eagle

The bald eagle is once again common in the Kickapoo Valley, where I see them often perched high in the trees.

There are some folks who say that summer is here when the hot and muggy weather comes, well, if that’s true then summer arrived this week. With temperatures around ninety degrees and humid, it’s time to slow down or pay the price. It was a week of red skin and sweat joined by black flies and mosquitos. It is never a good combination when there are jobs to be done outside—and there is always something that should be done outside. Chop the poison parsnip and burdock before it goes to seed; pick the potato bugs off the potato plants; dead-head the roses and other garden flowers; pull weeds in the garden, and so on and so on. The heat and the bugs keep me on the screen porch most of the day, so I try to get some of the outdoor chores done in the cool of the early morning. It’s the best part of the day anyway.

It was also a week of Day lilies and Elderberry blossoms, milkweed flowers and Raspberries, Fritillaries and the begging calls of new baby birds.

 

The young grossbeak and cardinal compete for the best sunflower seeds in the feeder

The young grossbeak and cardinal compete for the best sunflower seeds in the feeder

The young Rose-breasted Grosbeaks and young Cardinals left their nests this week and are showing up at the bird feeders for sunflower seeds. Their parents show them how to crack open the black seeds and feed them for a day or two before they get the hang of doing it themselves. Their constant whining, begging calls will subside through the week as they learn to fend for themselves.

There is always a lot of noisy energy on the day that the little House Wrens leave the safe confines of the wren house for the first time. A whole lotta chittering and chattering as the tiny fledgling wrens flutter from the quarter-sized exit and into a new world. One at a time they take their first flight, a few yards into the dense green foliage in front of them. It took only fourteen days from the time they were hatched to their first flight. Their parents will follow the little ones’ begging calls, coming from six different places, to take them insects to eat. It’s a busy time for the adult wrens for a few days, feeding all those hungry mouths, but that’s what wrens do. I took the empty wren house down a few hours after the young fled to clean it out and repair the roof before putting it back up. The wrens were carrying sticks inside the house the very next day, already making plans for another family.

 

Young kestrel in the pine tree

Young kestrel in the pine tree

The pretty female Kestrel perches on the very top of branch of a spruce tree. I can tell she’s a female by the reddish brown feathers on her shoulders; these feathers are bluish gray on the male. Its mid-afternoon and the calls of her young come from the nearby nesting box twenty feet up on a pole. Two of the young Kestrels perched together are looking out of the 3 ½ inch entry hole. Their begging calls become more frantic as they see their mother flying towards them. She calls to them killy, killy, killy, killy. They call back to her as she approaches. She flies up to her eager babies but only to great them for a couple of seconds before flying off again without giving them something to eat. The confused youngsters call out to her, wondering why she didn’t bring them anything to eat. She knows it’s time for them to leave the nesting box and is trying to coax them out for the first time.

The Kestrels were raised on the edge of Colette and Andy’s yard and Andy watches the Kestrels from the seat of his moving lawn mower. Apparently the mower didn’t bother one of the males and he sailed from the nesting box on his first flight and landed on the bottom support of a lawn chair right in the path of the oncoming mower.  Andy had already spotted the little K on the chair and stopped the mower to fetch his camera. He was able to get lots of pics of him and in fact, walked right up to him for some close-ups. Amazingly the little falcon just sat there while Andy picked up the chair and moved it out of the way with the bird still perched on it. He flew to a nearby bush when the mowing started again. Just goes to show you what just being outdoors can be like. So many surprises, so many treats for eyes, ears, nose and all your senses. All you have to do to feel them is be outside.  A big thank you to Andy and Colette for the wonderful pictures of the Kestrels.

 

Coulee sunrise warms the soul

Coulee sunrise warms the soul

I watched a beautiful Coulee sunrise this morning, a good way to set your mood for the day. Like the slow rising sun that tells me to set a comfortable pace and be deliberate and sincere in what I do. I feel the wet coolness of the dew covered grass under my feet and breath in the refreshing morning air. I consider that if the rest of the day doesn’t go so good, I at least started it with a special moment. The first one I said good morning to was a tiny new toad who had hopped onto my bare foot. I told him that I came here often and maybe we’ll enjoy another sunrise together sometime. A little Chipmunk jumped out into the grass in front of me, it’s time for him to get busy and he hopped off searching for something for breakfast, which sounded like a good idea.

Naturally Yours,

Dan