By Jack McShane
Renewal of the wildlife we all care about is happening now as we dive into summer. Having survived a very arduous journey, our bobolinks, some having traveled all the way to and back from Argentina, are typical of those nesting in our inviting fields right here in Andes. A new generation will be arriving to fill the space left open by those that did not make it. We must do our best to make sure we provide safe places and protection for them. To help insure this, I have condensed some DEC recommendations which are pretty much common sense: When you come across young wildlife remember that wild animal parents often stay away when people are near. The most common species to be mistakenly “rescued” by humans are fawns, cottontail rabbits and fledgling birds. Well-meaning acts can have the opposite result as many soon die despite best efforts. “If you care, leave them there.” Turtles that are crossing the road are most likely making an attempt to find an appropriate place to lay their eggs. Please safely move them to the side to which they were headed. Lift them very carefully by the sides of their shell and if it’s a snapping turtle it might be wise to slide a car mat under her and drag her across the road. The DEC also recommends that if one encounters a wild animal obviously injured or orphaned, call a trained wildlife rehabilitator. The closest can be found through a call to the DEC wildlife unit.
Great joy as we observed a mate for the beautiful male cardinal that continued to hang around from the snowy days under the feeder to the many lonesome days when there was no feeder. He now has an attentive female mate: perseverance and patience rewarded! The cause of the loud bang on a window is immediately recognized: a confused avian has had bad luck. This time the window-hit was by a species that I have previously only encountered in deep woods, a very colorful and striking male American redstart. Stunned, but still breathing, he remained for 10 minutes and finally flew off leaving me with a close-up picture. I only wish the Gazette was in vivid color so you all could appreciate his beauty. (The photos can be seen in living color at our website: firstname.lastname@example.org. Our articles appear one month later.)
On a rare crystal clear day, and taking a break from mowing a trail around our fields, I was being entertained by the casual flight of a lone turkey vulture. He came from low in the hollow, proceeded, floating on unseen thermals, and continued north, dipping and rising on angled wings, then returning and eventually dropping down, landing on one of the just-mowed trails over a small rise that blocked my view. I was intrigued to see what attracted him to that particular location and was tempted to drive over, but decided not to as I would undoubtedly have disturbed him. Although it may have been one of these sometimes-derided birds, which are known to use their keen olfactory senses to locate carrion, it may this time, have found some very unlucky rodent run over by me and my mower and left exposed and spotted by the vulture. I will never know.
Much conversation, or what I shall call tempered argument, ensued about the culprit guilty of the death and destruction of the geese and their nest, mentioned in my last article. I was on the side of a mink; my son on the side of a raccoon with no aversion to a short swim for a meal. I believe I am the winner, as a large mink was caught on a trail cam at night surveying the crime scene. Of course, this would not be enough for the mink to be found guilty at a jury trial.
I have written so much about the male cardinal. Now I must write about his sad demise. Nancy discovered his partially eaten body below her studio window. Our conjecture is that he hit the window and was discovered by the local mice. At Nancy’s insistence, some of his scarlet feathers will be plucked and saved for one of her artistic displays. We try to let nothing go to waste around here.
On another very sad note I feel it important to comment on the passing of our very wonderful neighbor for the past thirty-three years, Henry Jobmann. Henry was the kind of neighbor all of us should have and emulate. He and his wife Judy maintained their property adjoining us on Bussey Hollow, making it a beautiful landscape, enjoyed by all doing a Bussey Hollow sojourn. My friend and good neighbor Henry will be sorely missed.~