Magpies- Part 4 – Tales and Superstitions

April 16, 2023

Whenever I tell someone about the magpies nesting in our front yard they almost always react with an “Oh no!” or an expression of, ‘oh, you poor thing.’ Over the 22 years we have lived in this house the only interaction I’ve had with magpies was to run them off, because I don’t want them messing with the robins and other pretty sounding songbirds. Which is easy. You just open the front door and the magpies fly off. I’ve even run them off the the neighbor’s yard across the street, to protect the nesting duck in their front marigold patch. I’d open our front door and clap. Off they flew. They have very sharp senses. I’ve never seen a magpie nest, or even imagined magpies nesting near us during the past 22 years we’ve lived at this address. Until now.

It is still a surprise to look out at our front may tree.

Friday, April 14, 2023

I don’t see no nest, do you? Yeah, it’s like the elephant in the room, or in this case, the elephant in the tree. I’ve been closely watching them and I’m about positive the female laid her first eggs this past Tuesday, April 11. I told a friend that, she said, no way. There is no way those eggs will survive the weather. I wonder too. We had about 3 days of spring, when she appeared to be nesting and perhaps laid her first eggs, then winter was back.

Thursday, April 13

The female would hop out of the nest, shake herself off, then hop back in. Good thing the nest is domed. Although not leak proof! The male is close-by. And sure enough he is feeding the female.

And look! The robin is back! Assuring us, everything is fine.

Magpies have such a horrible reputation, the yakkity, garbage eating bullies of the bird world that will destroy your gardens and decimate the populations of nearby nesting, more sweet sounding songbirds. But how much of that is true? I did a little research. The Romans believed magpies were highly intelligent with excellent reasoning abilities. In ancient Greece, magpies were sacred to the God of wine, Bacchus. Native Americans considered magpies to be sacred messengers of the creator or even a guardian with shamanic properties. They wore magpie feathers to signify fearlessness.

In Korea the magpie is celebrated as a “bird of great good fortune, of sturdy spirit and a provider of prosperity and development.” Korean children were taught that “when you lose a tooth, throw it on the roof singing a song for the magpie. The bird will hear your song and bring you a new tooth.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oriental_magpie. Similarly, in China magpies are seen as an omen of good fortune and killing one would bring the reverse. The Manchu Dynasty (the Great Qing Dynasty and last dynasty that governed China from 1636-1912) adopted the magpie as a symbol of its imperial rule, declaring it the official ‘bird of joy.’ Mongolians believed magpies controlled the weather.

The magpie was seen as a very important, positive mythological bird in history, until the Christians arrived on the scene. https://www.birdspot.co.uk/culture/magpies-and-superstition The story was told that when Jesus was crucified, two birds came to perch on his cross, a dove and a magpie. The dove grieved for Jesus and caught his tears but the magpie did not. Thus, magpies were eternally damned in the eyes of Christianity because they supposedly did not grieve the death of Christ. In the 19th century a vicar reported one of his servants explaining that the magpie is the only bird not to enter Noah’s ark, preferring to sit outside chattering and swearing in the pouring rain. The church also started the rumor that magpies carry a drop of the devil’s blood in their tongues. If you were to cut the tongue to release the blood then the magpie would be capable of human speech. BTW, the magpie is already capable of mimicking human speech, how in the world would a human cut its tongue? So who is smarter, (guns and opposable thumbs aside) humans or magpies? One could wonder…

In Britain there is probably no other bird more associated with superstition than the magpie. It is generally considered bad luck to come across a lone magpie. Not entirely sure why, but magpies often mate for life, so seeing a single magpie may mean it has lost its mate and therefore, the chance of it bringing bad luck is higher. Coming across a larger group of magpies could actually bring you good fortune and wealth. To help ward off the bad luck that might come your way when meeting a single magpie you might want to either salute the magpie, or say “Good morning general” or “Good morning captain!’ or say “Good morning Mr. Magpie, how is your lady wife today?” or “Good morning Mr. Magpie, how are Mrs. Magpie and all the little magpies?” or say, “Hello Jack, how’s your brother?” or Doff your hat, spit three times over your shoulder, or lastly, blink rapidly to fool yourself into thinking you’ve seen two magpies. You know, to ward off back luck, just in case.

It’s Sunday, April 16, and we checked on the magpies, first thing. Sure enough they were both out there. I started writing my blog and noticed things started to seem more quiet than usual. I kept glancing out the window, especially when I heard magpie calls. For some reason for the past few hours I’ve only seen one. I’ve seen the female emerge from the nest, alight on a limb and call. And then return to the nest. I’ve glanced out to see a magpie fly out of the nest, was it the male, flying off after feeding the female inside the nest? I hope so. I have to admit that I’m a bit worried. I hope they are fine; I’m just missing the signs. Why is it so quiet and why have I only seen one over the past several hours? Could something have happened to the male? You know their reputation around here. Oh man. I shared my concern with David, had he seen the two of them? No, not since 7:30 this morning. “But hey” David reminded me, “You’ve been running them off for the past 22 years, all worried about the robins, and now you’re heartbroken with worry that something might have happened to the magpies?”

Yep, pretty much. If I see even one magpie I’m going to salute it, “Good morning Mr. Magpie, how is Mrs. Magpie and all the little magpies?” And hope with all my heart that they are fine.

