Tuesday, January 08, 2008

No Birds, almost, and Tornados in January?

It's the January thaw and though cloudy, it's downright balmy for January--nearly 50 degrees. Ordinarily there would be dozens of birds eating at the feeders, foraging in the yard, and tweeting about the good weather. For the second day in a row, there have been virtually none.

Because, I fear, a Cooper's Hawk has taken up residence in that Spruce. While standing looking at the absence of passerines at all the feeders that abutt the park earlier today, suddenly he glided out and headed north.

Well, I shouldn't say a complete absence of birds, there was a Crow---in the sky flying over.

I did manage to eventually spy Doorstep Dove in one of her trademark sandwiched-between-twigs perches, two neighbor's down.

What to do? Look at Lichen that's what. Bizarre and fascinating stuff, lichen.
While listening to a "talk to the tree doctor" program on NPR the other day, a listener called asking what to do about the stuff growing all over his trees. When asked for an explanation of "stuff" it became clear that the listener thought that the lichen growing on his trees was a harmful disease that needed to be eradicated. Whoa, and this is in Wisconsin? Contact with nature even here has been drastically reduced to the point that residents of and almost completely agrarian state only a generation ago don't know lichen when they see it?
Now I can understand born and bred New Yorkers who roam Central Park not recognizing lichen. It only thrives in the presence of clean air. It is extremely sensitive to pollution and an indicator of air quality therefore scarce in cities. But here? The mind reels.
Pondering that while walking through the kitchen, abruptly the radio begins making the boooooooop, boooooooooooop, booooooooop sound which precedes an announcement from the National Weather Service. My ear cocks, did they say a tornado warning for Rock county, I'm in ROCK COUNTY. So much for looking into lichen this minute. It sky does have that gray green look and the clouds are rushing by at an unusual speed.
The wind picks up and it passes us by. A tornado touches down and does some damage in Kenosha county. But wait, it's January; tornadoes don't show up in January.
They do now.

Later a lone sentinel on the front yard Spruce cranes he neck and surveys the area.

A small flock of House Finch sit in the tip top twigs of the Maple. Also a defensive perch as they can immediately get to open flight air in case of raptor attack. He's still out there somewhere. Still no birds at the feeders.

Getting on to sunset, the House Finches have returned to their night roost tree out front, from where ever they spent their day foraging. They remain alert and ready to flee until it becomes nearly dark then they retire into the cover to sleep.

Another bank of boiling clouds flies across the sky and onward. Perhaps soon the Cooper's Hawk will become as displeased as I am about the lack of birds out there. For different reasons of course and then he will fly onward too.
Donegal Browne


Karen Anne said...

I'm thinking having the radio on all day is a tough price to pay for a tornado warning. Is there something that only booooooop, booooooops at you for a tornado warning, but is quiet the rest of the time?

Donegal Browne said...

Some people here do have something that does do weather alerts without the rest of it. But I haven't investigated how it's done.

In actuality I don't have the radio on all the time though I do make sure to turn it on when things begin to get that "look" well known to residents of the prairie states.

Beyond that, Wisconsin has it's own public radio programming and stations. They do have some national things like the news breaks but the content is for the most part out of the state and I have to admit, it's the best content I've run across in the country bar none.

So when I do have it on, it's no big sacrifice.