Fly Me to the Moon

This week has been filled with the magic of flight, whether that is metaphoric or quite literal.  This is the time of the season when every variety of wee bird or raptor seems to be in flight training and this year’s observations are even more magical because this is the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 space mission and the successful landing on the moon.

Here, a wee Northern Flicker, sound asleep OR knocked out on a paved pathway near the edge of the Bow River.  I thought he may have come to a sad ending, having likely fledged from a nearby tree, but, at my prompting, he stirred, panicked and disappeared into the wild flowers, a place that increased his possibilities, I’m sure.

Every new life is extremely vulnerable right now in the river environment and the adults of every species are doing phenomenal things, given the brutal thunder storms, hail and huge winds.  Finally, these past two days, we have had a reprieve from awful weather.

I was just 14 years old and living with my air force family on CFB Hornell Heights perched on a hill above North Bay, Ontario when the space program was initiating such wild adventures into the unknown.  That summer I would have just finished up my grade eight year with Mrs. Penner at Paul Davoud School and would be beginning grade nine at Widdifield in the city, the following autumn.  Mom would have already sewn me summer pop tops and jam jam shorts.  I was excited for time at the base swimming pool and my little sister would have been two years old.  We had a black and white television set and I would have been snipping out important news stories from the North Bay Nugget and pasting them into my scrap book. (some of them are featured below)

In my record box, (bright green floral vinyl), I had my single-play records including Revolution and I Want to Hold Your Hand by the Beatles.  It was the first summer that I would, under my brother’s chaperone, be allowed to attend Teen Town dances.

My entire family was excited about the Apollo Space Mission.

We watched the moon landing, together, on the television.  I remember the images.  I remember looking up at the moon that night, the silhouette of the huge lilac bush outside my window, and being afraid for those men, so far from home.  It was truly unbelievable.

Well, this past weekend, we shared in the memory of that experience, now 50 years ago.  On July 20, I read poetry and watched the second eaglet fledge.  For me, the day was a celebration of flight.

On the evening of July 19, there was a tremendous storm brewing.  I watched, with great amusement as Mr. and Mrs. both fed Jr. #1, the little guy that had fledged three days before.  He’s doing well, having flown across the river, and having practiced moving about to a variety of places.  Over those few days I was captivated by several close visits, as well as a variety of shenanigans across from me on the river. (most amusing being a middle-aged couple manning kayaks, one that capsized and the other that became grounded minutes before a huge deluge…the two, totally unaware of a family of three Bald Eagles feasting within meters of them).  The male Bald Eagle stared at the adult male with a look that made me laugh.  I’m posting some of my recent photos, here.

On July 20, 2019, I witnessed the fledge of Jr. #2.  I considered this a huge gift on such a special anniversary.

July 16, 2019 (a visit to the river with summer guests, Angela and Preston)

July 17, 2019 (Mom and Dad spent lots of time the first two days prompting Jr. #1 to get up higher.  The fledgling seems to ball, especially on Day 1 and the adults patiently convince him/her that they can be relied upon for food, for guidance and for presence.)

July 18, 2019

Meals on the run…sharing treats with Jr….I’m just so surprised that Mr. came directly to me.

July 19, 2020

Second Fledge and little buddy is the one located in the vertical tree. Junior #1 doesn’t like that the attention has moved away from him.

July 21, 2019

Three visits to the river.  On the second, I didn’t have my camera, but I did have the company of Deb Sharpe.  Together we watched the siblings reunited on the tree root across from us.  Jr. #1 had remained there throughout the night.  Mr. and Mrs. shared the big tree on my side of the river to watch the pair of youngsters.  It was just so beautiful.  The icing on the cake is that one of the adults soared with the Year-old Juvenile that made a visit as well, chasing him, first, out of the territory.

On my evening stroll, I listened to a bag piper sending out his beautiful songs to the river…

Other species have been evident and beautiful…and new songs have been sung.  I’ve watched, but not documented American Goldfinch and have really enjoyed the Grey Catbirds, Cedar Waxwings and Eastern Kingbirds.  I’ve also really had fun speaking with different people who enjoy my love for the river.

It is a remarkable thing that human beings have traveled into the far reaches of space through manned missions as well as through the use of technology that brings images and science back to us from Mars.  It is for us to celebrate the abilities of humanity to accomplish wondrous achievements such as this.  However, it is equally as important to recognize the charm and amazing intuitive lessons that are given by other species.  It is essential that we connect with this wonder so that we become better stewards of the magic.

I’m wrapping up this post with a song that my mother used to sing to me…among others…but, this one is a good one for this celebration.

 

Bird Tails From the Hood

Feral cats roam free throughout the seasons on our circle.  A few of them congregate on the ‘cat lady’s’ step because I think she gets them through the winter.  One of the cats belongs to her, but he is definitely an outdoor cat.  The other three come and go, but always sit, when she’s gone, on her smoking chair. The one that has managed through the most years is a tortoise shell long hair who often stalks my bird feeder and routinely catches and tortures mice.  I watch, stunned, from the window.  Yesterday, this very cat sat on the sidewalk directly across from my house…crouched and ready to bolt.  Max, my dog, barked wildly from the living room window.  I stepped outside to see what the commotion was all about.  Looking carefully, I saw puffs of feather circling the cat’s mouth.  It looked funny until I saw the fledgling robin on the yard below me.

Both mother and father were posturing anxiously in near proximity to the evidently scruffed up youngster.  I shooed the cat away as it bolted and hid beneath one of the cars parked along the street.  Bit by bit, I coaxed the young dude east along the street and up onto neighbour’s steps where he/she might be able to get some height on the next flight attempt.  Prompted by its parents, it continued bob bob bobbing along, however exposed to the crows, the cats, the magpies and the great big world.

