What’s all the yellowing about? It’s about American goldfinches. They are turning a brilliant yellow.
Dandelions are spring to some folks. The yellowing of spring. Is a group of dandelions called a pride? Mark Twain said, “In the spring, I have counted 136 different kinds of weather inside of 24 hours.”
It’s good to see turkey vultures back and checking the expiration dates of roadkill.
I am in awe of the feeder birds in the April snow. I make it a cardinal rule to look at every cardinal. A red-tailed hawk soaring high caused me to think of the line from Oklahoma, “We sit alone and talk and watch a hawk making lazy circles in the sky.”
European starlings were introduced into this country by Shakespeare enthusiasts in 1890. Their population is declining in the UK and North America. The Harris’s sparrow is named after Edward Harris, Audubon’s pal and a horse breeder. The breeding range of this sparrow is all in Canada.
The crow-sized peregrine falcons return in February to nest on the roof of the Mayo Building in Rochester. In early April the female lays three to four eggs that hatch 35 days later, in early to mid-May. The nestlings are given names by patients, staff and visitors.
Telling tales out of stool
I was in a state park when poop rained down upon my car. Bacteria in the bird’s gut break down the uric acid, giving it the white color before exiting the bird’s cloaca. Birds mainly eating fish, like bald eagles, cormorants, great blue herons, gulls or osprey, produce mostly white poop. I’m not sure what birds targeted my car, but their accuracy was amazing.
No one is a dodo
Dodos were flightless birds on the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. After Dutch sailors landed and settled on the island in 1598, the dodo’s population rapidly declined.
The dodo was easy to catch and was hunted by sailors for food, but the introduction of pigs, dogs and rats with a taste for dodo eggs and the ability to outcompete the dodos for food was devastating. The Oxford University of Natural History sources said dodo meat wasn’t tasty.
When weasels fly
I enjoy the writings of Annie Dillard. Her book Pilgrim at Tinker Creek is exquisite. I read her essay (“Living Like Weasels”), which mentioned author and wildlife artist Ernest Thompson Seton’s report of someone shooting an eagle and finding the skull of a weasel attached to the raptor’s throat. He guessed the eagle had swooped down and grabbed the weasel. The would-be-prey chomped onto the throat of the eagle and never let go. The eagle carried a reminder of that day for the rest of its life.
“I’ve heard about declining bird populations. Are some bird species doing well?” The number of birds in North America has fallen by 29% since 1970. Bald eagles are thriving, peregrine falcon populations have grown and waterfowl numbers are on the upswing.
“Where do the red-winged blackbirds spend the winter?” Most blackbirds breeding in the northern U.S. migrate to the southern states for the winter.
“When do bucks drop their antlers?” Most bucks in Minnesota shed their antlers between December and March. Declining day length causes a decrease in testosterone, which results in antler shedding. Look for sheds in places where deer sleep, where they feed and the trails between those two places.
Concentrate on southern exposures.
“When are white-tailed fawns born?” May or early June are prime times as they allow the fawns to grow during warm days and nights while missing the cold of early spring.
“When do juncos leave here?” I see them here as late as in May every year.
“What else other than orioles eats grape jelly from feeders?” Catbirds, tanagers, robins, house finches, woodpeckers (downy, hairy, red-bellied), brown thrashers, rose-breasted grosbeaks, cardinals, starlings, Cape May warblers, yellow-rumped warblers, orange-crowned warblers, chipmunks and squirrels are all possibilities.
“There were branch tips on the ground under my spruce trees. What caused that?” The damage is usually the work of a hungry red squirrel. It feeds on newly formed buds at the end of a twig by snipping off three to six inches of new growth, eating the bud and dropping the rest. This occurs when there is little other food available to them.
“Why do blue jays carry away several peanuts in their mouths and throats?” It’s because they don’t have pockets. It saves them trips to the feeder.
Thanks for stopping by
“Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting – over and over announcing your place in the family of things.” – Mary Oliver
“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”—The Dalai Lama.