What a good day, with a sour end... like SourPatch Kids candy, but backwards. (They start out sour, then get sweet, if you've never had one)
Filled with birds and bugs and a project.
It started with a Phoebe near the river.
I always get phoebes and peewees mixed up visually. I didn't have my field guide with me, but I had my BirdJam. (Hi, Jay!!!)
I played the phoebe call and this sweet little bundle of bravado sang it back to me.
At the same place on the river, a pair of wood ducks were checking out the massive old sycamores for a nest site.
Wood ducks astonish me every time I see one in a tree. I should be used to it by now, being a birder for 7 years...but a duck in a tree. It's weird and wonderful to see. I mean, how do they hang on??? They have...well, DUCK FEET!
I watched the female as she went from tree to tree. She didn't walk along the branches like a raptor would, or any other bird who normally perches up there. If she wanted to move down the branch, she would think about it really hard, bouncing her neck up and down, and then do a half-hop, half-flap to another spot. I laughed out loud quite a few times. The male let her do the house-shopping, and when she got too far away, he would leisurely follow.
Reading up on them at the Cornell All About Birds website, I learned that the babies can jump from heights of 89 m (290 feet!!!) without injury. Wow. I've seen documentaries that show the wee little darlings do their version of base jumping, but 290 feet? Holy Crap!
And the nest is lined with down from the female's breast. Imagine yanking stuff off yourself to care for your baby. I guess breast-feeding comes pretty close.
Later, a towhee visited our feeders.
They are a rare treat here, smack dab in the middle of our subdivision. No one but us has the necessary cover for them to feel comfortable. It's a shame, too. Lots of our neighbors have bird feeders, but they live on these wide, vast....green carpets with no bird cover to speak of.
The visit from the towhee got me thinking of a project I wanted to do. I got the idea from a book I received from Lynne's GIVEAWAY. Click here if you want to read the book. It's right up your alley if you are thinking of becoming a rehabber.
Voila. A Bug Pit:
(If you don't know what one is, it's just another way to feed the birds.)
I removed all the grass from the area, filled it in with nice, juicy organic soil (compost) and lots and lots of earthworms, centipedes, slugs, pill bugs....
We then covered everything with leaves, to encourage birds to forage and do their kick-scratch thing. The only leaves we could find were dry, so we watered it down.
Note the purple purse. Even if she's gardening, accessories are important.
The girls are quite fond of turning over rocks and logs to search for insects, so now whenever they find something, it can go in the Bug Pit.
But. Heavy sigh. My dumb, dumb neighbors....
I went up to the top of the street to wait for Isabelle's bus, and the lawn on the corner was being.....treated.
Spray-Everything-With-Poison- so nothing can live there but GRASS- people?
I truly don't understand why people pay for this service. Honestly. I grew up on 14 acres of pure, untreated land and I could still do somersaults in the grass. In the current economy, people are PAYING for POISON? Kill ALL the bugs? Even the GOOD ONES?
Let me get this off my chest. Here's how it goes. You "treat" your lawn to this cocktail of gunk, which kills all the beneficial bugs. And then you need MORE poison to kill what the beneficial bugs would eat for you...for free. Nearly everyone on our street employs at least some kind of poison-service. When our direct neighbors get visited by the Scott's guy, I stand by the window and glare at him. When he gets too close to our fence, I find a reason to go outside, to my car or something, and give him a bit of the Stinky Eye. Keep that crap on your side!
What about fertilizers? WTF? You WANT your grass to grow faster and thicker? So you have to mow it more OFTEN? So you can pay for MORE gasoline and belch out MORE fumes into a rapidly thickening atmosphere?
Well, we have all the bugs. And we are happy about it. And so are our birds.
If Geoff would let me, I would kill ALL of our grass, plant native ground-cover and just grow native shrubs and trees. And wildflowers. And seed-producing plants.
FIFTY NINE bird species and counting, on our little patch (3/4 of an acre!) of Heaven, stuck in the middle of Suburban Hell.
Okay. I went on a rant there.
To leave you with something sweet....tomorrow, GHOW chick banding!