Saturday, May 23, 2015

As May winds down

I haven't been surprised to see ruby-throated hummingbirds at the oriole feeder. It's use by the local downy woodpeckers has caught me off guard. I hadn't noticed that the Cornell Lab of Ornithology web site notes "Occasionally, Downy woodpeckers will drink from oriole and hummingbird feeders as well." No photos yet, but stand by.

Several red-winged blackbirds have been using the feeders this year, which is unusual although they are know to feed on sunflower seeds at feeders, they're supposed to prefer the ground. Since I took down the tray feeder because it was being used heavily by the squirrels, the red-wings are using the screen tube feeder.

red-wing blackbird at feeder
Photo by J. Harrington

It looks as though hoary puccoon is starting to bloom up on the far hill in the back yard. It's a week or so later than the earliest time listed in the Minnesota Wildflowers web site, but I'm learning that the birds and plants often don't follow our schedules. As the weather becomes more erratic from Anthropogenic Climate Disruption, I wonder how many phenology listings will have to be modified. I've read a little about it using observations compiled by two of our long-standing writer-naturalists, David Thoreau and Aldo Leopold. So, we can now, with assurance, add to death and taxes, change. In honor of the vote in favor of love, taken today by the Irish people, we'll close with a poem by the great Irish poet Seamus Heaney, about blackbirds, life, love and ....

hoary puccoon in bloom
Photo by J. Harrington

The Blackbird of Glanmore

by Seamus Heaney
On the grass when I arrive,
Filling the stillness with life,
But ready to scare off
At the very first wrong move.
In the ivy when I leave.

It’s you, blackbird, I love.

I park, pause, take heed.
Breathe. Just breathe and sit
And lines I once translated
Come back: “I want away
To the house of death, to my father

Under the low clay roof.”

And I think of one gone to him,
A little stillness dancer –
Haunter-son, lost brother –
Cavorting through the yard,
So glad to see me home,

My homesick first term over.

And think of a neighbour’s words
Long after the accident:
“Yon bird on the shed roof,
Up on the ridge for weeks –
I said nothing at the time

But I never liked yon bird.”

The automatic lock
Clunks shut, the blackbird’s panic
Is shortlived, for a second
I’ve a bird’s eye view of myself,
A shadow on raked gravel

In front of my house of life.

Hedge-hop, I am absolute
For you, your ready talkback,
Your each stand-offish comeback,
Your picky, nervy goldbeak –
On the grass when I arrive,

In the ivy when I leave.

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