The autumn moon has finished half of its journey to becoming full. The twinkle of a million stars and a gentle south breeze, carries the summer song birds on migration. It is said that 80% of all song birds migrate at night.
Here, there are still robins and bluebirds passing through and I still see quite a few turkey vultures soaring under the afternoon sun. Soon it will be too cold for their featherless heads and they will head for a warmer climate. This rolling farmland just doesn't seem the same without the turkey vultures soaring high above. I eagerly watch for the return of the vultures around the first of April.
A good friend told me that he had heard what he thought were geese flying over in the dark. Adding that their calls were higher pitched than the calls of Canada geese. Probably snow geese!
The farmland pastures and hay fields are a good place to see turkeys. The frost has made the insects scarce and the turkeys search the ground for crickets and grasshoppers. Soon the insects will be gone and the turkeys will go through the winter only dreaming of live bugs.
The temperature has dropped about 10 degrees the past few days and there is frost on the ground each morning. From the rafters in the shed, hang all the birdhouse gourds. They have been curing in the sun for the past couple of weeks and now itís time to let them dry in the shed. I put a 1 1/2 inch nail through the stem a couple of inches from the top of the gourd. I always leave plenty of stem when I harvest gourds. Then, rap a 10 inch cord around the ends of the nail a couple times leaving the string ends even. Tie the ends of the cord together and hang the gourd so it doesn't touch another gourd. With any luck there will be plenty of new birdhouses by spring.
The half dollar sized hole will be cut when the gourd is dry. Cleaning out the gourd with a long knife, screwdriver or stiff wire is the tricky part. With the cord and nail already in the stem, you can hang the new birdhouse anywhere you like.
The beautiful little black/white juncos have returned from their summer homes further north. They are social birds that are here all winter and are gone all summer. I was quick to toss out some cracked corn on the ground for the juncos. They preferred to search for food on the ground and scratching through the dry leaves is their favorite pass-time.
Also showing up at the bird feeders in the past couple of days are the white- throated sparrows. Their cheery songs are always a welcome voice to hear each day. They usually hang around until mid-November then move further south.
Most of my birding is done from a car window these days. It's the main reason I drive slowly and take the back roads. I'm always on the look out for something new, especially during the migration season. Early yesterday morning I got lucky. I love to follow the river this time of year because, again, you never know what you might see. The sky was yellow with the rising sun and cold winds blew rain clouds in the northeast. The sunrise in itself was a magnificent sight but the large bird I noticed was breathtaking. A beautiful osprey rose from the river carrying a fish in his talons and it happened right in front of me. Just proves that timing is everything and you need to be in the right place at the right moment.
The great fish eagle carried his prize up to a telephone pole and began to eat. He was only a couple hundred feet away and didn't seem to mind that I was watching him. When he finished eating, he roused a couple of times and sailed off down the river.
The truth is, I see ospreys passing through here on migration each spring and fall. I usually see 2 or 3 each migration season and surprisingly I usually get a pretty good look at them. Probably because the road I travel on runs right next to the river and the river is where the osprey is hunting for fish. They are extremely skilled at catching fish. Flying high above the river they will hover in mid-air as they examine a deep spot in the river for an unsuspecting fish. When he spots one he folds his wings and dives feet first into the water and comes up holding his prey. They waste no time eating the fish because they know if an eagle spots him eating, the larger eagle will take it away from him.
There is a lot to see and hear, touch and smell, experience and enjoy on these wonderful fall days. Don't let them slip away - take a walk down nature's trail.
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