Thursday, March 26, 2009

Just waiting for the spring

Speaking of raptors, soon very soon in just a few short weeks one of the largest Raptor migrations on the planet will pass by my office window. Hawks of all kinds, Sharp Shinned, Red tailed, Coopers, Kestrels, The Northern Harriers, and of course the Peregrine Falcons. Then will come the Eagles first the Golden although on good winters a few will stay, then later will come the Bald Eagles as they are primarily fish eaters and must wait for the rivers and lakes to thaw.

It’s not uncommon for me to see several hundred eagles per day flying past my window during this grand time of the year. The raptors use the valley, which extends for hundreds of miles south as a flyway. The valley generates thermals, which make the flight north a breeze as they might say.

Then last but certainly not least between the days of May 1st and 5th will come my old friends the vultures, a.k.a. the Crypt Keepers, Eddie, Herman, Uncle Festis , Boris, and of course Edgar, Allen and Poe. Strange as they are never late, and when they arrive they always manage to do a power dive into the valley and then ride the thermals up to my place. With nary a beat of wing my friends give me a flyby, just at tree top level barely clearing the house. Then with a tip of the wing as if to say Hello Chum glad to see you survived the winter again, then they are off to hunt dead things. They return each and every day weather permitting to ride the thermals over the valley and sometimes to just drop by for a chat or perhaps to see if I have brought home anything good for them to eat. I have watched them soar for four hours without so much as a single wing beat. Turkey Vultures are truly masters of the air. 

Eagles are good sure enough but compared to my Crypt Keepers, Eagles can at best be described as rank amateurs with still so much to learn.

The really strange thing about these characters is that it’s always the same seven, I’m sure they are all confirmed bachelors. I have caught and banded each of them as I do with most of the birds that share my world and it’s always the same magnificent seven, they arrive together on the same day in spring and in fall they leave together on the same day, there are never more or less always just seven.  

Then later when the flowers are in bloom will come the pests, my dear sweet little pests the Humming birds. It is they who will give me such joy as they squabble and bicker and fight for no good reason whatsoever. Again it’s always the same birds, I have three species here, the Ruby Throated, the Emerald and the Golden just every year it’s more of them, they do have young Yuh know. Funny how something with a brain the size of a pencil point can find its way back from it’s Club Med. wintering grounds in the Caribbean, but find their way back they do. Demanding little assholes they are too as they buzz my head when their feeders are empty. I suppose I could perhaps share some small part of the blame for the feeders I mean. Most people just make up a solution of sugar water for the hummers, I however use a mixture of Demerara Sugar and Honey and the word seems to have gotten around that my place is good digs. Now I have hundreds of the little bastards to deal with. Pests I tell yuh just nothing but pests, like demented frankin bees on high-test fuel.

But goddamnit can those little buggers ever fly, like zero to mach 10 in nothing flat and stop on a heartbeat. Then they fly straight up and down, sideways and backwards and hover all with equal ease. I must however admit that it is a pleasure to have three or for of them perched on my fingers or my knee while I sit on the deck enjoying a cool one on a hot summer’s day. Having them hover not two inches from my nose staring at me with those beady little eyes however can be somewhat disconcerting, those beaks are sharp, and when they do this I am quick to check their feeders, as I don’t want to lose an eye just for being tardy.

But for now I must wait, we are in the midst of a mayor snowstorm that is threatening to dump some 45-cm of snow on us by Friday. Just what we needed, North Dakota has already been declared a disaster zone because of the flooding and all of their water ends up flowing throw Manitoba on it’s way to Lake Winnipeg and then on towards Hudson’s Bay . If the ice on the Red River doesn’t breakup in the next few days all of the towns along it’s banks will be flooded out again just as they were in 97 when we had the worst flooding in the last one hundred years. What a lake that was 800 klm long and in places 120 klm wide. 
But lucky me as my house sits atop the second highest point in all of Manitoba and if I were to get flooded out the city of Winnipeg would be some 320 meters or 1000 feet under water, Hmmm perhaps I should start selling boats.


Penny said...

poor you so tormented by hummingbirds, one bird I rarely see.
I have a shrub in my front yard, that they occasionally visit.

AS for hawks there here all year round, especially red tailed. Can't say about eagles?

For us the sign of springs returns is the red-winged black bird, and they are back.

nobody said...

Aargh. I am inside out with envy. I have never seen a hummingbird. As for hummingbirds being annoying, have you not ever thought of teaching them the words? Oh wait, maybe that would be worse.

And you banded the turkey buzzards? I give in - how did you do that? And did it involve lots of screaming? We, the fans of beast-v-silverfish stories demand that it be told. And you never get females there? They're not gay are they, your turkey buzzards?

the Silverfish said...

No I don't think their Gay, although my place is a clothing not sort of place and they have been known to give me the eye on occation and they do have some what of a froo froo gait when they walk. Oh damn now you have gotten me wondering. Oh fuck from now on this is going to be sooo Creepy.

As for banding it was no big deal I just hauled a dead pig over from the neighbours and left it on the front lawn. I just waited until they had gorged themselves to the point they couldn't fly and then I just ran up and covered them in gunny sacks, like I said no big deal. After the banding which only took a few min. I removed the sacks, they stared at me like I had lost my mind, hopped around for awhile till they could unload some ballast,Yuh know take a big crap. Then they launched themselves off of the edge of my lawn and flew away. They were back the next day for lunch with no hard feelings. Although after the gay comment I'm not soo sure about the no hard feeling stuff, heh Heh Heh.

Skye said...

You are a card Silv! Your Crypt Keepers certainly are amazing to watch, there's not much I enjoy more than lying on my back watching them when they're cruising the skies.

As for those hummers of yours, well, I wish I had a camera handy last year when you were tending your rock garden. What a pic I could have gotten of that hummer thinking your butt looked awful tasty!

You being bent over, naked as a j-bird and that hummer hovering at your butt, oh my my my my my, small as a hummer may be, that looked a little scary!

nobody said...

Man that's cool. They render themselves unable to escape. Mind you, wouldn't doing this place them at the mercy of predators? I'm assuming they must have some means of dealing with this. Or perhaps predators turn up their noses at carrion eaters?

the Silverfish said...

Well they do have a defense of sorts as they can void and regurgitate at will, they fly away and the predator has what they left. Simple really. The thing is that vultures are not strong birds by any measure, like they can’t kill anything save a bug or two. However they are very good at what they do best and that is to fly and find dead things. They can smell a carcass at a range of some ten miles or so, not bad when one thinks of it. And the eyes , the power of 50x binoculars, pretty damn good. Not quite as good as the Eagles though which can spot a mouse at a distance of one mile. Hell I couldn’t see a horse at that distance. Yep Mr. Magoo that’s me.

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