Charles and JoAnn Reynolds of Oregon, Illinois are the winners of the FREE Two-Day Stay at Roberts’ Roost Country Guest House for 2017! Congratulations Charles and JoAnn! Please contact me at 815-565-0024 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange for your free two day stay. Thanks to all who entered!!! Connie Zink
Welcome to a “Tale of Two Bluebirds” the continuing saga of the Eastern Bluebird pair “Gus” and “Eliza” that reside at Roberts’ Roost Country Guest House. If you have visited my website anytime in the last two years, I am sure you have came across some photos of my favorite feathered friends. “Gus” and “Eliza” first appeared at Roberts’ Roost Country Guest House in March of 2015. You cannot imagine my excitement when they chose the nesting boxes in my yard as their home for the season. My dad was not much into birds but he always had one bluebird box nailed to a fence post at the corner of the yard and for many years had some bluebird visitors that would stop by to nest for the summer. “Gus” and “Eliza” were named after my grandparents, the original owners of the land Roberts’ Roost Country Guest House rests upon.
2015 was a great year for the little family. They had three separate nestings, yielding a total of ten babies over the summer. My husband and I, along with many of the guests that stayed at Roberts’ Roost Country Guest House, thoroughly enjoyed their antics as they raised their families and played around the yard the entire summer season. Every day I would put wax worms on a plate that rested on a stump in the back yard and they would fly in to feed themselves and their young. About mid October, was the last time in 2015, I saw my little family of bluebirds. I was out for a walk along the country lane back to the neighbors’ house, as Mom and Dad landed on the utility line above me. I could see circling above me was all ten babies they had raised that summer. Mom and Dad let out a couple of chirps as if to say goodbye and then all twelve gathered together and headed south. That was the last I saw of them until late winter, 2016.
I got my first glimpse of “Gus” and “Eliza” this year, on a very brisk, windy day on March 13th, 2016. We pulled into the yard of Roberts’ Roost Country Guest House and the first thing I noticed when I got out of our truck, was “Gus” and “Eliza” sitting among the branches of the dead maple tree next to the driveway. Their bright blue feathers shining among the bare branches was such a welcome sight after the long, dreary days of winter. It didn’t take them long to get settled back into the routine of the wax worms served on their little plate in the back yard. About every four days I would run to the gas station to restock their $10.00 container of worms. (I never said these were inexpensive friends!) By the end of the first week in April they had started their first nest of the season laying five eggs. Things went along fine for a few days until the day we noticed “Gus” was there but not “Eliza”. Dennis checked the nest box and all five eggs and the nest had been destroyed. “Gus” seemed very distraught and there was no sign of “Eliza”. It took two days before “Eliza” showed back up again. I had been sick with worry that something had happened to my little female feathered friend. I can’t tell you the relief when she reappeared.
They immediately started to work on a second nest in a different bluebird box in the yard. I had such hopes for the second nest as “Eliza” proceeded to lay four more eggs in the second box. A few days later we discovered that nest and all its eggs had also been destroyed. We finally figured out it was a raccoon that was raiding the nests at night. Devastated again, but very persistent, “Gus” and “Eliza” proceeded to build two more nests and “Eliza” laid a total of another six eggs still with no success. Dennis had put a sheet of aluminum on the fence near the nest boxes but that didn’t keep out the raccoons either.
Finally, around the 5th of June, “Eliza” completed laying another four eggs in the nest box they had raised two successful broods in last year. We didn’t look in the nest box after that as we were scared we would jinx nest number five. On June 20th, the 12th anniversary of my father’s death “Gus” and “Eliza” started taking wax worms into the nest box to start feeding the babies. The nest box they were using rests in the same place as the original box my dad had put up so many years before. June 23rd, was the first time we were brave enough to open the lid of the box and were able to view to our first four babies of the 2016 season.
The next photo was taken on July 2nd.
