Allan Bell’s Birch Bark Nature Notes revisited:Hummingbird feeder down, birdfeeders up
A red-headed woodpecker has been feasting on Elto Arnott’s corn. This black and white eyeful with the all-red head is quite common 150 miles south of here, but seldom seen here. A good sighting!
Is this really fall – or is it spring? Earl Eckhardt has three Easter lilies blooming in his yard (as well as many other pretty flowers.) He planted them after they had bloomed this spring and forgot about them until the other day when he noticed they were budded out. A few days later out came the flowers. I took pictures on Oct. 6.
Some of the maple trees are half green and half red. Others have already discarded their unwanted leaves. The golden yellow aspen leaves quiver in the breeze. The contrast with the browns, red, yellow and green create challenges for camera or palette.
Have you been swerving to miss the caterpillars crossing the blacktop? They are black and brown (wooly bears, the larva of the tiger moth?). It would seem to me to be extremely difficult to predict the severity of a winter by checking the length of their hair. What would you use for a gauge? What is an average year? Therefore, I make no forecasts or predictions.
The hummingbird feeders are down, the sunflower and peanut butter feeder up. It didn’t take long for the chickadees to respond – and those blue thieves as well (you know who I mean). The blue bombers even try the thistle feeder, but it does them no good. They can’t get that big bill into those tiny slits.
I really don’t dislike bluejays. Yes, they do scare the smaller birds away from the feeder. I know of their reputation for eating the eggs of song birds, appropriating robin’s nests and actually killing birds smaller than themselves. But that’s nature. It’s brutal sometimes, as we may think.
They do not threaten the existence of any other species (as perhaps cowbirds do). Live and let live. Humans have interfered too much already with natural ways.
Cracked corn on the ground soon had juncos feeding by the dozen – and I hadn’t seen any before. The white-throated sparrows have shown up too. They’re the ones with the sweet call, “Here Sam Peabody, Peabody, Peabody.” Seen up close the white-throated sparrow has a yellow spot in front of the eye that sets off the white and black striped crown and white throat patch.
A bird which looked like a great crested flycatcher (except it had no crest) visited one day. It perched on all the posts in the yard, flying down to the ground to snatch up something, then back up to the post. It had a light yellow belly, dark back and head, but was too large for a warbler.
A very large hawk was perched on a dead snag along the highway. White breast, dark brown wings and back. Those overhead profiles learned at Hawk ridge didn’t help a bit.
Late nature writer Allan Bell wrote this Birch Bark Nature Notes column for the Tomahawk Leader back on Oct. 12, 1983. In revisiting some of his masterful work, we need to note that today it is no longer legal to sprinkle cracked corn on the ground as it would violate the deer baiting and feeding ban that was put in place in Lincoln and Oneida counties after Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) was found in the wild deer herd. This Backyard Bird Feeder would also suggest waiting a bit longer before putting the bird feeders out. The black bears are still out and they are not about to destroy my feeders getting an easy meal before taking the long winter nap.