Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Stori: Love is in the air

I love the sounds this time of year brings. After supper last night, I was walking back to the barn with my Dad to finish evening chores. We stopped for a moment to listen to the owls. There must have been 4 or 5 of them calling to each other. I'm not sure which kind were being so talkative, there are several types that live around us. They are one of my favorite bird calls, hauntingly spooky. Lonely sounding, yet comforting. We have several Great Horned Owls that hunt our fields, they are so regal looking, perched atop the very tip of a spruce tree. Dad casually mentioned mating season and how vocal they get. I had to stop and think about what he said. The huge increase of bird activity this time of year has always just been a given to me. I guess I never really thought about why everybody was so excited all of sudden. The woodpeckers have also gotten into the raucous act. Drumming on trees constantly trying their hardest to call in a potential partner. We have two kinds of woodpecker that are very common around the place. The Hairy, which is the smaller of the two, and the Downy which is a fierce looking fellow. They are the acrobats of the place, dangling upside down as they look for their treasures. Living in a cabin can get pretty noisy when a couple woodpeckers decide to look for their next dinner in your logs.

This afternoon I was walking to the barn to give the horses their afternoon feeding. I feed 3 times a day to stoke their body furnace and to help them with the winter boredom we all experience, even the livestock. It was a beautiful afternoon. We are finally getting some radiant heat from the sun, so the light was warm on my face, it was nice crisp -10 below. Not uncomfortable at all. I stopped to listen to all the courting songs around me of the neighborhood. The blue jays were having air born dogfights, trying to impress the ladies. The chickadees and red polled finches chattering away, interrupting each other the whole time. I guess it's not just colors that are impressive, but the ability to brag about them. I heard Molly the milk cow give a grunt and a sigh as she lay down to chew her cud. Heidi, my favorite lady horse's hooves squeaking on the snow with impatience. She knew what my job was out there, and all I was doing was standing there looking into the trees like an idiot. That's when I heard it. A song I didn't recognize. A shrill sweet song repeating over and over. I searched the trees for quite a while before I spotted the culprit and seen a female Pine Grossbeak at the top of a birch. Her man flew to her and they squabbled in the air for a time then flew themselves away. Grossbeaks are one of my favorites. Very shy, and very rarely come to my feeders. The males are so brilliant red, they catch your eye as they fly past the window. Mating for life, you always see pairs. Such a treat when they do visit. I guess today, they were feeling the promise of spring too.

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