Birds of Prey

moon phase Week of 11/20/2011 Best days to jar jams and jellies.

The second week of November started with the first snowfall of the season. Young Adult Red-tailed Hawk Young Adult Red-tailed Hawk Itís always a little startling the first time I see everything around me covered with white. The snow came down heavily at times in large fluffy flakes, one of those snowfalls that sticks to every tree trunk, branch and pine needle. It was a beautiful prelude to winter, but it melted quickly in the autumn sun. As luck would have it, there was a full moon the night after the snow came, a perfect time for a ďmoon walkĒ.

The local Red-tailed hawk population seems to be holding its own and they can be seen perched most anywhere in this coulee landscape. An adult male Red-tail found a nice perch on a power pole down the road from the house. Bald Eagle Bald Eagle He was mixing some sun-bathing with some hunting as he watched the tall, brown grass below him for a Meadow vole. The breeze rustled his rusty white breast feathers. His dark eyes told me he was three to four years-old; they will turn almost black as he gets older. His feet and cere (beak) were rich yellow, and he looked healthy and happy. He was a beautiful example of his kind.

Red-tailed hawks may live 10 years or more if they can make it through the crucial first year. Most of the young first-year hawks here have moved south for the winter. Unfortunately, only about 30 percent of them see their first birthday. There are so many potentially fatal barriers that young hawks and eagles must encounter. Millions of birds die each year from some sort of conflict with human society: agricultural poisons, cars, guns, glass windows and power lines. Every Possible Shade of Brown Every Possible Shade of Brown Weíve turned the natural landscape into an artificial deathtrap for wildlife to suit our own ways.

The great, white-headed eagle has already caught his breakfast, a nice sucker fish from a dark pool in the Kickapoo River. I donít remember ever seeing so many Bald eagles in the area. They have become a common sight for anyone who drives down these country roads. Today, I had to take a 20 mile drive through the coulees to a town downriver. I counted thirteen different eagles on the trip down and five others on a different route home.

Fungi Everywhere Fungi Everywhere These days I see them all up and down the river valley and many have been nesting in the area. Itís a testament to the clean water and healthy land that the eagles depend on for their survival. The majority of the Bald eagles Iíve seen in the area are adults, as are most of the Red-tailed hawks.

The marsh pond is dead calm and reflects the brown reeds, cattails and the tops of the tall White pine trees at the edge of the marsh. Itís a simple, serene image in the moment.

Sunlight catches the subtle colors of a tall grass meadow along the west fork of the Kickapoo River. Cottontail in Hiding Cottontail in Hiding Autumn colors come together here in a palette of brown, yellow, gold, beige and blue. The meadowís fall colors will fade soon and be covered slowly in white. It will be eight long months before itís lush and green again. The land changes with the turning of the seasons in a circle with no beginning and no end.

In the dry grass at my feet, two spotted feathers from a Downy woodpecker have fallen next to each other. They are secondary wing feathers, and itís a mystery why there are two. I wonder if maybe a Cooperís hawk snatched the unsuspecting woodpecker out of the air and left only two feathers. Itís only speculation, but I can see it happening in my mindís eye. Still Smiling Despite Snow Still Smiling Despite Snow Itís fun to be a hindsight detective when taking a walk down Natureís Trail.

A large patch of sumac has grown up in the old fence line. Itís a favorite place for a Cottontail rabbit to sit tight in the morning sun. Sheís been hiding there all summer, covered by the thick green grass and leaves. Now there isnít as much cover, and she can easily be spotted in the brown grass. Her large, round, dark eyes always give her away, and, often, I see them before I see the rabbit.

A little Downy woodpecker came to the suet feeder this afternoon. There are white-spotted feathers at his flanks, just like the feathers I found this morning.

I hope your adjustment to the seasonís changes is smooth and painless.

Naturally yours,

All art ©2013 Organic Valley

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Jan from from TN on November 25, 2011 at 05:21:56 PM
Hi, Dan, wonderful stories, AS USUAL! Seems so strange to read about snow falling there, it was over 70F here today and I was busy painting the trim on my garage which I had to have replaced (water does rot the wood at the bottom of the door frames). I, too, have seen the Downy woodpeckers busy here in the trees, searching out the bugs and grubs. Saw some Tufted Titmouse families busily eating weed seed heads by the apple trees. The honeysuckles have black berries on them, so there will be food for the birdies, along with the privet bush berries. They have already gone through the Bradford pear "fruit". Hope you had a bountiful Thanksgiving Day! Happy naturing, Jan
Rene from from California. (east+bay) on November 24, 2011 at 12:36:37 AM
Wow! Your first snow, how exciting !! What a wonderful sight to see a bald eagle!! I see red tail hawks out here but have never yet seen an eagle out in the wild anywhere!! What a beautiful place you live in. It's up to us to keep Gods Creation beautiful!! Happy Thanksgiving !!
Jean from on November 24, 2011 at 12:22:10 AM
Thank you for the beauty you share.
Judy from from NE Ohio on November 23, 2011 at 07:41:57 PM
Thanks for a wonderful(as usual)walk down "The Trail". Maybe you should make a cloak out of those feathers you found and give them to that other Downy. He may just need those to keep warm this winter. lol
Here's wishing you a very warm and wonderful Thanksgiving Dan!We still have so much to be thankful for don't we?
Take Care My Friend!
Maria from from Lockport Illinois on November 23, 2011 at 04:34:55 PM
Happy Thanksgiving!!!
Lindy from from So. FL on November 23, 2011 at 12:30:45 PM
Really cool article, enjoyed it TY. Kind of just brings you into the moment...... 🌈
terry from from New Jersey on November 23, 2011 at 11:44:47 AM
Beautiful writing.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.
Virginia from from Alabama on November 23, 2011 at 11:22:39 AM
Dan, Thanks so much for your outlook on the things of nature , pictures and info!!!
We share your interests..:)
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