Brewer's Blackbirds

moon phase Week of 11/29/2009 Best days to kill weeds.

While driving along the gravel river road at sunset tonight, I slowed for a flock of blackbirds. There were a couple of hundred of them in the road and in the drive that leads to a picked cornfield. The truck that left the field with a load of shell corn no doubt lost a little as he turned onto the road. The clever blackbirds found the new yellow kernels and were taking advantage of it. At first glance, they looked just like Red-winged blackbirds, but then I noticed that not a single one of them had any wing markings; they were all shiny jet black. Brewer's Blackbirds Brewer's Blackbirds These were special blackbirds from the far north, known as Brewer's blackbirds, and they were just passing through on migration. It's not often I get to see them, though once every 5 or 6 years a couple might spend a winter at the bird feeders. They have beautiful black-feathered faces, and eyes as yellow as lemons, like those of their cousins, the Purple grackles. It has been a couple of years since I last saw any of these special blackbirds.

A misty rain came Tuesday afternoon, and the bare tree trunks along the wooded valley looked very dark and cold. They clash with the colorful wet grass in the meadow. A tranquil, misty stillness came over the valley. Often as not, it's the crows who break the silence and change the mood. As quick as that, they found where the Barred owl is roosting for the day. The excited crow calls bring other crows, and in no time there are 50 or more keeping the owl awake. The fun may last for a half hour or so before the crows fly off to look for some other good fun things to do. When all else is quiet, the crows always know how to get a party going. The sun made a brief appearance Thursday morning, very early. I watched the sun rise over the horizon as a great yellow-orange ball, then disappear into the waiting clouds, not to be seen again all day. Although the sun's appearance was brief, the effect was everlasting. For just a short few minutes, the horizon was a beautiful rose pink, but it quickly faded to blue-gray as thick clouds blotted out the sun's colorful rays. It doesn't take much of your time to watch the sun rise, and it's always time well spent.

A cattail pond showed its quiet, early morning beauty. The glassy still pond mirrored the morning clouds and seemed to double this pleasurable scene.

I'm still having a little trouble letting go of the sounds of summer. The landscape has become so quiet, compared to those warm months. The songs of the summer birds were so beautiful that they helped drown out the noise of a car passing by on the road. I'll tuck those songs away and bring them out of my memory to help on those sub-zero days ahead. Before long I'll have to remember what the land looked like when it wasn't covered with snow.

The coming new year must see some change in our attitude towards the natural world. There must be many changes in our priorities as consumers. There must be changes to strengthen our faith in community. It's past time to consider adjustments in our lives for the better of all. Don't wait to make your resolutions at the last minute. Start now to resolve towards a nature-friendly life in the new year.

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Christine from from United States on December 3, 2009 at 08:27:54 AM
Good morning, Dan,
Once again, I enjoyed reading your column. Thanks for your words!
As for taking care of our world - that is something I've alswys regarded as important and when I lived in PA, I had to scour the section of our property, which bordered US Rte 6,twice a year - because of the trash people so carelessly tossed, or let blow, from their hands or vehicles. It was amazing what I'd find - with the worst being an occasional oil slick on our pond after a discarded oil can managed to get into the stream leading into the pond.
Now, where I live in TX, no recycling -- too expensive I'm told --- but I do save the papers, glass and plastic and take them each week to Wichita Falls -- there are two grocery stores, United and Wal-Mart (I was surpried at this one!) which have bins in which to deposit the designated recyclable materials.
Thus, I'm trying to do my part! Plus I encourage my husband to turn lights off when not in the room -
Merry Christmas to you and yours - and a happy, healthy New Year. I'll be looking forward to future nature words.
Christine Groves
Kristen from from Tampa Florida on December 2, 2009 at 06:48:53 PM
I just want to let you know how much I look forward to your Nature's Trail blogs. I live in a kind of city environment so even in the parks things are noisy. I read your postings and I'm transported to a place of peace and tranquility. Never stop writing. Reading these posts are some of the happiest moments of my day. Thank you
Patty from from Delray Beach Florida on December 2, 2009 at 06:27:03 PM
After reading what you wrote I would love to ask if you see the Lord in and around every thing as well.Thank You.
Chris from from Colorado on December 2, 2009 at 04:14:43 PM
I too have noticed the quietness of the coming winter. The sounds that I am particularily enjoying in my area right now are the honking of the Canadian geese flying in their formations early in morning and what I believe to be a pygmy owl. I also look forward to seeing the red and gray foxes on their hunts both in the early morning and again at night. Beautiful! Thanks for sharing your part of the world and its bounty of nature with your readers.
Brenda from from Pillow sitting on the floor of our home in Kanab, UT on December 2, 2009 at 03:57:23 PM
I so enjoy your mindful and thoughtful writings about the landscape around you. Thank you for sharing!
Julie from from South-central Idaho on December 2, 2009 at 03:00:22 PM
Thank-you for your latest writings. I will one day tell you about the wood pecker that has lides about here for the last five years. He decided to TRY to drive me crazy this last week. Thanks again, you always brighten my day.
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