Saturday, May 6, 2017

Spring: for the birds! #phenology

The rat-a-tat-tat of a woodpecker reverberated through the woods this morning as I walked a dog along our country road. The sun was painting the eastern horizon with rose and orange streaks. (We slept in a little today.) I suspect the noise was coming from the pileated woodpecker that's been seen undulating through the local skies this week.

pileated woodpecker at suet
pileated woodpecker at suet
Photo by J. Harrington

We have at least four kinds of resident woodpeckers around the property, three plus the pileated. There are downy, hairy and red-bellied that show up at the feeders from time to time. If the Star Tribune and the Minnesota Extension Service could agree on the number and species of woodpeckers found in Minnesota, it would be easier to put them in context.

bluebird perched on pine "candle"
bluebird perched on pine "candle"
Photo by J. Harrington

Mid-morning we got to watch more skirmishes in what's become an annual battle between the swallows that nest in the purple martin house and the bluebirds that nest in the bluebird house. The swallows keep trying to either move into the bluebird house, or at least get the bluebirds to move out. Both insect feeders, too much competition? Probably so, according to this source. Come Autumn, maybe I'll try moving one of the nesting boxes, although I haven't noticed the bluebirds trying to push the swallows out of their nests, just the other way around. The things you don't know enough to research before you start "improving" country property is just amazing.

Swallows Brush a Pool
By Maurine Smith
LET there be end of talk of good and evil,
Thirst, hunger and the rest … Beauty has given
The white gift of a cherry petal
To brood upon.

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