Several days after that our four baby bluebirds fledged the nest. Their first flight took them across the yard to the large 150 year old plus Burr Oak tree. For a week or so mom and dad continued to take the wax worms we put on their plate each day, to the very top branches of that beautiful old oak tree. You could see the babies moving about among the leaves of that majestic oak. After a week or so the babies decided to brave leaving the safety of their big old tree and started venturing into the yard to claim their own worms at the plate. Soon all four babies were coming with “Gus” and “Eliza” to the feast. Here are some photos of one of the juvenile Eastern Bluebirds I names Gus Jr. (Really not sure if it is a male or female but thought the name was appropriate.)
It’s now been well over a month since the four babies left the nest and they are now taking off on their own in many directions. However they do still come occasionally and sit together on the utility wires back by the worm plate. We stopped by the house tonight just before dark and all six family members were sitting side by side on the high wires.
The pleasure and joy that I have receive from these beautiful little birds is almost beyond words. Every time I see them I think of my grandparents, “Gus” and “Eliza” Roberts. They gave birth to sixteen children on this land so many years ago. They too had their losses. Five of my grandparents’ children did not live to adulthood. For the other eleven, almost all made it into their late 80’s with three still living today. “Gus” and “Eliza” the Eastern Bluebirds have now raised fourteen “children” over the last two summers on this special piece of land. I am hoping the bluebirds stay around until the days grow shorter in October before once again they do a fly over and say goodbye.
I am not sure what the life span of these special little birds are but I am hoping “Gus” and “Eliza” will come back next Spring for another summer stay or two. When they are no longer around, I hope their ancestors enjoy this place called Roberts’ Roost Country Guest House as much as I and my guests seem to.
Have a great day!
Welcome to Roberts’ Roost Country Guest House on this beautiful July day! I would like to share with you the story of these heirloom “Tiger Lilies” that are currently in bloom at Roberts’ Roost Country Guest House. When I was a child, (many, many) years ago, I always loved these special flowers. I was fascinated with the little black seeds that grew up and down the sturdy stocks, and the shape of these wonderful blooms with all of their intricate parts.
I saw them many times during their blooming season. The large patch that grew at my Grandpa’s house, was right beside the outhouse, a very popular destination. We were a little behind the times at Grandpa’s and didn’t get an inside bathroom, until the mid 1960’s. This swathe of Tiger Lilies always had a lot of traffic past them especially on Sundays during the summer, when as many as 20 to 30 family members would gather for dinner and an afternoon of conversation while us kids played around the farm.
The Tiger Lilies pictured here that bloom at Roberts’ Roost Country Guest House actually came from the little patch that was next to that often used outhouse. In June of 2004, on the day of my father’s funeral, I visited the site where my grandpa’s house had stood for so many years and had housed so many of my family members. ( My dad was one of sixteen children). The house had deteriorated to a pile of rubble, most of the barns and outbuildings, long gone along with that well used little outhouse. However on that day in June 2004, one solitary Tiger Lily still bloomed among all the weeds. My husband and I dug it up and moved it down the lane to what is now known as Roberts’ Roost Country Guest House. As I planted it in one of my flower beds I prayed this poor lonesome flower would make it through the transplant in the middle of the summer heat. (Little did I know about the endurance of these beauties. Now, twelve years later that Tiger Lily still flourishes and has multiplied many times over, reseeding into two other gardens in the yard as well.
I only need a glimpse of these tall lilies to bring all of the wonderful memories of my childhood and grandpa’s farm flooding back. These flowers have stood the test of time, definitely no coddling to keep these flowers alive. I have no idea when they were planted or by whom, but my ancestors dwelt on that land as far back as 1860. I like to envision the grandmother I never knew, (she died about eight years before I was born), planting those flowers and enjoying the beauty of them year after year. The amazing thing is that even after I dug up the last remaining Tiger Lily that day back in 2004, they still thrive. I was by there a few days ago and where the old outhouse stood another new group is blooming. I guess they will last forever just like my precious memories.