Magpies – Part 3 – Our Noisy Lovable Neighbors

April 11, 2023

A pair of magpies has built a nest right in our front yard in a huge may tree that hasn’t leafed out yet. I’ve been mostly photographing them through our front dining room window. They used to fly off as soon as I opened the front door. But they’ve become more comfortable and bold of late, or maybe undeterred in their quest to raise a family. This morning I walked out on the front stoop and took this video. They don’t appear to be nesting yet. You will see the mate fly across the view in this video.

You could play that video in a continuous loop and that’s pretty much what it sounds like around here. Even as I write this blog that magpie has alighted somewhere on another end of the property going ‘yaak’ ‘yaak’ ‘yaak’. It’s a different sound than the “yak-yak-yak-yak’ we were hearing, until about a week ago. Is it some huge announcement to the the animal world, “This is our territory and we’re raising a family!” I hope they have only claimed as territory the west end of our front yard surrounding the tree.

They are never far apart from each other.

Magpies mate for life. They are usually at least two years old when they choose a mate and they stay together year-round. If one of them dies then the other may find a new mate. They will even try to find a surrogate parent to help with raising the young if a mate dies while they are nesting. Although I did wonder if they also divorce, and sure enough, according to this Wiki link, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black-billed_magpie – divorces are possible: one South Dakota study found about an 8% rate of divorce, but another 7-year study in Alberta found divorce rates up to 63% (hey, so they’re smart and complicated, like humans).

Black-billed magpies, also known as the American magpie, are native to the northwestern half of the the US and Canada. Here’s a screenshot of the map in the Wiki article showing their habitat.

Magpies (and other corvids like crows, ravens and jays) are considered to be the smartest non-mammal animals. Of course we humans are much smarter, the smartest of all animals and mammals, with our guns and opposing thumbs, the species at the top of the food chain. When Lewis and Clark first encountered black-billed magpies in South Dakota in September of 1804, they reported the birds as being very bold, hopping into the tents of Plains Indians in search of meat, some which were tame enough to take food from the hand. Magpies followed the buffalo herds, picking insects and ticks off their backs but when the white man came along and decimated the buffalo herds in the 1870’s, magpies switched to cattle, horses and mules. By the 1960’s they had also moved into the emerging towns and cities of the west.

During the first half of the 20th century magpies developed a bad reputation because they stole game bird eggs and also because they picked at the sores on the backs of cattle, for example, their fresh wounds from being branded, and saddle sores on horses and other unhealed wounds. So humans systematically trapped and shot magpies. Bounties of one cent per egg or two cents per head were offered in many states. In Idaho the death toll eventually amounted to an estimated 150,000. In 1933, 1033 magpies were shot in an exterminating contest in Washington’s Okanogan Lakes Region, by two 6-person teams of bounty hunters. Many magpies also died from eating poison set out for coyotes and other predators.

Luckily magpies survived human’s extermination efforts in the early part of the 20th century, and they are common and widespread today. Their main natural predators are owls, crows, raptors, dogs and cats. They can have eggs stolen out of their nests by raccoons, hawks, weasels and minks. Most males appear to begin breeding in their second year. Mean life expectancy in the wild is 3.5 years for males and 2.0 years for females. Although, in captivity magpies can possibly live up to 20 years. It’s a hard scrabble life for magpies.

I’ve been watching the magpies closely today. One of them is chirping constantly.

I saw the two of them together on a limb near the nest and then one of them hopped into the nest and stayed there until I got tired of watching, a good ten minutes. The female incubates and the male feeds the female throughout incubation and guards the nest. I’m wondering … is the female laying eggs now? The female lays up to 13 eggs, but the usual clutch size is 6 or 7. Incubation period is 16-21 days.

One magpie, (the male?) is still talking constantly. I just now stepped out the front door and captured this video:

Tuesday, April 11, 2:26 PM. Did we possibly just witness the male deliver food into the nest for the incubating female? Has she started laying and incubating eggs!? It’s admittedly a good day to lay eggs. We’ve had a two-day sunny warm spell here with temps soaring into the mid-sixties. Of course, the weather forecast calls for a 25-degree drop in temperature over the next 48 hours.

I have to admit – I’ve become quite attached to these magpies. Ol’ grandma here will keep a close watch and do my best to scare off predators and any unwanted visitors, like their wily close cousins the crows.

At this point, I just don’t want anything seriously bad to happen to this budding little magpie family. Is that just too much to ask of Mother Nature and the Universe? Yes?

Magpies – Part 2 – Scare them off the premises?

April 4, 2023

I dreamed last night that I was wandering barefoot through a lush landscape, surrounded by green green grass, buzzing bees and butterflies, flowers everywhere, warm sun basking my face, a symphony of songbirds filling the air. I woke up to a loud ‘ghak-ghak-ghak-ghak!’ Oh yes, the magpies. They have built a nest in our front may tree just a stone’s throw from our upstairs bedroom window.

Magpies are no songbirds. How could they possibly be? But according to Google – magpies belong to the Corvidae songbird family that also includes ravens, crows and jays. Songbird? Really? Their language includes a variety of trill, crackle and whistle calls. In other words, they are noisy. They are also aggressive scavengers, omnivores, who will eat just about anything- insects, fruit, rancid food, sick animals, pluck baby songbirds out of their nests, get into your garbage and make a mess, eat leftovers off your patio table. Are they so aggressive that they would hop right up next to you as you’re eating your dinner on the patio, and be willing to pluck your eye out trying to snatch the food off your fork?

