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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Wild Kingdom

We had our own Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom in the back yard this evening (probably everyone has one of these from time to time, but this is my blog and I'm going to tell you about it anyway).

House finches. Pic from here
So we have these house finches that show up every evening in the summer.  They always seem to find something to their liking; the first year it was the seeds on the french sorrel that I let go to seed, last year it was the basil and anise hyssop that I let go to seed, this summer it's the radishes that I let go to seed (are we seeing a pattern here?).  They are fun to watch; the other evening I watched a finch cock land on a radish and ride it down to the ground like an elevator.

They showed up this evening as usual. In fact, it seemed a lot of them showed up and I was beginning to worry about things like the new seed beds I've just planted.  I've reason to worry; evidently house finches are bad news.  All of a sudden one of the cocks flew at the sliding glass door and hit it which surprised me, because they don't really come near the house, but the reason became apparent seconds later a much larger bird hit it.  I didn't see the details too well other than it was a lot bigger than the finch, but Steve exclaimed "raptor!" The house finches disappeared to a bird, and moments later the raptor alighted on the top of the cucumber trellis.  I tried to get a picture of him but I wasn't fast enough.

I wish I could tell you what he was but the piece of shit Stokes Guide Western Region did not have this particular raptor in it. (They had a lot of other raptors whose habitation maps showed that they live in the southeastern portion of the country, which last time I checked, was not part of the Western Region.  If anybody's interested, I would love a Roger Tory Peterson bird guide for the western region for my birthday- now there's a reference!)  All I can tell you is that he was beautiful, and probably a male because it was he was so beautiful.  Then he flew into the only trees mature trees that we have in the yard, which, as it happens, are right where I plan to build the hen yard.

Which only doubles my conviction that I have to put some sort of roof and wire cover over the yard, now that I know there are raptors in the neighborhood.  Outside of the bald eagles that I've seen hovering over the Willamette, which is only yards away from us, and other high altitude raptors that show up from time to time, this is the first I've seen in the neighborhood proper, and certainly the first I've seen in the yard itself.

I only wish he was a little bit bigger, and the raccoons that woke me up last night chattering to each other were a lot smaller.


Amy L. said...

That Storey's Guide sucks. I like the Seattle Audobon Society's Birdweb site, complete with both photos and recordings of the birds' calls (when they have them).

Miriam said...

Love the image of the bird riding the radish like an elevator!

I have thought a number of times this summer that I really should learn more about the birds I am hearing around our place. Sometimes I see them too, but mostly it's the sounds that attract my attention. I feel like it's past time to get to know my neighbours!

We had a little wildlife adventure yesterday - a huge crashing in the woods by the workshop that went on and on - too long for it to be a falling tree. We never did figure out what it was...

Hippo said...

"...and probably a male because he was so beautiful..."

Gosh, I didn't think there was such a thing as an objective female anymore.

With everything around you running to seed, might I have the temerity to ask after the health of your husband?

Paula said...

Thanks Amy- I'll check out that site.

Miram- if it was lots of crashing around, I would guess something largish and hooved. Deer maybe?

Hippo- you've been really riding my case lately. Of course I'm an objective female, plus I know that in the animal world, it's the males that have to do all the attracting, not the females. Well, certainly in the bird world; I don't think male primates are any better looking than the females. Furthermore, statistically there are more women in the world than men, so as long as that's the case, we women interested in men will continue to do what we can to attract the male of the species. Personally, after 10 years of marriage I'm still painting my toenails and wearing lipstick just because he likes it.

Speaking of which, my male of the species is treated pretty darn well, and is in excellent health. If I have to prioritize between letting stuff in the garden go, and getting Steve fed- Steve gets fed.

Tamar@StarvingofftheLand said...

The raccoon enmity sneaks into even the bird posts!

My favorite bird guide is the Sibley. The pictures are terrific, and I haven't stumped it yet.

Paula said...

Hi Tamar- a bird-loving friend of mine swears by the Sibley. Maybe I should look at that.

Paula said...

Steve and I watched The Big Year (Karen, you need to see this movie) with Jack Black, Steve Martin, and Owen Wilson, which was about birders, and the reference that got the placement was the Sibley. My friend Karen who loves birds swears by the Sibley.

Anyone with an opinion about bird field guides is encouraged to chime in here.

Bennett and Graves said...

We have a Merlin Falcon in our neighborhood and she is amazing to watch hunt. On my walk one evening after work I came around a corner and practically face to face with her sitting on a back fence along the green strip by the walking path. We both jumped a little but I gave her space and she stayed put as I passed. So cool to see her up close!