Peregrine Falcon

moon phase Week of 04/05/2009 Good days to grub out weeds, briars, and other plant pests.

In typical early Spring fashion, this week's weather has been quite different than the week before. Although it hasn't been uncomfortably cold, it has been wet and windy. The cool temps and a little rain is something I can deal with, but the wind will always be the hardest element for me to make peace with.

Peregrine Falcon Peregrine Falcon I wasn't surprised to see a couple of Turkey vultures as they soared high over the treetops. They must figure it's going to stay warm enough that their featherless heads won't freeze. That's one of the reasons they migrate south to warmer climates in the fall. They are year-round residents for the southern states, but in Wisconsin they are one of the birds that return in Spring. The vultures are Nature's aerial clean-up crew. They soar for hours on long, black wings, surveying the ground below for carrion, their favorite menu item. If it's dead, it's breakfast.

When I start seeing single male Red-tailed hawks sitting alone in the trees along the roadsides, it tells me the females are probably sitting on eggs. The adult hawks sit patiently and watch the grass below for a meadow vole to appear. Now he must catch enough for himself as well as for his mate back at the nest. Soon he will have to catch enough food to feed the whole family when the eggs hatch, so he spends most of his daylight hours hunting.

On wings of power and grace, he swoops through the blue morning sky. He is the elite of feathers and speed; he is the Peregrine falcon. As I watch a flock of spring Mallard ducks circle over the open water, they are suddenly startled and frantically scatter in different directions. The Peregrine swoops from high in the blue morning sky and is only a blur as he dives down through the panic-stricken ducks. With his blinding speed, he has caught the wild ducks by surprise, and as he passes through the flock he would have no trouble raking one of them with a needle-sharp hind talon. A blow like that could easily bring a duck to the ground, where the powerful falcon would quickly dispatch his prey. When the falcon takes wing, all the other birds move out of his way, and show their respect for his powerful speed and agility.

Thanks to the efforts and hard work by many falconers and other wildlife specialists, the once endangered Peregrine is making a comeback from the brink of extinction. Once again the skies above the upper Mississippi River bluffs is the domain of the fastest bird of prey in the world.

The recent cooler weather has given those who tap maple trees another chance to collect some sweet sap. When the night-time temperatures once again drop below freezing, the maple sap will be encouraged to start dripping from the taps by day. It's an example of what the combination of hard work and fun can produce—Maple syrup! There are few better ways to enjoy those fickle March days than to make Maple syrup—the rewards are priceless.

With a loud squawk, the Great Blue heron announces he has seen me as he passes high over the house. He is one of only a few herons I've seen so far this spring. They always seem to know when it's time for the ice to melt on the ponds and backwaters where they hunt for frogs and small fishes. They don't return to the North Country until they know they will have a place to find food.

Things around here are taking their sweet time warming up and turning green, proving once again that it isn't Spring until it's time. Sunday morning, the ground was white with snow, as winter made a final (maybe) statement. It is short-lived, as the morning sun melts away the snow until all that remains is a chilly memory. Everyone likes to have some adventure in life, and this is the most adventurous time of the year. It's no wonder that for so many of us, our favorite season is Spring.

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Katherine from from Brookline, MA on January 18, 2010 at 02:07:30 PM
Dan, Thanks for the wonders in "Down Nature's Trail". Katherine
Lois from from Seattle,WA. 98107 on December 27, 2009 at 12:55:17 PM
H i Dan, I just want you to know how much I look forward to your letter. In the 60' I lived in Fairbanks , Alaska.My daughter was born there.
I have fond memories of the beauty of winter.
Katherine from from Brookline, MA on December 24, 2009 at 06:47:16 PM
Hi Dan, I'm new to reading "Down Nature's Trail". Sounds like you live in the northeast. But some of this flora could be in WI where Organic Valley is based. Please clue me in.

Thanks, Katherine from Brookline
Patty from from Delray Beach,Florida on December 23, 2009 at 07:33:32 PM
Have a Merry Christ-mas Dan! May you feel and know the real meaning of this season.Patty
Patty from from Delray Beach on December 23, 2009 at 07:28:46 PM
Have a Merry Christ-mass Dan.May the true meaning touch you this season.Patty
anne from from colorado on December 23, 2009 at 04:51:22 PM
I so enjoy your stories as I enjoy anything about all sides of nature. Thank you for the entertainment.
Eva from from Suwanee GA on December 23, 2009 at 02:26:26 PM
I love to read about you season and nature. I have vacationed the last three yrs. in Newfoundland in june and watched the whales and Icebergs. I love to see the moose beside the road and visit with the locals. I have just signed up for infornation with your company and I am very pleased with all of it. Keep up the great work. Eva Catrini
Ellen from from Kelseyville, northern California on December 17, 2009 at 12:51:59 AM
Where are you located? I grew up in Milwaukee and just outside of the city. Now I can be in nature here in this small town, and I see many of the same creatures you mention in your area. You are very observant, and thanks for sharing your comments. Many of us miss these details in our busy days trying to survive. So even though you are lonely,and truly isolated, know that others are also lonely at times even though they may be around other people.
Judy from on December 16, 2009 at 08:31:03 PM
Hey Dan, remember when I wrote to you about the cooper's hawk coming around to our bird feeder for a snack? Well today he swooped right past my kitchen window. I wasn't sure what it was at first, I only knew that it was big.So I went to the other window to look towards the bird feeder and gasped because he was sitting right on the top railing of the veranda, eye level. What a beauty! I wanted to grab my camera but he was only there a few seconds. He looked around for his usual feathered, tasty morsels, but I think they must have seen him and skee-dattled. He then flew to the back yard hedges where the little guys all hang out, but I lost sight of him after that! I haven't seen him in a couple of months. I was wondering where he was..I will keep you posted!
peta from from Western Australia on December 16, 2009 at 07:12:25 PM
Love the drawing of the Polar Bear - week of 13th December - all the colour being revealed after a first glance registers a WHITE bear. Your talents are greatly appreciated by many.
You are a ray of sunshine- thanks so much for sharing your stories.
Best Wishes for a peaceful Christmas
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