Yeah, I wasn’t thrilled in early March to discover magpies building a nest in our front may tree. They were well into their nest building but we could still stop it! I approached David. Hit him up with all the arguments per above, emphasizing the threat to our hitherto relaxed dinners on the patio watching the robins. Honey, you could get out the adjustable 50′ ladder – climb up there and just knock down that nest!

“The nest is fine,” said David. Wha…?

So I was left to my own devices. Google was full of ideas, because apparently, a lot of other people were trying to scare off magpies as well: https://pestpush.com/get-rid-of-magpies/ Did you know that they are a protected species by law? According to federal and many state regulations, they cannot be hunted, harmed or killed without a permit to do so. So you have to get creative. Aha, magpies don’t like shiny objects. So now we have a use for our voluminous outdated CD collection. Hang a dozen CD’s around the nest! You have to use multiple tactics. So how about we also dangle half-filled plastic water bottles from the tree branches, they’ll blow and slosh around like wayward ships in the southeast Idaho wind and scare the crap out of them! Magpies don’t like loud noises. I could blast some acid Rock music toward the nest off our front porch roof! Maybe that would run them off. Or send our next door neighbors over here to run us off.

You can make a scarecrow and stick it out there, but you have to move it around every few days to keep the magpies guessing. Stuff a shirt and pants and stick them on a pole. Stuff a paper bag with newspaper for the head and draw a big face on it, affix it to the body and shove the pole into the ground. Except I don’t know how you’d keep the head from blowing off the body with the winds around here. Watch it blow off and roll like a tumbleweed across your neighbors’ yards to the end of the block where the road curves north.

You can use decoys, like fake owls and such, but again, the magpies quickly catch on to your tricks. I called my dear friend, Rene, and told her about the magpies. Ugh! She was sympathetic alright. She had had a problem with crows last summer. She had smartly ordered a dead crow decoy to hang in her yard as a stark warning to crows (since they’re so smart!) – this is what happens to you if you stick around. Except, the thing took weeks to arrive, having been shipped from China. The crows had already moved on by the time she got it. No worries. She gave it to me, still in the box. Surely magpies will be frightened by a dead crow. Except I caught David hauling it out to the trash. Hey, stop! That’s the dead crow I’m gonna use to scare the magpies! It might be too late to remedy the nest situation but we might need it later when those pesky birds get into the vegetable garden. Here, I took photos of it.

It’s dead all right. And creepy. Even if it doesn’t work on crows or magpies, it might be enough to scare young children from tromping through your garden.

As I investigated strategies to chase the magpies off, I also learned a lot more about magpies. One of the things I read, “If you are more stubborn than a magpie you can reclaim your home from the winged pests.” Well, as Merlin the Wizard might say, “It is possible, but not certain.” Case in point, this homeowner in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, named Patti Fellows, trying to prevent magpies from nesting in her cedar tree. She rallied her neighbors who helped her wrap her tree in burlap. Then they drew a big face on it. The magpies hopped on the material and ripped it to shreds. Fellows ended up chopping down her cedar tree to be rid of the magpies. The photos are pretty funny. Here’s the link to the article: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/alberta-magpies-1.5133870

Last but not least, let me just share this link: https://www.hit.com.au/story/magpies-remember-your-face-for-up-to-5-years-we-are-not-okay-107240 Studies have shown that magpies can remember a face for up to 5 years. They will remember someone who was good to them and equally, those who weren’t so good, like doing mean things to be rid of them. As I’m hanging those CD’s (likely wearing a hazmat suit) I could sing to the magpies “Everything is Beautiful … in its own way” by Ray Stevens. (A 1970 Grammy-Award winning song only recognizable by boomers.) As in, beautiful if those magpies decide to nest somewhere else next spring?

The magpies are not roosting yet. Both of them are hanging out scavenging for food and certainly keeping an eye on the nest. I was watching them interact with a squirrel. Both of them hop alongside him as he’s foraging for food. Are they trying to steal it from him? Are they making friends with him? The squirrel nearly buried himself in a snow drift right outside our kitchen window, plunging head-first to dig out something with only his hind legs and tail to wrench himself back out. One of the magpies stood just 10 inches away watching him, just as I was. The squirrel resurfaced with his bounty and bounded off with the magpie hopping right behind him. He tried to race up a once familiar tree (now with the nest) when both magpies swooped in, dived bombed him, and chased him half way across our neighbors yard to the west. Okay, so magpies know about that policy, “keep your friends close but your enemies closer.”

Yeah well I’ve decided just to try and be friends with the magpies. I’m glad the nest is in our front yard and not our back yard. I’m hoping to enjoy some relaxation on our back patio this summer without being swooped and dive-bombed by nesting magpies.

Magpies? Really?

