For the Birds

Once the shoveling was done and Max taken care of, I put on a fresh pot of coffee, filled the bird feeders and sat down to watch the magic.  One of my favourite things to do is to sit and enjoy nature while eating something…anything…like an apple or a piece of cheese or blueberries OR drinking something…like red wine or coffee or water. The taste buds are heightened outdoors and it is magical.

It wasn’t long and the word was out…likely a hundred sparrows landed at the back yard feeder.  Surprisingly, they don’t tolerate my presence as well now that it’s cold, but the little darlings came and went and came and went while I sipped my steaming hot cup of coffee.  At the front, the ‘three pilgrims’ were pecking underneath the feeder.  People have told me to chase pigeons from the feeders…well, this family has been visiting my feeders ever since the spring as the grey fledgling was struggling to find his clumsy way.  When something is struggling so hard to make sense of the world, how can you not appreciate the natural selection of things?  It’s hard to reject any being in nature when so much is against them.

Every now and then when they get greedy, I chase them away, shaking a kitchen towel at them.  Sometimes I wonder where they roost and why a zillion of their friends don’t join them.  So far-so good.

Cold weather brings different friends and enemies to the bird feeders.  Just recently, I’m seeing more chickadees, jays and northern flickers and a few days ago, I saw my first woodpecker of the season.

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Do you remember when I was posting about Duke’s Farm’s eagle cam?  I watch them routinely in the spring.  This past season, I watched intently as there were three eggs that hatched.  The grade ones that I was teaching at the time recorded notes about the three hatchlings each morning after prayer and O’ Canada.

P1160181Eagles April 18 2014 Well, some time shortly after I left that contract, the eagle cam went down.  As a result, I didn’t see the three youngsters fledge, but the monitors of the activities at the nest and the biologists making observations, left notes that assumed that they had fledged successfully after a very positive banding.  Well, sad news to report recently and I’ll copy the notes right from the Duke Farm’s Eagle Cam site.

11/25/2014
The camera is now running. The cam may go down temporarily as we clean up cable splices buried in the ground and prep the lines for winter.

11/25/2014
Today the eagle camera is scheduled to be placed back in the tree and coaxial cable will be reconnected to conduct tests. Along with corrosion issues the camera and cable also appeared to suffer some damage from a surge or loose connection that melted an internal component.

10/20/2014
We have pulled down the eagle camera and found out the main issue currently appears to be a corroded connector. We will be cleaning/replacing the connectors and run tests and hopefully have the camera up soon again.

8/25/14
We are sad to announce news that one of our eaglets from this year’s nest was found dead at Sebago Lake, Maine after a fight with an adult eagle that was guarding a nest; From Conserve Wildlife NJ biologists discussions with biologists and observers in Maine;

“On July 27th the juvenile male, D-98, was found dead by residents of Little Sebago Lake, Maine. He was one of the three Duke Farms chicks banded on May 14, 2014 and assumed fledged in Mid-June.

Residents of the lake which is NW of Portland, reported seeing him near an active eagle nest located on the lake. The nest had chicks which fledged in early July. On July 25th residents reported seeing a juvenile with a green band sitting in a tree near a boat house;
“The youngster had been in a small tree next to our boat house for quite a long time when an adult, carrying a fish, swooped in over the folks sunning on the beach and attacked the young bird. It dropped the fish in the process. The adult flew off leaving the fish and the juvenile behind. Thanks to a cell phone photo, we know that the youngster had the band colors of the later retrieved juvenile”.

While we don’t know for certain we can assume that the juvenile’s death was in some part due to injuries that occurred when it was attacked by the adult. The mortality rate for first year eagles is fairly high as they are still learning to hunt and fly. It is very unusual to receive this much information on the details surrounding an eagles death.”

While it is very sad news, such is the remarkable and frightening circumstance of life itself. I highly recommend that you join me this spring in observing the two majestic parents that will make a home of this same nest, regardless of the loss or successes of previous years.  It is through vulnerability and struggle that we find our way.  We have much to learn from watching birds.  Lately I am feeling, more than ever, that it is essential that we slow down and make observations of the world that surrounds us.  We must listen to the stories that nature is telling us.

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