A Bobolink’s Story

Proverbs 24:
1 Be not thou envious against evil men, neither desire to be with them.
2 For their heart studieth destruction, and their lips talk of mischief.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

bobolink

Birds do not think like humans.  I know that. But when I saw this voiceless beauty, I had to think…

“I just returned from weeks of roaming.  This is the place where I raised a family the last two summers.  This year I went elsewhere. Why did I have to look for greener pastures?

I came back this spring, all ready to find a mate or two and have some children, but noticed some changes. Part of my land was cut down, some trees were a little larger. That curly dock and thistle is really getting out of hand.

I left.

I went down yonder where the tall grasses were blowing. A perfect place without many little two-leggeds roaming about with their course, spontaneous songs.  Such loud unseemly bursts of noise hurt my ears.  At times, there were loud things connected to the two-leggeds. They did not often come too close, but they left destruction in their path, cutting down those grasses and plants we like to hide and feed in.  I wanted to raise my family in peace.

I found a lovely dear who was very impressed with my song and flight.  Not only one, but three wives to give me a large family.  I have my favorite and it is her young that I help most with the feeding.  Oh, don’t give me that look… this is how I was made;  it’s what I do.  You enjoy the song God gave us, right?

Soon the eggs were going to hatch, and I expected to be quite busy for a while.   I hear a strange noise, but I ignored it, figuring it would stay out of my territory like at the other place. I continued guarding the ladies.  Or tried, I had never heard anything quite like this and oddly, this noise was getting louder.

OH! It’s coming here!  Right in my territory!  It barrels right in!  Just in time the ladies flee, but the eggs, the nests…  they must remain.   How could this be?!

I found a metal post and sat there alone, mourning all my unseen children.  Another beast follows throwing the grasses and nests around a bit.

I didn’t go far, staying here overnight.  Another roaring beast comes the next morning, but I didn’t have the heart to move.  What more can these beasts do?  I shortly found out.   All those grasses are swallowed by the beast and spit out as huge rolls.   Why must all these grasses, nests and eggs be tightly wound up?

Eventually, these rolls were taken away.  To where, I don’t know.  The grasses are beginning to grow again, but what is the point now? This might happen again and really, it’s too late to start another family.

My ladies left to parts unknown.  Now I just wander, eating what I can until the South calls again.  I’ll see my pals there.  I look forward to that, one in particular.  He will understand.  His story is different, but still an ending of loss.

He found a nice quiet spot, fairly close to a creek.  He enjoyed harmonizing with the flowing water.  His ladies built their nests and most of the eggs hatched.  The children’s feathers came in, but they could not yet fly.  When they were so close to taking wing, big black four-leggeds came over and started munching the grass.  Their heavy feet tromped here and there without a thought and some of the young were crushed.  Others were able to scamper around avoiding the footfalls.

Those little ones no longer remember the horror and are now having their own families.  Some experience what their father and I did, but have no idea what to do about it.  What protection do our eggs and little nestlings have?  I do not have the strength to turn those things away.

Our friend, the Killdeer, always tries that silly broken-wing fit of his; it does nothing but tires him out.  The eggs are still smashed.  The Meadowlarks, Horned Larks, Grasshopper Sparrows…  they have similar stories.

Today, I decided to come back to this less than perfect place.  The area cut down was not so large even though it seemed huge this spring.  I overheard them talking about it.  They are trying to replace what has been lost.  It is not as easy as they thought and will attempt a little fire later on to see if this won’t help.  Those trees, yes, they are a little larger, but there are no more.  In fact, I noticed one of the two-leggeds cutting down some stray trees.

I should come back next year and not think too much about what might have been.”

The End.

I wrote this because it is possible not many know the cost for the birds and other wildlife just to get beef on our tables.  People eat the beef… the cattle eat this grass.    Hay is best gathered during nesting season so the farmer’s get the most nutrients for their herds.   I prefer grass-fed beef (link goes to where we got our latest batch) from cattle allowed to roam rather than the cows from feedlots that are fed who knows what.  There are no easy answers.  I wish there were.

I focused on the beef industry today, but energy in the form of wind farms also cause loss to birds and wildlife. 

Just some stuff for you to think about when you pick up that package of ground beef, or are convinced to buy a product because they boast of using wind power.   I cannot think of any energy we use that does not come with an environmental price.  Oil, wood, coal, natural gas, solarThe amount “needed” is continually rising.  Can these things be harvested in such a way to lessen the harmful impacts? 

