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home : opinion : opinion June 25, 2016

5/20/2014 10:19:00 AM
Publisher's Column Summer neighbors have come home

We haven't gotten into the garden yet, but it must really be spring because our annual immigration seems to be well under way. This past week we spotted 21 species of birds visiting our homestead, and most of them appear to have decided to stay. Not all of them are immigrants, as we have several species who hang around all year, but all are welcome and make home a much more pleasant place to hang out.

I saw the first snow egret I've ever seen on our property, last week. It was apparently fishing in our intermitent stream but left when I drove by. I was disappointed as I would have enjoyed spending a little time watching it. There is rarely enough water there to attract shorebirds.

We feed the birds year-round with suet and birdseed, then during the spring we add jelly and sugar water to the mix, which we continue until the fall migration south. We also keep a bird bath available when weather permits.

Right now, our earliest morning visitors are the orioles and hummingbirds. I have no idea yet how many hummingbirds we have coming as they have only appeared as solitary visitors, but we have six pairs of orioles who dine several times daily. We are going through grape jelly pretty quickly.

I went out Saturday for about an hour looking over the trees around our property in hopes of finding an oriole nest. I'm certain they must be nesting in some of our trees because they arrive at the feeder as soon as the sun starts peeking over the horizon. There has to be at least one oriole nest on our property but so far I haven't found any. It has been years since I've seen an oriole nest. The last time was when we were still living in South Dakota.

When I was a kid, my sister Janet and I used to spend a lot of time climbing trees. Once we found a hummingbird nesting in one of our favorite climbing trees. The nest was so tiny it seemed magical watching them, like watching a fairy family. Knowing how small they are, I don't waste time trying to find the hummingbird nests, but I would enjoy stumbling across one so Emily and Melanie could see it.

Melanie saw a bluebird at the hummingbird feeder the other day. I don't think they make a regular habit of coming to the feeders, but they do like the bird bath.

We have a few common yellowthroat warblers who hang out in the brush near our barn. I spent a while Saturday trying to get a picture of one of them but was not successful. I may have to set up a blind in the area and spend more time. They are a beautiful bird, and I've never gotten a good picure of one.

These are the birds we spotted this past week, for those of you who are into birdwatching: Red-winged blackbird, mourning dove, rose-breasted grosbeak, bluebird, common yellowthroat warbler, cardinal, oriole, blue jay, cowbird, grackle, chickadee, hummingbird, nuthatch, goldfinch, wren, chipping sparrow, robin, crow, brown thrasher, house sparrow and snowy egret.

So far, we haven't seen our barn swallows. We usually have several pairs who set up housekeeping in our barn; however, the snow this winter took down the addition on the north end of the barn where a few of the nests were located. That may prove to be discouraging to them, if they feel anything like we would feel upon coming home from vacation to find our home destroyed. I'm hoping they will return.

We also haven't seen any pheasant or wild turkey around home yet this spring. The last couple years both have been rarely present. I saw several pheasant a few weeks ago in our neighbors' orchard but they seem to be avoiding our place.

I've been watching for asparagus to start sprouting. I made lasagna Saturday and was hoping to have asparagus to add as an ingredient from the garden, but no such luck. Maybe later this week. What, you don't use asparagus in your lasagna?

I would have liked to have been able to add morels, too, but the only ones we've seen so far were just starting to peek out of the ground. Anyway, if you are a morel hunter, they are now popping up in your favorite secret plot.

Good hunting!

Larry Dobson

Claremont Service

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