Staying In – from the car window

Viruses are very strange – they are not usually classified as a life form – like archaea, eukaryotes, and bacteria. They are usually just some bit of stuff waiting around to attack and kill (eat? – not really, just use the life juices from) bacteria. Viruses are invaders; usually of no matter to us at all. As a matter of fact Carl Zimmer, the renowned virus guy and author, says we have about 14 billion of them on each of our hands – hopefully eating bacteria that we want to have eaten. But when they invade our cells and use the cell juices of our own complex cells to power their reproduction it sometimes happens so quickly that we cannot develop the antibodies needed to kill the viruses – and for a while (at least) the viruses win. In most illnesses the after effect of having a virus is that your body now has knowledgable bits that will recognize and defeat the virus if it appears again. This corona virus we are experiencing is new and we have no defenses yet; either manmade or from a vaccine. So here we sit, waiting, hoping, and trying to stay busy and out of sight.

Staying in the car and staying rather remote I went out today for an hour or so. We have been pretty dreary the last few days so the afternoon sunshine was enticing. There were people sitting at oceanside parking lots watching the sea, people flying kites from the beach, and a few souls already preparing their garden plots at the community gardens. I was able to get a few images. There isn’t anything special about these pictures but maybe they will bring a bit of Cape Cod sunshine into your day.

We have American robins (AMRO) all winter here on Cape Cod. They are sometimes seen heading to a roost site in the late afternoon. Our roosts can contain thousands of birds; usually in a red maple swamp. During the day they scatter about looking for old fruit and berries that persist into the winter. This one didn’t pose very well and the picture is pretty average, but it is a reasonable bird to start with.
This northern cardinal (NOCA) was cooperative but not close. The males are starting to whistle loudly as the days get longer and warmer. Can nest-building be far away? The cardinals are seed eaters and many can be found at bird feeders where seeds, especially black oilseed sunflower, appear like magic.
I was in the car and not able to get where the light and bird combination was best. Hence this very nice eastern bluebird (EABL) is a bit shaded and yet still pretty nice. The males, like this one, are rich in both the reddish color and the blue. Some bluebirds winter here and others migrate – I have no idea what they are thinking.
The house finch (HOFI) is a bird that older folks often think is a purple finch (PUFI) – but not so. The house finch wasn’t here when many of us were kids but even then the purple finch wasn’t very common either. Anyway, today we have pretty much only house finches. The males can be quite red and the females and young are rather a dull grayish-brown. Some of you may get purple finches at your feeders as migrants heading north in March and April.
This is a house finch male (on the left) sitting with a second cousin – the American goldfinch (AMGO). The AMGO is a bit yellow but has no black on the head; the yellowish eyebrow and the greenish patch below and behind the eye make me think this is a winter-plumaged male; just a bit slow in starting to turn bright yellow.
As I mentioned there were kites – not the bird kites but the airborne floaty things. In this case a Star Wars flyer with a long tail and in the top images, those pairs of pants or lower body parts.
These are snow geese (SNGO); probably a pair and last years two youngsters. These birds were not on the Cape but in a large corn field in southeastern Massachusetts on a rather dreary day.

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