Squirrels use their clever paws to find the best acornsPublished 6:57am Sunday, September 29, 2013
My neighbor Crandall stops by.
“How are you doing?” I ask.
“Everything is nearly copacetic. I miss summer. There’s nothing better than driving the convertible around with the top down and the air-conditioning on during a hot day. I had to clean the windshield of my jalopy. There wasn’t room for any new bugs. I’ve cut out meals between snacks, but I’ve given up trying to shed a few pounds. The only chance of my stomach retreating is if it turns out to be a glacier. My problem is that I can’t find a diet that is anywhere near as strong as my appetite. I went shopping last week. I wasn’t as excited as you were when you were promoted to the second grade. Your mother said you were so worked up, you cut yourself shaving.”
“What did you go shopping for?” I say.
“You needed a new pair of shoes. That duct tape wasn’t going to hold forever,” I add.
“I didn’t need new shoes. I have old feet. I walk backwards from my bed to fool my tired tootsies into thinking I’m going to bed. After I finished shopping, I went to the Eat Around It Cafe. The sign said, “All you can eat.” It should have said that I could eat from only my own plate. Now I’m banned for two weeks.”
Nature by the yard
It was a postcard of a day. A Chamber of Commerce morning. Unless you had hay fever. Only one thing to do then. When life gives you ragweed, sneeze.
I walked outside. The best thing for the inside of a man is the outside.
A squirrel used its clever paws to weigh a walnut. It searched for one best suited for eating.
A dole of mourning doves took flight, their wings whistling, as a chipmunk made a “chuck” sound nearby. A chipmunk giving its stump speech.
Warblers flitted through the leaves of trees, looking like feathered racecars.
I watched a goldfinch youngster fly into the platform-style sunflower feeder. It perched there quietly until a pair of adults flew in to the feeder. They were likely the parents, but I couldn’t be sure. When the parents arrived, the goldfinch began to make begging calls and flutter its wings. They fed it and then flew away. It remained at its station. Before long, the fledgling began to make begging sounds and I knew that his parents were coming back.
I enjoyed seeing and hearing what the day had to offer. I wondered about nature, but I did not question its worth.
It is difficult to question the value of things I cannot explain.
I was housed in a lovely residence. There was a bear in the neighborhood, but I wasn’t worried. There were screens on the windows.
Leaving that domicile, I drove long roads. Wind turbines worked with the sun to stretch fingers of shadows across the highways.
I stopped at Parkersburg, Iowa, while on my way to a speaking engagement. I visited the city’s impressive veterans’ memorial. A helicopter is permanently mounted there. A starling nested in that aircraft. It couldn’t be blamed.
The roads were busy with turkey vultures. The big birds were doing their jobs as nature’s undertakers. They were removing dead things from the roads. They were doing it in a method that would be difficult for most of us. They were eating the carcasses. To a turkey vulture eating roadkill, there is no such thing as fast food. If it were fast, it wouldn’t be food.
Bob Krenik of Madison Lake asked if the red fox is a native mammal. Red foxes are native to North America. They were also introduced. It has been hypothesized that red foxes were native to North America north of latitude 40 degrees north, but were scarce or absent in most of the vast hardwood forests where common gray foxes were abundant. Others believe that the North American red fox originated from the European red fox, which was introduced into the southeastern section of the United States around 1750. Europeans brought the fox over on ships because they enjoyed hunting them. Those foxes may have interbred with the indigenous population to produce a hybrid population. Researchers have found that as coyote populations continue to increase, red foxes are moving to urban areas to avoid competing against or being preyed upon by coyotes. A DNA study revealed that North American red foxes don’t have Eurasian red fox DNA. It is possible that the imports never became established.
“Why does a garden spider have writing on its web?” Writing spiders, also known as garden spiders or Argiope aurantia, are a striking yellow and black. They often live in gardens where they eat garden pests. The reason for the silk zigzag “writing,” known as a stabilimentum, is debated. It may attract prey or it might prevent birds from flying into it. Folklore says that if you find your name written in the web, you have only a short time to live. If you checked their webs and your name is MMMMMMMMM or WWWWWWWWW, you might want to get your affairs in order.
A cackling goose looks like a Canada goose but is about the size of a mallard.
Contrary to popular belief, vultures like their food as fresh as possible.
Folklore has it that the weather on the Ember Days foretells the weather for three successive months. Sept. 18 forecasts the weather for October. Sept. 20 for November and Sept. 21, for December.
The smallest breeding bird in North America is the calliope hummingbird.
Albert Lea Audubon
Pete Rush will speak on “The Impact of Insects On Resources And How That Affects Birds” at 7 p.m. Oct. 1 at Christ Episcopal Church in Albert Lea. Everyone is welcome.
Thanks for stopping by
“The very least you can do in your life is figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under its roof.” — Barbara Kingsolver
“We must live simply so others may simply live.” — Ed Begley Jr.
Al Batt of Hartland is a member of the Albert Lea Audubon Society. Email him at SnoEowl@aol.com.