Last week, I got a call from a friend who said she had a young Bald eagle standing in an open field all day. She said the eagle didn't appear to be injured but hadn't attempted to fly. I told her it sounded like the nestling eagle had finally fledged and that her maiden flight was a long glide to the open field. Not yet strong enough to do much real flying, the young bird chose the safest place to land. Standing there all day is what she's grown used to—just waiting to be fed. She knows that her parents will eventually bring her something to eat if she is patient. It may take her a week or two to build enough strength to follow after her parents. They will show the young eagle where and how to catch her own food. This knowledge may take a few months to perfect.
I went from answering a call about one of the largest and most powerful birds in the area to a call today about helping one of the smallest and most fragile birds, a little fledgling hummingbird. The tiny young bird had fallen from the nest before he was ready to fly. The compassionate caller placed the little hummer back in his nest and caught some small insects to feed the little guy. It sounds like he's only a couple of days from fledging so if his parents keep feeding him he may be okay. There is no better food for all young birds than nutrient-rich, high-protein insects. It's mainly what the young hummingbirds are being fed by their parents. The hungry young eagles will also quickly learn to eat what they catch—the easiest large insects—crickets, grasshoppers and June bugs.
The old barn hasn't been used for decades, and with neglect and wet weather it is succumbing to the ruins of time. It once housed 40 milking cows, their calves and a bull, and the haymow could hold six to eight thousand bales. Many lives passed through the old barn over the years. How many new calves were born in the barn? How many barn cats, puppies, mice, swallows, bats and pigeons? The old barn was home for many but soon will be no more than a pile of weathered gray boards. The barn has become a safety hazard, and will probably be burned and all evidence of the farmers' work and life will be gone only to memory.
A mile down the road, the Amish have piled shocks of grain in a field. There was a time when all Wisconsin farms raised and shocked oats to feed to their livestock through the winter. It was a time before tractors, when horses did all the hard, heavy work. You don't raise horses without oats. These days most farmers don't bother to raise oats unless they have some horses or sheep. The oats would have been stored upstairs in the old barn, in the oats bin.
The alfalfa hay looks good after the first cutting and a White-tailed doe stands knee-deep at the end of the field. She's a very special doe, because around her are the three little spotted fawns—triplets! The fawns stay close to their mother but are playful and full of life. They are looking very healthy and happy and life is good for them.
The little fawns will grow and learn from both of their mothers—birth mother and Mother Earth. They will all live at the same pace—the pace that the earth will set for them. They will learn the things that they need to know to survive in the Natural World.
The Compass plant is a tall prairie sunflower and a rare sight these days. It took seven years to grow nine feet tall with bright yellow flowers at the top. The tiny seed I planted sent a tap root down eight or nine feet before the tall stalk appeared. I've enjoyed watching these slow-growing plants develop over the years. It takes a lot of patience, but it's well worth the wait when you finally see the beautiful flowers.
The Indian plantain is also a very tall and unusual grassland plant. It takes only three or four years for the purple stem to reach eight feet tall with greenish flowers and lush green leaves.
At mid-day I heard the buzzing call of a single cicada. He was the only one I heard and I really couldn't pinpoint where the buzzing was coming from. Late this afternoon I spotted a single dog-day cicada perched on a sunflower leaf and I was able to get a closer look at him. It takes three years for the larvae of this annual cicada to develop into the adult stage. There are seven species of periodical cicada whose larvae take from thirteen to seventeen years to develop into adults. Nature works in strange and mysterious ways for many, but always with beautiful results.
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