Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Spring migration...

I've been enjoying the increased level of bird activity lately in our neighborhood. Over the winter, we will continue to see Northern Cardinals, House Sparrows, and we also get Dark Eyed Juncos here that winter in this region from their summer home in the arctic. Come spring though, suddenly our community becomes alive with American Robins, Common Grackles, Black Capped Chickadees, and Blue Jays. I've always liked robins, despite the fact that they are fairly commonplace throughout the country. They just look so confident, no? They have a very cute stance. And children love them, including Hank, because they are so distinguishable with their bright red breasts. I love childrens' sweet and innocent take on birding:

"Mommy, wook, a WOBIN!! Why is he hopping away, Mommy? I wanted to hold him."

Everyone is nesting right now. Here on campus, we have a number of resident Red Tailed Hawks, and these are beautiful birds. They had a nest stationed on a light post on the practice track, and this winter it was taken down for fear of it falling and hurting someone. These are *big* birds, and as you might imagine, they make *big* nests for *big* babies. Thus, this year, the mated pair is hard at work assembling a brand new nest right in the exact same spot. These are routine-oriented birds. I think this is why I like them so much - we relate to each other well.

At any rate, every time I walk out to my car, I spot a hawk flying by with a twig in its mouth. And the funny thing is, all of the smaller birds are afraid of them, because, well, the hawk could eat them for a mid-afternoon snack in the blink of an eye. But right now, the hawks aren't so much focused on munching on pigeons; rather, they are in clear NEST-BUILDING MODE. This is very reminiscent of your Catholic Librarian in the months leading up to Henry's birth. I was a woman on fire.

So anyway, amusing little scenes inevitably result. A gigantic red-tailed hawk is busily gathering small branches in its beak, halo perched firmly on head. Meanwhile, a nearby robin or blue jay nearly has a heart attack sending out an alarm cry to alert every other bird on campus. Robins, in particular, just won't let it go if a hawk is within a mile of it. They're going to be hoarse by the end of the season.

In a few months, the new little ducklings will start to come out with their parents. We have Canada Geese here, and Mallards. They're adorable. Unfortunately, they are very prone to being hawk food :( I worry for them quite a bit. In my mind, the hawk's instinct to protect its own young should prevent it from eating anybody elses. This makes perfect sense to me, but the birds don't seem to agree.

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