Here are a few interesting facts about the Tiger Lily:
The Tiger Lily, bears large, fiery orange flowers covered by spots. The name tiger probably refers to the spots on the petals.
The Tiger Lily has significant medicinal use. A tincture is made from the fresh plant and has proved of great value in uterine-neuralgia, congestion and irritation, also in the nausea and vomiting of pregnancy. (Interesting fact considering my grandmother was pregnant at least sixteen times that I know of.)
There is an old legend from Asia about the Tiger Lily. A Korean hermit helped a wounded tiger by removing an arrow from its body. The tiger asked the hermit to use his powers to perpetuate their friendship after his death. The hermit agreed and when the tiger died, his body became a tiger lily. Eventually the hermit drowned and his body was washed away. The Tiger Lily spread everywhere searching for its friend.
The Tiger Lily stands for wealth and prosperity.
There is a superstition that smelling a Tiger Lily will give you freckles.
I hope you have enjoyed learning about the Tiger Lilies that bloom at Roberts’ Roost Country Guest House. If you happen to stay during the month of July, please stop and take a moment to smell these beautiful flowers that originated here so long ago.
I thought I would also share with you this old winter 1965 black and white photo taken of my grandpa’s garden, the outhouse and windmill. The Tiger Lilies stood right next to the outhouse.
Guess who’s back???? Last year was our first successful Eastern Bluebird nesting season here at Roberts’ Roost Country Guest House. Over the summer we had three successful nestings from our resident pair of Eastern Bluebirds, Mr. and Mrs. Bluebird. They raised three babies from the first nest, five from the second, and two from the third right here in our own back yard. Guests had an opportunity to view these beautiful birds as they raised their families right out our kitchen window. Their really is a reason for the saying the “Bluebird of Happiness”. I cannot tell you how much joy this pair of birds and their offspring brought to not only us but our guests as well. This pair cost me a small fortune, as I made several trips a week to pick up wax worms for them to help feed their babies. They had their own plate on a stump in the corner of the yard and they visited it daily. We have not been able to identify Mrs. Bluebird yet this year but two bluebirds were seen together a short distance from the nest box on Saturday. We have been able to get several photos now of Mr. Bluebird.
Here is a photo of Mr. Bluebird taken yesterday March 13th. He had just been visiting the nest box and stopped for a few bites of suet at the feeder. I had picked up a small container of wax worms upon their return on Saturday and he also stopped for a few bites there also.
Here is Mr. Bluebird letting us know the wax worms are gone. Stay tuned for further updates on our resident pair Eastern Bluebirds. I am hoping for another successful nesting season again this year! Have a great day!
Congratulations to the winner of the “Free Two Night’s Stay at Roberts’ Roost Country Guest House 2016!!
Connie Inskeep of Moline, Illinois is the winner! Congratulations Connie! Please contact me at 815-565-0024 or email email@example.com to arrange for your free two day stay. The new contest for 2017 will be available for sign up in the next couple weeks. Thanks to all who entered!!!
Meet the Eastern Bluebirds of Roberts’ Roost Country Guest House, Summer 2015! Back in April, I got the first glimpse of what would be an exciting summer season of nesting Eastern Bluebirds here in the yard of Roberts’ Roost Country Guest House. Approximately 25 years ago, my father put up the first Bluebird box on the perimeter of the yard of what is now known as Roberts’ Roost Country Guest House. My dad always prided himself in having a pair of Eastern Bluebirds using the nesting box he had provided for them, almost every year. Now eleven years after my father’s death, I am very proud to say we have a resident pair of Eastern Bluebirds using a new box, in the same spot my father used one so many years ago. The Bluebirds, “Gus” and “Eliza” as I call them, are named after my grandparents who bought this land in 1914. My grandparents went on to raise sixteen children on this beautiful spot located in beautiful, scenic northwest Illinois. I think “Gus” and “Eliza” are carrying on the tradition of raising a huge family. They have had two successful nestings so far this season and are now working on the third. The first nesting back in May produced four eggs, however one did not hatch. Three beautiful little Bluebirds fledged from this nest around the 26th of May. Here is a chronicle of their days in the nesting box.
