-- Miles Davis
In the greater scheme of things, a week is a very small period of time. It comes and goes before you know it. But after a recent week away we returned to find major changes had taken place in the small bit of ecology I call my backyard and in the behavior of the birds that live in it.
Before we went away the first full week of May to chase the northbound migrants closer to their breeding grounds, I could go out early in the morning and hear or see a host of birds feeding on the strands of seeds hanging from the oak trees. The locust trees appeared bare. The forsythia, lilacs and quince were flowering. The grass was just starting to green and grow.
Blackpoll photo by jerryoldenettel is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
So when we returned last Sunday we found our lawn had turned into a long, bushy meadow, complete with matted-down areas where the deer had rested unmolested. The forsythia, quince and lilac flowers were done. The apple tree lost its blossoms and was in full leaf. Same with the dogwood. I found the irises, azaleas and rhododendron flowering and the cannas had sprouted. And the weeds were, as usual, everywhere.
The front-yard locust tree leaves came out and the backyard oak and maple trees are now casting lush green shade. Several of the bushes, including the viburnum I planted three years ago, jumped in size. The wrongly named "dead area" was filled with overgrown wild onion, wild rose, garlic mustard, ragweed and plants I can't name. In another corner of the yard, the space was filled with wild strawberries.
All this happened in a week.
As for the birds, the white-throated sparrows left when the feeders were taken in. Others came back once I put the feeders back out but they have other concerns now. I hear young begging for food when a parent returns to the hidden nest. One nest must be cardinals, based on the activity of the adult pair. While the young will only be fed protein-rich insects, the parents are coming to the feeder for the quick energy they can get from the sunflower seeds.
|Robin's nest, found on the stairs|
leading to the observation platform,
Montezuma (NY) NWR (Margo D. Beller)
As for the migrants, in the last couple of days I have been hearing the squeaky-brake call of the blackpoll warbler, a call I associate with the end of migration. This little bird, which has a superficial resemblance to the black-capped chickadee, has a very long migratory route and is one of the last to pass through my area on its way north. So migration is basically over, as far as my yard is concerned.
This past week it was time to catch up on bills, groceries and the yards. MH and I mowed the long, seeding grass and I spent several cool, wet early mornings pulling weeds (far from all of them) and untangling some of the plants growing into the deer netting before they could open flowers that would get stuck. I potted the vegetable and herb seedlings bought before we left and put them behind fencing in a sunny part of the yard. You'd hardly know we'd been away, presuming anyone had noticed.
For the moment we can relax and enjoy our bit of property before summer's heat and humidity comes back with a vengeance and the yard will need attending to again.