Birding Notes

Reflections on birds and other wildlife on the edge of a southern woodland

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Oases in a Heat Wave

This morning as I ate breakfast, I noticed three Titmice, a Chickadee and a Cardinal all competing for space on the hummingbird feeder hanging outside the window on the edge of the deck. I was puzzled at first, but then saw the Chickadee lean down from the chain and drink from the small moat of water in the middle of the feeder, meant to discourage ants. So they had come for water, not nectar.

Meanwhile, a male Ruby-throated Hummingbird hovered and hummed aggressively in the midst of the larger birds, darting at one and then another, his red throat flashing in the sunlight. The Chickadee jumped back from him a little, but stayed to drink another sip or two. I couldn’t tell if the Hummingbird chased them away in the end, or if they all just left when they wanted to, but once they were gone he hovered all around the feeder indignantly for several seconds.

I’ve been especially careful to keep two bird baths filled with fresh water in the shade in the front yard the past few days, with temperatures in the upper 90s. This morning I filled two shallow saucers with water and also put some water in a large shallow plant saucer, added a couple of rocks for perches, and set them all on the deck rail in back, in the shade of the oaks, just below a large hanging fern.

Earlier, when I left the house around 7:30 to walk through the neighborhood – at least 45 minutes later than would have been ideal – the sun blazed and shimmered like pink-gold foil, climbing into a cloudless blue sky and bleaching it white as it rose. Cicadas already sang loudly, and I heard few birds along the way – the whreeps of two Great-crested Flycatchers, the soft burble of Bluebirds here and there, the twitter of Chimney Swifts, one Blue Grosbeak still singing, a few Towhees calling To-wheee, and a Catbird complaining in the thickets of the Old Field. Otherwise, things were pretty quiet.

The day’s expected to be very hot, with temperatures around 100, humid, and pollution in the air at unhealthy levels. The heat and humidity aren’t unusual for us at this time of year. The air pollution, sadly, isn’t unusual anymore either. While I can escape it by staying inside, at least after about 10 am, and being thankful for air conditioning, the birds, butterflies, lizards, trees, and other wildlife can’t, and I have no doubt the pollution can’t be good for them.


At 12:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I enjoyed your blog at my Lunch today.


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