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. 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.
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. 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.
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.
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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