God created the resources; He knew man would discover how to use them.   Yet He created beauty and wonderment in the form of plants and animals.  I cannot see that He would want us to destroy them in the use of the resources.

Categories: bird facts, Creation, dangers to birds, ponder, sadness | 1 Comment

A Darker Side of Birding

2 Timothy 3:
2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

If you are doing any kind of serious birding, you know that bad weather is often the best time to find birds.  For example, migration comes to a halt when there are storms.

It is now hurricane season along the east coast and some birders thrill at the opportunity.  I read in forums people heading out behind the destruction to find rarities and there are web pages devoted to “how tos.”

One year, a hurricane or tropical storm brought something nearly unheard of into Central Iowa.  We happened to be there the last day a Roseate Spoonbill was seen at Saylorville Lake.   That must’ve been some storm.

Here’s a picture, not from any hurricane but after a thunder storm that passed through one day.  I went out to look for any young fallen from their nests.

frontyard

Back to the point of this posting, I just wanted a photo on here.

When I was reading comments from those who rush out after a hurricane just to find unusual species, something felt wrong.   What about those whose lives are radically changed by these storms?  Or those who might have lost family members?

There are many people who will quickly come to the aid of the humans and wildlife in need.  I do not doubt this, but how sad it is that some do not care about anything, but an addition to their list.

We do not keep up with the news, so I just searched and found out Hurricane Arthur caused no deaths, injuries or major damage.   That is wonderful news.  But more hurricanes might come this year. What will be more important, human lives or a brief look at a White-tailed Tropicbird?

Categories: dangers to birds, God's truth, ponder, sadness | 4 Comments

In Defence of the Nest, Part 2

1 Corinthians 15:
57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
A wasp or its nest on the house strikes terror to many of the unknowledgeable. What usually happens is the can of Raid or the “green” EcoSmart is put into use. I know, I’ve been there. Actually, I would hand the can to Papa to take care of.

paperwasp

This is a Northern Paper Wasp (Polistes fuscatus), a non-agressive native species.

We care about birds and somehow this has carried over to bugs, especially for me. Yeah, it really bothers others in this house that I defend spiders and wasps. Rather than killing, I try to catch those that made it into the house. Spiders, at least. I’ve not tried catching a wasp yet, but wonder if a butterfly net would work.  I also wonder if this would cause some aggressive behaviour in a normally calm wasp.

paperwasp2

I readily admit, there are aggressive, non-native wasps. Those from across the pond are displacing our native species who is a great gardening friend. They will dispatch numerous caterpillars that would destroy our hard work.  So it would be a benefit to leave these wasps alone.

Some people will build wasp boxes and we’ve thought about it as a way to keep them (other species)  out of the bird boxes.  I did learn that some who have done this are overrun with wasps in the following years.  The wasps generally do a fine job of finding suitable places without added effort on our part.

Why do I feel like I need to put some disclaimer on here?  Use common sense, but that does not mean you have to kill every wasp you see, just because they unfortunately came across your path.  There may be cases where someone deathly allergic needs to take some kind of action, but do that sparingly.

Categories: bugs, Latin names, links

In Defence of the Nest

Romans 14:
19 Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Here is the “lowly” Mourning Dove nest.  As I have said before, some call it sloppy, but to me it merely looks unfinished.  For the Doves, the job is complete and suits them fine.

It is normally more hidden, but curious hands pulled a branch away.  Now knowing what we know, we are blessed this little brood was able to leave their tree unscathed.  I will explain later.

Now look at this nest!  If I was to describe it, I would call this a sloppy mess.

esposed

Here is a better picture of the bird.  In reality,  I was not all that close to the nest.  I was not even outside.  The winds were blowing in such a way that this was a surprise when I was looking out my bedroom window.

Brown Thrasher parent on its nest.

And after some storms I do not believe it suited them very well at this time and location.  The birds were no longer there and the nest in shambles.  Based on timing, I do not believe the eggs hatched.

This writing is not merely to give my opinions on the construction abilities of different birds, but to warn the curious in simple forthright terms, “Keep your hands off.”

On a birding forum, someone was chronicling the happenings of a bird out in the wild.  (Most birds are “out in the wild”, but this case was not a bird family nesting in a monitored nesting box equipped with a predator guard ) When I saw the first pictures of parents in the tree, parent on the nest and further down a newly hatched young, I groaned and thought, “This is not going to end well.”

