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Caroline Boyce

The Robins Now Have Their Feathers May 31, 2013

Filed under: Environment,Family,Inspiration,Robin's Nesting — Caroline Boyce @ 10:13 am
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IMG_20130531_093822_556The babies are filling the nest and it won’t be long before they are flying.  You can see they now have their feathers and I have seen little red breasts when they stand up but I couldn’t get a good picture today.   Mom Robin stayed with the babies last night; she slept sitting on the edge of the nest.  There are storms brewing but the nest is tucked in such a place that the rain doesn’t get at them and I have the tree tied to the iron railing of the porch so they should be okay even if it storms badly.

scroll down to see three more posts 
of the Robin family's growth

Baby Robins Opened Their Eyes Today May 29, 2013

Filed under: Environment,Family,Inspiration — Caroline Boyce @ 2:03 pm
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IMG_20130529_125717_618The babies opened their eyes today; I can’t wait until they reach the next stage … learning more … Leave fledgling robins alone. Fledglings are forced to leave the nest when there is no more room to grow. It is typical for them to hop around for five to seven days before they can fly. It may be stressful to watch, but resist the urge to pick them up. Do not stay near a baby bird that is learning to fly, the parents need free access to the fledgling and will feel threatened if you are nearby…I’ll try to get a video

I started to get worried last night as the babies where left in the nest by themselves; no mom or dad anywhere to be seen.  Then I found this info — By the time the babies are about a week old, the nest is getting crowded, and the babies are capable of keeping themselves warm, all snuggled together. At this point the mother robin starts sleeping on a tree branch again. I’m going to more cautious by not sitting outside too much as they’re getting older.  Yeah … Mom & Dad were back this morning feeding the young ones.


Feeding Time for Baby Robins. May 26, 2013

Filed under: Environment,Family,Inspiration — Caroline Boyce @ 6:27 pm
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How amazing to be up close and personally watch this Robin family nesting on my front porch … enjoy!

can't believe Mom sat on the railing while I took this pic

can’t believe Mom sat on the railing while I took this pic



It’s a Robin’s Life — And I Get to Watch May 21, 2013

Filed under: Environment,Family,Inspiration — Caroline Boyce @ 6:15 pm
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I’ve been watching a family of Robins over the past couple of weeks nesting in a tree on my front porch.  We’ve coexisted quite well as they don’t mind me coming and going or sitting out.  I have been fascinated watching how the parents built the nest, then the female sitting for days and nights on end only leaving for a very short time.  Now that the eggs are hatching the male is constantly close to help.  It’s going to be amazing to continue witnessing this family grow and I hope I get to see the little ones learn to fly.

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IMG_20130524_192254_629Early Birds Catch Worms, Then Lay Eggs 
Most birds lay their eggs at sunrise, but NOT robins! They lay their eggs at mid-morning. That’s several hours later than most birds lay eggs. For robins, this makes good sense. Robins eat a lot of earthworms during the breeding season, and they use those early dark hours to hunt for worms because worms are most available before the sun gets too high. Robins lay their eggs mid-morning after feasting on worms. A robin can then fly over to her nest and lay her eggs easily, but most other birds seem to need a long period of quiet before they can lay eggs. Those other species can get a big breakfast even if they eat late because they don’t want worms anyway!

An Egg a Day is Work 
If you think laying an egg is easy, think again! Robins lay only one egg per day for good reasons. Female birds have one working ovary, unlike mammals, which have two. Ovaries are the organs where eggs are produced. A bird’s ovary looks like a tiny bunch of different-sized grapes. These “grapes” are the ova, or actually the yolks. The one ovum about to be released looks huge. One or two are about half this size, a few more are a bit smaller, and the rest of the ova are tiny. About once a day, the largest yolk is ovulated. That means it pops off the ovary and starts traveling down a tube to the outside of the robin’s body. This tube is called the oviduct.

Egg Formation
If a female robin has mated with a male, the yolk will become fertilized. If the robin hasn’t mated, the yolk still goes down the oviduct and will be laid like a normal robin egg, but it won’t develop into a robin. As the yolk travels through the oviduct, the tube’s walls slowly secrete (drip out) watery proteins called albumen to surround the yolk. Near the end of the trip down the tube, the oviduct secretes calcium compounds. The calcium compounds will become the eggshell, but the egg will remain a bit soft until it is laid. You can imagine why the formation of an egg is a tremendous drain on a mother robin’s body!

