Friday, May 15, 2009

Bird News

When I woke up this morning at 5:00 a.m. it was raining pretty hard and about 50F degrees.  There wasn't any rain in the forecast last night, and Lily was outside and unsheeted.  I threw a coat on over my robe and slipped on my mud boots over my bare feet, and drove over to the barn - it's a couple of hundred yards from my house - and brought Lily inside.  She was fairly wet but not shivering yet.  Then I went home to eat breakfast.

It's a cool day (low to mid 50sF) with rain expected on and off, so I put rain sheets on all the horses this morning - I can blanket a horse in less than 2 minutes but with 13 it still takes some time.  We haven't had to do this in a while - it's either been warm or it's rained at night.  All the horses were feeling pretty good - Noble did the most running of anyone:  he did his Quarter Horse sprint all the way to the back of the pasture - he's still amazingly fast!

In one of my earlier posts, I mentioned that we have Eastern Meadowlarks in the pastures.  (Th bird links are to a wonderful site that has good information, including songs.) Yesterday for the first time, I heard and saw a Bobolink, and this morning he was there again, singing from his perch on one of the electric fences.  I heard him before I saw him - they have the most wonderful bubbling, melodious, euphoric song - it's one of my favorite bird songs.  I also think they are handsome with their distinctive plumage.  I suspect that we have Meadowlarks, Bobolinks and a number of different species of grassland sparrows (which I can't tell apart or identify) nesting in the pastures, so I have recommended to the lady who manages our pasture maintenance that we defer mowing until the birds have a chance to hatch and fledge their babies.  Both Meadowlarks and Bobolinks are in serious decline due to habitat loss, and I'm glad our pastures are suitable for them to nest.

I saw a pair of Common Grackles yesterday doing a mating display - they stood together on the fence and pointed their bills to the sky - it was very dancelike and elegant.  The Barn Swallows are nesting inside the barn and Lily's shed - much swooping in and out of the doors.  The barn swallows inside the barn are quite noisy when the parents bring food!  Bob the barn cat is eagerly awaiting the time when some fall out of the nest :(.  While I was leading the horses out this morning, the barn swallows were swooping along in front of and in back of us to catch the insects we stirred up.  The Brown-headed Cowbirds are sitting on the horses to watch for insects, and then dropping down to eat - it's pretty clear how they got their name!  I went to look at the Killdeer nest on the grass field behind the barn - the eggs should be hatching in a few more days - and both parents were trying to warn me off.  I hope to get some pictures of the hatchlings when they arrive.

My husband saw a flock of Cedar Waxwings behind the house yesterday.  We often see them in the fall migration in the cedar trees near the barn.  In my backyard, the White-throated Sparrows seem to have moved on, leaving behind the White-crowned Sparrows.  It certainly does feel like spring, with all this bird activity!


  1. The barn swallows build a nest in the exact same spot in the barn every year. I always say I'm going to knock the nest down but I never have the heart to actually do it. I've been seeing a gorgeous redbird around the barn a lot lately.

  2. I love the barn swallows. They are so feisty and opinionated. I'm pretty sure offspring of my first nesting pair are nesting in the barn as well. Pretty soon there won't be any more room!

    Ironically, just last night I was talking to a conservationist about meadows and how important they were to the ground nesting birds. Not mowing those pastures will be the best thing you can do right now. If they are good bird habitat, they need your protection.

    Lovely training post below. Maisie has quite a nice attitude. You are getting her fit gently and well, with a keen eye towards correctness. Round of applause here. I am looking forward to reading long as my Internet doesn't kick out as it did a few days ago....


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