The Orioles are Back!

May 7th, 2007

And no, not the baseball team!  It feels like summer already- a very warm and sunny day, and the trees are finally looking good with all the beautiful green leaves.  It feels like a different place at this time of year, especially after the stark grays of winter.  So the ritual begins with grass cutting, trimming, weeding, getting small engines back in shape (and my own engine too!).  I spend half the day in and out of the barn with the dogs and cats for company.  The pup made a few more water retrieves today as well.  I’ve also been looking for the arrival of the Orioles, and today saw the first Baltimore Oriole of the season.  They have a nice call, sort of a flute-like two-note whistle.  I didn’t recognize it, and looked up to see the bright orange of the male Oriole in the White Oak tree above me.  He cooperated for a few pictures… what a neat bird!

Male Baltimore Oriole in a White Oak tree.

What Bird is this?

March 28th, 2007

Well for something a little different, here’s a picture of a new bird.  Like many part-time “birders” I keep a “life list” of sorts… mostly I just know when I see something new or different that I haven’t seen before.  I took this picture yesterday, and as a hint- it’s not from Fox Haven.  It’s not even from Missouri… I’m in a new place, and the area looks a lot like the land and forests around Fox Haven.  I’ll post some more pictures in a couple days, but I’m traveling and don’t have internet access all the time.  But I am enjoying the trip immensely…

A new bird!

American Robin

March 16th, 2007

Few birds herald the Spring as does the American Robin.  First arriving in larger flocks in February, they soon split up into singles and pairs, and begin calling brightly in the mornings.  This ubiquitous bird is a fixture on grassy lawns across the country, but also in fields and woodlands.  Many a child has found a young robin, fallen out of the nest.  And many too have watched the Robin with sideways glance pull up a juicy worm from the backyard.  When I hear the saying, “The early bird gets the worm” it is the Robin that comes to mind. 

American Robin - Missouri - March 2007

Snow Goose Migration

March 8th, 2007

Yesterday I saw several enormous flocks of migrating Snow Geese.  I couldn’t begin to count their number, there were so many.  I heard them well before seeing them, and when I looked I could barely make them out, they were that high up.  I’d love to have known their real altitude, but it probably exceeded 1500-2000 feet in the sky.  The Cornell bird identification site says that “…the Snow Goose travels… in very large, high-flying, noisy flocks.”  Right on the money yesterday.  They are on their way north to the artic tundra to begin the breeding season.  Here’s a picture of just a small portion of one flock…

Migrating Snow Geese - March 07

Cardinal in the House!

March 5th, 2007

Well… I almost titled this one Cardinal Craziness, to keep the theme going from my other post Nuthatch Nuttiness…  Yep… similar story yesterday.  I was summoned by my wife after she heard a loud “thump!” at one of the porch windows.  Sure enough, a Cardinal was lying outside on the ground looking quite disheveled. 

It was a chilly day yesterday, so I went out and picked him up… the bright red of the male Northern Cardinal is unmistakable.  The little guy’s eyes were half closed and he was “gurgling” while trying to breathe.  I brought him inside, and we noticed he was bleeding from the mouth, er ‘beak’ I mean.  I don’t know how to help a bird with internal injuries, but since I noticed his mouth was full of blood my Red Cross training kicked in regarding airway obstructions… So I held him upside down while some blood ran out his beak.  “Lovely…” I can hear you thinking… yes, but not much else to do. 

So I carried him around, and was sure he would pass on any minute in my hands with such labored breathing.  If the cats had been outside he would have been a goner for sure.  He was still breathing after about 15 minutes, so thinking that he had a chance, I knew the best thing would be to keep him warm and in a quiet place.  Back into the Rosemary plant he went, just like the Nuthatch!   The young boy so wanted him to live. I tried not to disturb it last night, but noticed that he was still alive when I went to bed.  His eyes were mostly closed, but the breathing a little better. The porch is not heated much, but stays warmer than the outdoors… I think it was in the 40’s F overnight, so I knew he would be better in there than outside. 

When I awoke and got the young one off to school, I thought “There’s something I wanted to do this morning…?”  “Oh yes- the bird!  So with the sun fully up, I went into the porch to find a chipper young Cardinal hopping about the plants and furniture giving a loud “schiip! schiip!” at me.  “Wow!” I thought, “you’ve really perked up!” 

 Male Cardinal after a night recuperating inside

Then the fun began as I tried to catch him, and he darted in and out of the plants, flying to the windows.  I got my son’s butterfly net and finally trapped him gently.  He looked good except where he banged the window the day before… ruffled feathers and a half-closed eye on the left side.  I bet his neck was sore!   But I knew he could fly then and had a chance at life- wild animals cannot really survive in captivity. 

Some have wondered how one can be a hunter, and care for wildlife and nature at the same time.  For me it is all part of the grand pace of life, and I see no incongruence with hunting and eating animals, as well as caring for them.  Hunters do not hunt simply to ‘kill’ animals, at least none that I have ever known… hunting is so much more.  Fishing equally so… there is a bond with nature and the outdoors, a temporal connection with the seasons, and a human validation for our being and sharing the harvest.  Perhaps I’ll write more one day. 

Back to the Cardinal… out we went, and as I opened the net and picked him up he flew into a Redbud tree about 50 yards away.  He sat composing himself for a good half-hour, and then when I looked again he was gone.  He has a good start… the young one will be excited when I tell him the Cardinal is flying free once again!

 Farewell my red-crested friend!

Cardinal far off in Redbud Tree

One would think I spend all my time taking pictures, watching birds and other assorted nature stuff.  I sure enjoy it, but these are just the small moments between the larger focus of each day.  But the small moments are so important!  If we don’t take some time for them, don’t we then lose ourselves among the noise of everything else?   But most of my time revolves around the endless stuff we all must do, and helping keep our personal and financial lives together.  I finished a final for one of my classes, thank goodness, and now can concentrate on the other.  I should tell you about last week, with the cats in the attic…. well, we don’t really have an attic, but we do have a backwards weather vane!  Long story…  But the boy is doing great with his swimming lessons, and started a class in Tae Kwon Do… life marches on.

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