Birds Prepare for Winter

moon phase Week of 11/08/2009 Favorable Days For Planting Root Crops.

From the eye of the artists, the late autumn landscape is a beautiful contrast in color. Now, the only green to be seen is the evergreens, and 80% of the leaves are off the trees. Red-tail Hawk up close Red-tail Hawk up close   The final blow to what was left of summer came quickly, with strong winds that stripped the trees of any leaves. Within just two days, the look of the landscape changed drastically, and the contrast was beautiful but sobering.

I've been lucky to have lots and lots of migrating robins passing through the valley this fall. Their scattered flocks come at 5-minute intervals and 20 feet above the ground. Their happy chirping always lets me know when they are arriving. Robins are very smart and alert birds. They are aggressive when it comes to finding the things they need in their lives, including their space.

Canadian Geese by the Kickapoo Canadian Geese by the Kickapoo The rose/pink blush of the Pampas grass is a beautiful sight, and its tall stems sway with the wind. The fuzzy, pale seed heads seem to glow as the sunlight passes through them. There are lots of invasive plants that are quite beautiful on the autumn landscape and the Pampas grass is one of my favorites.

The local Red-tailed hawks are a common everyday sight in the Kickapoo Valley. The adult Redtails retain their established territories year round. Their white breasts shine in the sun as they perch in a distant tree, or often they may be seen soaring above the treetops. The young hawks of the season wear a different plumage than their parents. Their breasts are streaked with chocolate brown, and their tails barred in rusty brown. Pampas Grass Pampas Grass I haven't seen one in the area for over a month; most of them migrate south for the winter. Yesterday I got a good look at a second year Red-tailed hawk who still had the dark chocolate breast markings of a first year hawk. His eyes were beginning to turn from the juvenile light lemon color to a light brown. He also sported the striking orange/red tail of an adult.

The young hawks leave and the seasoned hawks stay. If the first-year hawks survive their migration, they must still struggle to make it through even a less harsh winter in the south. If they are fortunate enough to live until spring, they will make the passage north and establish their own new nesting territories. The sad truth is that only 20 to 30 percent survive their first year. If they can make it through that first year, though, their chances of living ten years or more become far greater. Bless the hawk's strong spirit, because they watch over all of us.

Autumn Colors Autumn Colors I was just telling someone yesterday that I need to get a nice birdbath. Often I see the wild birds bathing in the stream near the house, but it would be more fun to watch them take a bath a little closer. This morning a dozen pretty, blue Bluebirds landed on the woodpile just outside the window. Some of them were splashing around in the puddles of water on the clear plastic cover. It was a sure reminder to get a birdbath closer to the house.

A nice flock of Canadian geese gather on the Kickapoo River. They are enjoying the fall day, and chuckle to each other as they bob up and down on the dark water. They will stay as long as there is a source of food (grain) and open water. They will move further south if the grain gets snow covered or the river freezes over.

Spruce Cones Spruce Cones There are more geese downriver, but these are standing on the banks of a pasture. These all-white farm geese spend all their time on the river and have no choice but to stay the winter. They don't fly very well, being that they have gotten too heavy. Society has once again used their ability to manipulate time to suit their daily needs, through "daylight savings time." For me, the only way I can save time is in my memory. All of the sudden I'm plunged into darkness an hour earlier each day. As the days grow shorter, daylight is something to be cherished and not wasted. For me, there are many adjustments to be made as my time begins to clash with nature's schedule.

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Charlene from from Estes Park Colorado on November 14, 2009 at 07:47:27 PM
I look forward to receiving the emails as I love anything to do with nature. Thank you,
Judy from from Louisville, Ohio on November 12, 2009 at 07:10:34 PM
Wow! What a BEAUTIFUL hawk picture. I just love hawks. I can spot one while I'm driving down the road. I get excited when I see them. Don't know why. I just feel a connection to them. We have a bird feeder where I can see it out my kitchen window.... and a birdbath a little distance from it so they can't soil it and fill it with seed. This seems to be an invitaion to the Cooper's Hawk. We call it "Baiting the trap" every time we fill the feeders because the hawk swoops in for a tasty, feathered morsel every so often. There's a huge pine tree up close to the feeders. Most of the birds scootch into it rather quickly but sometimes "Cooper" gets lucky and enjoys a lunch-on-us! It's quite an exciting display of chance when he swoops into the tree*poof*, feathers flying, birds screetching wildly. Never a dull minute around here. And we live in a small town even, not in the country. We're just lucky I guess! Keep those wonderful stories and pics coming, Dan!
Charley from from Memphis, TN on November 12, 2009 at 11:32:22 AM
Thank you for the wonderful article. Well written-very visual!
Tammy from on November 12, 2009 at 09:55:45 AM
I can almost picture everything you've described. What a wonderful post!
susan from from ohio on November 12, 2009 at 09:00:58 AM
There are many pine cones here and I was wondering if wildlife eat them, they are from white pine mostly,I will leave them alone if they are a food source Thank you so much
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