This weeks wild bird is the cowbird. On a recent brightly sunny day (too sunny for good pictures) this cowbird landed on the feeder. The Brown-headed Cowbird is a stocky blackbird with a fascinating approach to raising its young. Females forgo building nests and instead put all their energy into producing eggs, sometimes more than three dozen a summer. These they lay in the nests of other birds, abandoning their young to foster parents, usually at the expense of at least some of the host’s own chicks.
If a group comes by they will empty my feeders very quickly. Supposedly a ground feeder but as you can see they get it where they can.
On a recent day when I hadn't filled the feeder the Mrs. landed on the finch feeder.
Here the two are on the ground beneath the feeder. If you look closely you can tell it was a rainy day. Little beads of water collect on their feathers.
This is the former Albert S. Heck mansion just outside my hometown of Spencer, West Virginia. It was built in 1925, and is a two story, brick Neoclassical style mansion. It has 17 rooms, 6 baths and a full basement. It features a front portico with two story fluted Corinthian order columns and pilasters attached at the return to the house. The basement features locker rooms and showers. The house was built by Albert Heck, a local business man who invested in the booming oil industry in the early 1920s. He had come to Spencer with the railroad and later found and developed a local oil field.
The mansion and grounds were designed specifically for Heck's family. Each bedroom was built for an individual. A tennis court with adjoining locker room was constructed to satisfy Heck's interest in the game. He named the place "Sylvanius" – his middle name!
The Great Depression hit Albert Heck hard and he was forced to sell his property. The McIntosh family purchased it in 1936 and until just recently it was known as the McIntosh Mansion.
The mansion was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1999 and is now privately owned. The property has been renamed (restored actually) to the name of Sylvanius.
The hand forged gate you see is a recent addition to the property. I am quite proud to say it was made by one of my former high school classmates, Jeff Fetty. Jeff has done commissions for writer Tom Clancy, former president Bill Clinton, musician Jon Bon Jovi, the Globe Theatre in London, and others. While he is internationally known he is a quiet and down to earth kind of guy. The gates were installed just a few weeks ago and I was finally able to go over this past weekend and see his finished work.