Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Tis the Season for Baby Birds and Blooming Wildflowers

Heading towards the spigot in Harry's yard, with a bucket to get water, what should I see but a fledgling perched on one of Cousin Harry's many pieces of farm machinery, phone booths, bells, buffalo heads and the like that decorate his yard.
The young Robin gives me quite a look as I wheel the wagon with the bird water down the hill towards the Emu pen.

Instead of meeting me at the gate when I check on his food and water supply like usual. Emmie the Emu is behind his house bumping his chest into the fence. Harry, Emmie's owner has been in the hospital for some days and I wonder if Emmie is trying to get out and go look for him. In the meantime there are Barn Swallows zooming in and out of Emmie's front door. Have they a nest in there?

Yes, indeed! There is a Barn Swallow nest in Emmie's house and it's festooned jauntily with Emu feathers. Droppings clearly stand out on the edge. It is or has been in use. The adult Barn Swallows are chittering. One is perched on a bar inside and the other is circling above me.
Suddenly Emmie the Emu comes galloping at me from the corner of his house as I'm kneeling down peering at the nest inside. The adult Barn Swallows are scolding and whipping back and forth over my head and then here comes big Emmie with his long neck,stout beak, and gigantic feet...

It's definitely time to take off for the Wade Farm, the bird life is getting a little too rambunctious here in Harry's yard.

At the farm, several different species of swallows vie for airspace. Barn Swallows zip back and forth into the door of an out building and when I look inside there's a nest. No Emu feathers on this one. It has lots more grass being used than I've seen usually. It looks like it contains mud but something isn't quite right. What kind is it? Are there eggs or are there young who are hiding themselves?
What's that? Below the nest, a Barn Swallow fledgling perches near the open door, when abruptly a parent flies in, startles her, and she flings herself off the wire.
Where'd he go?
The fledgling works her way back up to safety.

Then it's into The Mule to see what else we can find. Christopher Red-tail's nest is now surrounded by bean seedlings. He's chosen wisely. The group of trees of which his nest tree is one, is an island in the fields, isolating them from visitors. Perhaps another day we'll have permission is walk between the rows. But until then we're off for other fish to fry. Perhaps Lake Lorraine holds some surprises.

I'd seen a female Red-wing Blackbird come to this spot repeatedly with a beak overflowing with insects. She'd be there nearly no time and then return with an empty beak. Focusing in, there he was. A little Red-wing chick watching mom collect goodies in the mowed lawn that abutted the marsh grass.

Mom's coming, so he begins to beg mightily.

She's almost there so he tips his head up at the ready. In less than three seconds she deposits the many insects, who's wings are spilling out the sides of her beak, into her youngsters gullet and she's off again in a flash to collect more.
But this time instead of watching while he waits, he begins to get sleepy.

And then he is sound asleep. Mom must notice because she goes farther afield to forage in a flower bed, eating some insects herself.
What about the Wildflowers? For awhile the Phlox was the only thing that seemed to be blooming, then the Spiderwort joined in and now...
There is Anemone,
Wood Sorrel,

and Bladder Campion.

And as the Scouts have kept the invasives at bay, the roadside is a riot of Wild Geranium.
And while checking the marsh, suddenly we realize that the surface is literally covered with Water Lilies.
Far off in the distance, no babies in sight at the moment but just the fact that there is a bonded pair of rare Wood Ducks snugged onto the top of a muskrat house is a downright lovely capper for the day.
Donegal Browne

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