Melissa Fischer. wild in Michigan. naturalist

Free ballin

Yesterday my mother-in-law called to ask if I was serious about using a ladder to stick my face in birds’ nests to take pictures or was I being a smart ass. During that chat I discovered a magical phrase… right when I said “free ballin” she immediately got off the phone. Magical phrase?

Chipping Sparrow


A female Robin. It was a cold windy day and she wasn't moving off her nest full of eggs.

The young hatchlings are long gone. Probably a rough night for the sparrows, listening to their babies get eaten.

A female pregnant Raccoon/baby bird eater. She's eaten a lot of bird eggs and eats all the bird seed and suet every night if I don't bring it indoors.... so she's eaten a shit ton of bird seed and suet.

A Downy Woodpecker defending the suet from a Red-winged Blackbird

Pileated Woodpecker. The first time I saw one I was on the phone with my sister and said something like, "There's a hug woodpecker outside... like as big as a fricking chicken!"....except I didn't say "fricking".



A Black-capped Chickadee

This photo is sooooo embarrassing to my 11-year-old because "I'm not standing up like a normal person" and have a camouflage hat sticking out of my back pocket. It was taken as an example of "unacceptable behavior when the the school bus is around". The header photo is another example of embarrassing behavior-sitting in the woods.


26 responses

  1. I’m jealous. I’ve never seen a Pileated Woodpecker before. Great photos, Melissa. :-)

    April 27, 2012 at 8:47 am

    • melissakoski

      Thanks Bob… It rarely comes closer than the tree its photographed on in this post- which is in the next size up lens range. Someday! (: Have a great weekend Bobbarino.

      April 28, 2012 at 6:56 am

  2. These are beautiful Melissa.

    April 27, 2012 at 9:35 am

    • melissakoski

      Thanks Gracie.

      April 28, 2012 at 6:56 am

  3. Delightful photos! I love the little nester.

    April 27, 2012 at 11:23 am

    • melissakoski

      Thanks JuIie. hope she has a successful clutch! Her first nest was destroyed a few weeks back.

      April 28, 2012 at 6:57 am

  4. louisva

    What a drag when one loses their connection when they hit the submit button, oh well. Lisa, they may be a nuisance but WOW what a pic of the raccoon. Bob, the Pileated Woodpecker is something I see on nearly a daily basis here in VA and they are, in fact “like as big as a fricking chicken!”. I can remember (just barely) being embarrassed by stuff my ‘rents did but one of these days that pic will be ‘like’ cherished. One last thing, everyone go ahead and laugh, but I do not get the significance of the title. I mean –uh – this is a family blog and I, er, uh, nevermind, lol.

    April 27, 2012 at 11:26 am

    • melissakoski

      Ha Louie Lou the significance is that was the phrase I said that made my mother-in-law get off the phone. I was using “free ballin” in a conversation about vehicle air bags ironically, not actually referring to free ballin at all. (:

      April 28, 2012 at 7:00 am

      • louisva

        I thought perhaps it was a typo and U were a big Tom Petty fan. I love his tune “Free Falling.” BTW, seems as is your “provocative titling” is increasing traffic – good or bad, lol.

        April 28, 2012 at 10:22 am

  5. Two things, my little chickadee:
    1.) I love it when you talk dirty;
    2.) In the river bottom town where I grew up in East/Central Texas Our Texas (“All Hail the Mighty State!”) the Pileated was fairly common. In my first job as a daily newspaper scribe in College Station (20 miles from the hometown) I went one December on the annual bird count with the Audubon Society. The guy I tagged along with, who was quite a colorful old character, went looking for a Pileated and we found one. His nickname for the Pileated was “the Good God!” –because the first time he saw one that was his reaction–“Good God! that thing is huge!”
    You’re on a roll lately, Sis. Great pix, with your trademark Melissa smart ass musings rendered with such sharp pithiness.
    I hope to God my Bishop never finds out I hang out here.

    April 27, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    • melissakoski

      Rev. Paul I love your comments. I look forward to the Christmas bird count as a way to feel young (comparatively). I’ll be working in a nursing home in no time. (:
      I think I’ve thought about your Bishop remark and laughed several times since first reading your funny writing. I promise not to report you to any higher authority.

      April 28, 2012 at 7:04 am

    • louisva

      I should report ya U dirty ole preacher man. Mae West fan eh? She sure beat the fashionable anorexic chic of today’s celebs.

      April 28, 2012 at 10:30 am

      • For sure, lou.

        April 28, 2012 at 12:11 pm

        • melissakoski

          As a non-statuesque tidbit, I both resent and respect Mae’s power. I do think dear Rev. P may be partial to big blonde hair and fake nails and tans in general (I will use all my self-control to not say booobs here….), BUT the way I see it is because he’s from Dallas in the great state if Texas. (:

          April 28, 2012 at 8:54 pm

      • Are you suggesting, my delicate little Michigan flower, that because everything is BIG in Texas that, uh . . . let’s just don’t go there, OK?Although, I will say, you should see some of the pictures Louie Louie sends me in private emails of NFL cheerleaders. How does your Texas Big implication explain HIM? (Thank God my bishop is really, really busy in Tampa Bay with our every-4-year Methodist Conference where they argue about our doctrine and polity and budgets cause I know he’s too engaged with that church business to keep tabs on me the next two weeks.)

        April 28, 2012 at 9:11 pm

        • melissakoski

          Rev., you’re too full of love to implicate Louis’ silliness.

          If “delicate” was accurate I think I’d be a Missy.

          Mom says “too small for Melissa– and Missy was too prissy– and Lisa is what’s left.”

          April 28, 2012 at 10:03 pm

  6. Wish I had a magical phrase like that when I needed it. LOL You do work magic with your nature photos as well. :)

    April 27, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    • melissakoski

      Well mother-in-law reads the blog so I’m going to have to come up with an equally effective awkward phrase to use. (:

      April 28, 2012 at 7:05 am

  7. Would never call you “a bad ass!” Luv u

    April 27, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    • melissakoski

      “smart ass!” if this is Mom K.!

      April 27, 2012 at 7:11 pm

      • melissakoski

        and you’d probably just say “being smart” with no swears….

        April 27, 2012 at 7:13 pm

  8. Ah the old foot n mouth syndrome. Love your photo’s.

    BTW nothing wrong with sitting in the woods. Are they coppiced.?

    April 28, 2012 at 2:19 am

    • melissakoski

      Thanks for the kind words. No they aren’t coppiced, though I chopped a few of the Sumac trunks that spread too close to the nest boxes and were providing easy access for the animals to eat the eggs. The Sumac are late to leaf out. The deer have beautifully cleared paths through the sumac too so it’s easy to find a clearing to perch.

      April 28, 2012 at 7:10 am

      • louisva

        I learn something quite often here (good thing). I have a beautiful Tulip Poplar in my front yard as a result of coppicing (sp?) & did not even know what it was until now.

        April 28, 2012 at 10:35 am

  9. I have GOT to start taking notes. Free Ballin’ will be used in conversation today. Thanks for that :)

    May 1, 2012 at 9:30 am


Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s