Regal Eagle at the Deli

Sometimes when I drive by this tree at the side of the estuary, it is loaded with bald eagles, decorating it like so many Christmas tree ornaments.

Today there was only one eagle — an immature one at that. The rest were busy foraging below the tree  and up the river mouth at the Regal Eagle Deli. The last putrefied chum salmon lie like wet paper towels on the banks, exposed by the dropping tide.

Perhaps this one had eaten his fill and couldn’t stomach one more mouthful of rotten fish.

“Oh rats!” he says. “Another bird watcher.”

“I’ll give her my Exorcist pose – body facing one way, head looking the other. That’ll confuse her so she won’t know which is front or back.”



“Now, where was I? Oh yeah … urp … trying to digest that disgusting fermenting fish.”

Regal eagle looks for food, 

Fish again? Not in the mood.

Chilly air, he shivers high

In the tree so he can spy

Rotten fish washed up below.

Better eat in case of snow.

Leaner times around the bend,

Need to eat or life could end.

Though he’d like fish still alive

Choosy eagles don’t survive.

Large Flakes?

Looking out the window this afternoon, I saw huge snowflakes. Or were they leaves? But they were floating so easily, like snow. More and more flakes came down, and yet, not enough to say, “It’s snowing,” and besides, it was just a tad too warm. Something didn’t feel right. I went to investigate.

I picked up some of the “snowflakes” and saw that they were feathers. They kept falling from the sky. I thought of the German folk tale about Frau Holle who shakes the featherbeds (goosedown duvets, in our modern western world) in the sky and makes it snow.

I traced the path of the feathers to their origin and strained my eyes to study the top reaches of a fir tree. For a few minutes I saw nothing, but at last I made the culprit nervous.

A huge eagle took off from the tree with its dinner in its talons.

I knew from the feathers that the eagle’s meal was a duck. The harsh reality of  life and death in the animal food chain always leaves me with mixed feelings. Both are beautiful birds, but why does one have to eat the other? Couldn’t they just eat pancakes instead?

 

 

The Suet Block is Always Tastier on the Other Side

“So glad I got here first. That pushy Steller’s jay would be hogging both suet blocks if he could.”

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“Darn it all. That flicker got the best suet block. If I’d only been a few seconds faster, it would have been all mine, for me, myself, and I.

I’ll have to take the left over one. I’m sure it’s not as good as the one  Mr. Polka-dot is nibbling at. If he were a tad smaller, I’d scare him off, like I do the little runts that come here looking for a free handout.”

“Good, he’s gone. I’ll give that other suet block a try. Hope it doesn’t stick to my beak like that other block does.”

“Let’s see…. One big leap and a quick turn in the air and I’ll be up there. Can’t wait to get my beak into that treat.”

“Now for a taste of the good stuff.

Blech! Yech. Blech. He sure didn’t let on it tasted that bad. Yuck! Where can I spit?”

“Oh well … I’ll do without. The missus says I’m getting a bit of a belly anyway.”

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Early Winter

On Wednesday I came home from a trip to Olympia, Washington. The maple tree in my yard had dropped a thick carpet of leaves which the Captain scooped up with the mower for mulch, hence the bare driveway. 

Thursday morning started with a bluebird sky and by mid-morning, the wind changed and we had a blizzard. But the snow wouldn’t cover the ground … would it?

Before noon, this was my front yard. I was SO glad I wasn’t driving home today instead of yesterday.

And this morning the bluebird sky is back, but the mountains are white and the air is still icy cold. I put more birdseed out but I still feel sorry for the little animals that have to live outside.

I hope it isn’t going to be a harsh winter. This snow is WAY too early.

What is the weather doing where you live?

Going Nuts!

The hazelnuts are ripe.Some are still on the tree.

I hurry to collect them from the ground as the wind knocks them down, before the  dogs pick them up and crack their teeth trying to get into them. Hazelnuts are so tasty.

But it looks like there is even more competition for the nuts. The Steller’s jay has figured out that this is the time the hazelnuts are ripe. He scolds me as I pick up his lunch.

Another one gets wind of the news. “Did I hear you say the nuts are ripe? Forget the birdseed in this feeder then.”

“Now I just have to get down from here. Ooooh! It looks like a long way down.”

“Might as well go for it. Nothing for it but to jump. Sheesh! I hope I don’t break a leg!”

“Well, you could fly down,” I say.

“Hmpf! I knew that!”

 

 

Bathtub Banter

Even birds need a bath now and then, but  Mrs. Golden Crowned Sparrow is astounded that her privacy is being invaded.“Go away, you junkie from Oregon,” says Mrs. Golden Crown, “and stop staring while I have my bath.”

“Such rudeness!” says the Oregon Junco. “Calling me a junkie!”

“Oh good. He’s gone. Now to wash behind my ears….”“Oh, for heaven’s sake! How can I blend into the tub when you come along and attract attention with your black soldier’s helmet?”“I can see that I’ll have to ask Mr. Golden Crown to come over to stand guard.”

“Come on, Mrs. G.C. Will ya hurry up and get out of the tub? Can’t you see this guy needs a bath? His face is quite black. You come on down here with me. I’m sure you already  smell as pretty as these flowers.”

Pane Pain

The birds know that summer is over and it is time to go south. They don’t like to be too cold anymore than I do, and it’s hard to find food  if there is snow on the ground. Even cold rain doesn’t make it a hospitable environment for providing seeds and/or insects for birds to eat.

The air is fairly vibrating with birdsong, as the birds gather in ever growing flock numbers to eat like crazy and do little practice flights in preparation for the big trip  south.

Unfortunately, with so much activity many of the birds try to fly through my windows, thinking there is a flight path to the other side of the house. It breaks my heart and sometimes their necks or wings, when they hit. The guilt I feel is huge.

After hearing three thumps on my windows in a short space of time, I found a bar of soap and drew lines over the panes so the birds could see that there is a barrier in their flight path.

One little warbler type had hit a corner window just before I soaped it. He had a soft landing on a deck chair cushion. He stayed there for several hours. I worried and felt so bad for him as I watched his tiny traumatized wings quiver.

Then, apparently the time was right. He pooped and flew away. I hope he doesn’t have a bad headache. I’m so glad he survived.