Stopping At Four 
Robins usually lay four eggs and then stop. Like most birds, they lay one egg a day until their clutch is complete. If you remove one egg each day, some kinds of birds will keep laying for a long time, as if they can stop laying only when the clutch of eggs feels right underneath them. Robins normally lay four eggs.

On The Nest 
Until they’ve laid a full clutch, robins allow all the eggs to stay cool so the babies don’t start to develop. That’s pretty smart! It means all the babies hatch close to the same time. Mother robins may start incubating their eggs during the evening after the second egg is laid, or after all the eggs are laid. They sit on the eggs for 12 to 14 days. The female usually does all the incubating. Even in good weather, she rarely leaves her eggs for more than 5 to 10 minutes at a time.

IMG_20130520_183421_867It’s mom’s job to maintain the proper incubation temperature, keeping the eggs warm during cold weather and shaded during really hot weather. She also must turn or rotate the eggs several times daily. She hops on the rim of the nest and gently rolls the eggs with her bill. Turning the eggs helps keep them all at the same temperature and prevents the babies from sticking to the insides of the eggshells. Males only occasionally sit on the eggs, but they hang out in the territory throughout the daylight hours and respond immediately if the female gives a call of alarm. A male may even bring food to feed his mate, but usually she leaves the nest to feed herself.

Some birds, like hawks and owls, lay their eggs when weather is still very cold, and start to incubate as soon as the first egg is laid. The egg they laid on the first day hatches out a day before the egg they laid on the second day, which hatches a day before the third day’s egg. Therefore, the oldest baby may be a lot bigger than the smallest baby. If hunting is very bad and the babies are very hungry, the biggest may sometimes eat the smallest. The oldest baby leaves the nest before the later babies, too.

Sharing Her Body Heat 
The eggs must be kept warm to develop. A robin’s body is 104 degrees F. or even warmer. Feathers insulate by keeping the bird’s body heat inside, and the outer feathers can still feel cool to the touch. That’s why female robins need a special way to keep their eggs warm. They have an incubation patch, or brood patch, which is a place on their bellies where their feathers fall out. A mother robin shares her body warmth by parting her outer feathers and then pressing her hot bare tummy against her eggs or her young nestlings. Outer feathers cover the bare area so the brood patch is hidden. (It’s a little like keeping the oven door closed so the heat stays inside.) Scientists who hold a female robin for banding will often blow on the tummy feathers to see if a brood patch is hiding underneath.

Many birds apparently sense the egg temperature with receptors in the brood patches. This helps the birds determine how much time to spend on eggs, and they can change their incubation behavior accordingly. For example, they may sit more or less tightly on the eggs, or leave the eggs exposed while going to feed or drink.

The End of the Egg: Hatching Out
Fighting its way out of the egg isn’t easy for a chick. First it breaks a hole in the shell with its egg tooth, a hard hook on its beak. Then it must struggle with all its might, between periods of rest, to get out. No wonder hatching may take a whole day. The eggs usually hatch a day apart in the order they were laid. Naked, reddish, wet, and blind, the babies require A LOT of food. Now it becomes a full time job for both parents to protect the nest, find food, and feed the clamoring babies during the 9-16 days they spend in the nest.

Reference: http://www.learner.org/jnorth/tm/robin/EggstraEggstra.html

Spring is Definitely Here — Robin Building Nest

Filed under: Environment,Family,Robin's Nesting — Caroline Boyce @ 5:17 pm
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I’ve been watching a robin building a nest in a silk tree sitting just outside my front door. I was planning on getting rid of the tree tomorrow but now I don’t have the heart to disturb the nest. I guess the birds don’t care it’s silk and feel it’s real enough to build a nest.

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Try a Yoga Workout for Joint-Pain Relief May 6, 2013

Filed under: Health and Fitness,Helpful Tips — Caroline Boyce @ 7:46 pm
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186Know those little aches and pains you feel in the morning? You could do something right now to keep them from getting worse when you’re older.

Just jump to it. Okay, you don’t have to literally jump. But do be active. People who pick up their feet and commit to regular aerobic exercise have much less muscle and joint pain as they age.

How Much Less?
A 14-year study that followed a healthy over-60 crowd found that consistent exercise — be it running, biking, swimming, dancing, or brisk walking — led to as much as 25 percent less musculoskeletal pain down the road. Yes, even with the high-impact runners. Researchers aren’t sure why, but they suspect that exercise’s endorphin release may play a role. 

