Tell Us, Are We Imagining Things?

Submitted by Art & Barb Straub

Keeping trail cameras alive and well twelve months of the year is expensive. However, that technology has kept us abreast of animal/bird behavior in the woodland unlike reading books. For instance, during one twenty-four hour period on September first, we discovered we had lots of visitors, night and day. A stray cat, two woodchucks, a friendly gray fox, one young opossum, squirrels, sly crow thieves, a tailless white-tailed doe with spotted twins, a flock of turkeys, numerous raccoons and a skunk… all traipsed past the camera one or many times. The little gray fox has kept the property totally free of marauding rabbits as per our bargain, and the white cat with black etchings feels perfectly at home day or night if one leaves broasted chicken scraps for the fox.

At the forest shack, until September 5th, northern orioles and ruby-throated hummingbirds share the oriole feeder from half hour before sunrise until a half hour after dusk. We attached the camera to a tree trunk level with the sugar water feeder, and the brightly colored birds are oblivious to our invasion of their territory. We didn’t realize these two species wing to work so early in the morning, nor that they stayed awake so late…very similar behavior to chimney swifts. September 8th may spell D-Day for both species, that is, departure day toward Central America.

Then there’s the matter of mosquitoes, bane of human’s current existence. Why has it not dawned upon us that the creatures of field and forest are even more discomforted than we bipeds? Wild turkeys clean up fallen food underneath our black oil/millet bird feeders many times each day. Three photos of their antics accompany this article. One is an image of a turkey taken a month ago. The other two were taken September second. Is it possible that those massive warts on Tom turkey heads and necks are more than the usual carbuncles found on a turkey’s noggin? Those birds appear more than discomforted, even in pain!

What is your opinion on this matter? Phone 507.665.2658 if you wish to respond, please. The National Wildlife Federation states that individual wild turkeys fall victim to a number of diseases. Imagine how easily a disease would spread if a mosquito sucked sustenance from a bevy of the handsome birds and moved from turkey to turkey. Would turkeys find some measure of relief if they roosted at night high in a tree? Where do turkeys spend the midnight hours when we have a rip-roaring electrical storm like the midnight madness of September 5th? Who has the answers out there in “Indy” readerdom?

Speaking of ‘roosts.’ Keep in mind that the masses of chimney swifts migrating through these days do not use large chimneys to nest, rather, to ‘roost’ for the night. The tally of significant numbers of the sooty (not snooty) birds continues at Park School in LeSueur.
Sunday, September 4th – 620
September 3rd – 1,172,
September 2nd – 1,142,
September 1st – 875,
August 31st – 662,
August 30th – 913,
August 29th – 1,462,
Augut 28th – 1,213

The graceful antics of the ebony swifts are a wonder to behold. Great gray clouds hovered over the valley late Sunday the fourth of September. We arrived early, 7:30, as we assumed the birds would be in a hurry to roost, and such was the case, the first aviatrix down the dark channel at 7:40. Within twenty minutes, all had popped in for safety from the approaching roiling cloud formations. Only a toppled chimney would dislodge them. The count will continue into October barring a really nasty cold spell, which would eliminate their insect food sources to the north. Until then, ‘chow down, chow down’ swift swifts, on the abundant mosquito supply!