There’s No Place Like Home

Submitted by Art & Barb Straub

Following ‘missing in action’ after the first shots of the early waterfowl hunting season, (absent for about a week,) eight swans ‘a mucking’ were in place yet Tuesday, October 4th. Strewn about their home muskrat mound were many feathers, not indicating a raccoon raid, rather, shucked feathers from the molting bevy. Dirty from crown to paddle, the historic six cygnets
come to alert upon the cob’s beeping signal. Sylvia and Sylvan have done their parenting well. How very like many humans, when danger asserts itself, we go to a place of safety, which is often “Oh give me a home.” Should the Highway #93 project come to pass, this may be the final year we will experience the presence of such elegance in our midst.

White egrets have numbered as many as 30 much of the week on Bucks’ Lake. Something attracts them to the east side of the lake. Surely, minnows, frogs or giant water beetles are providing food for ‘the journey to their winter home.’ A sparse number of Little Green Herons have been present on Bucks,’ Bruce Bjork’s unerring eye for the skulking beady-eyed birds have produced marvelous closeups of the fine feathered birds; dressed as though they’re about to attend a Homecoming Dance. Turtles of a variety of species continue to soak up the sunshine on the remaining few days, all of which will end soon.

When we visited Vern Bienfang’s poultry menagerie the last week in September, we were surprised by two new batches of kittens plus a small clutch of baby chicks whose mother hen emerged from a ditch on the farm. Not all of the kittens managed to survive, as mom cat took one look at the batch of wee ones and evidently meowed, “I can’t handle this going into winter,” and blew the coop, leaving Vern with a ‘lap-full’ of cats. As to the chicks, meal worms served as energy, and they’ll be skittering about on their own with faithful
Spice, trusty watchdog, trying to keep tabs on them. Besides guarding the kittens, juvenile peacocks and turkeys, poor dog gets very little sleep, his wards to keep.

The chimney swift migration through LeSueur has ended abruptly. The elderly brick chimney on Second Street remains silent following sunset, no observable activity other than bats in the belfry, as the swifts swiftly thumb rides to Peru, Chile, and Brazil. They hope against hope that there will be a hollow tree remaining to call “Home,” where deforestation continues in its unabated fashion. This is progress?

A huge black cloud appeared in skies to the northwest near the water tower off #169 mid-afternoon October 1st. Of a sudden, a great swirl of medium sized birds dropped into red cedars and fox grape vines which provided housing and overnight homes in 2021. Expecting a home-provided meal of berries and fruit, hungry cedar waxwings found neither. Fruit and nut banquets have been abundant or spotty, depending upon spring weather. Where abundant, the produce is called “mast.” Rare butternuts, Kentucky coffee beans, acorns and especially walnuts litter lawn and street up and down the Minnesota River Valley. It was while Mark Simcox of Blakeley was raking zillions of walnuts from a country road that he had an awesome experience. Two American eagles had evidently been ‘grappling’ in the sky above Mark’s head, their talons locked, causing the raptors to drop to the earth within mere feet of the industrious mast gatherer. After a considerable struggle, squawking and beating nearby bushes, the battlers loosed themselves from one another and disappeared into the air. A rare experience for a rarer industrious individual!

So much to share, but short of space. Two hummers visited our feeders at 9:38 a.m. September 28th. As reported by numerous observers, competition by honeybees was too stressful for the wee flappers, thus they headed home to Costa Rica for the winter. Considering their far-off destination and the challenges that assail them, one trusts they will return to their reproduction grounds near your feeders next May. Good luck young creatures, in your hazardous flight! Watch it, this may be a last weekend for you nature admirers to wallow in the autumn colors.