Three Things Thursday

Steller's Jay

Here’s this week’s entry for Three Things Thursday, the purpose of which is to “share three things from the previous week that made you smile or laugh or appreciate the awesome of your life.”


(1) My Husband’s Newest Toy

This is Roomba learning its way around our house:

I very much thought that this gadget would be just a toy, but I was amazed to discover how good a vacuum cleaner it is. It works on both wood floors and carpets; it senses what kind of surface it’s on and adjusts modes accordingly. The biggest drawback is that it has a small dust bin and therefore must be emptied frequently.

And there’s an app for this, which you download to your smartphone and use to program the unit. Our Roomba begins its appointed rounds of our main living area—foyer, hallway, guest bathroom, kitchen, and living room—at 1:00 AM. If the battery runs out before the vacuuming is done, Roomba returns to its home base, docks to recharge, then resumes cleaning where it left off.

I’ve seen the videos on Facebook of cats riding around the house on a Roomba, but we’re content to let it do its thing unencumbered while we’re sleeping.

Oh, and this thing is not cheap. Consequently, it is my husband’s and my Christmas gift to each other.

(2) Steller’s Jay

Back in St. Louis, where we lived for 42 years, we had a lot of Eastern Blue Jays, which feature a blue body with areas of white on shoulder and head areas. On one of our first trips out to the Pacific Northwest to visit our daughter while she was in college, we drove out to Mount Rainier National Park. Just outside the entrance to the park we stopped for lunch, where we saw several birds that looked like Blue Jays but with charcoal gray instead of white patches.

Steller's Jay

The waitress told us that the bird is a Steller’s Jay. Since moving to Tacoma, we haven’t seen many Steller’s Jays because they hang out in forests, not in cities. But on our Thanksgiving trip to the coast of Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, my husband caught this photo of one while out on a walk.

Don’t tell the Eastern Blue Jays, but I think the Steller’s Jay, with its contrasting blue and dark gray feathers, is just a bit prettier.

(3) Red-Breasted Sapsucker

A couple of times over the last week I’ve noticed another bird I’m unfamiliar with in our front yard. I was only able to get photos the second time, and that was a rainy and dreary day, so I apologize for the low quality of this photo:

Red-Breasted Sapsucker

According to Birds of the Pacific Northwest Coast by Nancy Baron and John Acorn, sapsuckers drill small holes in the bark of a tree. These holes fill with sap, which attracts insects. The birds then have a two-course meal: They both eat the insects and drink the sap. Hummingbirds often associate with sapsuckers so that they can share the sap.

After I had photographed the bird and looked it up in the book, I went back and looked at the trunk of the tree where I’d seen him. Sure enough, the trunk is covered with tiny holes. When I was photographing the bird, I was surprised that he hung around as long as he did while I gradually moved in closer. Now I see that he was concentrating so hard on drilling all those holes that he probably didn’t even notice me.

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