Wednesday, June 16, 2004

June 16, 2004
I haven’t had a lot of time lately to watch the back porch doings, but here’s a progress report. We put up a chicken-wire fence around the grapefruit tree, and apparently it hasn’t received any more rabbit-nibbles. It looks a little puny, but basically healthy.

I put some anti-algae stuff that is safe for fish in the pond, and it cleared up overnight. Unfortunately, it seems to taste bad, as I have seen very few birds drinking since. The label on the anti-algae stuff assures me it is not poisonous, and I have seen no bird bodies, so I’m hoping they will come back. I’m putting more water in the pond to try to dilute the bad taste or whatever.

The cardinals continue to leave little shreds of sunflower seeds on the porch. An adult female and male are quite adept at using the feeder, especially the male. He just hops right on, rides the perch as it swings down to open the feeder port, and sticks his head in to grab a seed. I haven’t seen the juvenile try it lately, so don’t know if he ever mastered it. He was out foraging in the yard earlier today, and is getting very red, though his beak remains gray.

A while ago a cactus wren was at the feeder, picking up scraps of seed. The male adult cardinal showed up and warily watched the cactus wren—evidently cactus wrens are dominant. The cardinal didn’t jump on the perch to activate the mechanism till after the wren had left. If it’s not a dominance issue, maybe he doesn’t want the cactus wren to learn how to use the feeder?

Big Red just returned, and evidently he prefers to use the feeder, although there are seeds lying in the yard. The female is eating from the yard, and though Big Red can obviously see her doing so, he continues to use the feeder. Maybe he likes the ride!

I hope that scattering seeds in the yard again will bring back the pyrrhuloxias. I haven’t seen any in a while, though I’ve heard them.

Final note: yesterday coming home in the late afternoon we had to stop the car to avoid a mama and papa quail and their two tiny feathered-thimble babies. But it was sad to see so few—usually there are well over a dozen when they are that small. Did some of the eggs just not hatch? Were they predated? I’ll never know—but I will look forward to seeing more babies, as it appears this is the second part of the quail breeding season. My god, the nature out here is so fantastic. So beautiful. So interesting. And so much Life in the Raw.

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