Monday, June 7, 2010

Duck Update

We didn't see Mrs. Mallard and her ducklings on Friday or Saturday, and I began to worry what might have happened to them. Then on Sunday we spotted them on our dugout. That's about 300 feet away from the front pond. She had to get them to trek over the front "yard", the driveway and through many feet of dense plantings and down the embankment to get them on the water in the dugout. But there they were on Sunday afternoon, nestled in the tall grass at the water's edge. The three drakes that have been around came flying down to the water, stayed a few moments and then flew away again.

This morning when M. and I came home from our walk, we saw the whole brood, all 10 of them with Mama, on the dugout across the road from ours. Another prodigious feat: getting ten little ducks up out of our dugout, up the fairly steep embankment, down the bank on the other side into the road ditch. Then up, over the road, down into another fairly deep ditch, up the other side of that and another 50 feet to the new dugout. I'm in awe!

The little ones are noticeably braver and more independent than they were on Thursday, bopping all around this smaller dugout on the west side of the road.

After I listed the birds I had seen by last week, I sat down with my Birds of Alberta book to list a few more. Here's what I came up with in addition to last week's list: Red Winged Blackbird, Northern Rough Winged Swallow, hummingbirds, some variety of blue jay, Northern Flickers, Red Tailed hawks, Gray Partridge, House Sparrow (identified with the help of the book), Goldfinches. Last year M. and I saw four Western Tanagers in the neighborhood, and one time on the way to Red Deer I saw four Mountain Bluebirds (tentatively identified--they were totally, startlingly blue). There are still lots of the smaller birds that I haven't identified yet.

In the 70's when we went camping in the mountain parks we noticed how many fewer birds there were in that area than on the prairies. But we do have wonderful bird habitat here: lots of trees, bushes (especially those with berries) and water. Our old dog Honey doesn't bother the birds at all, and Sam, our cat perished last winter. He wasn't ever that much of a threat, but a yard without a cat is surely preferable for birds.

1 comment:

  1. I used to try and keep a "life list" of all the birds I've seen but gave it up. Life intruded, I guess. I enjoyed reading about your birds. I've always wanted to see a blue bird.