Monday, February 19, 2018
Turkey Vultures in Our Neighborhood
My neighborhood consists mostly of houses, a local elementary school, well-tended lawns and a variety of trees. It’s like most suburban developments except for an occasional aberration like I noticed yesterday. It seems that a clump of trees has become home to a bunch of turkey vultures.
I’ve seen these birds soaring overhead more frequently this year. Sometimes they come fairly close to rooftops and float over backyards. They usually come in groups, tilting their wings to catch the updrafts and maybe spot some carrion to eat. They aren’t exactly cute but they are impressive.
Why are they here? These birds used to be seen mostly in the southern states but since our climate has been warming, they now have moved into the north and have even been spotted in Canada.
The world of nature is shifting as we can see by the weather forecasts this season. We are expecting temps in the 70s for the next few days! I wonder what the birds will think of that. Perhaps we all need to be flexible as our world changes.
All about turkey vultures:https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Turkey_Vulture/id
Tuesday, January 23, 2018
Back in September we saw this groundhog munching on the leaves of our peach tree, filling up in preparation for its winter hibernation. It wasn't planning on a long trip to get to its diggings, just a short hop past our property line to squiggle under our neighbor's deck. We have seen it enter and exit between the nicely planted shrubs many times during the other seasons but it would usually skitter away when it became aware of us. At this point, though, it was too busy to care.
With Groundhog’s Day coming up soon, everyone will be watching for that special animal known as Punxutawney Phil. The holiday started in the 1800s but is still the traditional weather predictor. If he sees his shadow, it means the sky is cold and clear, a prediction of six more weeks of winter. If there is no shadow, spring is on its way. For Punxutawney Phil it is not about seasons. It is all about reproduction. If it is too cold he will go back into his burrow for some more sleep and return in more comfortable temperatures.
Our neighbor knows the groundhog lives there but chooses not to evict it. Everyone, even a groundhog, needs a place to live. Sometimes the place we imagine will be our forever lodgings, whether it is a particular house or neighborhood, state or country, ends up being temporary. It is not easy to move even if it is warranted. So many people today are on the move.
The groundhog next door is lucky. I admire our neighbor for being so caring. I hope the people who need to leave their special places find new, caring places to resettle, and others who will understand how hard it was to go.
General groundhog info: https://blog.nationalgeographic.org/2014/01/31/9-things-you-didnt-know-about-groundhogs/
Groundhog Day info: https://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/us/groundhog-day
Saturday, January 13, 2018
Geese and Growth
It’s another winter, another year. So many things in nature shift with the seasons. Geese remind us of the coming cold as they honk their way south. The geese have moved to warmer climates by now, which is a good thing. We have had some record cold temps lately. I know they’ll be back in spring but as I watched them take off, I kind of missed them already.
People respond to the change in seasons as well. Someone I know says she is not a winter person. She hunkers inside during the winter weather and waits for the warm summer’s embrace. Another friend relishes the snow and cold and looks forward to getting out her skis. I kind of like the snow myself, even when I have to shovel. We each try to adjust in our own way to what Mother Nature brings.
As I looked at the geese honking their way south, I thought about this past year. It hasn’t been an easy time for me but, like the geese instinctively know, I sense it is time to move on. Come the spring the geese will return to familiar surroundings with a new perspective. It sounds like a plan for me, too.
As I watched the geese fly off, I wished them well and knew I would look forward to their return.
Monday, October 30, 2017
Halloween and Spiders
Halloween is here again. Houses are decorated with witches, pumpkins, ghosts and goblins. And, of course, with spider webs. I coated our front bushes with white webs and put up wire webs on the garage doors. It’s fun to decorate for the holiday.
But Mother Nature outdid all the webs in the neighborhood. A spider worked its way down from the roof of our garage and spun a magnificent web that made my attempts laughable. It anchored the bottom of the web on a bush and then sat in the middle waiting around for a meal to be caught.