March 29, 2023

A huge may tree adorns the west boundary of our front yard. A robin has been perched in the top of it throughout this past winter. Our robin. He (she?) was there last winter. I’m frequently greeted by her chirping when I go out to retrieve the morning paper. Hi Mrs. Robin! Good morning to you too! (Of course I took a photo of her)

November 13, 2022 – 7:58 AM

Every summer we witness a few robin fledglings, either by watching them fledge in a backyard nest or spotting little ones chirping and hopping behind their parents. We always have a nest somewhere. I love to study them and blog about them. I must have written at least 24 robin blogs. One year, about 5 summers ago (?) we had a nest in our back yard, the eggs had hatched, the parents were busy busy feeding the noisy little babies. Then one morning, the nest was empty. What? After this discovery I recalled how I had just run three magpies off our deck. YOU! YOU DID THIS! I just figured the magpies had ganged up on the robins (those bullies!) and snatched the little ones.

Imagine my alarm when, three or four weeks ago, I saw a magpie sail past our dining room window with a large sprig in its beak. Uh-oh! I lost sight of it and looked to see where it landed with that sprig. Huh. No clue.

Well of course that magpie was building a nest. And unbeknownst to me, I was capturing photos of it the whole time. My idea of interacting with winter is to hunker in the house and occasionally open the front door to take photos of the latest accumulation of snow. I typically step out on the front stoop, point my i-Phone westward, and capture the view with our front may tree. Well, guess what? Want to see the slide show of a magpie nest being built? It starts on February 20. Nothing going on here, right?

Feb 20, 2023

Then, February 28. Cold, but innocent. Nothing happening here? … perhaps

Then on March 3, huh, a definite thickening of those lower branches hanging down. Gravid. Like the thickening of a womb in preparation for pregnancy.

Two days later – March 5 – definite thickening in those lower branches just above the line of spruce trees

March 10! I had actually used this photo in my Kauai blog, joking that the huge icicle was no spider web, or some such thing, oblivious to the expanding construction project in our May tree.

March 10 – This would have been the moment to intervene. Had I recognized the situation – magpies building a nest right in our front yard. In our ‘Robin tree!’ But no. They kept building, I was capturing it on camera, and we were oblivious.

I guess the epiphany came on March 11. There they were! Both of them hard at work on that nest. From what I’ve since read about magpies, the male typically delivers the construction material to the female who builds the nest. You can see the female’s tail in this photo, sicking up out of the nest parallel to the male.

Magpies are building a nest in our front may tree! I just couldn’t grasp the reality of it. I’ve never seen a magpie nest as far as I know. I thought they nested near open fields. Not near humans!

I started doing some research. Here’s a link: https://bonnersferryherald.com/news/2016/nov/10/magpie-the-chatterbox-of-the-bird-world-11/ These black-billed magpies are native to Idaho and the western half of North America. I guess one could argue that they were here before humans and think about how a family of magpies must feel about a big house or a human neighborhood going up next to them! I already knew they don’t migrate in the winter. How does the saying go … “they’re scrappy- when the going gets cold they don’t get going.” They tough out the winter, which tells you how smart and industrious they are.

Magpies are part of the Corvidae family, along with the crows, ravens and blue jays. Indeed, they are highly intelligent, one of the smartest animals in the animal kingdom. Magpies are so noisy because they have communication abilities similar to basic human language, including telling if another magpie is lying!

I wanted to capture closer photos and videos of their industrious nest building, but I was confined to taking them through our dining room window. No matter how busy they were building inside the nest, as soon as I even turned the front door knob to step outside they flew away. So every photo and video you see was taken from inside the house.

Took this video on March 12. Through our dining room window, of course. Turn your sound up so you can hear the proud male announcing his delivery to the female!

Here’s a photo I took a little later on March 12. Look how big that nest is already. Maybe they’re about finished with it.

March 13 – huh, they seem to be adding a canopy or something…

By March 15 it’s clear they are building a two-story condo

March 17 – you work downstairs and I’ll work upstairs!

March 17 – Really shaping up! See the front entrance? There’s a hole there between the two stories.

March 21. Welcome first day of spring! No wonder they build a dome over the nest

Fire up the furnace!

On March 22 I took this video. It’s a little long, 48 seconds, but it’s quite entertaining. One of the magpies drops an 18-inch twig and then flies down, attempts to retrieve it, but maybe decides otherwise (?) Smart move. The other magpie flies in to assist.

They are so industrious and persistent!

Saturday, March 25. Do you suppose you would notice this nest if you were to walk down our street?

It honestly looks like a giant womb. Which, I suppose it is.

Check out this link to learn more about magpie nesting. https://birdfact.com/articles/magpie-nesting The nesting season is April to July. Egg-laying typically starts in late March or April. Magpies may start building their nests as early as December. It obviously takes several weeks to build them. But they usually finish the nest in March.

I took this photo this morning.

The magpies have been adding finishing touches, likely lining the inside now with moss, animal fur, feathers and other soft materials. When will they lay their eggs?

At some point that may tree will leaf out obstructing the clear view of the comings and goings of this magpie family. May trees typically bloom and leaf out in the first week of May. But this year?? The way ‘spring’ is going, I’m thinking … June?

Watching these magpies is going to be interesting. Especially with all the other activity going on around here. Just last Thursday evening David came in from the back patio, “Hey check out the owl in our back spruce tree.” I did. Except when I went out there the “Whoo-whoo-whoo-ing’ was coming from across the street. So I went out the front door – captured this video. (Turn up your sound!)

