Posts

Showing posts from June, 2014

Summer

Image
GOING NATURE’S WAY By Kate Crowley For all the Minnesotans who barely made it through this past winter and long, chilly so called spring, the month of July may very well be what you’ve been waiting so long for.  Both heat (and humidity), historically, reach their peak in this month.  It is not unusual to reach the high 90s and even 100 if you factor in the dew point (heat index).  Personally, this is NOT my kind of weather, but I will try not to be a scrooge and deny others their joy at being able to sweat profusely and apply sunblock over all their exposed skin.  For me, the joy of July comes from the abundance of life all around us (except for the flies and mosquitoes). If ever there were a summer where the world looks lush, this is it.  One of the flowers that is in bloom right now, in great profusion along roadsides of the North Country, is the lupine.  I admit I have Lupine jealousy. In the hill country of Texas they brag about their bluebonnets, but they cannot hold a candle to th…

Bluebirds

Image
WINGIN’ IT By Kate Crowley We were beginning to think that we might not have any resident bluebirds this summer.  We heard a male singing earlier in June, but then he vanished.  Their chirrupy call is one my ears catch quickly, especially when it hasn’t been heard for eight months.  It is a call that immediately illicit the word, ‘bluebird’ from both Mike and I.  The eastern bluebird is a conservation success story.  In the first half of the 20th century they were common birds across the eastern U.S., especially around farmlands, since they prefer open spaces to nest and hunt for food.  At that time people used wood fence posts around their farmsteads and fields.  These naturally rotted and provided excellent nest cavities for this small relative of the robin. Aging trees with cavities created by woodpeckers also were favored by bluebirds. But by mid-century, it is estimated that the bluebird population had reached a point of 90% decline. Times changed and so did the landscape as the sm…

Little wings

WINGIN’ IT By Kate Crowley There are so many wings in motion that you can hear them.  They make an extremely annoying whining sound as they fly closer and closer, usually just as you’re falling asleep.  Maybe we say it every year, but I bet you have said it more often or heard it this year.  The mosquitoes are horrendous!  I don’t think it’s an exaggeration really.  For those of us living in rural areas they are an unpleasant fact of life in early summer (this is a big reason you won’t hear me or my husband complaining about winter).  In the Twin Cities they institute spraying programs to try and control these annual pests, but that is impossible when you live surrounded by forests, ponds and assorted wetlands.  Surprisingly, mosquitoes don’t breed in lakes. This cool, late, wet spring/early summer has been ideal for the production of these insects.  Every time it rains a new brood of mosquitoes is produced.  They can go from egg to adult in as little time as one week. We all know that o…

Indigo Bunting

Image
WINGIN’ IT By Kate Crowley For a bird lover, June is like a tempting buffet – or maybe I should say smorgasbord, considering where we live. And at this time of year, we are ravenous, with eyes and ears having been starved by the long and scarce winter rations.  Now there are so many beautiful and melodic sights and sounds that I find it hard to choose which to share with you.  So I will make a compromise and talk about one colorful species and a few of the songs we’re hearing. Many of the birds who return this way each spring come from the tropics and not surprisingly they come arrayed in colorful plumage – far more extravagant than that which our resident birds wear. (The one exception being the American goldfinch).  Baltimore orioles, scarlet tanagers, rose-breasted grosbeaks are just a few of the obvious arrivals arrayed in flashy red and orange feathers.  But there is one small bird that is equally impressive when you see it in the right light.  That bird is the indigo bunting.  Just…

Duels in the Dark

Image
GOING NATURE’S WAY By Kate Crowley There are duels in the dark and the adversaries are trying to out sing one another; a much more civilized form of settling differences than that practiced by human males in times past.  The players in this night time confrontation are amphibians.  These vocal antagonists have been going at it for weeks now, although the list of entrants has changed and expanded. The site for these assignations is a couple of small ponds in our front yard.  One is only a couple feet in diameter and the other is three times that size.  Both need cleaning out, as algae left over from last summer has bloomed and mostly filled the water.  But I can’t empty them out when they are obviously being used for the important purpose of courtship and territorial defense.  So, for the time being they will look unkempt to human eyes, but continue to be havens for frogs and toads.  Of course, if their pursuits are successful there will be eggs and then tadpoles to consider, so it could …