Sandhill Crane Goes for a Stroll

moon phase Week of 07/18/2010 Seeds Planted Now Will Do Poorly And Yield Little.

July is the month when many of the colorful marsh and grassland flowers are in bloom. Some are non-native, but their flowers give new color to the landscape. Joe Pye weed flowering Joe Pye weed flowering Plants like the Day lilies, Queen Anne's Lace, Daisy fleabane, white Shasta daisies, Common milkweed, burdock, and Purple loosestrife are all invasive species, but their flowers are nonetheless beautiful. There are others that have been here for hundreds of years but are finding it harder to survive the aggressive non-native plants. Some of the native flowers that are now in bloom include the pretty lavender Joe Pye weed, a member of the milkweed family, Brown-eyed susans, Prairie coreopsis, Blue vervain, and White yarrow. Each year I see fewer and fewer of these and other age-old plants as we humans encroach on what little habitat is left for them.

Some of the first-hatched, young killdeers are on the wing already and a second nesting has begun for some of the adults. Killdeer eggs Killdeer eggs I nearly stepped on a nest of killdeer eggs but the excited female let me know I should be careful where I walk. I stopped and looked down and the two spotted eggs were right at my feet. They blended in with the pebbles at the edge of the road. It's not a nest per say, but rather a small scrape or depression in the gravel. Killdeers are one of the birds that benefit from not doing roadside mowing until after the middle of June. I'm not against roadside mowing, but there needs to be more consideration for the way it's done. Dan's front yard Dan's front yard I have no doubt that the mowing is the main reason that invasive plants have spread so aggressively.

On a peaceful, quiet summer night, I was relaxing while writing some letters and listening to the Brewers vs. Cardinals game on the radio—the same thing I've done for thirty years. It's a summer ritual, I guess. Tonight the only light was from a couple of candles on the coffee table, so the room wasn't very well-lit. A little green blinking light appeared on the ceiling above me. There is a 12-foot ceiling in the room and the light was dancing around everywhere. Sandhill Crane taking a leisurely stroll Sandhill Crane taking a leisurely stroll A little firefly had found his way into the house and paid me a visit. It was the only fireworks display I saw for the holiday. All at once the little firefly flew right by my face and I realized he was drawn to the candle flame. I promptly blew out the candle and went to bed. The last thing I remember was the tiny blinking light dancing across the ceiling.

I have enjoyed watching the Sandhill cranes in the valley this summer. A flock of seven first-year cranes are spending time together while the adult cranes are tending their new families. The first-year birds are non-breeders but seem to enjoy each other's company—besides the fact there is safety in numbers. I'm particularly curious about a single adult male crane that waits for his mate on her nest. I saw them together every day this spring but haven't seen the female for five or six weeks. Red-winged Blackbird chicks Red-winged Blackbird chicks Her two eggs should have hatched by now. I wonder where she is while her patient mate waits in the same place day after day.

Tucked neatly in the branches of a tall wild poison parsnip, a grass nest contains several downy blackbirds. In another week they will be feathered out and will try their new wings. I know they are a promise that I will hear the first song of a Red-winged blackbird next spring.

When I visited a good friend at her farm, she was weeding the garden with a smile on her face. She also appreciates this time spent alone to think and be productive at the same time. Kittens posing for the camera Kittens posing for the camera People who have gardens never seem to mind the weeding that comes with it. It's always fun to visit someone else's garden—all the gardens are different just like those who tend them. I always walk away with some new tips and maybe a chance to swap a plant or two. The garden I visited today was extra special—there were kittens peeking out from under the bushes and flowers. I can safely say I don't know anyone whose heart doesn't melt when they see little kittens playing, and the garden was the perfect playground for them.

So much new life to see in so many forms—so many, many new beginnings. Now is the time to renew your faith in Mother Earth by simply being outside.

Naturally yours,

Dan

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Comments

Penny from from Wisconsin on August 13, 2010 at 10:48:04 AM
Another great article. Thankyou. We have Sandhill
Crains that come every Spring. We have seen their families increase. Last year our pair had three babies. I know that two made it through the summer.
Lucy from from Atlanta, GA on July 24, 2010 at 01:29:51 AM
What a wonderful article, Dan! You make me so grateful for all the beauty in nature! Thank you!
Ellen from from Chicago on July 23, 2010 at 11:37:38 AM
Sometimes I have a hard time reading your articles because it makes my heart ache with missing the countryside. So I try to take myself out of the picture and be grateful that there are people who are helping maintain the wildlife. And then I can read with happiness.
Thank-you.
Lisa from from Decatur, GA on July 22, 2010 at 03:29:35 PM
I loved the picture of your front yard. It brought back some beautiful memories of my childhood home in Michigan. It too is a peaceful place. Thank you for sharing.
Barbara from from Detroit, Michigan on July 22, 2010 at 02:53:56 PM
Hi Dan,
Love your commentaries. However, you misidentified Joe Pye Weed. The photo is actually swamp milkweed in the recent Sandhill Crane issue of your newsletter. Thanks for a lovely pictorial of your area every week.
Barbara Hayes
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