Summertime-part three-the birds

We’ve discussed the bees, now how about the birds, sorry no sex education here today;) All I can show you is the results of those actions;) ha! I am so glad I’m not a Grackle parent…those kids are tough! A lot of carrying on and screaming, all for a sunflower seed….”Feed yourself kid! You’re bothering me;)”

These parents work hard! It is odd, as in July it starts to get a bit quiet. Everyone is busy nesting and feeding, the woodpeckers get a bit secretive, or are simply running away from their demanding young ones. The Blue Jays vanish, except for an occasional feather beneath the feeder, then August rolls in and all the juveniles start coming out of the wood work, er, trees, whatever!

It is amazing how quickly they grow these babies! A paddle to the North end of the lake got us the chance to see the debut of the baby Loon! So small! Such calm, protective parents. We always keep a respectful distance and just sit and observe. It was a windy day and the little one was doing just fine!

They were not the only ones paddling about the lake. Down here at the South end the Bald Eagle has come and gone. With no Loon pair here, no babies to eat, it hasn’t made many appearances, but you know when it does, the entire bird population puts out the alarm. Those ballsy Red-winged Blackbirds give chase in the tall pine, or should we call them fool hardy;) We have had a single Loon moping about, I wonder if it lost it’s mate. Hopefully next year it will find some company. The Herons have been busy flying from one side of the lake to the other, often with a few juveniles, that look full size, in tow!

A few new birds have surfaced. What at first I thought was a seagull from a quick glance turned out to be a Tern, A Caspian Tern. That amazing orange bill and black head. It is a prolific fisher as well! The Caspian Tern is the largest tern in the world, easily recognized by its brilliant red fish-knife of a bill and deep, raspy call. Found all over the world, the Caspian favors both freshwater and saltwater environments. It feeds mostly on fish, captured in nimble aerial dives. Still trying to catch a dive before it heads South for the Winter! I have seen it pluck a perch out of the water without getting it’s feet wet, yet it will also plunge right in! Stunning. The first time I heard it squawk, I jumped!

I have been keeping an eye on the Osprey babies at the Beveridge Locks-during the hot spell last week they were having a hard time keeping cool. Mother covered them with her wings but they are getting so large it is getting difficult.

I returned last week to only find the babies in the nest waiting patiently-I watched for awhile-it was HOT! They became quite upset when a giant low flying military Hercules aircraft flew over and circled. What could have they been thinking! That’s one big mofo bird of prey! I tell ya! I had to give up because of the heat, will have to make another trip to see them starting to fly!

We have an Osprey pair here at the lake as well. I paddled down one quiet afternoon to have a look-they were calling, so thought they were babies, but their eye colour looked more adult. So must take a canoe ride back down on a sunny morning to see them again unless they were early babies and have flown the coop/nest/pile of sticks! It looked like it was leaning in a precarious way!

There must certainly be enough fish out here for them…Groot says he is not happy about sharing but what can he do;) Another youngster woke me up at dawn last week. The crying was pitiful…it went on and on, right outside the window, even the cats had a look out to see what the ruckus was about. I went outside when it became a bit lighter and looked in the tree tops above the roof but the maples are so dense I couldn’t see a thing but I must have rattled it as it flew off to a neighboring tree, a young Red Tailed Hawk. We don’t see them often here, mostly open field birds so a real treat. He/she has been hanging around, I occasionally hear it cry. On the deck were the remnants of a Hairy Woodpecker and a Blue Jay so the parent had been feeding it a late night/early morning snack.

We don’t tend to get many birds of prey other than the local Bald Eagle. It is always a treat to see a Coopers (although I can tell you the yard birds don’t share my enthusiasm, for that!) Sometimes high up I see something I can’t quite ID. We have a regular flock of Turkey Vultures that soar the thermals here on the hill off the lake- Such amazing flyers with a face only a mother could love…happens when you a carrion eater, face feathers would get in the way;) My hats off to natures clean up crew!

When I went looking for the Osprey nest I paddled around and came across the not so wee Loon baby and mother. Only 10 days ago it was tiny! Father was off fishing so I spent a few minutes drifting by this beautiful pair. Their cry is such a haunting melody, I can tell you whether they are just greeting each other, issuing a warning call, staking out their territory or simply telling their significant other where they are, no cell phones needed:) Yeah! Will make another trek down to check out his/her progress this week! It won’t be a fluff ball anymore!

Common Loons for me are one of the most graceful birds on the water I have seen. The elegant neck, their diving and swimming ability underwater is astounding but have you ever watched one land or take off? They look like complete klutzes! It’s as if Goofy has been crossed with Inspector Clouseau, then recrossed with Mr. Magoo…you get the drift…um, er landing and take off, anyway…pretty funny to watch! Landing results in a large splash after a dicey descent and take off involves a lot of flapping, and flapping, and flapping….I could swear those feet are working overtime underneath like a Fred Flintstone car to get them airbourne;) I suppose everything has it’s ying and yang:)

…and then there are the incredibly sad looking juvenile Hummingbirds that really look like someone/something has caught them, chewed on for a bit, then spat them back out, not much to eat there…but that, is for tomorrow, along with some gorgeous examples of them in their prime. While they are incredibly beautiful little birds, they also get to go through their geeky stage…stay tuned for them and some of our faithful yard birds. I leave you with the local swamp juvenile Wood Duck, she is a beauty! Saludos amigos…

We have known there has been a family of Wood Ducks close by. I have seen both the male and the female flying over, usually just get a glance of their rear ends;) This is a juvenile, we caught a glimpse of Mom and quite a few babies sunning on a rock, but they were gone when I returned. This maybe last years baby as the other were much much smaller! Lovely!

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