This has the potential of being a rather lengthy update. This is what happens when one fails at blogging. I have plenty of excuses, and have been busy, but really there is nothing to it but to do it, as my grandmother used to say.
We got a badminton set last weekend. We got it set up, and then it rained for days, and then the wind wouldn’t stop blowing. I’ve managed in spite of all that to play enough to get a sore back and arm. But it’s so much fun. And gets your heart rate up even better than walking!
In addition to badminton birdies, I managed to freak out and subsequently rescue a fledgling red-headed woodpecker. Mama woodpecker has been hanging out around our barn and telephone pole all spring. On Monday, there was such a ruckus in the front yard that I was forced to lay down my crochet to check it out. Three or four of these little woodies had managed to fly as far as the porch on their maiden voyage, and then got stuck, in the open. There were a few cats nearby licking their chops in hopes of an easy meal.
When I walked out, three of the birds drew on pure adrenaline and flew low back to the safety of the barn. The fourth squawker just ran around on the grass, then up the swingset pole, where he realized with some dismay I could still reach him but it was a long way down. He took his chances. He leapt. He flapped. He plummeted like the Wile E. Coyote off the cliff. Then he started running, straight for the lions’ den.
Did I mention it was raining? I debated with myself briefly about the circle of life and survival of the fittest (which this little guy apparently was NOT), and decided I was already wet and had cleaned enough feathers and bird heads and wings off my front porch this spring.
So I followed the screeching little bugger into the cow pasture, dodging fresh patties and wet up past my knees. The tall grass stopped his frantic hopping, and he sat with his head craned back guarding his body with an inch and a half of really sharp beak. Being a woodpecker, he already had the hang of how to use it, too! To make matters worse, his screeching was ear-piercing, and Mama Woodpecker was doing fly-bys overhead, trying to decide if she was any match for me, and possibly if little dumbo had brought all this misfortune on himself.
I finally trapped his beak by pulling grass down across his head. I grabbed him firmly, and closed his ice pick of a beak between my thumb and forefinger to shut him up and protect myself. At this point, he simply lay there with an eerie, “I will get you for this. Later.” sort of gleam in his eye.
I carried him back across the yard and shoved him through the fence by the barn. I could hear his mother and siblings in the trees, and last I saw him, he was hopping/climbing/screeching in their direction.
Come to think of it, perhaps his situation was intentional. Maybe Mama told him to shut his yap and get out!
The hummingbirds are incredibly busy. They’ve gone through 3/4 of a cup of sugar water in the past 10 days. Now there are two pair, and they fly around like little kamikazes on suicide missions. I’ve actually witnessed one female body-slam another out of the air. Incredible. Not sure I want to get in the middle of all that.
Today I rode Sully across Doe Run while Mom rode her bike. We saw what we initially thought was a hawk up ahead on a fence post. Turned out to be something MUCH larger, sitting in the top of a tree several acres across a big field. It was screaming like an eagle. It was mottled brown and white, with an astounding wingspan and rounded wing tips. It was easily three times the size of a hawk, and flew like it was heavy, with big slow wingbeats, and long glides. My money is on Golden eagle, possibly an immature one. They aren’t common around here, though they are known to occasionally use the Eastern U.S. as a breeding ground. I can’t say for sure, but it was huge. I would say pterydactyl, but I’ve heard they’re extinct…
I believe that is all I have to say about birdies, for now. The rest of my updates will have to wait until tomorrow. Meanwhile, the take-away from today’s blog is: when planning to tick off woodpeckers, dress appropriately. I’m thinking full-body armor.