At midsummer we’re seeing some of the same birds that we saw last spring. But, we’re also seeing some that we haven’t seen since last year at about this time. And, we’re seeing one that we haven’t seen in a long time….years, in fact.
Both of us remember seeing red-headed woodpeckers around our family farms when we were growing up in the 1950s and 1960s. But after we moved back here to Lone Tree Farm around 2000, we don’t recall seeing these guys. Lately, however, we’ve seen several pairs. Anybody else remember seeing them as kids, not seeing them after that, and now seeing them more often? We wonder if they’ve been in decline, but are now making a comeback? Or maybe it’s just a local situation confined to Lone Tree Farm?
We saw several of these flycatchers last year at about this time, but weren’t sure what they were called. Margaret put out the question on Face Book and got several suggestions back. The consensus identification was flycatcher; we hadn’t even heard of that bird. Sometimes Face Book does provide helpful information rather than just raising our blood pressure! We’re seeing these flycatchers around the yard again this year. Wonder if they’re late arrivals or just more shy early in the season. We’ve also got some birds around that we haven’t seen since last spring. After that lapse we’re now seeing humming birds dance around the available flowers again and the geese seem to be flying up the creek valley like they usually do in the spring.
Turkey vultures or buzzards? It doesn’t matter what you call them, these are not pretty birds. But, they do an important job because Nature needs scavengers like these to clean up “degrading biological material”. That includes the carcasses stacked outside hog barns (waiting for the rendering truck to pick them up) or a sick calf that has died in the pasture. Our buzzards have a reputation for roosting at night on the water tower in the town just downstream from the farm. Then in the morning the crowd takes off to do the daily cleanup chores. They all return at night and the next morning the routine starts all over.
The herons are back again. Although it’s hard to catch them flying in a photo, we do hear them croaking down at the Creek beyond our back yard. That’s a different location for them than in other years. For the past several summer seasons they’ve been hanging out in the abandoned channel meander called an oxbow. This posing bird is from a post that describes animals in the oxbow. One of the things that herons probably eat is cricket frogs. The inset shows a cricket frog in a post from last year when there still was water in the oxbow.
But, this year there’s a drought and the pond and wetland in the oxbow have totally dried up. So, the herons seem to be standing around in the water closer to our house. Maybe the cricket frogs have moved to a new wet location? I suspected that and have been listening for their unique “croak”, but haven’t heard their “rock music”. Their call is supposed to sound like two rocks clicking together. That’s the dinner bell for herons.
But, the story of the herons and cricket frogs has an additional twist this summer. Last month our Colorado family visited the Farm they way they often do in July. Our nine-year old granddaughter tried to call the cricket frogs because she remembered how to do that from several years ago. I was surprised that she tried the rock banging to call them and sorta grateful that they didn’t answer back any better for her than had for me. Seems like the herons have to eat something other than cricket frogs in this dry, drought year.
Thanks to Margaret for putting together these collages.