Yeah, two great horned owls calling to each other. As I took the video the one roosting in our back spruce tree flew overhead and landed in a spruce tree near the other one.

And since then I’ve been watching carefully and wondering … what does an owl’s nest look like?

Yes, methinks things are going to get interesting around here with those magpies.

Aloha, Kauai!

March 19, 2023

Kauai 2023 – Part 4

I feel weird, like I’ve left us marooned in Kauai. I have to get us back home. Spring in Idaho is nigh upon us! (Yeah, right.) Somehow I can’t move on from Kauai until I wrap up our January 2023 trip and get us safely home again.

Our last hike was on the Club Med Ruins path in Princeville on the north shore where we enjoyed gorgeous views of Hanalei Bay from the east and checked out the surfers. Well now we are in Hanalei Bay walking the beach. Here you see a view of the ‘dock of the Bay’ looking north – that greenery in the background is where we were walking yesterday – where the failed Club Med and other resorts were never built.

Okay so you’re walking the beach with us now. Here’s a video. Feel the ocean breeze on your face and the sounds of the roiling surf:

Let’s walk the whole expanse of the beach and back again. Oh, wait a minute. Too late. While we were busy taking photos and videos the rest of the group made it to the end of the bay and are already on their way back toward the dock.

That’s Eric, David and Victor on the far left side of the photo. Steph is on the far right – she likes to walk along the shore and soak her feet in the salt water.

And look who washed up the beach!

A mermaid named Megan!

We pull up in the parking lot behind the Hanalei Market. I’m always dragging behind. But when I climb out of the car I can’t help but take a photo. Check out the view!

We shop for a bunch of organic food. Yum! Eric’s got the goods.

I hope Sasquatch doesn’t carry Eric off on his bicycle

Oh but there’s a high surf today so of course we have to drive just a few miles further north on the northern tip of Kauai to Lumaha’i Beach! You pull off the side of the road above the beach and park. Then walk down a short, steep, windy path to the beach. Whoa. No swimmers today. Better stay back a ways from the crashing surf! Here, I took a photo. And a video …

I leaped up onto a ledge when a rogue wave came crashing in – almost lost my sandals. Ran into a couple on the ledge. They allowed that it wasn’t a smart move to be standing on the beach today taking videos. (Smart for tourists, though, who may never make it back here?) Yeah, do you know what the locals call this beach? they said. LumaDIE’ i beach. Oh!

To give you a little perspective on what a Lumadie’i surf might look like, here’s a You tube video – ‘Big surf at Lumaha’i January 28, 2016.’ (This might be the same You tube video I shared in a previous blog – but it’s worth sharing again.) Let me just say, a lot of girls in string bikinis risked their young lives to bring you this video, which, I assume is not being taken by their parents:

We’re headed back up to the car now, on a path through a mini-jungle.

You’re welcome, fellas! Hey, this is Kauai.

But before we leave the island, I must share the most charming experience of all, that of witnessing the nesting Layson albatross. Which, by the way, are an endangered species. Here’s a link for you: https://www.google.com/search?q=Laysan+albatross&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&hl=en-us&client=safari

Layson albatross spend most of their lives flying over the open ocean and can spend up to six years at sea. They only return to land to breed and raise their chicks on nesting sites on the northwestern Hawaiian Islands, mostly Midway and Layson Island but also on the north shore of Kauai. Albatross have a 20-40 year life span. They return to the very place they were born (called imprinting) and engage in elaborate mating dances until they find a mate at about 8 years old.

We always encounter albatross when we visit Steph and Vic in Princeville because there are usually a few nesting albatross on their street. Sure enough, this year there are two nesting albatross right in the yards of a neighbor 3 doors down. I took this photo from the street just walking past it.

We always encounter albatross when we hike Larsen’s beach. They have a nesting site on top of the bluff at the end of the point. Larsen’s beach is probably our favorite hike on Kauai’s north shore, as we also frequently encounter endangered sea turtles and Monk seals sunning themselves on the beach. I’ve blogged about our hikes there several times, but we just can’t leave Kauai (sigh) without me sharing photos and videos from this year. Are you coming along?

They are magnificent in flight

There’s one flying overhead!

Walking back now, we encounter one all by himself, engaging in mating calls, perhaps? Certainly he’ll catch the attention of another albatross!

We encountered a monk seal too. Do you see it in this photo? Look in the sand.

I’m always lagging behind. Do you see Eric and David in this photo? We’ve almost made it to the point at Larsen’s beach.

Find Eric in this photo:

Here’s a photo of Megan as we head back toward the trail head at Larsen’s beach.

Enough already. Get your butts home to Idaho! Okay…

Aloha, Kauai.

Thursday evening January 26, 2023, and we’re headed to the airport in Lihue to catch the red eye to Los Angeles. I’m a little sad and my phone is stowed away in my purse. Enough photos! We land in LA without a hitch (thank goodness) about 7am Friday and catch our second flight to Salt Lake City. We land in Salt Lake before noon. Of course I just don’t sleep well on the red eye so I’m glad I’m not the one driving us the 200+ miles home to Idaho Falls. Accompanied by ‘old man winter.’ I pull my phone back out and capture a few photos of our drive home from the back seat. Here we are nearing Malad, Idaho. David is driving.

Make sure your seatbelt is securely fastened. It gets messier.

Eric takes over the wheel. David didn’t sleep well on the red eye either.

