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Nature's Checks and Balances
July 13, 2020
An almost haunting view of the moon last week Sunday night.
Thank you 'Willis Carrier', for your inventing the air conditioner those many years ago.
It has been a warm summer so far.
We were blessed with almost 3" of rain on Thursday, into Friday.
Was that a needed and well timed blessing, especially for the farmers.
We have a few days in the 80's F. with promises of the heat and humidity coming back this weekend.
I don't now how you folks in the south and desert southwest live with such heat and humid conditions on a regular basis.
As you can imagine, we have been laying low in the oppressive conditions.
Hey this makes it easy to stay home and 'Not Have To Wear A Mask'.
This week I'm sharing a few pictures of chipmunks and some of their activities.
Chipmunks are very much a part of my habitats (good and bad).
Chipmunks are also a part of "Nature's" checks and balances.
They are forever planting seeds, eating down some seedlings I plant, and become part of the food chain.
his week's letter is on a topic I've written on a few time in the past.
Nature's Checks and Balances.
Possibly you've seen the documentaries on TV.
The wildlife stories where drama unfolds.
The harsh reality of nature where a pack of wolves run down an elk and savagely kill it.
A Bobcat pounces on a rabbit.
A Grizzly bear takes out a baby deer.
An Eagle swoops down to snag a fish with its powerful talons.
If you are like me, you sometimes don't want to look at, or see a young or helpless animal's life end so violently.
You might even say "awww, the poor thing."
Some how we don't think of the predator or i,f and when it will get its next meal.
Until you have witnessed the drama in your own yards.
Cooper's hawk swoops in and takes one of your prized songbirds (I have seen this several times).
The neighbor's cat (non native), snags a bird, maybe a chipmunk, right in front of you.
A snake raids your nestbox and eats the eggs, or babies.
You are shocked, and angry.
Yet, these are every day events in nature.
Some how, if they are out of sight, they are out of mind.
We don't think of these things.
But, it is everyday life and death in the natural world.
Checks and balances.
(The Mother Load)
Cruel as it may seem, it is all part of our "Creator's" system of having nature run smoothly.
Without the checks and balances, where would nature be.
I get upset when a bird nest is raided.
Eggs or baby birds become a meal for some other creature.
Sometimes another species of bird will be the culprit.
Life goes on for the parents as they may build another nest.
Think of this,.
Take a conservative number of 100,000,000 breeding pair of American robins.
On average, each pair has two nests, and each nest has four eggs.
(This is a conservative number I'm using.)
If all the eggs were allowed to hatch, and all the hatchlings survived till next breeding season, we would be over populated with now 1,000,000,000 robins.
Now do the math for one more year, using the billion as breeding pairs.
Get the picture?Can you imagine what it would be like if all our birds survived and multiplied?
Thankfully, on average about 25% will see their first birthday, enough to replace the robins that die of old age and fall as prey, and accidents.
Now this number fluctuates from year to year, as the law of nature balances out the order of things.
This scenario plays out everyday with every living creature in the wild or world of nature.
We simply don't think of these things.
If there were that many birds, there wouldn't be enough food to sustain all of them and some would perish from lack of food.
You couldn't walk outside without getting pelted by bird droppings.
In some situations, starvation is indeed part of the check and balance system.
However, "Nature" has a system and nothing goes to waste.
Death for one becomes life for another and up the chain it goes.
A dead bird becomes food for insects, bacteria and other creatures.
In return, the bacteria returns the nutrients back into the earth, insects become food for others and up the chain.
Even apex predators like birds of prey, the wolf and cougar fall victim eventually.
(Now, how do I get down from here? It fell/jumped when startled.)
The pond near has a couple of very large Snapping turtles.
(Their heads are larger than a man's fist.)
From time to time they thin out the baby goose and duck population.
Helping to keep the population in check.
Snappers also feed on frogs, fish and whatever they can snatch.
I noticed one day that a couple of turtles had dug there nest on the bank about 50 feet from water.
The following day, the turtle nests were destroyed.
A raccoon, skunk, or some other creature had a good meal that night.
I could've looked at this as a disaster or felt sorry for the turtles.
As a Naturalist, I paused and thought about a protein rich meal for another animal.
My thoughts went to the pond and how easy it would be to over populate the pond with snapping turtle or any other kind of turtles.
If all the turtles survived and made it to water, some of them would become Great blue heron food, and food for other turtles.
Soon, the frog and fish population would decline.
The herons would go elsewhere.
The River otters that visit from time to time would have no reason to stop.
If that happened, what would happen to the pond?
Certain insects would be out of control.
Nature's laws dictate a certain amount of survival.
That is why some are predators and some are prey.
We have years of bounty, and years that are lean.
Some forms of life lay thousands of eggs while others maybe one egg, or give birth to a single baby every few years.
Drama like this unfolds everyday.
Drama may not be extreme, but it happens in your yards and gardens too.
Birds eat thousands of insects,
Toads eat insects and a snake eats the toad.
Just like that, a bird of prey comes along and snags the snake.
Things we rarely think about, yet they happen everyday.
(Black Swallowtail caterpillar)
Gardening For Wildlife, it's not just for birds and butterflies.
I can place netting over plants or spray repellents to keep deer and rabbits at bay or from eating certain plants.
I also plant critter resistant plants.
But I like wildlife............
I like some wildlife in my yard and I invite it.
When wildlife comes into my yard, I can enjoy it and I feel like I'm a part of the whole system.
Yes, it is all part of wildlife gardening......
Even the chipmunks have a place in my yard.
I try to avoid insecticides and herbicides when I can.
Yes, I will use both when it warrants, but only in selective situations and never on flowers.
Insecticides can throw off part of nature's balance.
Many reasons for the need to use insecticides, is because we have used them too much in the first place.
Killing off the good guys allows the bad insects to flourish.(I love this picture.)
Nature's disasters and laws have a way of balancing out over a period of time.
What is the saying?
“The Circle of Life.”
Should we stop helping nature, if we are messing with a natural order?
The natural order is messed up because humans have ignored nature.
Greed has stripped the land, and polluted our waters.
Nature needs our help now, if it is to continue.
Feeding birds helps certain species to continue.
Butterflies need our help too.
We can plant host plants for butterflies to lay eggs on.
Offer toads houses, etc.
A species of some sort, will go extinct this week, because of human greed.
(Asclepias tuberosa/Butterfly weed.)
So a raccoon may raid a nest in your yard, or a hawk nails one of your doves.
I don't like it any more than you do, and I'm not setting the table for the prey animals, but it will happen and think of the drama you just witnessed.
Wildlife needs our helping hands.
It is only the human interference (not help) that wildlife disappears or goes crazy.
There is so much to say on this subject, but I hope you get the general idea
We are appointed stewards of our planet.
Let's be good stewards and take care of it and enjoy the “REAL NATURAL WONDERS” that surround us.
Well, it's time to fly for now.
Before I go, here is your positive thought for the week.
"Where nature is concerned, familiarity breeds love and knowledge, not contempt".
Stewart L. Udall
From God's word.
"Since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse."
"Treat the earth well:
It was not given to you by your parents,
It was loaned to you by your children.
We do not inherit the Earth from our
Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."
Ancient Indian Proverb.
Your friend indeed,
Better yet, have them sign up so they can receive their own letters.
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