A month into spring, the weather has been fittingly normal, with light rains and cool temperatures. Late Thursday afternoon, I watched a tiny Eastern Peewee perched on the top of a tomato cage in the garden. All fluffed up and looking a little damp, he nonetheless kept bobbing his tail. A light rain kept the flying insects down, so every 10 to 15 seconds he would flutter down to the ground to snatch up a crawling insect. He didn't change much of his hunting technique, except to catch insects on the ground instead of in the air.
Friday was the last day I saw a Junco. They have moved to their nesting grounds much further north. I may not see another one until November, when they return for the winter. Saturday morning there were a pair (male and female) of Rose-breasted grosbeaks at the bird feeder. They are among the most beautiful birds to return in the spring, and the males' lovely whistle reminds me of the song of an Oriole. He whistles sweetly as he flies through the lush green trees, then breaks out in song when he lands.
I've been watching the Sandhill cranes since they returned in late February. Lately I've noticed a few single cranes, which makes me think that some of the females may be sitting on their nests already. With my spotting scope mounted on the car window, I was able to zoom up on one of these lone cranes near the river. How handsome he was, with his bright red hat and yellow eye. He was preening his feathers and enjoying the sun and figured I was a safe distance away, 75 yards. A pair of binoculars will allow you to see this or any wild bird up close. It can give the viewer a whole new perspective on how beautiful Mother Nature really is. It's one of the things you can do to help fight global warming—see Nature as it really appears. The good changes that will happen must first start in your heart—and that will change your views of how things should really be.
Sunday was a beautiful spring day, with temperatures near 80 degrees and sunny. After sunset I enjoyed the evening sitting in a lawn chair and listened to the first songs of a Whip-poor-will. I breathed a sigh of relief, knowing that again I will be treated to his wonderful song this summer. When I saw that the swallows were returning the other day, I knew that the Whip-poor-will would not be far behind.
Early Monday morning, a pair of Wood ducks flew through the yard and promptly flew up to check out the Wood duck house in the Elm tree south of the house. They seemed to be very interested, and I hope they decide to make the nesting box their home. The female Wood duck makes the final decision as to where to lay her eggs, and she's very picky about the spot she chooses. The colorful male follows her around from tree to tree for 2 or 3 weeks before she picks the right cavity. There she may lay up to a dozen round eggs that will hatch in about 25 days. The incubation starts when the last egg is laid so that they all hatch at the same time. The little ducklings won't be raised in the cavity; they will jump to the ground from as far up as 30 feet or more. One at a time they bounce off the ground and are finally led away to water by their mother. She will watch over them and protect them until they are able to fly in about 4-5 weeks.
I hope everyone is enjoying this special new season by getting outside and taking a walk down Nature's trail. Now more than ever before it's important to allow the wonders of Nature into your life—for it is you who can make a real difference in the future.
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