Near McCammon, Idaho now. Snowplows are a welcomed sight! Well, if you have enough visibility to see them…

Near Inkom, Idaho now. Uh-oh.

Dropping into Pocatello

Oh goody! How many miles to Idaho Falls??

We’re just a few miles from home now. Oh no!

There were five cars off the road in the last ten miles. Oh goody. A tow truck! Somebody will be vey happy to see him!

Just pulled onto our street.

I’m not sure why the photo is so blurry. The scene did seem a bit surreal, arriving home jet lagged and stressed out from travel after spending 15 days in Kauai.

We hunkered in for the long haul alongside old man winter. After we were home, Victor and Stephanie sent us updates from Kauai. On February 1st, just 5 days after we left, the baby albatross on their street (where I had taken the photo) hatched out. Victor sent a photo:

A few days later the second baby in their neighborhood hatched. It seems like a miracle that these babies can survive – sitting in nests on the ground. It’s possible because everyone in the neighborhood is on guard for their safety, keeping their dogs leashed, (what about cats? Yikes!) and there are no mongoose (hopefully) on Kauai.

On February 27 we received this video from Steph and Vic. The baby is now almost a month old. A time for celebration! Watch the video carefully and you will see the baby in the nest to the right of the sign in the video:

Here in southeast Idaho we’ve experienced one of the coldest, snowiest winters in 20 years. We still have mountains of snow in our front yard, accumulating since November with not much melting in between. We have been hopeful for signs of spring and by golly I saw one the other day when a magpie flew past our front window with a large sprig in its beak. Sure enough a pair of magpies are working feverishly on a 2-story magpie bungalow in our front may tree.

In case you don’t know what a magpie looks like, I just captured this picture of one of the pair. Boy have they been busy.

Oh, and did I mention that I also captured a photo of a robin in our back yard? Tough bird, that one. A sign of spring? Hey, I’ll take it!

And what’s the current weather forecast for Idaho Falls? “A return of snow on the first day of spring.”

And now you know why I’ve had such a hard time leaving Kauai.

Hanalei Plantation Trail – ‘Club Med Ruins’

March 11, 2023

Kauai 2023 – Part 3

One of our favorite hikes on Kauai’s north shore is the Hanalei Plantation Trail. The trail starts right below a family owned fresh food stand called Nourish Hanalei at the end of Plantation Road in Princeville – https://www.nourishhanalei.com

The area has an interesting history. Check out this link! – https://www.outdoorproject.com/united-states/hawaii/old-club-med-trail The trail runs through the Old Hanalei Plantation that is now known as the Club Med Ruins because there actually was a Club Med Resort on this property in the 1970’s.

The area was a filming site in the movie South Pacific before it was developed. In the 1960’s it was developed into a resort called the Hanalei Plantation Hotel that was then converted to a Club Med resort in the 1970’s. The Club Med resort operated for a few short years but then closed in the late 70’s due to financial hardship. Then in 1979 Honolulu developer Bruce Stark purchased the property with a plan to build 60 condos. The company poured a number of foundations and some walls and stairs before going bankrupt. The foundations remain, which is why the location is still known locally as the ‘Club Med Ruins.’ The path has remained open so people can walk the grounds and enjoy the views of Hanalei Bay. It is still private property. Signs are posted everywhere to stay on the path. A group is proposing some kind of future development but there is strong resistance from the community that has so far kept it from happening.

Let’s do it! We have arrived about 9am, before Nourish Hanalei has opened to make sure we can get a parking space.

Nourish Hanalei

Take in the view at this little stand! The Hanalei river and Hanalei Bay…

The easy walking path down the center of the ruins leads to a promontory point at the east end of the Hanalei Bay. I assume from the article in the link that this is where the resort lobby was planned. It offers a stunning view of the Hanalei bay and dock.

We’re down at the shore now. You’re standing right next to me looking east at the Hanalei dock.

Take the path in front of us and you can follow the shore all the way to the beach. Or follow the path to the right that leads through the woods to Pu’u Poa Beach. We go right.

Encounter some ancient gnarly trees

The trees in the forest almost look frozen in motion, as if they could suddenly spring to life and those tentacled roots could come tromping toward us. Run those tourists out of the woods!

Path to Pu’u Poa Beach

Ah, but we’re saved by a surfer who suddenly appears on the beach. He must have parked near us and walked the same path down. Here’s Megan, David and Eric settled in on one of those elevated roots to watch him.

You ready to go surfing? Let this surfer dude show you how it’s done. He’s just entered the water

Watch him navigate the wide distance to the waves

He’s way out in the distance now, working his way east toward the other surfers in the bay

He’s up! Well, may not be him, there’s quite a few surfers out there trying to catch a wave. This one is obviously a seasoned pro.

Walking back up the path to the car now.

Eric and Steph

It’s so overgrown you hardly notice any ruins.

I heard a beautiful songbird along the way

No idea what kind of bird that is with such a joyful song.

Life is good!

Uh, wait a minute. We’re not in Kauai anymore. This whole blog had me in a trance. All I have to do is sign off this computer and open our back door…

Yeah, like here in southeast Idaho spring is just around the corner.

