Saturday, June 16, 2018

Night Creatures

They come when the sun is low in the sky or under cover of darkness, feeling with their sensitive black gloves for morsels of corn, 
rolling each piece over in their hands while chewing on the last one, their hands and jaws in perpetual motion.

These raccoons are startled by any slight movement; it doesn't take much to send them fleeing to the woods or scrambling up a tree.

"No worries, Mate. It's only the gobbler. Ignore him, and he'll go away."

Monday, April 23, 2018

Traveling Music Show

male baltimore oriole theodosia missouri

 There's a new show in town at our favorite venue--outside our kitchen windows. Composed by the Master of song, the music repeats familiar themes in rich, sweet tones. The costumes are elaborate. Tangerine orange feathers embroidered in black and white flutter in the breeze.

Admission is one half orange, placed in a conspicuous place, and it's well worth the price. But don't wait--they won't be here long.

The show, of course, is Baltimore Orioles passing through our area on their way north and east from their wintering grounds in Mexico. They arrived at our house yesterday, just after the hickory trees started to tassel, and they search for insects high in the trees. We hope they find all the caterpillars.

Blue jays are surprised to find a small bird that they can't intimidate. 

The birds are agile and entertaining and keep us guessing what they'll do next.

One thing is certain, though, as long as they're here, they'll be eating oranges.

Linking with Wild Bird Wednesday

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Slow Dance

wild turkey gobbler displaying

The lead gobbler in our part of the woods has been putting on a grand show in the mornings, displaying for the hens. With his tail feathers fanned out, he opens and closes the iridescent feathers on his back, body and breast like a polka player's accordion. Below a bright red wattle, he extends one leg slowly, deliberately, then another. Pivoting in slow motion, his primary wing feathers dragging on the ground, he turns a full circle, giving the hens the opportunity to admire each of his shining feathers.

We admire them, too, and feel privileged to see it.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

First Responder

A thud against the window yesterday sent me to the bedroom to check for a downed bird. Occasionally, one will crash, and sometimes a little help can influence their chances of recovery. Scanning the rocks below the window, I didn’t see the bird at first. A chirping sound drew my attention to a titmouse perched in a nearby tree. He would chirp, and then look below him. Following his gaze, I located the injured bird on the ground, another titmouse, well camouflaged on the gray rocks. “At least its buddy is looking out for him,” I thought.

When a bird hits a window, the first thing I try to do is turn them right side up. It seems to increase their chances of survival. But today, I watched in amazement as the titmouse on the limb swooped down and righted his stunned companion. 

A moment later, I had a second surprise. The First Responder Titmouse started viscously attacking the fallen one.

It wasn’t until I noticed another bird watching the fight from the tree, that a light flipped on in my brain. This was a fight over that sweet thing batting her eyelids in the tree branch. The bird on the ground wasn’t able to fly, but it could run pretty well. Still, it didn’t stand a chance. The aggressor pummeled him while he tried to escape, then flew up to the tree to bask in the admiring gaze of his cheerleader. This cycle was repeated several times.

Those little birds can tilt their head and look winsome, but when the claws come out, pity the underdog.

At last check, none of the birds were in sight, so I’ll have to assume that the vanquished bird picked up the pieces of his shattered life and moved on, and the happy couple is setting up housekeeping. I always hope for happy endings.

Linking with Wild Bird Wednesday

Friday, March 30, 2018

After the Rains

Our windows need washing, but I have the perfect excuse. It's been raining for 4 days and nobody washes windows in the rain. Besides providing excuses for all sorts of things, rainy nights are great for fires in the fireplace and popcorn with good movies. In the long range forecast, there was one sunny day, and it was today. Somehow, there wasn't time to wash the windows. Instead, I laced up my waterproof hiking boots and headed down to the hollow.

The GPS would designate this as the same location I've hiked on many occasions, but to my eyes and ears this morning, it seemed a very different place. The path was soggy underfoot, and before I reached the bottom, I could hear a chorus of streams.

Last year's flood altered this valley into an extension of the lake. When the water receded, things had changed. Where in former years one wet-weather creek flowed, 3 smaller, parallel streams now do summersaults over rocks and cut trenches in the sand. After wading across the streams this morning, I followed a deer trail north through a blanket of new green to see the dry creek bed I hiked in a couple of weeks ago. In its place, a small river now cuts through the valley. Some things are always changing.

With a boulder for an easy chair, I sat down and watched the churning water. Small waterfalls and eddies danced feverishly, catching the light in an ever changing display. Farther down, the stream slowed, exhausted by its exertion.

The hands on my watch moved quickly in the hollow. A gnawing stomach reminded me that it was time for breakfast. I got up reluctantly and made my way back. Rue anemone and toothwort littered the uphill path.

Back home, we watched a wild turkey gobbler dance slowly, the iridescent light shining off his feathers. So far, the hen is unimpressed. Some things never change.