Looking Ahead
Less pain when you’re older means a more active and independent life. Here are a few other ways to lower your risk of chronic future aches:

  • Hit the mat. Yoga boosts endorphins and improves flexibility and joint-supporting strength. 
  • Cross-train. Mixing up your activities helps keep your back in good shape.
  • Have a cup or two . . . of green tea. The EGCG and ECG found in green tea are powerful flavonoids known as catechins. Seems these particular catechins may help fight inflammation, as well as some of the underlying mechanisms at work in both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

You don’t have to jump up and down like you’re on a pogo stick to get fit. There are kinder, gentler ways to exercise, and these methods hail from the East.

Yoga_2Many recent studies have shown that certain exercises originating in Eastern cultures can offer just as many physical and psychological health benefits as the more vigorous exercises that often dominate Western workouts. Even better, these Eastern exercises tend to be easier on the body. For example, the gentle art of tai chi exercise not only can help build muscle, but it has been shown to help reduce arthritis symptoms and improve your balance. And studies show that regular yoga practice has a positive effect on breathing capacity and reduces the physical and mental symptoms of asthma sufferers.

Whether your goal is to reduce stress, make your muscles strong and flexible, or boost your weight lossefforts with extra calorie burning, according to recent research you can find what you’re looking for in Eastern-influenced exercise disciplines, such as yoga, tai chi, or chi-gong (qigong).

What’s Your Goal?

Not all Eastern exercises are alike, and it may take some shopping around to find the one that suits you best. The great thing about exercises such as yoga and tai chi, however, is that you can easily tailor the activities to fit your personal fitness needs and abilities.

Some classes even focus on moves that are best for a particular group, such as seniors or children.

Lisa_Yoga_01And you won’t have to twist yourself into a pretzel or chant a mantra if you don’t want to. There are many variations of classes and instructors. Some focus on the spiritual, others are pure workout, and still others balance the two. Some classes closely mirror the original Eastern philosophies and postures, while others are modified to incorporate more Western attitudes and exercise goals. Take your time and sample different varieties until you find a class that you love.

Your first option is to try out some classes at your gym or community center. If you haven’t exercised in a while, it’s a good idea to check with your doctor before beginning any new exercise program.

So which style of Eastern exercise will help you meet your workout goals?

Goal: Reduce Stress and Prevent Disease

Just about any kind of regular exercise can reduce stress levels. However, for extra help, choose Eastern exercises that incorporate meditation. Meditative exercises that significantly reduce stress can bring the added benefit of disease prevention.

Get it done with . . .

Kundalini yoga: Yoga is a discipline that connects the mind, body, and spirit by requiring you to move through different physical postures while meditating and focusing on breath work. However, there are many different styles of yoga, and Kundalini is a meditative form of yoga. It focuses on breath work and meditation while mixing in classic yoga poses.

Chi-gong (Qigong): Chi-gong is an exercise that focuses on breath work, while incorporating meditation and very gentle, slow physical movements. The focus is on breathing naturally, moving easily, and imagining energy traveling through your body.

Health Benefits
yoga_t658Meditation can calm your nerves while significantly improving your health, and it is an important aspect of many Eastern-based exercises. Just 10 to 20 minutes a day of meditation can lower your respiratory rate and help reduce stress. Reducing stress not only is important to your emotional well-being, but it’s also an important part of disease management and prevention. Stress ages your immune system, but managing chronically high levels can protect your immune system and may help you fend off illness as well as diseases such as metabolic syndrome, hypertension, and depression. According to a study, people who practiced the meditative art of chi-gong daily for one month experienced significant improvements in their immune system function.

Goal: Increase Strength and Flexibility

Just about all styles of yoga build strength and flexibility. However, you can focus on forms of Eastern exercise that incorporate stretching, holding poses, and gently exerting yourself for extra power.

Get it done with . . .

Iyengar yoga: Yoga is a discipline that connects the mind, body, and spirit by requiring you to move through different physical postures while meditating and focusing on breath work. There are many styles of yoga. With Iyengar yoga, you hold your postures for a longer period of time compared to other yoga styles, which increases the strength demands required to complete an Iyengar series. Start with a beginner class.

