Grackles, Crows, and Hawks

Crow and Grackle April 10

With so many birds building nests in the yard, conflicts are inevitable. The grackles have been particularly testy over the last few days, mobbing crows whenever the larger birds enter the yard’s airspace.

Crow and Grackle April 10

And the crows, who routinely retreat once the grackles have spotted them, will not tolerate the presence of a hawk. Sunday morning I managed to capture a few images as three crows chased a Cooper’s Hawk back and forth over the yard.

Hawk April 12

Hawk April 12

Hawk April 12

Hawk April 12

Hawk April 12

About ten minutes after the chase circled off to the north, I spotted another hawk in a tree two yards over. (Or maybe it was the same hawk, returning for another try at breakfast?) The grackles saw it, too, and began voicing their alarm. Soon a pair of blue jays arrived, also calling alarm. None of the commotion seemed to bother the hawk, until an approaching group of crows added their caws to the chorus. Then it gave up and moved off to try its luck in a quieter hunting spot.

Hawk April 12

Which led me to ponder the relationships between larger and smaller birds. Why would a larger, stronger bird flee from smaller birds? I suspect it has something to do with energy conservation, it simply being easier to leave when you aren’t hungry enough to risk losing a few feathers, but I wonder what they are all thinking as they call and chase and flee.  And how will their reasoning change, when hungry nestlings enter the equation?

A Few Steps Closer to Spring

Weeds March 16

I usually count the first open-windows day as the first day of spring, but this year I confused the issue by cheating. One day last week, desperate for fresh air, I opened the windows and wore a coat in the house for a few hours. Which means I can’t count yesterday as the first.

Cat March 10

February is always a tough month for me. Its cold, sun-starved days routinely trigger new bouts of depression and anxiety. March, on the other hand, is usually a month of recovery.

Yard March 16

Yard March 16

And if this year’s recovery has been slower to start and harder to sustain than previous years, it has at least begun.

Hyacinth March 16

Hyacinth March 16

Honeysuckle March 16

Honeysuckle March 16

The weather forecast promises a return of winter before the week is finished, but the lengthening days will not allow it to stay.

Hydrangea March 16

Soon the yard will be overrun and winter will fall away into memory, as it does every year.

Brown Thrasher March 16

Robin March 17

Rabbit March 17

Before and After

Three days ago the yard was leafing out in anticipation of spring.

Honeysuckle Feb 14

That was before winter tightened its icy grip.

Honeysuckle Feb 17

I don’t expect the honeysuckle will sustain any permanent damage.

Honeysuckle Feb 14

Honeysuckle Feb 17

The hydrangea should also survive.

Hydrangea Feb 14

Hydrangea Feb 17

Because winter can’t hold on forever. The ice and snow will melt.

Stonecrop Feb 14

Stonecrop Feb 17

Soon I’ll be able to pry open the frozen gate and let spring edge a few steps further into the yard.

Gate Feb 17

Pollinating the Pear Tree

It happens every year, and every year I spend hours trying to capture it with my camera.

Bee April 9

Every year I fail.

Bee April 9

The pear tree’s spring spectacle is impossible to capture in photos. Or in words.

Bee April 9

So many bees!

Bee April 9

The nectar explosion brings a horde of other pollinators, too. Enough to keep a taxonomist busy for weeks. Today I became distracted by a handful of lady beetles that were burrowing into the blooms.

Ladybird April 9 1s

At first I assumed the lady beetles were eating aphids, or other insects. But after watching a while, I decided they were there for the nectar, like everyone else.

Ladybird April 9

Everyone except me, that is.

Ladybird April 9

I was there for the sunshine and the photos, and the riveting wonder of it all.

Ladybird April 9

 

Between Seasons

I had hoped spring would chase winter’s gloom into memory, but it hasn’t yet. Instead there are all these photos of hunger and snow, dating back to October.

Warbler Oct 28

Warbler Jan 15

Cedar Waxwing Jan 15

Tufted Titmouse Jan 29

Squirrel Jan 16

Squirrel Jan 16

Squirrel Jan 29

Dove and Finch Jan 29

Snow Jan 29

Snow Jan 29

Woodpecker Jan 29

House Finch Jan 29

Along with hunger and snow, this winter brought weeks of numbing cold.

Doves Jan 29

Cardinal Jan 29

Squirrel Jan 16

I was glad I had left the bird houses hanging because I saw chickadees retreating into them at nightfall.

Chickadee Dec 30

It’s not that winter was completely cheerless. The yard had a few winter blooms, and there were certainly days of sunshine.

Honeysuckle Jan 1

Paperwhites Jan 2

Warbler Oct 29

But I’m ready for spring. Real spring, with hours on end of warmth and nest building and bird song.

Squirrel Jan 15

I can’t be the only one who is fretful and impatient. Maybe that’s why it seems as if spring is embarrassed to be arriving so late. Instead of rushing in with thunder and rain-scented gusts, spring is edging into the yard like a guilty ticket holder who overslept and missed the opening scene. Bees are sluggish, the irises and pear tree bloomed while I wasn’t looking, and the house stays chilly despite bright sunshine and open windows.

Bee March

Irises April 5

Pear Tree April 5

I suppose I’ll be complaining about the heat, before too long, and wishing for a cool draft in the house. Because summer always follows, and fall after it. And then there will come a day, sometime in early September, when I will wish for winter. But for now all of my wishes are focused on spring.