Mongoose, Mosquitos, Centipedes and Spiders

March 5, 2023

Kauai 2023 – Part 2

So, exactly how many feral chickens are loose on Kauai? Recent tracking (as of July 2022) suggests as many as 450,000, or about six chickens to every human. Their numbers have grown significantly over the years since hurricane Iniki in 1992. Why? Because the chickens on Kauai have no significant predators. The island is free of mongooses.

Mongooses are native to India. But they are now widespread on the islands of Hawaii, Maui, and Molokai. A brownish weasel-like animal, about 2 feet long, with short legs and long tail, they were originally introduced to Hawai’i in 1883 by the sugar industry to control the rats in the cane fields (with a stop in Jamaica, where they were also introduced). Except the plan failed because mongoose are active during the day and rats are primarily active at night. Oops. Mongoose eat birds and their eggs, small mammals, reptiles, insects … they are especially dangerous predators for the native ground nesting nene and albatross and endangered sea turtles.

Although there are no known populations on Kauai, the Kauai Invasive Species Committee (KISC) is actively controlling the mongoose species. Sightings of mongoose (or any other pests on their target list) should be reported to them immediately. They will come and survey the situation and remove the pest for free. Check out their link:https://www.kauaiisc.org/kiscpests/mongoose/

According to their site, one female mongoose was found dead along a road in 1976 near Kalaheo and sightings have been reported all over Kauai. In May, 2012, KISC captured the first live mongoose near the Lihue Airport. (Yikes!) A mongoose was captured in October 2016, again at the Lihue Airport. Then another mongoose was trapped five years later, in December 2021, at the Nawiliwili boat harbor. https://beatofhawaii.com/mongooses-in-hawaii-why-latest-find-on-kauai-is-so-disturbing/ Very unsettling!

So yeah, because there aren’t mongoose the wild chickens are proliferating. I’m sure the locals don’t enjoy the habits (pooping, cock-a-doodle-do-ing at all hours, aggressively begging for food, and ruining your garden) and antics of the wild chickens as much as the tourists do.

One detail I left out of my previous blog was, while I was following those wild hens around, taking videos of their tiny chicks, Megan was getting eaten by mosquitos. Mosquitos? In Paradise? Admittedly it was near dusk when we walked on that trail, but in the previous nine trips to Kauai I don’t think I got bitten by a mosquito even once. How could it be that in a space of a few minutes Megan got bitten 5-6 times? How was I not aware after all these visits to Kauai that they do have mosquitos? Of course,Google can answer these questions! https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/some-people-really-are-mosquito-magnets-and-theyre-stuck-that-way/ Yes, some humans are mosquito magnets and other humans, well, mosquitos just aren’t attracted to them (try not to take this personally). ┬áThe subjects in the experiment with greater amounts of carboxylic acid on their skin were most attractive to mosquitos while those with low amounts were least attractive. And apparently, your blood type or diet has nothing to do with it, your corboxylic acid levels are fixed: Once a mosquito magnet, always a mosquito magnet.

Hawaii hasn’t always had mosquitos, of course. They were introduced in the early 1800’s via the whaling ships. https://reviverestore.org/the-plan-to-restore-a-mosquito-free-hawaii/ Six separate species of mosquitos are now found on the islands. Two species transmit deadly human diseases (dengue, chikunguna, and Zika) while one transmits avian malaria. Native Hawaiian species have not developed resistance to mosquito transmitted diseases and so invasive mosquitos carrying avian malaria are particularly dangerous to Kauai’s forest birds, which are fighting extinction. And as far as humans go, if you are planning a trip to Kauai and wondering about the mosquito situation, here is a site – a trip advisor forum on mosquitos in Kauai with lots of discussion from self-proclaimed mosquito magnets… https://www.tripadvisor.co.nz/ShowTopic-g29218-i304-k10810066-Mosquitoes-Kauai_Hawaii.html

While we’re on the subject of Non-Native invasive species in Kauai, you can imagine how easily cockroaches arrived in Hawaii as stowaways in shipping containers, starting about 200 years ago. According to this article – https://cockroachfacts.com/cockroaches-in-hawaii/ – there are nineteen different species of cockroaches in Hawaii. But in my ten visits to Kauai, I’ve only spotted one roach, a very large cockroach, likely the American cockroach. It was sprawled out, not moving one bit, in the entry to the ladies room in the Lihue airport. The horde of women entering and exiting the restroom simply stepped around it. No one said a word about it and certainly we weren’t going to soil our shoes squishing it!

So what’s the point of this blog, you ask? I dunno. I started thinking more about the feral chickens and why they are so happy and prolific on Kauai, which got me on the subject of the mongoose and other invasive species in Kauai. Like the centipede. Check out this link: https://a-z-animals.com/blog/hawaii-centipedes/

There are three types of centipedes in Kauai. The Vietnamese Centipede (can probably guess where it came from) is giant – can grow up to 8 -10 inches long. Vietnamese centipedes prefer warm damp areas like under rocks, woodpiles and mulch. It is not common to find them inside homes, thank goodness. I have never seen a centipede in Kauai, but I haven’t been camping! I got a charge out of this story, a 5-minute read, by Gabriel Morris – who, in March 2022, decided to pitch a tent on a secluded beach on the northern shore of Kauai. He scraped out an area of thick leaves and scared up three centipedes in the process. Just scraped them out a few feet way with his shovel. Kept his tent zipped up except to answer nature’s call during the night and left his tent flap open for a minute. Well you can guess what happened. Let me just tell you that these huge centipedes have one tough exoskeleton. And they bite, but don’t worry, Gabriel did win the battle unscathed against his unwanted roommate.