T’ai Chi: T’ai chi is a meditative exercise that requires you to pay close attention to your breathing while completing a series of choreographed, slow, fluid, and continuous dance-like movements. It is a gentle physical exercise that is easy on the joints.

Chi-gong (Qigong): Chi-gong is an exercise that focuses on breath work, while incorporating meditation and very gentle, slow physical movements. The focus is on breathing naturally, moving easily, and imagining energy traveling through your body.

Health Benefits
yoga_yellowish-backgroundMultiple studies have revealed the ability of yoga to increase flexibility and strength. Being strong and flexible has a host of beneficial effects on your overall health, including helping to maintain your energy levels, improving your ability to accomplish daily tasks, and reducing your risk of injury. Strength and flexibility are vital for balance and minimizing falls. T’ai chi also is used to improve balance and strength, and is particularly effective for older people with strength and flexibility issues. However, t’ai chi may benefit the health of both young and middle-aged participants. And the moderately intense aerobic element of this exercise has been shown to significantly reduce blood pressure.

Chi-gong offers similar health benefits to t’ai chi. T’ai chi may offer a slightly better training effect than chi-gong because it’s slightly more intense. However, if you prefer the gentler chi-gong, it also has been credited with improving strength and flexibility and reducing blood pressure.

Goal: Lose Weight or Maintain a Healthy Weight

Choose Eastern exercises that incorporate a cardio component or that require a higher level of exertion and incorporate meditation.

Get it done with . . .

Ashtanga yoga: Yoga is a discipline that connects the mind, body, and spirit by requiring you to move through different physical postures while meditating and focusing on breath work. There are many styles of yoga. Some yoga styles are gentle and slow. However, Ashtanga yoga is a style that moves practitioners quickly through a series of fluid, continuous poses, boosting the effort level required to complete the series. Start with a beginner class.

T’ai chi: T’ai chi is a meditative exercise that requires you to pay close attention to your breathing while completing a series of choreographed, slow, fluid, and continuous dance-like movements. It is a gentle physical exercise that is easy on the joints.

Health Benefits
ashtanga-yoga-bannerVigorous yoga styles such as Ashtanga will burn more calories than slower, gentler yoga styles while continuing to enhance your strength and flexibility. Burning excess calories can help you maintain a healthy weight, and a healthful weight can reduce your risk of many serious diseases, including heart disease and cancer. Losing weight also gives your psychological well-being a big boost.

If you are trying to lose weight, balancing out any calorie-burning activities you engage in with meditative exercises could bring quicker results. High blood levels of cortisol — a stress hormone — have been shown to increase body fat in the abdominal area. The stress-reducing quality of a combination aerobic/meditative exercise such as t’ai chi not only may help you burn calories but also help you relax.

Taken from Real Age:  http://www.realage.com/health-tips/yoga-workout-joint-pain-relief?eid=1010682698&memberid=31404709


Aerobic exercise and its impact on musculoskeletal pain in older adults: a 14 year prospective, longitudinal study. Bruce, B. et al., Arthritis Research and Therapy 2005;7(6):R1263-1270.

A randomized, prospective study of the effects of Tai Chi Chun exercise on bone mineral density in postmenopausal women. Chan, K., Qin, L., Lau, M., Woo, J., Au, S., Choy, W., Lee, K., Lee, S., Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation 2004 May;85(5):717-22.

Cancer supportive care, improving the quality of life for cancer patients. A program evaluation report. Rosenbaum, E., Gautier, H., Fobair, P., Neri, E., Festa, B., Hawn, M., Andrews, A., Hirshberger, N., Selim, S., Spiegel, D., Support Care Cancer 2004 May;12(5):293–301.

Changes in heart rate, noradrenaline, cortisol and mood during Tai Chi. Jin, P., Journal of Psychosomatic Research 1989;33(2):197-206.

Do stress reactions cause abdominal obesity and comorbidities? Bjorntorp, P., Obesity Review2001 May;2(2):73–86.

Effect of meditation on respiratory system, cardiovascular system and lipid profile. Vyas, R., Dikshit, N., Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology 2002 Oct;46(4):487–91.

Effects of qigong on blood pressure, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and other lipid levels in essential hypertension patients. Lee, M. S., Lee, M. S., Kim, H. J., Choi, E. S., International Journal of Neuroscience 2004 Jul;114(7):777-86.

