Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Eagles Have Landed...Actually They are Hawks

For all my griping about having to live on the prairies, today we experienced one of those rare visual treats that can sneak up on those who tend to prefer mountain and ocean terrains.

On our way to the early church service in "the other town" we counted no fewer than 17 large hawks sitting atop telephone posts beside the road. The wing span when gliding across the stubbled fields was several feet across.  It was a most impressive sight after a winter of watching teeny finches and redpoles at our feeders outside the kitchen window.

We also saw a gigantic snowy owl sitting on one of the poles.  He was beautiful! So regal looking.......

About the time we ran out of bird sightings we had another treat:  a small herd of antelope standing just inside the fence of a large field.  Last spring the antelope population here was close to non-existent due to their inability to return north across the flooding Mississippi River in the USA. 

Antelope seem more aware of the existence and speed of passing cars than deer seem to be.  In the past 14 years in our area only 2 animal related car crashes involved antelope.  Is it because deer tend to hide in treed areas and use camoflage to escape their predators by standing still to blend in before leaping away, often too late in the case of cars, whereas antelope are used to the more open plains and having to run to escape predators? I have no idea, but I find the antelope are very much more careful to stay off the roads in the presence of oncoming vehicles.  

So it was a great drive.  

3 days ago our back yard birds suddenly disappeared. Many of them are species that generally head much farther south for the winter and we only see them as they pass through on their way south, and then again for a couple of weeks on their way back north. This year it seems, with our very mild winter, they only went as far south as our house!!  Now they have suddenly disappeared and the feeders remain nearly untouched. Wherever they have gone we will miss them. Each little bird has a personality of its own when you take the time to watch them each day.  The birds have provided hours of entertainment for me during this time of immobilization. 

Wonder what the spring and summer bird population will be like........


chris e. said...

I am so i'm not the only one who takes great joy in watching the activities of the backyard flock! I get so tired of people going 'eew, sparrows (finches, redpolls or whatever); BORING!!!' and figuring only the passing rarities are worth noticing. If people were birds, most of us would be sparrows or something equally mundane.
Have you got a birdbath up and running? Water is so hard for them to find. And this time of year enough water to bathe in will draw a real crowd. The closer the bath is to shrubs etc the better as they like the cover.
We keep a stack of the styrofoam tubs meat comes in on hand for birdbaths. Free, and if they freeze solid and break, who cares? They were on their way to the garbage anyway.
Most birds will go to one off the ground (one of ours sits on an upended cinder block) but cedar waxwings definitely prefer water right at ground level.

Susan said...

Our birdbath is attached to the top railing on our side yard deck. The cats can't get near it. It is always a great place for a gathering of feathered buddies to congregate and slosh water everywhere. Really fun to watch!