Al Batt- Humming bird

A female ruby-throated hummingbird. A male wouldn’t have white tips on his tail.

By Al Batt

For the Birds

Echoes from the Loafers’ Club

Outdoor Meeting

 I want to be a millionaire just like my father.

 Your father was wealthy?

 No, but he wanted to be a millionaire too.

Nature by the yard

Among the multitude of events canceled this year was the wonderful Henderson Hummingbird Hurrah. Although the Hurrah has been shelved, the Hummingbird (and butterfly) Garden in Henderson is open and is well worth visiting. Volunteers maintain its magnificence. Hummingbirds fed on a four parts water to one part white sugar mixture.

A pileated (either PIE-lee-ay-tid or PILL-ee-ay-tid is correct) woodpecker called. The call is similar to a flicker’s, but a flicker sounds like a soloist and a pileated an entire choir.

The light show begins in June and continues into August, as fireflies flash in search of mates. Each species of firefly has its own flash pattern. I think of their numbers peaking around the 4th of July, but that’s not exact. Eastern tiger swallowtails, bluet damselflies and widow skimmers (dragonflies) move about. 

A chickadee makes me smile without doing anything more than being. The chickadee is in my birding sweet spot. In 2017, I spent too much time in the hospital. Freed from that confinement, I found walking difficult and birding nearly impossible. I decided to count chickadees, with 1,000 being my goal. I didn’t care if it was the same chickadee repeatedly, if I saw it, I counted it. I told no one, holding my own soft celebration upon achieving that minor goal. I counted 1,000 chickadees again this year. They added up much quicker in 2020.

Those thrilling days of yesteryear  

Locations were given in the number of miles to the nearest paved road. Mother described town as being just a hop, skip and a jump from our farm. Have you ever tried traveling that way for a few miles? It’s exhausting. Fortunately, it wasn’t the only way to get there.

The old joke department

 A priest, a minister and a rabbit walked into a bar while social distancing. The rabbit was there because of autocorrect.

Nature notes

 The man told me he’s spending more time with his small dog. He and the dog spend 15 minutes each morning staring out the window. The dog points things out with its eyes. They particularly enjoy watching the crows. Crows are always up to something.

American white pelicans flew overhead. Their 9-foot wingspans carry them unusually long distances to forage for food. Fishing trips of 30 miles one-way isn’t uncommon.

 I find great joy in seeing Canada anemone, a North American native perennial growing in moist meadows, along wet wooded edges, in road ditches and along stream banks. Its white flowers have showy yellow center stamens on long, stalked branches. They compete with oxeye daisies for my attention.

My neighbor Crandall says

 “I was born with nothing and I still have most of it. My son told me that I don’t know anything about computers. Why does he insist on telling me what I already know I don’t know?” 

Q&A

“How can woodpeckers hammer without getting headaches?” They have reinforced skulls structured to spread the force and brains cushioned from repeated impacts. Despite that, woodpeckers are susceptible to fatal window collisions.

“What do swans eat?” Trumpeter swans eat aquatic vegetation — leaves, seeds, roots, tubers and rhizomes. Swan parents use their feet to stir up food for cygnets. Invertebrates in the sediment with the tubers and rhizomes provide protein to cygnets and adults. Swans eat grains leftover from harvest. 

“Have coyotes ever killed a human?” Historical records show two documented incidences in the U.S. and Canada of people being killed by coyotes. Typically, 30-50 people in the U.S. die from dog bites annually and deer-related car collisions are responsible for about 200 deaths each year. Coyotes are omnivores and small-game hunters. They feed on rodents, fruit, rabbits, turkeys, geese, woodchucks, carrion, pet food, garbage and fawns (primarily up to 20 days old). They’d eat a cat and adult deer hit by cars. Mesopredators (such as coyotes, foxes and raccoons) are mid-ranking predators of a trophic level, which typically prey upon smaller animals.

Thanks for stopping by

 “Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.” — Mason Cooley

 “What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have never been discovered.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

 Do good.

Meeting adjourned

 Appreciate those who do favors you didn’t ask for. It’s a good deal. Be kind.

© Al Batt 2020

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