The Mysteries of Summer Sightings Blow One Over

Submitted by Art & Barb Straub

Recall the childhood story of yesteryear, “Goldilocks and the Three Bears?” After naïve Goldilocks had visited the abode of the bears and Mama, Papa, and Baby Bear returned home, the small bear cried, “Someone’s been eating my porridge and it’s all gone!” We were reminded of that story when we visited our garden again this morning, singing “I Go To the Garden Alone,” only to discover that ‘someone’ had been chewing on the heart-shaped Morning Glory leaves. Foliage was withered and dried causing the incredibly beautiful flowers to die as well. Readers will recall that we approached the subject of Japanese beetles a week ago, mentioned squishing them or dropping them in soapy water, (they are easy to lasso and easily brushed off a leaf,) but we now wonder as to “Who’s REALLY been eating morning glory leaves, Japanese or Northern Masked Chafer beetles?”

If they are Japanese beetles, Google authors recommend planting garlic/chives near the wounded plant, or preparing a water and vinegar spray solution to foliage where the beetles are skeletonizing leaves. In that the bugs eat rose buds from inside out, or totally defoliate particular plants like morning glories, zinnias and others, we continue to pursue contingencies. We’ve experienced enough precious food crops being destroyed by marauders like the Asian beetles, aphids, cinch bugs, potato and cucumber bugs, etc., without adding another vandal to the lot! You are invited to pursue further research on the subject, Chafers or Japanese beetles.
What are your thoughts, readers?

Oftentimes one will see raptors perched on powerlines gazing into the grasses beneath, intent on obtaining lunch or supper from the roadside ditch below. From the stance of young hawk pictured with this article, it was observed numerous times daily in the same spot hunting for rodents and even large insects prowling about. Past experiences with ‘fried’ raptors beneath such wires, should this juvenile come in contact with two wires at once, a current of electricity will make a circuit, causing young hawk to be electrocuted. In this case, experience WON’T be the ‘best teacher,’ as once the bird is fricasseed, skunks and raccoons will be the probable beneficiaries of said accident.

A newly fledged American goldfinch (see photo) strikes pity on human hearts and maybe upon bird parents as well, feeling the poor little critter isn’t being fed by adults nearby. As the goldfinches are altricial, that is, born naked and totally dependent upon parental feeding the first few weeks of its life, this one was pulling the old “I’m starving, please feed me” trick, that is, fluttering its wings as though starving.
This is a behavior it begins shortly after hatching, and continues through fledging and first flights. Precocial birds, born with feathers and ready to romp shortly after birth, (such as pheasants or turkey poults ) are less dependent upon the parents for food. Parents ‘show the way to carry the sleigh;’ that is, exhibit gathering food to chicks and youngsters so that they might fend for themselves quickly. As in some humans, those who make the most noise get more attention. The ‘fluttering’ behavior is very common with members of other bird species as well.

Chimney Swift count vacillate per usual, similar to years’ past. Monday evening total, August 16, 338; the 17th, 467; 18th, 495; 19th, 450; 20th,471; 21st, 524; Sunday the 22nd, 297 with light rain. What do you, the reader, think? Do swifts fly in the rain, thunder, lightning? “YES”, as demonstrated on the 20th and again the 22nd. The mysterious birds began descending at 6:32 two hours before normal on the 20th, in the slight storm. Lightning flashes caused the birds already in our ‘pet’ chimney to boil from the stack like an overflowing pot of soup! Early darkness causes early entry into chimneys, thus we weren’t able to get exact counts on the two stormy evenings.

What a difference a bit of precipitation makes when drought continues to rear its ugly head. People perk up, plants smile, but bird life is remains silent. Coachlight Trumpeter swans gussied themselves up Sunday morning, August 22nd on their safety pad, the muskrat house where they began their lives. It reminded one of teens primping for their first prom. The prom for the swans will be that first flight into the wild blue yonder, an event sure to occur in the next few weeks. Our wish is to be present when the grand manifestation occurs!