Thursday, June 21, 2018

Birds and bronchitis, bits and bobs

For the last week and a half, I've been coughing my guts out with a charming case of bronchitis. I've slowly on the mend -- at least I'm not having to get up in the middle of the night to go sleep in Younger Daughter's bed so I don't keep Don awake -- but it's been a slice.

Since my brain isn't functioning at full capacity, here are just a couple homestead snapshots.

One, the other morning robins started going nuts in the yard -- clucks of alarm -- and Mr. Darcy suddenly seemed interested in whatever the birds saw. I dashed out in the yard and saw a fledgling robin flopping around, with Darcy pouncing after it.

Poor Mr. Darcy didn't understand why I dragged him into the house. After all, he was just trying to play.

So I picked up the fledgling. Instantly his beak flopped open, revealing the bright yellow interior: "Feed me!" (Sadly I couldn't get a photo of this.)

I put him down on the ground well outside the yard, and he instantly flopped away, then paused and gave me a saucy look.

Meanwhile the parent birds fluttered around in agitation. The fledgling portion of their offspring's development must give birds gray hair. Gray feathers. Whatever.

I've also been keeping an eye on the blackbird nest I found the other day. On June 11, it had one egg.

On June 13, they were up to three -- one of which seemed much smaller than the others.

The parent birds, of course, flutter and fuss at me whenever I invade their privacy. Here's the mother:

Here's the father:

On June 17, there were five eggs -- one of which was definitely smaller than the others. I'm assuming it's a dud, though time will tell.

This is probably as many as the female will lay. Hatching takes 12 to 14 days, after which I'll get photos of the developing nestlings.

On another note, while weeding in the garden a few days ago, I came across the iridescent remains of a dragonfly -- namely, the wings.

These wings are really incredible marvels of construction and engineering when viewed close up.

It wasn't until I picked up one of the wing pieces that I realized the wings were slowly being harvested by some tiny, tiny ants, which couldn't have been over a millimeter in size.

When I checked back a couple hours later (hoping to photograph the wings in the sunlight), they were gone -- either they had blown away, or they were buried by the ants.

As a final piece of bits and bobs around the farmstead, behold the busy chipmunk, eating a not-quite-ripe strawberry.

And a cedar waxwing, also harvesting strawberries.

Harvesting strawberries is a very popular activity among the wildlife this time of year.

UPDATE: Readers have pointed out how the "dud" egg in the blackbird nest actually belongs to a cowbird, which nests parasitically (dumping its eggs in other birds' nests). They were absolutely correct -- it's a cowbird egg. However some articles suggested not removing a cowbird egg because cowbirds can actually act vengefully: If they find their egg missing, they'll ransack the nest and destroy the other eggs.

So, I compromised. I removed the cowbird egg...

...and popped it in the freezer overnight. Then I let it come back to room temperature and slipped it back into the blackbird nest. Hopefully this will work to everyone's benefit (except the baby cowbird's, of course).


  1. I'm sorry to learn of your bronchitis. Been there, done that, although (fortunately) not for many years now. We all hope you turned your head away from the keyboard when you coughed while composing today's blog ;) Prayers on your behalf.

  2. That small egg is a cowbird egg. Cowbirds lay their eggs in other birds nests so that they will hatch and care for their young. Then the young cowbird kicks the other babies out. Kinda like a certain political group in this country. Go take the egg out.---ken

  3. Those dragonfly wings were gorgeous! nature is the best artist.

  4. I'm in agreement with Ken. That smaller egg is a cowbird egg. I would remove it from the nest and do the parents of this nest a favor. I hope you get to feeling better soon. Love the photos!