The journey from Galisteo up to Eaglefire
on Memorial Day Weekend 2013
under an always turquoise sky
through the canyon alongside the Rio Grande
that boasts a boarder of newly-green cottonwood trees
provides a safe eddy for a family of Canada Geese.
Into the Moreno Valley along US 64 lined with American Flags
welcoming more than 500 motorcycle riders who travel together across the Nation from
California to Washington DC in the annual
RUN FOR THE WALL
and pause to remember their Brothers at
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial
2013 marks the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War.
Leaving the highway, I drive through the Eagle Pasture
where the Black-tailed Prairie Dogs stand watch for predators
Where elk gather to graze
and “little hider” calves can be found nearby.
Where I always check the Eagle Trees for Balds or Goldens
and sometimes get lucky enough to spot the big guy himself.
and then…climbing toward 9,00 feet…almost there…
And finally…I’m there, in Eaglefire, on the deck where everything is happening and it’s Spring!
Birds are unprecedented in species and numbers. Their migration corridor is compressed by drought and a phenomenon called “stacking” keeps them jammed up in New Mexico as they wait for the strong weather patterns on the Colorado/New Mexico boarder to clear out. Right away I tally 22 species, all from my chair on the deck.
WESTERN TANAGEREVENING AND BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAKS
Literally dozens of grosbeak mob the seed and suet
PINE SISKIN..by the sock-full
by the hands-full
and by the cup-full
WHITE BREASTED NUTHATCH
RED BREASTED NUTHATCH
Migrating in right on time for Spring is the tiny Cordilleran Flycatcher
Early one morning 9 enormously fat male turkey strutted right up to the deck
all Jakes not Toms
Next one of THE TWINS stopped by to have a look-see and sample Richard’s wildflowers.
Black-chinned and Broad-tailed HUMMERS left no perch unoccupied.
Everything was peaceful and PERFECT with bird feeders hung in just the right places, flowers planted in pots around the deck, our chairs ready and waiting.
Time to relax, stretch and enjoy the Spring sunshine.
With all the wildlife around, our life was bound to get complicated. It didn’t take long for the tree squirrel to find the bird seed
the Ground Squirrel to pick just the right bloom
and the Chipmunk to home in on the suet cage.
Suddenly in an explosive attack a juvenile sharp-shinned hawk dove between Richard and me as we sat enjoying the sunset over Wheeler Peak, slammed into the glass door and fell stunned to the deck as the targeted chickadee flew away in a shower of feathers.
Held gently in Richard’s down vest it soon regained consciousness and flew off as explosively as it arrived.
A few minutes later we discovered an exhausted, near-death, sick-looking Lazuli Bunting fluttering around unable to fly.
I scooped him up and snugged him away in a dark corner with food and water, not holding out much hope for his recovery. I was wrong. The food, water or rest did the job and he was soon transformed into a healthy-looking bird that easily flew up to the feeder. In one day we held 3 different species in hand and all seemed to embrace life again.
More trouble as the corvids dropped by to gobble more than their share of seed.
I was horrified to see a Brown-headed Cowbird sneaking in to feed right along side my precious song birds. Cowbirds are nest pirates that trick other birds into feeding and caring for their young at the peril of the nest builder’s brood.
If there is a bird that should be eradicated, it is the Cowbird. Just imagine a tiny jewel of a Ruby-crowned Kinglet struggling to feed a ravenous Baby- Huey sized Cowbird chick.
Lulled by the beauty of it all we called it a day only to discover the next morning that during the night THE BEAR paid us a visit and left his calling card.
We were lucky this time. No real damage but he did walk off with a new cake of suet. The next afternoon we got an up-close-and-personal day-light visit from the same or another bear.
This bear was not aggressive and did not seem to be afraid of us. A fact that is cause for some concern since they will not hesitate to approach people, their homes, cars or their dogs. This time of year, bears are not ravenous or starving because of the abundance of helpless new-born fawns and elk calves. Sad but a fact of life. Bears are omnivores. Spring is feast time and they take full advantage of the available meat.
In a perfect world
Bears do not overturn plants, rob feeders and kill new-born elk calves.
Chipmunks and their rodent cousins do not dare to eat the blossoms from our favorite daisy or hoard large quantities of expensive bird seed.
Hawks and song birds don’t crash headlong into our glass windows and doors.
Female Cowbirds don’t lay their eggs in another bird’s nest.
And our grand young boys
do not die in the mud and the sands of some foreign land.
But still and all, at the end of the day…
LIFE IS GOOD
“When we try to pick out
anything by itself,
we find it hitched to
everything else in the Universe.”
THIS POST IS DEDICATED TO RICHARD.
HE BROUGHT ME TO EAGLEFIRE AND SHARES IT WITH ME.