"If I don't believe in solipsism, who will?" - Al Batt

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

One More Last "Last Snow"

This is what we woke up to this morning.  This "last snow of the season" keeps getting rescheduled. This is the third one we've had so far. The snow still coming down, but the temperature is 32F so it isn't getting much traction.  I suppose one could make an argument for beauty.  It's a known medical fact that too much blinding beauty can burn your eyes out. For the sake of my vision, enough! ... I give up, I surrender. Give me green.
Spring is still here, it's energy lurking under the snow and in the sheltered corners. As well as the tree buds swelling, the spring bulbs are blooming. The migratory water birds have been here, especially after the ice went out, some have already come and gone, moving north to their summer homes. The Juncos, birds of the far tundra, are still at the feeders, but most of the Pine Siskins have packed it in and flew north to their boreal forests. Of course the Robins showed up a month ago and after some serious discussions concerning lot lines have divided Oakwood into building sites, which generally seem to coincide with our human yards and gardens. 

Yesterday there were at least four pair of Wood Ducks about fifty feet up on the horizontal branches of the big oaks. They nest in tree cavities and nesting boxes - big birdhouses. They didn't seem to be noticeably looking for nesting holes yesterday, just peeping at each other and flying about from branch to branch, celebrating the feel of the mossy bur oak bark under their feet. They lost one really prime natural site above our deck in the wind storm last summer. I should put up more nesting boxes I suppose. Nesting opportunities seem to be the prime limiter of Wood Duck populations. I only have one box, Andersons to the north have one and Christie to our south, at least one - two I think, though one might be a bat house.  

I've been noticing a Sharp-Shinned Hawk hanging around this Spring eyeing the feeders. Probably a pair. It should help us deal with our terrible Chickadee and Chipmunk problems. I know the hawks don't have any choice; they don't have morals, they are not bad birds, they are just being hawks. I do hope I don't have to watch them eating my 1410 Chickadees though. They can take their bloody job to some dark butcher shop up in the trees where I don't have to watch them, watch them tear off the head with one bite, carefully pick off the fluff feathers, then rip the tiny bird apart. Yeah, I have watched them do their dark, grisly task.

More exciting, for me anyway, is a least two Ovenbirds that have been around the past couple of days. They are a small warblers with an olive back and striped breast - subtly beautiful. They feed almost exclusively on insects on the forest floor and may have evolved a dead end trait - they build a dome shaped nest on the ground. They are becoming rare, at least locally. For some reason they seem to die hitting our windows at a rate way beyond their numbers, so I've had too many of the delicate little things die in the palm of my hand. We have a lot of windows and in the past when we hear the birds hit we put their almost weightless bodies in a ziplock bag and put them in the freezer, filed under B for beautiful. When Lorna taught her nature, bird classes the students were able to pass the bags around, feel how little they weigh and appreciate their beauty up close. Now that she's retiring I suspect she'll still find a way to be The Bird Lady and teach classes.

ADDENDUM - 2:18 PM:  It's starting to accumulate. :-(


Anonymous said...

Many thanks for this, Gunnar!

Gunnar Berg said...

Thanks for looking.