Entries in Red-shouldered Hawk (6)


Coping With the Weather

Once again, a weather report: Today's temperature was into the mid 90's, as it has been almost every day for months, and once again there was no rain. A week ago there were some showers, the first in nearly a month, but not a drop since. The ground is dust. This Red-shouldered hawk is as large as a chicken and is heavy for this birdbath. But I can't blame him for trying to cool off his tootsies!

We see the hawk often. He is welcome, as he helps to control our vole population.There is some chance of showers tomorrow, then no rain predicted for another week. The good news is that long term cooler weather is arriving this week, with temps only into the 80s, and I think steaming, mid-summer type weather will be gone until next year. Fall has arrived, although most leaves are simply shriveling to brown and falling off the trees.

It is so dry that even the weeds are suffering. (Of course, they have innumerable offspring sleeping in the earth, waiting for rain to awaken them!) We have allowed the lawn to turn brown, but we try to keep valuable shrubs alive with hoses and sprinklers. Despite our efforts, a half-dozen young gumpo azaleas have died. I will not replant them. Other azaleas survive, including long-established ones with good root systems and more recently planted deciduous native azaleas, which we have diligently watered. The native azaleas will eventually be more drought tolerant, but they need extra care in their early years.

I confess the droughty, hot weather has taken the joy out of gardening. My plans for transplanting a number of shrubs are on hold. I also have a row of young plants, purchased a month ago at a plant sale, lined up against the house foundation out of direct sun, next to an easily accessible water faucet. They wait their places in the garden, I must be patient. Surely the rains will come in October. October and November, and even later, is not too late for gardening here in Alabama.

I laugh at the thought of good soaking rain at last, just as temperatures plummet to the 40's.


My Life as a Baby Birder

I was warned that bird watching can suck you in, that what begins as an innocent desire to identify backyard birds can become an obsession that sends people on excessive quests to to find illusive species to add to their lists. There is no chance of that happening to me, but after participating in an excursion to view the overwintering cranes who descend by thousands on Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge, I was intrigued enough to join a group of birders on a morning walk around Aldridge Gardens

Everyone met in the parking lot, and when I arrived, people already were pointing and scanning nearby trees with their binoculars. Even I could see the flock of cedar waxwings perched amidst the branches of a tree a few feet away. I am a baby to bird watching, and that was as good as it got.

"Look at the Pine Warbler!"

These people know their birds. Everyone swung their binoculars upward and nodded in agreement. I was busy trying to focus in with my binoculars, and by the time I found the right tree, never mind the right branch, the Pine Warbler was long gone. I had similar results with the Eastern Phoebe, the Carolina Wren, and about twenty other birds. I did a little better with the birds gathered around a large feeding station. If a bird was big and brightly colored, it helped. I let out a whoop when I found the Red-headed Woodpecker perched high up in a snag. Canadian Geese are easy! They are huge and easily recognizable.

Turtles are also easy. Of course, they don't don't count as birds, but I enjoyed the sight anyway.

The Camellia Garden at Aldridge Gardens is home to bluebirds. We heard them, but no one caught sight of one. We all admired the Camellia japonicas in bloom.

I spent a pleasant morning strolling through beautiful surroundings, and I enjoyed the enthusiasm of my fellow birders. I think I will have more success with my birding efforts at home. Red-shouldered Hawks have built a nest on a large branch that arches over the front lawn.I can see them easily from several rooms inside the house. And Bluebirds have chosen the new red birdhouse only steps from the kitchen. Front row seats!

This morning I saw a flock of birds flying over the house. I immediately wanted to grab the binoculars to confirm my suspicion that these were American Robins. Was that a sucking sound I heard?