As I looked more closely at the young robin, I saw that it had been attacked on its chest and definitely on its tail feathers.  I don’t know that it will at any point be able to fly, given this disastrous result.  Once again, I contemplate the tough world of nature.  I think about the challenges of adults, in this case, the hatching and feeding and raising up of young birds in precarious nests and then, teaching them to fly.  In nature, there is so much fighting against birds, animals and plants.  Sometimes I am amazed that species continue to populate this earth, where now, there are so many forces operating against them.  Natural predators are one thing, but the forces that human beings exert upon species and the devastating development of natural environments is truly, staggering.

I managed, yesterday morning, to delay the violent ending of a young robin.  The lesson, however, is that ‘out there’, it is the strong that survive.  I guess it’s the same for us.

©Kathleen Moors  Mama bob bobbing, frantically.  Her antics, steering the cat's attention away from her progeny.

©Kathleen Moors Mama bob bobbing, frantically. Her antics, steering the cat’s attention away from her progeny.

©Kathleen Moors Dad, looking as puffed up and red-chested as possible, distracting predators, the cat and me, from his progeny.

©Kathleen Moors Dad, looking as puffed up and red-chested as possible, distracting predators, the cat and me, from his progeny.

©Kathleen Moors

©Kathleen Moors Youngster, his own feather caught within his beak, survivor of the first attack.

And Then There Was One!

The female eaglet, #1, has left the nest.  She’s done a couple of flybys at the Duke Farm’s eagle nest and parents have been diligent about continuing to bring food to the nest, but our little guy, #2, is looking lonely.  I first discovered #1 was going into the realm of fledging on Thursday at lunch.  I had a preparation period and saw this all on my own.  I actually had a tear because of the wonderful memories the grade threes and I have shared, watching the adults birth, hatch and raise their two young ones.

February 2015 Two Eggs

February 2015 Two Eggs

Here they are on April 19th.

Here they are on April 19th.

#2 eaglet Duke Farms June 13

This was the nest yesterday on June 13, 2015.

The student observations have been so beautiful, I’ve taken a selection of photos of some of their illustrations and recorded observations.  These warm my heart…absolutely precious.

Hmmm…as I’ve been downloading the student observations, little lady has been back to the nest to feast on a fish that her mama just brought.  Presently, she and her sibling are cuddling on a branch and clicking their beaks together.  The biologists have indicated that she’s been doing a lot of flying today and might just hang out at the nest for the time being.June 13 dukes reunion June 13 Visit with sister June 13 2015 siblings eaglesNow, for the student observations…read their entries…they are beautiful.

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DSC_4161 DSC_4162 DSC_4163 DSC_4164 DSC_4165 DSC_4166 DSC_4167 DSC_4168 DSC_4169 DSC_4170 DSC_4171 DSC_4172At the Decorah Nest, their #1 of three fledged today!  WHOOT!

Fledglings

Alright, the neighbourhood is booming with fledglings of every sort and Mr. & Mrs. of every nest, freaking out about the flying faux pas!  Blackbirds…maybe grackles…whatever-they-are are not my favourites when it comes to their demeanor at the bird feeder.  However, they too, are struggling with their youngsters.  I couldn’t understand what all of the ruckus was about, but then found that Mrs. was yapping away at this youngster, sitting, paralyzed with fear on my backyard fence.  Enter Kath into the back yard and the loud Max-barking from inside the house, and this wee guy left the fence to light into one of May’s branches.  In taking a look at the fledgling’s tail feathers, I’d say that something is terribly wrong and that he isn’t doing well with flight, as a result.

The community of blackbirds is taking great interest in the poor guy’s foibles.  When I left them, he was sitting atop another neighbour’s garage roof, storm clouds gathering to the west.  I learned recently that it is a major accomplishment for a magpie to live beyond one year…there are so many natural and person-made challenges that await them.  I suppose it is a good thing for the parents to hatch as many eggs as possible to increase the chances of any survival at all.  I continue to be amazed by the happenings in nature.

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My Feathered Friends

Bird Business!

Mr. and Mrs. moved in some time in April, but little did they know that two huge and blustery spring storms would move in.  I think something happened that one or both sparrows didn’t survive because I didn’t see them again.  Some time in May a new couple occupied the cozy apartment and have been seriously nesting since the melt and the warm sun has been shining.

Mr. and Mrs. May 25, 2014b Mr. and Mrs. May 25 2014And, yes!  I was the one who supported last year’s vent with duct tape as previous tenants were losing offspring early after hatching, given that the bottom two flaps are missing on the vent. You know the song…

I’ve been surprised at the front yard nest a couple of times this year.

Early in May, I had a visit from a single male Rose Breasted Grosbeak.  I was so excited to see the brilliant red chest of this bird and the stark black and white.

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Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

I was also surprised by three pairs of American Goldfinches.  Their songs were beautiful and they hovered in front of the picture window, looking at themselves.  I’ve heard them a few times since, in a neighbour’s flowering tree, but don’t have any idea if they are in transit or if they will settle on this area.

American Goldfinch

P1160935 P1160933 P1160929 P1160927 P1160924 P1160922 P1160921 I anticipate many stories surrounding events at the bird feeders and at Frank’s Flats where I routinely watch the water birds and their interactions.  The three eaglets at Duke’s Farms are also very ready to fledge, although they have had something happen, recently, with one of their cameras and will not be able to remedy the situation until after the babes have gone.

It is an awesome thing to have opportunity to watch birds.