Birds of the Big Elk; DIY adventures

I am taking an enforced break from my assorted projects today because all of the batteries I need at the moment are dead. So I’ve started the generator and will give them at least a partial charge. I’ll tell you about the project, then about some rather amazing birds from the last few days.

I’m trying to hang some closet-pole-type hangers from the back porch supports for my hanging baskets. I’ve got the holes drilled, but the only suitable screws I could find are square drive. I have a square driver, even one of the right size, but it has to go into a screwdriver body. I don’t have a square driver that has its own handle.

I have a very good Ryobi drill/driver and I stole a battery from one of the Ryobi flashlights. But the body is too fat to fit in where it needs to go. So I got out my little Makita with the tilt head. It fits just fine, but I haven’t used it in over a year, so of course the battery is deader than a doornail (what does that mean, anyhow?). So, when the Makita battery is ready, I’ll go finish the job that’s 80% complete. Technology has stopped me once again.

We’ve got a ton of birds this year, and I’m really enjoying most of them, the exception being the wild pigeons that are trying to steal our small cherries and plums. We’ve discovered that pigeons apparently have an attention span of 28 minutes. That’s how long after you scare them away that it takes them to return. And they are very smart, but that’s really long story I’ll have to save for another time.

Yesterday in the garden I saw a young bald eagle. He was so new his feathers hadn’t changed color yet. He was trying to fly with the turkey vultures, but they flew so much more gracefully and effortlessly than he did that I think he became embarassed. At any rate, he soon flew away.

Ben and I saw a pair of golden eagles up above the ridge. I think they were getting ready to mate, but they flew off up the valley so we didn’t get to watch. I’m not a voyeur, but I’ve wanted to see that ever since discovering Walt Whitman’s fabulous poem “The Dalliance of Eagles.”

The hummers are at war around the feeder. There are two ruby-throated females. They are the most territorial and aggressive of the lot, and I think they spend more energy duking it out than they get from the feeder. They’ve been beak to beak several times just today.

There are also two of the little green ones. They are much smarter. They fly into the nearby trees and just wait quietly until the two red ones get so mad at each other they fly away with one chasing the other. Then the little green one hops on the feeder and eats her fill.

Today Ben and I were sitting on the deck watching the hummer wars when a male Western tanager flew up and lit on a branch about 6 feet from our heads. He just sat and watched us for awhile. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen one, but they have bright yellow bellies and neon red heads. They are very lovely. He also did us the favor of calling, so now we know for sure what at least one of their calls is like. Finally he ambled off.

Of course there are also robins and juncos everywhere. There’s also a bird that I haven’t identified yet, but I will. I need a better bird book. The Audobon guide has too many with too little detail and variation in the pictures, and my Pacific NW Audobon field guide doesn’t have enough.

I’ll bet you’re tired of my complaining, so I’m going to go check the barbeque. The bird stuff got interrupted by Ben, who came up to the house to see why I was running the generator during the day. When I gave him my long song and dance story, he said, “Oh for Pete’s sake! Where do you want them?” “Where the holes are drilled, I’ll show you.” In five minutes he had them both up and I had my baskets hung. I was actually sort of hoping for that. He’s a foot taller than I am and had a much easier time of it.

I’ll take a picture in the next couple of days, but right now I’ve got so many half-finished projects going on in the back that it looks like Ma Kettle lived here, and I’d be embarassed to show you that.

4 Responses to “Birds of the Big Elk; DIY adventures”

  1. whitishrabbit Says:

    We have a pair of eagles that go to a tree way high up, south of the house. It’s sorta woods and ravine all around. It’s more than just wings soaring when I see them fly over.

    Makes me say a little prayer of gratitude to the spirit of Rachel Carson.

  2. mklekacz Says:

    Rabbit, I LOVE our eagles. And all of the rest of them too.

  3. OmbudsBen Says:

    Very cool about the hummers and the western tanager — I love the iridescent feathers of the hummers and you’re right, the tanagers are just gorgeous. The baldies get their white heads around their 5th year. Often the white tails come in first.

    I read once that they get the name from the word “piebald.”

  4. mklekacz Says:

    The most identifiable characteristic of the “immature” bald is its white underside. You can pick it out easily when they’re flying.

    It’s been a great year for birding.

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