Wednesday, May 14, 2008

A Summer Of Adventure

The joys of bird watching.

Have you ever watched a towhee luxuriating in a dust bath? Have you seen a male summer tanager splashing in a pool and then watched him preen and align his feathers after bathing? Have you noticed the female tanager comes timidly to the pool for her refreshing bath after her mate has completed his priming?

Have you ever observed a brilliant metallic hummingbird fly through the gentle waterfall smoothly sliding into the pool? Have you seen one of those spastic jewels "sit" on a flat rock beside the waterfall?

Have you ever witnessed a brilliant blue male Eastern bluebird, with his less beautiful wife, teaching five spotted=breasted young to bathe in the sparkling water?

In early spring have you watched the flicker's courtship dance as the two birds, facing each other, do a two-step down a lichened limb of a water oak, calling "wicka, wicka, wicka" as they swing back and forth with a pendulum motion? Have you seen an Eastern kingbird chase a crow who he thinks might have an eye on the four eggs in the bulky nest of cotton and sticks in the tall pine of a wooded lot?

Have you watched a feisty blue jay bouncing up and down on a limb as if on springs and shouting his raucous cry of "jay, jay, jay"? This fellow is a tease and a scoundrel. Have you heard him give a call like a red-shouldered hawk, scaring all the small birds away from the feeder? He then, with a grin on his face, plops himself down on the feeder and begins to gobble up the goodies.

Have you seen a red start flitting about the shrubbery around the pool, then dropping into the wet stuff, opening and closing his orange-red tail all the time he's playing on the rocks in the shallow water?

Have you heard the musical, bell-like song of the wood thrush in the purple twilight, or the mimicking song of the ebullient mockingbird? The ecstasy of singing hurtles him like a rocket from his chimney perch as he sails across the yard to a swinging elaeagnus branch.

Have you watched our State Bird gather nesting material? Do you know where the Carolina wren's roofed, side-opening nest is?

Are thrashers nesting in your yard? Have you searched for a hummer's nest? It possibly could be in a dogwood or white oak tree on a sloping branch. Has the red-eyed vireo hung his nest from a swaying branch of a sweet gum tree? Have you noticed a robin's mud and rootlet nest, or the wood thrush's nest, also made of mud and rootlets?

Are you aware that a downy woodpecker has a cavity full of young who sound like insects when calling for food? Have you noticed that the delightful little chickadee calls your bluebird box home? Have you discovered the nest of the blue-gray coated mourning dove with pink accents on his frock? Did you know that the nest is so fragiley built that the two white eggs can be seen from underneath the nest?

To have all this action in your yard you must have the habitat different species enjoy . . . tall deciduous trees and evergreens, an understory of trees such as dogwood, small maples, crape myrtles, crab apples and hollies.

Water is a must. Have dripping water if at all possible. The easiest and most inexpensive way to get dripping water is to throw a hose over a tree limb and let it drip into a birdbath, a container or a small pool.

Enjoy your birding this summer!

1 comment:

Silvia said...

I love birds! Thanks for your carnival of homeschooling submission!