Back Yard Report

We’re pretty heavily into summer in these parts. Trouble is, our June’s as fickle as your favorite memory of your favorite high school tramp. (Speaking of which, the name Harriet can still rattle my brain like a rock in a boxcar and that was a long, long time ago.) However – June. We crowded up to 90 yesterday. Next week we anticipate some days that’ll have to stretch to make the mid 60s. In the rain. Fickle. The bright spot is the birds.

(…spots are the birds? Feel free to resort to small arms to resolve your issues. Blame any bloodshed on in the election year.)

I’m a determined bird watcher. What’s not to like? How else can you scam people into believing you’re a semi-scientist and an ecology prince while you sit on your butt and look intense? We could mention writing, but I’m talking to people who understand things, right? Right. Anyhow, I’m onto an interesting development among our avian friends. (Us birdwatchers like to say “avian friends” every so often so folks don’t forget we’re really bright.) I’ve been loading a handful of hummingbird feeders at this place for decades. I can’t get enough of the quarrelsome, staggeringly beautiful, little devils. Our most common species is the splendid Anna’s. I’m so glad they’re not Harriets. Never mind; I digress. What’s interesting is that in the past two years, the Townsend’s warblers that sift through here spring and fall have learned to take advantage of the high-energy sugar water. So have two varieties of chickadee and towhees. I think that’s a pretty intriguing example of adaptation, not to mention learning by the second wave of the feeders who mimic the early adventurers. On a more exasperating note, I’m seeing similar changing habits affecting my cherry trees. I long ago abandoned any hope of harvest time. It used to be crows, jays, robins, and squirrels stripped my trees. This year – for the first time – I’m also seeing finches, towhees, and even juncos gorge on the fruit.

Anyone will tell you I’m universally admired for my uncomplaining equanimity in the face of hardship and abuse. Nevertheless, the phrase “eating crow” is taking on a new, sinister, luster.

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