Huh, really.  How do you know?

It used to go around that if humans picked up a baby bird or an egg in the nest, the parents would reject these because of the scent left behind.  I wonder if this was started because a mom just did not want her sons picking up these things.  Birds are dirty you know.   (I heard that from my mother.)  Or maybe she really wanted to protect these birds from her sons.

Our scent can be a big problem for the birds.*  They may not know it is there, but a snake, a cat, raccoon, or any other predator that uses its sense of smell will know something is there. Something worth investigating.   Birds do not leave a trail of scent along that path, or on the surrounding branches because they fly and their scent would only be on the nest itself and where ever they may perch.  We are much bigger, so leave a bigger… smell.  And a bigger disturbance with the crushed/disturbed vegetation around the nest.

Sadly, we didn’t know this some years ago and were completely clueless as to why a couple of nests were raided.  One had wee little babes in it.

So how did it end for the forum writer’s nest?  After the hatching, they went out daily to get a photo. After about four days, the eggs and nestling were missing.

So please just stay away from nests.  Keep your eyes open where you live and you may find a surprise.  We have a grand view into the trees from our upstairs windows.  You could easily be eye-level with something wonderful.  Enjoy the happenings of the adult birds you can easily see.  Oh, the birds do so many things they are just not supposed to.  Have you ever seen a Robin gather feathers?

Even though birds do not reject eggs or nestlings because of our scent, do not pick them up unless you have a very good reason for doing so, such as replacing a fallen bird.

*Now to be fair I did a search on this subject.  It seems there is some conflict, even within a single study, over whether or not our scent causes harm for the birds. From our limited experience, the two nests that we peered into by moving branches and were often checked out of curiosity, those nesting attempts were ruined by some critter.  But yet the nests that we knew of and could observe without going near were not disturbed and the young left to go where God made them to.  But my, did I ever fret until the babies were out of those nests!

We also know of losses that occurred regardless of any actions on our part.  A storm knocks well hidden nests and nestlings out of trees. Newly fledged birds are at great risk from cats and owls.  Though we often get a chance to rejoice when Meadowlarks and other birds succeeded in the pasture, we know there have to be many failures, as well.

Categories: Critters, dangers to birds, sadness | 3 Comments

Consider What You Wear

2 Timothy 2:
Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I was searching for something unrelated, but found this link in the process.

What Not to Wear Cranewatching

On that note, one man we used to go birding with said that after dove hunting began in Iowa, his doves would flee the area as fast as possible when he went out to restock his feeding area during the cold months.  He never experienced that before and realized it happened when he wore his Do Not Shoot Me! coloured stocking cap.

Categories: anti-hunting, links

Favorite Search of the Week

Mark 1:
40 And there came a leper to him, beseeching him, and kneeling down to him, and saying unto him, If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.
41 And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean.
42 And as soon as he had spoken, immediately the leprosy departed from him, and he was cleansed.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~
How to get rid of squinneys?

I wish I knew. We do not have a big problem with them at this point. There is a hole near a rain barrel and another hole by the mail box.

The menfolk did shoot them for a time, but I never really liked that.  It just seemed wrong when the worst problem we had was the squinneys eating and burying bird seed.

This photo from several years ago when Squinney planted sunflower seeds and came back to harvest the crop. :)

chippy

We just made modifications to our hopper feeder to keep seed from falling to the ground.  Squinney found that buffet.

They are known to eat garden veggies and cause other problems.  Something ate a stray wild senna that I wanted to transplant, but I do not know if that was a rabbit or squinney.  If I did not know what a side effect is of this plant, I would be a little mad.   I am imagining the animal having some serious intestinal distress.  That is if the laxative effect works on mammals as well as humans.

In other garden news, some of our sunflowers have downy mildew.  As they were coming up, because of the pretty coloration on the leaves, I thought we had something new.  Yup, this is new all right. :-/   (Other than native seeds and plugs, I did not plant any sunflowers this year.  Last year’s sunflowers reseeded themselves since the birds did not harvest it all. )    Not all are infected, so I will pull up the bad and trash them.  I’ll leave the rest, but after they bloom, as much as I dislike the idea, I will then pitch those.  The only sunflowers that have this type of mildew are those in the Aster family.  So this means the Maximilian is fine.  YAY!  That is coming up beautifully.  I need to find something else to plant in that area, though. Something that likes the gravelly, clay soil in full sun.

Categories: Critters, di blumma, di fekkel