Sandhill Cranes

moon phase Week of 06/30/2002 Favorable days to plant roots

Sandhill Cranes

Recent rains have raised the level of the Kickapoo River and its muddy current fills the back water sloughs. The temperature climbs into the 90s these sunny, June days.

The humidity makes any outside job a sweaty chore for sure. Early morning brings a thick fog which slowly lifts to reveal these lovely green Kickapoo mountains. This is my favorite time to be out in the garden, enjoying the cool morning air.

By mid-morning though, the hot summer sun begins to take its toll and the humidity from the wet grass makes me start to wilt. I usually stay with my work until the deer flies show up and start taking little bites of me.

Often with hot humid weather comes a hatch of insects. The mosquitoes are now making their presence known. This is when the dragonflies also become more numerous, knowing that there is lots of their favorite food-mosquitoes.

Although the presence of lots of flying insects may be a nuisance for people, it's an important time for wildlife. There are lots of hungry mouths to feed as small birds catch insects and feed them to their nestlings. It's a time to eat your fill if you're a snake, frog, toad, bat, vole or any bird.

The swallows swiftly fly back and forth just over the top of the tall marsh grass. Flying insects are quickly snatched up as the swallows mill round and round over the lush green marsh.

A garden spider has cleverly placed her web between the stalks of tall grass. It's sticky strands have caught an abundance of small flying insects. These and other spiders take advantage of the heavy hatch of insects.

A pair of Sandhill cranes walk slowly through the tall lush grass. Only their heads and long necks appear above the green foliage. They have hidden beneath them a pair of light brown, half grown youngsters. The adult cranes spend most of their time close to their off-spring and protect them from danger.

These Sandhill cranes walk along searching for frogs, snakes and voles and will not hesitate to snatch up the contents of a nest of young black birds. The cranes will eat almost anything they can swallow including insects of all kinds.

Life is good on the marsh and nature has provided plenty of food for all who live there. The backwater is dark and still and mostly covered with duckweed. Any mosquito who lands on the surface is quickly sucked under by the minnows who hide below the surface. They too flourish during this time of hot humid weather which brings with it the insects.

The switching tails of the cows keep the pesky flies away while they are busy munching away in the pasture. As they walk along they stir up grasshoppers and crickets which are grabbed up and eaten by hungry starling and cowbirds.

Farmers are around us now, making hay. The hot summer breeze in late afternoon has dried the cut hay and make it ready to bale. This is a time to harvest the grass that will be next winter's food for their livestock. It's a time of hard work and sweaty shirts but the time to make hay in the sunshine, is now.

The tall summer grass means a time of plenty for all. A time when life is good down nature's trail.

All art ©2013 Organic Valley

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