Straubs Nature Update 5/16/22

Submitted by Art & Barb Straub

Mother ‘s Day is always special, but Moms’ celebrations were spectacular in May of 2022… as unexpected gift of color and music arrived late April and to the present time, skies have rained birds! Red, orange, blue, brown, an absolute array of brilliant colors and bubbly songs. After months, not weeks, of a continuous wretched northwest wind blasting through the valley; after what seemed as eons of being confined and enclosed captives of PLAGUE; the populace is starved for color and melody. On May 1st, teacher, Mary (Al) Greives, enamored of birds and bird watching, emailed that their yard was being visited by a Ruby-throated Hummingbird…first reported sighting. Soon, faithful birder Polly Schneider called to report that she had guests for breakfast. She noted that her house cat’s twitching tail was wriggling in that stance that a cat takes before pouncing upon prey. In this case, a window pane separated the cat from four orioles which had chosen to dine on a woodpecker suet bar close by her window.

Photos soon arrived from Rosemary Kolden, (Karl) with living proof of many orioles bouncing about in the back yard of their home near Belle Plaine. This observation was followed by Bonnie (Rick) Dahn detecting the spectacular Scarlet Tanager in their heavily wooded back yard.

Many readers recall the biblical story of Esau and Jacob and the rocky relationship between the two males. Interim pastor Rosemary Rocha, LeSueur United Church of Christ, delivered a sermon on Mother’s Day, May 8th, speaking of valiant moms of the Bible, including that of patient Rebekah, wife of Isaac. Rebekah became pregnant, and the twins within her womb were constantly jostling with one another. That battling between the brothers, Esau and Isaac, continued into their lifetimes. Parked in ‘fleet of tire’ Swanee, silver Ford, in the soft rain at Henderson Hummingbird Garden, the inspiring sermon concluded as these two observers walked to the garden. We were not expecting to observe any living creature in pouring rain, yet perched near a single hummingbird feeder, were two male birds. We named them Esau and Isaac, as they fought over the sweet juice of the feeder, undeterred by soggy observers. So intent were they upon their scrapping match, we were able to approach very close. After a long flight, securing energy was their primary intent.

All manner of birders and non-birders have shared the deluge of Indigo buntings and oriole activity. Sprinkled among the Baltimore oriole observations have been reports such as that of LeSueur’s Sandi Schultz regarding Orchard orioles. Look for a darker oriole, chestnut in color, same habits, same food fights. However, back to the indigos. Described as a “scrap of sky with wings.” All About Birds. Think of it! Spending U.S. winters throughout South America, they migrate at night, using the stars for guidance. Their color is so piercing blue that when trees are in summer foliage, (usually on the outskirts of forests,) the male birds appear to be almost black, the female of course, mistress of camouflage, is a non-descript brownish blue.

Adding to the brilliant colors in foliage, more reports of male Red-Headed Woodpeckers than we’ve ever experienced have flown in. Does it mean that this bird on the ‘decline list’ are multiplying once more? Time will tell.

An insectivorous bird that most folks do not see visited Carolyn of the Blakeley area May 7th. “Chimney Swift friends came back and my dog noticed them before I did. I wondered what he was barking at and then realized the swifts had invaded his air space.” Carolyn has a chimney in which the charcoal colored aviators house themselves, building nests and raising their two batches of young each summer. As they fly so fast and at such an altitude, most folks will never have the opportunity of knowing the great insect gatherers. Woe to high altitude buglets and mosquitos!

The best news has waited until last. Wafting through her flower enhanced yard May 9th, attracted by apricot blossom enticement, Doris Winter spotted her first Monarch butterfly, a splashing orange sign of hope! As the song goes, “We’ve Only Just Begun.” Patience is a virtue.