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Bird School, Part II
August 15, 2016

The 'Dogs Days' of summer continue.

(In this case, the squirrel days.)

The 'Dog Days,' I used to think, were those summer days so devastatingly hot that even dogs would lie around panting.

You too, may use the phrase to mean something like that.

However, the phrase actually had nothing to do with dogs, or even with the lazy days of summer.

Instead, it turns out, the dog days refer to the dog star, Sirius, and its position in the heavens.

(Sirius is the brightest star in the northern hemisphere sky, and is the nose of Orion the hunter's dog. most prominent in the winter skies.)

To the Greeks and Romans, the “dog days” occurred around the day when Sirius appeared to rise just before the sun, in late July.

I must admit, I'm not getting much done in the yard this summer.

That doesn't stop Karen with the 'Honey Do List', however.

For you that asked or commented on the Gingerbread House B&B, it was built back in the 1880's I believe and was a boarding house until the 1960's.

Converted to a B&B this house has character.

It is the character as well as Mary the Inn Keeper that make this place special.

Yes there is the Victorian Era house, but there is not Grand opulence to it.

The character comes from the crooked walls and floors, the old wooden porch and so on.

Yes there are modern amenities too.

We have visited this house for the past 25 years.

The heat has kept me from spraying plant oils and such (burn the plants in this heat).

This reminds me of one of my favorite gardening tools.

Several years ago I picked up and old shot glass.

Ideal for measuring plant oils, weed spray, and fungicides like Copper (organic).

If you have an old shot glass around, or maybe pick one up at a garage sale for 5 cents or maybe 25 cents.

This little glass sits with all of my chemicals and has for years.

Shot glasses measure by the teaspoon, tablespoon, or by the ounce.

Karen and I will be gone Tuesday-Thursday, as we take the grand kids on a little trip up north.

We try to do this every summer, last year we couldn't.

This gives us time with our oldest daughter's family to do some grand parent things, and hopefully get in some fun and learning sessions.

I said bird school was a two part series, I was wrong.

So it doesn't become a short story i must break this into a three part series.

I hope you don't mind.

Last week I touched on the all important fledging (fly the coop, leave the nest, etc.) young birds must do to continue on with school.

This week it is learning to find food.


School Is In Part II

(Cherry Cheesecake Hibiscus.)

If you watch baby birds just out of the nest, you can see them being taught the most useful and important lesson, how to find their food.

With waterfowl, this isn't actually the case.

These birds learn on the go.

After hatching, waterfowl spend some time in the nest as the down dries and young muscles are stretched.

Typically the next day they are on the move, as swimming is natural.

Mamma duck, and mom and pops swans and geese have a mobile school.

Waterfowl stay with the parents until it is time to migrate, and often stay through the winter as a family group.

The young learn all aspects from the parents.

Hummingbirds, mom does it all and once the young have fledged she too will show them flowers, feeders and grabbing small insects.

Within a few days the babies are on their own, mom chases them off as they now become competition for food.

So many backyard birds are taught to hunt for seed and insects before they are brought to feeders.

Our offerings are a luxury and the birds pretty much know that.

You also observe the robin parents taking their babies to the ground, and shows them where the worms live and how to get them.

Later on they will learn that berries are good too.

Cardinals bring their offspring to find berries, seeds and insects.

Often backyard feeders are one of the first lessons for some species and the last for others.

Black-capped chickadees seem to have a long learning period before they return to my yard.

Chickadee youngsters are gone for as long as two months from fledgling my nest box to returning to the scene.

When they return, they have developed many new skills from the smaller version of their parents when they first hopped out of the nest box.

From crash landings to skilled fliers and feeders.

Let's continue.

The owl parent finds a mouse creeping about in the grass, and teaches the owlets how to pounce upon it, by doing it herself before them.

The swallow, takes her youngsters into the air, and shows them how to catch insects and drink on the wing.

I've witnessed Red-tail hawks drop dead rats and other animal parts in an attempt to get their fledglings to fly down from a snag or utility pole and make a mock kill before they can feed.

It is almost a pitiful sight to watch a young, fledged hawk scream and cry helplessly.

Yet, knowing if it survives it will one day be an apex predator with its own territory.

If you watch long enough, you may see the parent bird who is training a young one fly away.

She may leave the young one alone on a tree or the ground, and be gone a long time.

Before many minutes the little one will get hungry, and begin to call for food.

But, if nobody comes to feed him, he will think to look around for something to eat.

Now the fledgling will get his lesson in helping himself.

(We are blessed with many juvenile cardinals right now, this is only a sample.)

Many times I can watch parents ignore their youngsters or fly away for a time.

Eventually the young bird attempts to forage for itself and with some success.

However, as soon as mom or dad reappear, the cries and flapping wings start back up.

Fledgling and juveniles must also learn what to eat and what not to eat (poisonous) and how to remove stingers from wasps and bees.

Herons and kingfishers must learn how to wait patiently and at the right moment spear or dive into the water to catch its prey.

Osprey, Bald Eagles and other types of birds learn how make corrections from what they see in the water and where the fish actually is.

They must to be successful hunters.

Young kingbirds must learn how to wait for insects to fly by, and then fly out and snag one in mid air.

Woodpeckers must learn to hunt for food in various ways.

There are many attempts and failures and if a young bird isn't successful it will starve.

Eventually, mom and dad will leave the fledgling to feed for itself.

There are time tables to keep.

For many birds, this is a must as new nests are being built and eggs laid.

For other birds time is important for lessons learned, as migration looms.

Yes, birds must learn a lot in a short period of time, and we often don't think about bird schooling.

Next week, bathing, song, and migrations.

Well, it is time to fly for now.

Before I go, here is your positive thought for the week.

God Bless.

“True love always makes a man better, no matter what woman inspires it.”

Alexandre Dumas

(1802-1870) French Dramatist, Novelist

A lot of truth here

The bible explains a bit on love.

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy;

love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely

. Love does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil;

does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth.

Love bears all things, believes all things,

hopes all things, endures all things.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life.

“A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves.
One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed,
arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority,
lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”

He continued,

“The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope,
serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy,
generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.
The same fight is going on inside you –
and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute
and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

PS. If you enjoy these letters, please forward them to friends, family and co-workers.

Better yet, have them sign up so they can receive their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.

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