Shortly after the Day 14 photo was taken all three babies did fledge from the box. Here is a shot of them coming back to eat in the yard several weeks later sitting on the top of the box they were born in.
“Gus” and “Eliza” went on to nesting number two in another box just 40 feet away from the first box. “Eliza” laid five eggs in that box in June and they all hatched. We have helped “Gus” and “Eliza” out with the feeding of all their hatchlings. We buy wax worms at the gas station intended for fishing. “Gus” and “Eliza” know the minute we show up with the little blue plastic tub and anxiously wait for the worms on their plate. They gobble up as many as their little beaks can hold then take them into the nesting boxes to feed their babies. “Gus” will always let me know when the plate is empty as he will return to the fence and stare at me as if to say the plate is empty I need more.
I have numerous shots of my Eastern Bluebird family and they have been a constant source of joy this summer.
All five babies fledged from the second nesting last Friday. For the first time in two months last on July 10th, I walked into a yard with no Bluebirds. It was a very strange, lonely feeling. However, next morning they were both there bright and early and building yet another nest.
They have now built nest number three back in the first nest box they started in. We haven’t checked yet to see if we have any eggs, but will do so over the next couple days. They are both constantly by the box and it is looking good for the possibility of nesting number three. I will keep you updated as we learn more.
I hope you have enjoyed our story so far of “Gus” and “Eliza” and check back soon for the rest of the story!
Spring migration has begun in Northwest Illinois. The Bald Eagles are on the move to their summer homes up north. We have had quite a few visits this winter from the visiting Bald Eagles. This one was photographed in the tree at the front of Roberts’ Roost Country Guest House.
This Bald Eagle was resting in the tree on the original “Old Roberts’ Farm”. At the time my Grandfather died in 1971, Bald Eagles were not very common in the area. He would have been very honored to have this Bald Eagle sitting in the tree on the farm he purchased from his grandfather 101 years ago, in 1914.
The gentleman you can see to the left of the photo is my Uncle Glen who built Roberts’ Roost in 1974 after the death of my grandfather and he needed to move from the original Roberts’ Homestead.
Here are a couple close-ups of the visiting Bald Eagles resting at Roberts’ Roost Country Guest House.
The next couple weeks will be prime viewing times for the Bald Eagles in Northwest Illinois. Book your stay at Roberts’ Roost now and you never know you may be able to watch the Bald Eagles from the chairs on the front step of Roberts’ Roost Country Guest House. All winter, hardly a day has gone by that we have not been able to spot a Bald Eagle or two from the yard of Roberts’ Roost Country Guest House. It would have made my family very proud.
Connie “Roberts” Zink
Bald Eagle viewing in Northwest Illinois, is some of the best in the Midwest! Roberts’ Roost Country Guest House is your place to stay to enjoy your visit to see the Bald Eagles. Located only 15 minutes away from Lost Mound Unit of the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge and 20 minutes away from Lock and Dam 13, one of Illinois “hotspots” for Bald Eagle viewing in winter, in Illinois. Bald Eagle viewing is excellant along the Mississippi River as it winds it way along the edges of Carroll and Whiteside counties.
This photo was taken in the public area of Lost Mound Unit at the Observation Deck on September 21st, 2014.
This photo was also taken along River Road at Lost Mound Unit, on September 21st, 2014.
During the winter season, Bald Eagles are in abundance in Northwest Illinois. Roberts’ Roost Country Guest House provides you with a home base, quiet country retreat, while visiting the area to see the Bald Eagles. Please see our website www.RobertsRoostCountryGuestHouse.com for complete information on your stay.
For more information on upcoming Bald Eagle tours sponsored by Stewards of the Upper Mississippi River Refuge this winter please visit www.stewardsumrr.org
Bald Eagle viewing tours will start in January.