Monday, May 05, 2008

Ducks Redux

A while back I wrote about some robins, ducks and sparrows that dropped in on our property earlier this spring - the land birds deciding to stay, the water ones not. Later I followed up on the apparently successful efforts of "Guido" the Robin to attract a mate to the homestead that he was trying to establish in our neighbor's Star Magnolia.

Guido's good luck seems to have gone south - at least I hope it's that direction, being as that's where the other eligible bird apartments on our premises are. A few days after the Star Magnolia went into full blossom, and his female friend went into the nest, the white flowers, as they are wont to do, began falling - re-exposing the bowl-shaped twig assemblage to the light of the outside world. And Lucia (as Mars had chosen to call her) decided that she no longer wanted to live there.

She has however continued to appear with her apparent main squeeze around the bird feeders so we suspect that Guido has established another residence more to her liking somewhere else nearby. I will probably discover their new home when I inadvertently come to close to it during my summer bush-pruning activities.

It has happened before - not with Robins but rather with roosts of both Catbirds (which have not yet been seen this year) and Mockingbirds (which have).

There are a number of thick, green, leafy bushes in our backyard ranging in tallness from three to five feet at this time of year to potentially double those heights.

I try to keep the bunch of them at a maximum of seven feet - my stature plus a comfortable pruning shears' reach. They grow quickly so it is not uncommon for me to cut them back every other week during the warm weather. And at least one of those trimmings will, guaranteed, occur during the brooding season.

I have never actually been attacked - although my former neighbor John was chased by contentious Catbird couples at least twice. But I am acutely aware of the possibility and as a result pay close attention when one or more adult birds pop suddenly out of the darkness of a shrub and begin to belligerently berate me for my proximity to whatever it is that I can't see inside. I quietly back away. The end results are (1) a family of undisturbed avifauna and (2), for a period of time, a kind of abstract topiary look to one or more of my bushes.

I expect that I will see Guido and Lucia, in similar circumstances, sometime during the summer. Along with the Mockingbird couple that arrived over the past week and some Catbirds who will undoubtedly reappear when the weather becomes warmer.

We also have the two Sparrows continuing to renovate the Downey Woodpecker constructed tree-hole; the pair of Downeys who have evinced no interest at all in reclaiming their vacated space but who do continue to appear daily in the feeding area; plus the male and female Cardinal that grace our seed-bottle at sunrise and sunset.

And I received the following email from our across-the-street neighbor who saw my original posting:

"The ducks also feed at J* and G*'s feeder, and at ours occasionally. Because we capture much of the rainwater runoff into our 3 rain barrels, our back yard doesn't form the usual deep puddle-pond for the ducks to swim. I* told us that the female duck is nesting in their front shrubs, and the original 12 eggs in the nest are now down to 7 (I believe). The female won't budge from the nest now, so the eggs are soon to hatch."

In other words, all of the usual suspects are back for another year. I guess familiarity breeds.

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