Spring Haikus

Reminiscing on some Haikus from the past. These seemed a good way to honor spring and welcome summer.

March
Quivering seed pods
Last year’s fruit, This year’s promise
Red buds produce life.

April
April ‘to Open’
Birds beckon, flowers unfold
Hope, re-birth, re-new.

May
Dampness Awakens.
Slow green shoots appear and grow.
Spring bursts in splendor.

How goes butterfly
So gaily in morning dew.
Quiet. Elusive.

Surf booms, with great roar.
Coquinas ride waves to rest
On white, clean beaches.

Pelicans I
Spring aerial art.
Wheeling, gliding all in sync
Pelicans migrate.

Pelicans II
Spring aerial art
Banks, wheel. Dive. Glide in sync
Pelicans migrate.

Mountain tall, distant
Shelters small creatures that live
In harmony there.

Laughter tumbles free,
From souls to the earth.
Children, living gifts.

Understand
Begin where we are
Understanding nuances
Plain talk ease nerves.

Best Birding in the Yard

At Winding Pathways, we venture into our yard nearly every day, even if it’s raining, windy,

House Finch

Some birds homestead at Winding Pathways.

or frigid out. Of all the times, early May is our favorite to linger outdoors. Why? It’s the best birding.

Very late April and the first couple of weeks of May boast normally glorious weather, blooming flowers and birds. Lots of birds, including those we can only enjoy for a fleeting week or two.

Here’s how we group the birds that we enjoy in our yard. Odds are the same or similar species follow this pattern in backyards with good habitat across much of the continent.

THE HOMEBODIES

Some birds don’t migrate. They brave the cold and grace winter feeders. In summer, they often raise broods of babies on the edge of the yard. These include titmice, chickadees, cardinals, nuthatches, house sparrows, and many woodpeckers.

THE NORTHERNER

Juncos are almost always under our feeders all winter gleaning seeds. To a Junco Iowa is the balmy south with a “warm” winter. Around mid-April they head north to nest in the boreal forests of Canada and Minnesota.  We won’t see them again until around Halloween.

To read this article, subscribe now!

Already a member? Log in.

House Cats Rough On Wildlife*

A recent article in LIVING BIRD Magazine reported that cats kill more than 2.4 billion birds each year in the United States. Their numbers came from the book, CAT WARS, by Peter Marra and Chris Santella. 

use cats are fascinating animals that are loved by 600 million people worldwide who keep one or more as pets. They’ve been part of the human experience since at least the dawn of agriculture. Descended from a species that remains wild in Saudi Arabia, Israel, and other Middle Eastern countries, cats were informally domesticated as early as 10,000 years ago. Probably the earliest semi tame cats were wild individuals who lived near cultivated fields and hunted mice and other pests. At some point people began taking them into their homes as pets.

House cats followed humans as they spread around the globe and today are common wherever people live. Unlike many domestic animals that long ago lost their ability to survive in the wild, cats often go wild. These “feral” animals have a high reproductive rate and can create a large wild population in a relatively short time. Often these colonies of feral cats prey on animals that have no defense against them.

Cats never lost their ability to hunt and continue to catch animals, especially mice and other small mammals. Unfortunately they are also effective bird predators. Cats kill more birds than collisions with buildings, power lines, and wind turbines combined.  They pose a serious threat to some bird populations.

There is a simple way that cat lovers can enjoy their pet while reducing the impact of these fascinating animals on birds…….keep them indoors.

For more information:

Cat Wars:  The Devastating Consequences of a Cuddly Killer.   Princeton University Press.

The Cornell University Laboratory of Ornithology.

*Note:  Winding Pathways is not paid by companies we feature.  

No Rest for Wrens!

Stick nest

The wrens use just their beak and claws to layer sticks and then feathers from other birds to make a cozy safe nest to raise young.

Just ten days ago the wren parents fledged the babies from the box on our deck.  After we knew they were safely gone, Rich unbolted and cleaned out the next.  What an amazing feat of engineering!  With just a beak and claws, the wrens fashioned a comfy, warm home to sit on eggs and raise young. All was quiet for the rest of the week. The birds had all dispersed.

The past few days we have noticed activity in the High Bush Cranberry, on the deck, around the pond and at the feeders.  Today, definite mating activity as up to five wrens competed for attention, displayed mating moves and two began rebuilding the box on the deck. In and out flew the wren gathering small sticks by the pond and placing them in the box. So, it looks like a pair plans to start one more brood.

Later in the year, the Carolina Wren will grace our yard.  Larger and more distinctive, it seems to fare well in Iowa even in cold weather.