Effect of rosary prayer and yoga mantras on autonomic cardiovascular rhythms: comparative study. Bernardi, L., Sleight, P., Bandinelli, G., Cencetti, S., Fattorini, L., Wdowczyc-Szulc, J., Lagi, A., British Medical Journal 2001 Dec 22–29;323(7327):1446–9.

Effects of tai chi exercise on pain, balance, muscle strength, and perceived difficulties in physical functioning in older women with osteoarthritis: a randomized clinical trial. Song, R., Lee, E. O., Lam, P. l., Bae, S. C., Journal of Rheumatology, 2003;30(9):2039-44.

Efficacy of naturopathy and yoga in bronchial asthma—A self controlled matched scientific study. Sathyaprabha, T. N., Murthy, H., Murthy, B.T., Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology 2001 Jan;45(1):80–6.

Health benefits of Tai Chi exercise: improved balance and blood pressure in middle-aged women. Thornton, E. W., Sykes, K. S., Tang, W. K., Health Promotion International 2004 Mar;19(1):33–8.

Relative exercise intensity of Tai Chi Chuan is similar in different ages and gender. Lan, C., Chen, S. Y., Lai, J. S., American Journal of Chinese Medicine 2004;32(1):151–60.

Tai chi and self-rated quality of sleep and daytime sleepiness in older adults: a randomized controlled trial. Li, F., Fisher, K. J., Harmer, P., Irbe, D., Tearse, R. G., Weimer, C., Journal of the American Geriatric Society 2004 Jun;52(6):892–900.

The aerobic capacity and ventilatory efficiency during exercise in Qigong and Tai Chi Chuan practitioners. Lan, C., Chou, S. W., Chen, S. Y., Lai, J. S., Wong, M. K., American Journal of Chinese Medicine 2004;32(1):141–50.


Do You Run Out of Steam During the Day? May 3, 2013

Filed under: Health and Fitness,Helpful Tips,Inspiration — Caroline Boyce @ 8:37 pm
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8 Energy Boosters to Get You Through the Day

I came across this from RealAge and was compelled to share it ... Reference: http://www.sharecare.com/health/sleep-disorders/article/8-natural-energy-boosters-get-through-the-day?eid=1010684346&memberid=31404709
8 Energy Boosters to Get You Through the DayBack away from the Red Bull! Don’t even think about Rockstar! If you want to short-circuit your slump without feeling wired, you want a smoother, less jolting solution. These eight natural energy lifters are proven to work:

  1. Snap open the shades. A jolt of morning light — scientists call it the dawn signal — activates special cells in your eyes that send a wake-up call to your brain’s internal clock.
  2. Light up your brain at lunch, too. Sitting beside a sunny window for 30 minutes midday makes you more wide awake. In one study, women who did scored better on alertness tests afterward.
  3. Top off your tank. Getting to the point where you’re just starting to feel thirsty — a mere 2.6% drop in hydration levels — can double your feelings of fatigue. It made study volunteers work twice as hard on a set of brain-teasing puzzles. Learn how fruits and vegetables boost your hydration — and your energy.
  4. Squeeze your hand or tap your head. Sounds crazy, but DIY acupressure boosts alertness as effectively as a small cup of coffee, say University of Michigan researchers. Rap your knuckles a few times on the top of your head, squeeze the fleshy pad between your thumb and first finger, or massage the base of your skull and the front of your shins.
  5. Have salad and grilled chicken for lunch. Not the tuna melt, pizza, or meatloaf. High-fat foods are likely to make you moodier and more tired by midafternoon than lower-fat meals are, according to a British study. Digesting fat releases a hormone called cholecystokinin, which seems to provoke a brain drain.
  6. Take a tea break. Black, green, and white teas all contain the energizing amino acid L-theanine. Brits given L-theanine plus caffeine equivalent to several cups of tea and a cup of coffee increased their speed on word and number problems and felt less tired than when they got either substance alone. (Nope, there’s no L-theanine in coffee.)
  7. Catch a cat nap. Close your office door or slip out to your car for a quick snooze. In NASA-funded research, a siesta boosted the performance of long-haul airline pilots by 34%. (Air-traffic controllers lobbying for nap times take note.)
  8. Splash your face. If even a 20-minute nap leaves you groggy, stop in the restroom and splash cool water on your face. Volunteers who did this in one study felt the most awake after a snooze. Surprisingly, having coffee just before your nap and then splashing your face afterward seems to be the perfecta of wake-up calls.



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