Tuesday, December 10, 2013
There is a beautiful hermit thrush hanging around the scrubby border of our yard, eating sumac fruits and occasionally coming out to toss leaves on the asparagus/rhubarb garden. Every day I hear its bell-like call through the double-pane glass, and I look for that thrushy outline as it hops springily on the ground. When it gets really nasty I'm going to scatter Zick dough on the ground where it forages. Everything gets fed eventually.
Hermit thrush in the ruined asparagus. He's just left of the wooden stake. Hermits are a part of our wintering avifauna, though there are many winters when I see none. I'm grateful for this one. He makes my day.
On December 2 I was deeply blessed with a small flock of robins that stayed in the yard most of the day. Every time I watched one it caught an earthworm in short order.
There's plenty of sumac fruit to eat, too, but if you can get earthworms, stick with the protein.
I may have sung the praises of robins in this blog before, but oh. This is one of my very favorite birds to paint. Look at the architecture of those wings, the clean geometric lines of this hearty chunky bird. They almost draw themselves. It's all so clear on robins.
This time of year they have fresh feathers, each of which sports a frosty white edge. They're never more beautiful than in early December. The paler the better, as far as I'm concerned. Frost robins.
I have recently become very concerned about our cardinal population. We've lived here for 21 years and I've never seen a winter when they were so scarce. We have two.
You take them for granted when there are sixty. Well, I don't, but you do get used to seeing a lot of cardinals. And when they're gone...
Our next-door neighbors report that they have none, Shila in Marietta has none, and an unofficial survey of other Ohioans around our state nets next to no cardinals. Athens, Little Hocking, Marietta, Whipple: practically none. Whatever could be going on? Do you have cardinals where you live?
I'm trying to find out what's happening to them. This abundant bird simply can't be disappearing, can it? And if it is, why? Please leave a comment if you have any information or observations. Be sure to tell me where you live.
Button buck, have you seen any cardinals?
I was so hoping one of these antlerless deer would be my fair Ellen, but I have yet to see her this year. Every year is different. She usually comes in December. I've got a little corn out, waiting. I'm waiting anyway.