Birds of a Feather

The painted bunting has been called “the most beautiful bird in North America,” and I believe it. He’s certainly the prettiest native bird I’ve ever seen. These birds winter in Mexico and points south, migrating north for the summer. For the past couple of years, at least two breeding pairs have arrived at Meadow Knoll in early April and stayed until mid-September.

The males visit the feeders several times a day, flaunting their bright colors as if they know exactly how beyond-words gorgeous they are. They spill their melodic song from the very top of the tallest tree in the neighborhood. You can hear one singing here. The females are more modest, but during the summer, they’re easily recognizable in bright chartreuse

These lovely creatures were once trapped and sold as caged birds, but (happily) that’s illegal now, at least in the U.S.  Still, their numbers are declining: we humans are destroying their habitat. They’re listed as “near threatened.” (Photo credit: Dan Pancamo, Wikipedia)

It’s been a busy few days here, getting the new website up and working properly. Lots of little glitches to fix, widgets to install, bridges to build between the old sites and the old blog to the new. I’ve appreciated your comments and suggestions. Thank you!

This month: the launch of A Plain Vanilla Murder, China’s 27th mystery. The world was a different place when the first book in that series was launched, back in October of 1992. Online retail hadn’t been invented yet, and mall bookstores, especially the chains, were the Big Thing. I remember my delight when I learned that Barnes & Noble and Borders (remember them?) were actually going to put Thyme of Death on their shelves. And I’ll never forget my first visit to the mystery bookstore in Austin, owned by Jan and Elmer Grape–and to Houston, to Murder by the Book, where the audience consisted of six people: Bill’s mom and dad and four of their friends. The first important review was published in The Herb Companion, introducing China to herb and garden friends around the country–and the rest is history. The books found their readers, and thanks to you, China and I are still imagining the world of Pecan Springs, 27 years later.

And there’s more: Ruby now has her own series. Today is the launch of Out of BODY, the third novella in the Crystal Cave trilogy. If you like them, there’ll be more.

If you’re migrating here from my Typepad blog, you’ll want to subscribe, to make sure you’re notified when I post. (I’m planning to do that more often. It’s more fun here on WordPress, and the posts load faster.) To subscribe, look to the right of this post, where you’ll see a “Subscribe to LifeScapes” box near the top of the page. Just type in your email and it’s done. Easy as pie.

Reading note: “The reason birds can fly and we can’t is simply because they have perfect faith, for to have faith is to have wings.” J.M. Barrie, author of Peter Pan


14 comments on “Birds of a Feather

  1. Funny you should mention Jessica, Robin. I’m working on a Jessica project currently. Imagining it as a longish novella, with a focus on the Enterprise (Pecan Springs’ newspaper of record). 🙂

  2. Longtime reader of the China Bayles and darling dahlias books. Jumped on the new Ruby novellas and soon as they came out and devoured them. I’m enjoying them more than I thought I would. Would love to see a full-length novel with more depth and experiences for her. And I can imagine that a Jessica offshoot would also be entertaining. I’ve been a WordPress user for a dozen years now, it started out excellent and gotten even better over the years.

  3. Lynette, thanks for the feedback on the novellas. That was an experiment for me–glad to know that you’ve enjoyed them. I’m working on another now, with Jessica, the crime reporter in Out of BODY. Another experiment!

  4. I am a huge fan and lover of your books. Read then as soon as released. The new novellas about Ruby are wonderful. Just finished #3. Great website! Keep em coming.

  5. Karen, I envy you your orioles and grosbeaks–I’ve seen these on the Texas Gulf coast, but they don’t show up here.Good to hear that Marvin can manage a garden even in your rains. I was reading the other day about ag chemical pollution in the North Fork of the Vermilion River and remembering that we used to paddle in it when we were girls. Stay well!

  6. I feel much the same about our home on a hill in northwest Illinois. We have dozens of birds at our feeders and while your beauty, the bunting is not here, our summer delights have included the glorious baltimore orioles and their cousins the orchard orioles, rose-breasted grosbeaks, hummingbirds, and the rainbows of changing finches. Perhaps my favorite is the red-headed woodpecker! I adore the time of red-winged blackbirds who bring their mates to nest! The excess of rain has made gardening a challenge, but Marvin has success! Our pond has been overflowing for months! But we are getting sunshine now and then. Am awaiting the deck flowers to recover from having wet feet for so long. The Mississippi River is a few miles away and was flooded for 93 days. Clean-up is ongoing, and water rescue teams are seeking the body of a man who fell in while fishing this weekend. Keep inspiring me, Susan!

  7. I would second the comment about the flower background. I keep moving the text down to the plain green to read it. Looking forward to being able to read LifeScapes without a 2-minute download time.

  8. I really like the look of your new design. Out of Body is next on my reading list. Can’t wait to see what Ruby does now!

  9. Thanks for the suggestion, Linda. I’ll ask Mark to take a look at that. I happen to love those gentian blooms and don’t mind seeing them behind the text. 🙂 But we don’t need unnecessary distractions.

  10. Hello – I’m a longtime reader; have read all of the China Bayles and the Darling Dahlias books, always eagerly anticipate the next ones, and look forward to reading about all of your wildlife at Meadow Knoll. Love your new site and how everything is interconnected and easy to get to. Just one comment – while the background flowers are lovely, perhaps lighten their color a bit? When the text is scrolled and ends up on top of the darker purple, it’s a bit distracting and harder to read. Otherwise, excellent job!

  11. Oh, my, Teresa–what a gorgeous sight that must have been! We only see the individual birds. And the indigo less often than the painted. Thanks for the comment about the site. Hope I’m learning some things that will help us when (if?) SCN’s site goes up.

  12. Did not know painted buntings are “near threatened.” When we lived in Rockport we once saw a flock of about 200 indigo buntings, with a couple dozen or so painted mixed in. One of the loveliest things I’ve ever seen.
    Love the new site!

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