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Life Goes On

Tuesday, May 2, 2006

The yard is a hatchery. Today a baby bluebird launched out of the front yard box and landed on our roof, its mother close behind. Three house finches fledged last week from a blue juniper right outside the studio window. There is an incredibly stoic female cardinal sitting her twig nest in the forsythia, right where I often park the car. I'm only a foot away from her when I get out, and yet she stays, looking me right in the eye, daring me to scare her off her precious coffee-flecked eggs. A chipping sparrow has woven a nest of cocoa fiber and Liam's white hair in a thin blue juniper on the house corner. Here she is, pulling fiber from the mat. Eastern phoebes are putting blobs of mud on a little shelf only a few feet away from it, under the eave. That shelf has been up there for ten years, and somebody is finally using it.
Song sparrows are feeding young in some ornamental grasses in the backyard. I've only seen the eggs once, while she was still laying.
The hen is such a tight sitter that I've never seen the babies, though they must be nearing fledging now. She gives me the same dare as the female cardinal. I love that hard stare. The adults have begun ferrying suet dough to the young song sparrows; that's a sure sign they're maturing.
All around, life is springing from nests. They're all in shrubs and grasses we have planted, or boxes we've put up. Everything is finally mature enough to host birds, and they're responding lustily. Here are some Carolina chickadee eggs from the orchard box. I plan to paint portraits of the development of these babies if the gods smile and they hatch and survive. I am beside myself with excitement and anticipation. Although my eyes are getting so bad I'll probably have to get a magnifying glass to draw them! Carolina wrens just fledged today from another high shelf meant for phoebes. My gosh, there are nests exploding everywhere.
I spent the day emptying the greenhouse and planting everything out. It was one truckload of vegetation, I'll tell you that. Biomass squared. I'll just have to pray that we don't get another freeze; that they'll all be all right while we're in West Virginia at the New River Birding and Nature Festival at the end of this week. We're looking forward to seeing old friends. I'll be giving a keynote at the terrific resort called Opossum Creek on Thursday evening, and leading a sparrow ID walk on Saturday morning. I think Bill and I are also going to play music Saturday night, joined by our incredible fiddler/violinist pal Jessie Munson. We'll be fried crispy by the time we get home Sunday night.
When we get home, I am going to stay home. Please pardon the coming hiccup in the blog. I won't have Internet access in the hollers. See you next Monday?


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