“Spring is sprung, the grass is ris. Let’s go where the birdies is.” Ogden Nash
A male dove just landed smack on top of a female dove. She flew away in disgust. But that didn’t stop her suitor. Nothing does. It’s that time of the year when the birds are in love, or at least in lust. They are twitterpated to the nth degree, a laugh a minute.
Tom turkeys are the most humorous. These guys know how to strut their stuff. Full of self-importance, they parade back and forth in front of the hens with feathers fluffed out and tails in full display. Adding to the show, their snoods stand at attention and their wattles turn a bright red. And no, I am not being obscene. Their snoods are the red, fleshy protuberance you usually see draped over their beaks. Even their beards, the feathers hanging down from their chests, stand straight up.
As for gobbling, the toms do it in unison, staccato like. Heads and necks shoot out at the same time: Gobble, Gobble, Gobble. I gobble back, of course. How could I not? Their response is instantaneous, as if to put me in my place.
The hens totally ignore the show for the most part, and go about the serious business of eating. If they could yawn, I swear they would. Ho hum.
Each evening the flock uses the railing on our deck as a launching pad to fly to the tall Ponderosa Pines where they like to roost. (Turkeys need all the help they can get for lift-off.) Their morning starts at first light. Gobble, Gobble, Gobble. Lately they have been joining in chorus with the neighborhood dogs, who almost always have a howl fest around 6:30. It goes like this: Woof, Woof, Wooooooo, Gobble, Gobble, Gobble; Woof, Woof, Wooooooo, Gobble, Gobble, Gobble— on and on and on. Sleep is not an option.
Peggy and I have a front row seat on the wild kingdom. Each window has its view. I like our library the best. I turn my swivel chair around so I can watch the action while I write. I’ve recently added a bird feeder. It’s a round cage with openings set up to allow some of our smaller feathered friends a chance to eat without competition from their larger cousins. Finches, juncos, tanagers and nuthatches take advantage of the opportunity. Inevitably, some of the seeds fall on the ground. The tanagers are particularly messy eaters. Turkeys, tree squirrels, and ground squirrels consider it their responsibility to clean up the leftovers. Nothing goes to waste.
The grey squirrels understand the source of the food and passionately believe they should have access to it. They are notorious in their efforts to help themselves, as demonstrated in the photo at the beginning of this blog. Here are three more examples.
Ground squirrels, of which we have far too many, also want to rob the source but lack the aerial capability of tree squirrels. It doesn’t mean they don’t try. I watched one try to shimmy up the metal pole attached to the bird feeder yesterday. He would get up about a foot and then slide down, only to try again. By the time I retrieved my camera he had given up. Larger birds are frustrated as well, but two acorn woodpeckers with long beaks and tongues have mastered the art obtaining sunflower seeds.
Black tail deer are also daily visitors to our back yard. I find it surprising they don’t eat sunflower seeds since they seem to eat almost everything else. The does are looking quite pregnant now and will soon be disappearing into the woods to have their fawns. Bucks are in the process of growing new antlers, having lost the old ones in February. They took care of their mating duties in the fall.
It isn’t unusual for the deer to bed down in our yard, and sometimes on our back porch! We often find them staring in the window, as curious about us as we are about them. Such is life in the woods. Who needs TV?