Day 58-SIP-Mystery Hatch

It all happened under my nose. Some wonderful creature of nature decided to use the decorative pine tree under my office window as a maternity ward. I never saw a thing, even though I pass by the tree to get into and out of my house everyday. It wasn’t until two days ago that I found some egg shells on the front lawn. At first I thought someone’s garbage got blown away and I happened to catch it. Then I looked more carefully at the broken eggs, there were six of them, scattered about. I cook with eggs everyday and I could not have broken an egg like these were broken. Duh! The light went on. Something broke these eggs from the inside. It had to be a chick of some kind, but what? Snakes lay eggs, and I have a rather large garter snake that shows up very year about this time, but these eggs were too large even for the big reptile, and garter snakes have their young live. No one in my neighborhood raises chickens, so I figured that is out, and these were much too large to be a song birds eggs. Maybe a turtle? Nah, I’ve uncovered turtle eggs before and they were not even half of these. That left me wondering if the two mallards that have been lolling about my pond for the past few days are it.

A little more probing and I found the nest under the decorative pine. There are the remnants of at least four more eggs in there all with openings. The eggs are about the same as a large chicken egg, but the color is just a tad different. Only the ducks and the geese are left. I truly believe that these eggs are a mite too small for a goose. So again the finger of suspicion points at the mallards.

This Is What I wish I Will Soon See in My Yard

A couple of days ago, when I reported that the mallards were hanging around I expressed a wish that they would have a family in my yard and use the pond as their training ground for the babies. A wish come true perhaps? Except there is no sign of babies anywhere. Could it be they were discovered by a raccoon who had a feast and left his mess for me to clean? Only the mallards know for sure. I will have to keep my eyes open for them to see where they hide when not in my yard. I’ve counted nine to ten eggs shells, so that would be about the right size brood for a duck. What a joy it will be to discover mama and papa feeding and nurturing the family for me to watch.

Day 52-SIP-Life Goes On

Every Spring I am blessed with a visit from a pair of mallard ducks. This morning, I spotted a rather violent splash of water in my water garden so lovingly referred to as my pond. The sun was shining so I knew it couldn’t be lightening or any storm related violence. I slowly crept up to the window with my camera ready. Low and behold, the splash was from the lady mallard landing in the water. Her faithful partner landed shortly thereafter. I have studied mallards to determine f they mate for life like swans, but they do not. In fact they are very promiscuous in their habits. Nevertheless, they like to sun themselves in my sacred little lake. Later this morning they will disappear until tomorrow at the same time.

Mallards Having Fun

I have dreams of the mallards raising their family in my back yard, but that has not been realized yet. I am hopeful that someday they will do it. The idea of seeing a dozen fuzzy little baby birds swimming around with mom is just too much to not want. I have watched parades of mallard families out for a training swim with their mother in the pond near the town of Frankfort. All I can say is that mom is relentless. She shows no mercy on her young. She swims around the entire pond and they have to keep up or they are lost. She never stops to rest, she just keeps on paddling, and the little ones keep up the struggle to show her they can make it.

At this time, the wetlands behind my house are loaded with Canada geese all nurturing their newly hatched families. There is already too much vegetation blocking my view so I won’t see any of the youngsters until mom and dad begin the flying lessons. Then I see them taking off in formation and circling overhead before landing again. They remind me of the jets doing similar exercises from an air base. When I wintered in Arizona I was ten miles away from Luke Air Base where they trained pilots. The way they fly and the train is so like the geese it is amazing. When I see pairs of geese coming in for a landing I also visualize F 15 fighter jets coming home.

Spring is also a great time to bird watch because so many birds are migrating and stop in the yard to feed and rest. My yard is loaded with warblers that are not yearlong residents They will disappear until some time in fall when they reverse migrate. The slate grey junco and the black juncos are now gone, or very rare. They migrate to the north into Canada to have their families. Meanwhile the flock of Canada geese that call Illinois their home is growing by leaps and bounds. Most likely because there are so many acres of fields planted in corn and soy beans that their food supply is plentiful, even in winter. One can see a thousand geese gleaming a newly harvested field. The next week, the same flock will be in another field doing the same. All I can say is that the farmers lose a lot of grain during their harvest.

A few years ago, we had a bout of mosquito borne bird flu called West Nle Virus which took out huge populations of popular wild birds. There was a day when I thought for sure I would never see another chickadee. Yet, many years later the chickadee and all the other birds damaged by the West Nile Virus have come back strong. We will also come back strong after COVID-19, but now we must suffer until we develop immunity. At this point, the only way I know of to get immunity is to get the disease and live through it.

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