird feeding station by our front water feature on Tuesday, close enough that I captured him with my iPhone’s portrait feature that requires “within 8 feet.” I made like a pancake and flattened my back against the wall beside the breakfast window, and slowly held my hand with phone camera out for the photo.

Quite clear photos did not clearly provide identification of the Accipter because the Cooper’s Hawk and Sharp-shinned Hawk have very similar features. Dr. Byron Stone with Travis Audubon called the identification “raptor grad school”.  With black-looking cap and broad white tip on the tail, it showed to be a Cooper’s. And, this was further confirmed since Sharpies leave Austin in mid-April.

A hawk, believed to be a Cooper’s Hawk, roosts at the Tom house. (photo by Pauline Tom)

Over 20 houses or so from Live Oak on Maple for “singing bowl sound therapy”, Patricia Porterfield commented about a Cooper’s hanging out for smorgasbord at her feeder.  She usually tries shooing the hawk away…on over to my house, perhaps.

I heard about “sound therapy” when Patricia’s gift certificate came in for the Fire & Ice fundraising “sack raffle.” After my session, I floated home, but not before strolling through her backyard wildlife habitat.

Patricia’s plants were attracting a wide array of pollinators including butterflies, bees and small wasps. The Porterfields yard boasts “National Wildlife Habitat” recognition.

Portions of our wildlife habitat were covered with butterflies on Saturday. James Hill, who trains along Mountain City streets with running and bicycling, stopped to admire their beauty and encouraged me to take some photographs to share.

A tiny butterfly spent extended time on single yellow flowers on Sunday, encouraging a photograph. A Facebook friend identified the checkered skipper. Donna Helm had guessed, “It’s gotta be a lacy beauty…..or something like that!”  What a beauty, indeed.

Not so beautiful was the “large” diamondback rattlesnake Eric Perucca killed as it headed across Juniper near his house. His mom tried running over the snake with her car, which probably accounts for some missing rattles. Eric chopped off the head and buried it because rattlesnake venom stays with the fangs long after a snake dies. Gauging by the way the heavy-bodied dead snake stretched quite far across Eric’s tailgate, I’m guessing “4-foot”.

It’s time to plan and start groundwork for the Loving Mountain City Christmas Décor Recognition, a “Light Up The City” tradition. Now’s the time to catch lights on sale. The DecorScouts (adult volunteers who survey the décor and place potential honorees into categories) will be out at the end of the first weekend in December, on Sunday evening, the 3rd.

If you volunteer to go through the tedious work of looking in detail at each house (using a workbook) in order to get contenders into categories for December 8th – 10th electronic city-wide voting, contact me.

And, contact me if you have tidbits. ptom5678@gmail.com (subject: tidbit) or 512-268-5678. Thanks!  Love to you, PTom.

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