January 6th 2017

Birds below the Feeder

Birds below the Feeder

Becky Emerson Carlberg

It is the twelfth day of Christmas.  Twelve drummers busily drumming all day long.  It is time to take down all Yuletide decorations, pack carefully and put in a safe place the next eleven months.  What a fitting way to have the holiday season come to an end on a snowy note.  At my house the gauge registered four inches, but melted down, the amount of moisture was 0.21 inch.  It was a light and fluffy snow.  Regardless, this good snow will slowly enter into the soil as temps warm.

The goldfinches have been polishing off Niger seed as fast as I fill up the seed sock.  Up until a month ago the cardinals had been scarce, but the cold weather has driven them back to the feeders and there are dozens hanging around.  The red-winged blackbirds come visiting in small groups of 50 or more.  It takes little time for the shiny black males with brilliant orange patches on the wings, as well as the more camouflaged females and juveniles, to empty a bird feeder.  A variety of sparrows, juncos, chickadees, woodpeckers, doves and other feathered friends are hungrily eating during this cold snap.

Staring at my orchids with the vacant web still in place, a slight movement caught my eye to the left. Here the large leaved ivy is climbing up the side of the window, its prop roots eating the paint off the wall.  A new web has been woven, but down in the corner is this tangled mass of debris firmly ensconced in silken webs.  Using a flashlight I saw thin legs wrapped over one leaf.  The short step ladder was brought in so I could look down into the leaves.  I peered closer and discovered a much smaller version of my grass spider has taken up residence.

Sometime before Christmas a violent altercation probably happened in the orchids.  My spider did not die from old age or attrition but from being attacked in open warfare.   She could very well be inside that unidentified large web packet.  Considering my spider would have been a valuable concentrated food source, this new smaller female may have been starving, took my lady down and sucked her dry.  Nature can be rough.

Birds at the feeders

Birds at the feeders

If you are one of those people who usually participate in the ODWC (OK Dept of Wildlife Conservation) Winter Bird Survey held early January, please redirect your count for the ‘Great Backyard Bird Count’ (GBBC) to be held February 17-20th 2017.  Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation has discontinued its yearly bird count after 20 years.  National Audubon Society and Cornell Lab of Ornithology researchers use the data to learn how birds are doing and how to protect their environment.  Check out birdcount.org for more information.

Apparently the number of people feeding or counting birds is dropping.  The birds are still there.  What would a day be like without hearing the birds sing?

Never take anything for granted.  It may disappear before you realize how important it is to you.

“Never say there is nothing beautiful in the world anymore.  There is always something to make you wonder in the shape of a tree, the trembling of a leaf.” Albert Schweitzer