Spider webs are well constructed. The spider has a plan. It mixes non-sticky threads with sticky ones in a symmetrical design. And it does it fairly quickly for such complexity. A spider might be small but don’t diminish its capabilities: it has spider smarts.
The more I observe nature, the more I realize that everything has intelligence. Plants do. Insects do. Animals and birds are pretty darn smart. It may differ from how we think but it is functional for how to survive. If we diminish anything in nature we lessen our own understanding of life.
So on this spooky holiday, when we say WOOOOO, let’s remember it is more than being scary, it is being observant.
A look at web-making:
Get to know spiders:
Sunday, September 24, 2017
I saw another deer, well, three actually. This time they were healthy and strong unlike the poor deer that wandered into my backyard last time. They ambled about hardly paying any attention to the humans mesmerized by their presence. I wondered what they were finding to eat. Did they like the tiny Rose of Sharon bushes that were trying to get started at the foot of the maple tree? Were they munching on the wild strawberry plants that tend to spread wherever they can?
They wandered through the hedges into one neighbor’s yard, then moved to another. Then they moved on, to where I don’t know. I think it was to the woods a couple of blocks away behind the elementary school. But to get there, they would have to cross a busy road and several streets. Surely someone must see them on the way. I try to be on the lookout for wandering deer but they always pop up as a surprise.
Perhaps it’s time to put up a deer crossing sign next to the school crossing sign. I want to protect any being, human or otherwise. But deer overpopulation is becoming a problem. The New York Times reported on Saturday that New York City's Department of Parks and Recreation has a deer sterilization program in the works in Staten Island. Will that take care of the problem? It takes time and will the deer population continue to grow in the interim? Here are some things to think about in this regard, researched by Koryos: http://www.koryoswrites.com/nonfiction/white-tailed-deer-overpopulation-in-the-united-states/
Thursday, July 20, 2017
Young Hungry Deer
We live on a fairly ordinary street, nature-wise. The animals we mostly see in our backyard are squirrels, chipmunks, a groundhog here and there or an unexpected skunk. The birds are more varied with a variety of finches, blue jays, cardinals, sparrows, a woodpecker every now and then. The usual suburban mixture though sometimes we get a surprise.
Earlier this year we saw some adult deer making their way in back of our houses on their way to, well, who knows where. They were in a group of five and looked healthy. This morning we had a deer walk into our yard and slowly make its way into the garden behind our dining room.
Most of the time when I see a deer, I am charmed by its understated beauty but this time I gaped at it for another reason; it was young, a fawn on its own, and it seemed malnourished. Its bones were visible along its hide. The mother in me wanted to whip up a nourishing breakfast but I know that feeding a fawn is not the good for the animal. It was moot anyway, as our visitor inspected the hydrangea bush just beyond the window, moved along the back of the house, and was gone.
So much of our natural habitat is being shifted into living quarters for humans. There are deer crossing signs on many roads now, with occasional duck or turtle crossing warnings.
It would be great if animals and people could live side-by-side peacefully. It would be terrific if we humans could do that too, letting each other live and thrive and express ourselves with respect and tolerance. May none of us be hungry for the basics of a good life.
Facts about whitetail deer:
Wednesday, July 5, 2017
Tigers, Tigers Everywhere!
Look at all the tigers! Not the animals – the tiger lilies. They seem to be everywhere, blooming in attention-catching orange. The house on the corner has a yearly display. Gardens up and down the street, around the corner, and through the neighborhood have bursts of orange that are hard to ignore.
I love to anticipate the arrival of my tigers. They are full and beautiful. Best of all, they keep coming back! Sometimes, however, they can take over, spreading into places where other flowers need their own space. A small price to pay, I think, for the beauty they offer.
Life is like a garden, isn’t it? Some of what we encounter is short term, like annuals, while some, like perennials, is lasting. Both kinds of flowers add to the joy and diversity of the garden, even as our varied experiences help us to appreciate the range and complexity of our existence.
A quick review of plants in general:
Tiger Lily info: