Monday, August 18, 2014

Birds of Farm Dover

We've seen three amazing things around the farm recently and, in all three cases, I didn't have my phone/camera with me to capture them. So, you will just need to use your imagination...

Thing 1: Ed and I were out front by the entrance gate, walking along, pulling up random stalks of much-hated Johnson Grass. Suddenly a mama bobwhite quail flew up out of the short grass and started shrieking and hobbling along the ground. I mean really shrieking. She was dragging a contorted wing behind her, limping along as if she had barely escaped being eaten alive by a terrible creature. Both Ed and I turned toward her to see what was going on.

For some reason, I turned back to where she had flushed from to see a covey of at least 15 ping-pong-ball-sized quail chicks, running every which way, frantic to find their mother. I then realized that she was faking her injury to get us to follow her and leave her babies be. I've seen this bizarre behavior before with killdeer but didn't realize quail performed the same act. Ed and I immediately moved away from the babies as the mama made her way across the drive and into the taller grass. She then began to call to her chicks, giving them very clear instructions to stay still until these silly humans moved on.

Thing 2: We evidently have a pair of pileated woodpeckers living in the woods behind our pond dam. Think Woody Woodpecker and you will know what we have seen. Both the male and female have a flaming red crest and both are large birds, about the size of a chicken or large crow. Twice now, we have seen them on the trunk of a small tree in our back yard, working their way up and around the truck, looking for something tastey to eat. They tend to mate for life and to stay on the same territory for the entire year. We have our fingers crossed that they are nesting and soon we will have a descent of red-heads making their home here.

Thing 3: When we returned from our week in Michigan I went upstairs to water plants and happened to look out the bath window, down on the orchard and cottage. There, parading around, were 22 wild turkeys. It looked like this rafter of turkeys included two large hens, about 10 teenagers, and 10 chicks. They made their way out of the tall grass and into the orchard then around the cottage to the garden, having a big time pecking at things on the ground. By the time I got back downstairs and grabbed my camera, the last one was slipping back into the woods behind the bee houses. I've seen them roost in a tree there, but never seen them walking around, so close to the house.

Ed and I are headed out now, to do some work in the fields. No telling what we might see. I think I'll take my camera...

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