Friday, July 6, 2012
No need any more to sit wondering what that pretty bird in the tree is, not in the age of wifi and Google. Here's Steller's Jay, a common site around the place we're living these days.
The real thing is prettier, if anything, than its close-up. The tail, back and wing tips are flashing lapis lazuli, fading to charcoal around the head and shoulders, or whatever birds call them.
With help from our visiting friend Doreen, who likes birds more than we do, we've also become familiar with the Western Peewee, which seems to have a nest under our eaves and sits staring in at us from wires in front of our picture windows.
We've seen a couple of varieties of woodpecker, including the Acorn with its little scarlet beanie. And the hummingbird feeder is back up outside the kitchen window. They feed and harass each other like fighter pilots almost full time, and one bird actually flew into the house. It took a five minute game of gentle broom badminton to send him back outside.
But maybe you're wondering about our bear. We left town for New York the day after the Game and Fish guy put the trap trailer out for him. The trap was gone when we got back last week, so we emailed to see if it worked.
"I did not catch the bear," Ranger Mark replied. "Call me if you have any other problems with it."
There's a responsive public servant for you. But knowing now that Game and Fish runs a gas chamber, we decided we'd lose that phone number and consider taking our Albuquerque friends' advise to get a pellet gun and plink Smokey in his fat butt if he bothers us.
But we didn't see the bear again. Until yesterday, when he wandered back into the neighborhood, looking as untroubled and saucy as ever. We immediately checked our locks and latches and discovered that the french doors from the deck to our bedroom no longer lock or even latch. A gentle nose bump is all a bear or even a raccoon would need to pay us a midnight visit.
The carpenter is supposed to be on his way this morning. We slept restlessly last night behind a stack of patio furniture.
But our most satisfying wildlife event in the past week was an elk sighting. Actually there were four of them, browsing in the woods about 100 yards up the steep slope behind the house. They are majestic creatures at this time of year, much larger than deer and heavily muscled, with their enormous antler racks extending half the length of their bodies.
Elizabeth is as interested in the fauna as we are. But whenever we see a wild thing near the house, her first move is to get Baby off the deck.