May has always been my favorite month. It is when the grass turns a lush green, the trees leaf out in lime and chartreuse and shrubs bloom gloriously and profusely. Our Korean Spice Viburnum (V. carlesii) is perfuming our yard right now and I am in heaven! It is definitely one of my favorite shrubs for that reason.
The ruby-throated hummingbirds love it as well. I saw my first hummer on the 10th, right on schedule! Already we have a courting pair. I love watching the male’s courting U-shaped flight – trying to impress the object of his devotion by flashing his gorgeous ruby throat patch. Poor guy, she always seems a bit bored!
The hardest part of living in a cold climate is that for so much of the year we are cut off from the outdoors. Now, the warmer weather allows the windows to be open and the house is refreshed with wafting breezes. From inside, I can hear the birds singing and to the west side, the waterfall, cascading over the stones – the myriad of falls create a white noise as background to birdsong.
Oh and the birds! With the arrival of each new migrant, I rejoice! I send them a greeting of thanksgiving for their safe return, may they (and seven generations) be fruitful here. May is peak warbler migration, my favorite of songbirds. Common yellowthroat, chestnut-sided, black-throated blue, yellow, black and white and I’m sure one or two others that I haven’t acknowledged yet, have serenaded my walks these past few days. Click the links to hear their songs – ethereal!
This morning I spied three pairs of rose-breasted grosbeaks and a spectacular indigo bunting, its beautiful blue plumage like a piece of sky fallen to rest in the tree tops.
A song sparrow and a pair of cardinals have marked territories out front, I suspect nest sites are located in the front hedge and Alberta spruce. A male chickadee taps the windows periodically all day long. My guess is he sees his reflection and thinks it is another rival male – I suspect this type of behavior is where the comment about poor reasoning, “bird-brain,” came from.
I sit outside as much as I can and we have our meals on the deck off the kitchen. In the warmer weather I consider it a sin to be inside, so either for work or leisure, this is where I am. The front porch is covered, so even if it rains, I can be out in the fresh air. Currently, the goldfinches are twittering away, crows call in the distance, chickadees call “phee-bee” to one another, while a peewee voices its raspy name and a Carolina wren repeats over and over at the edge of the woods. Deeper within I hear the haunting, melodious notes of a veery.
The toads have started trilling their mating calls down at the river.
They often will lay their long strings of noodle-like eggs in shallow pools that are doomed to dry up before the tadpoles can mature. When able, I try to move them to deeper pools. The ones I miss feed the raccoons and other predators.
The mortality rate of young animals in nature astounds me. I guess most species lower on the food chain compensate by creating abundantly. Like plants that create thousands of seeds, insects and amphibians lay hundreds, if not thousands, of eggs. Reasoning that everything sooner or later becomes food helps me feel less badly about their early demise. In reality, it is simply a transfer of energy; the tadpole becomes part of the crow or raccoon in the ‘great circle of life.’ I am honored to bear witness to it all, a privilege in so many ways.