To put a wrap on this I will post one insect photo I did take, that of the common garden spider of Kauai. Where did I take it? Off the edge of Steph and Victor’s front porch.

It’s quite thrilling to see a garden spider with its zig-zag patterned web. They’re magnificent, don’t you think? I don’t remember the last time I saw a garden spider on the mainland. Here’s a link to the five biggest spiders in Kauai, the garden spider being one of them: https://a-z-animals.com/blog/the-5-biggest-spiders-in-hawaii/ Garden spiders will bite if threatened, with swelling, pain and redness. It would probably take either a very brave or very stupid bird to try and eat that spider. None of us were going to mess with it.

Lastly, did I mention that there are no snakes in Kauai? Oh, except for the Brahminy Blind Snake that looks like an earthworm, believed to have arrived via potting soil from the Philippines in the 1930’s. https://maalaea.com/are-there-snakes-in-hawaii/ It’s approximately six inches long, and feeds on ants and termites. Now that’s the type of invasive species we’re lookin’ for!

Just for the heck of it, I’ll step out on our front porch and take a photo.

That’s no spider web attached to our gutter. It’s still a freakin’ winter wonderland here in southeast Idaho.

January 2023 – Kauai here we come!

February 28, 2023

You’re kidding, right? The 58 blogs you’ve already written on Kauai aren’t enough? Yep. That’s what I was thinking when we returned a month ago. Enough with the blogs. You’re back from Kauai. Get your feet in the now and get on with your life!

My husband David, brother Eric and I have visited my sister Steph and husband Victor in Kauai every January since 2012, skipping 2020 and 2021 during COVID. Our daughter Megan joined us last year and this year. So, no! No more blogs! Until yesterday, when it was still snowing and I was looking through my photos and videos. And they carried me back to Kauai …. You wanna go?

Tuesday, January 10 – David, Eric, Megan and I hit the road about 4 pm for the 200-mile drive from Idaho Falls to Salt Lake. We will spend the night in a motel near the airport and fly to Kauai tomorrow.

We’ve made it 30 miles already, to Blackfoot! The weather isn’t cooperating.

It’s a rain/snow mix the whole way. Here we are south of Brigham City, Utah about 6:07 pm. My i-Phone says our location is ‘Willard’

Here, I took a video. Turn the sound up to complete the experience from the back seat.

We pull off the freeway in Layton, UT into Red Lobster to grab dinner. Yay! Time for a toast! Let’s kick off this vacation! Margaritas for the old farts and a coke for Megan.

Oh joy. The weather was sure busy while we were celebrating. Back out to the truck at 8PM.

Layton, Utah

We drive our last 10 miles to the motel through a raging snowstorm.

Wednesday, January 11 – 8:40 am. Navigating our way through the Salt Lake City International Airport. You can spot Eric in his ‘Kauai-ready’ orange shirt, Megan behind him, and David next to Megan.

Salt Lake City International Airport

I’m always striving to keep up, even when I’m not taking photos.

We flew to LA and then onto Lihue without a hitch. Rented an SUV and drove about 45 minutes along the east side of the Island to Princeville, at the northern tip. Arrived just in time for dinner!! Tuck yourselves in for a good night’s sleep, we have lots of adventures ahead…

Thursday, January 12. Good morning Princeville! Jump in the car to about anywhere and you circle the fountain.


Princeville’s fountain – statue of Neptune with his trident.

Princeville was named after Prince Albert, the only son of King Kamehameha IV and Queen Emma, who died in 1862 at the age of four. Of course, the fountain doesn’t look particularly Hawaiian. The Roman fountain was constructed in the early eighties by Australian business tycoon Christopher Skase, who purchased 7,000 acres in Princeville. He was inspired by the Fountain of Love when he visited the Cliveden house, one of England’s grand county houses, and commissioned a similar fountain on his property in Princeville. For several years after it was placed vandals frequently sabotaged the fountain and even stole Neptune’s trident. But it has become a beloved landmark. Check out this link to learn more: https://princevillefountain.com

So, off on our daily morning walk! Along the Hanalei National Wildlife refuge. Why did the Nene cross the road?

Nene Geese

Because they own the island. Nene geese are the Hawaiian State bird. And a protected endangered species. How lucky to see a pair with two little ones!

Or perhaps they were crossing the road to get away from chickens. In all my blogs I have mentioned the wild chickens, shared photos of chickens, but never on any of our previous trips have I been up close and so personal with so many feral chickens as we were on this trip!

On this walk in Princeville we took along a bag of wild bird seed. There were chickens and roosters pecking about, lots of fowl sightings and sounds. Eric threw some bird seed out. I took a video. Can you keep count of the wild chickens who scurried from every which direction?

Yes, these are feral chickens. Think you could catch one? Ha. Here’s a fun link about the wild chickens of Kauai: https://koloalandingresort.com/how-many-chickens-are-in-kauai/

The article explains that the wild chickens of today are a blend of jungle fowl and farm hens. “Different theories have hatched over the years but the locals will tell you that the first wave of chickens came ashore with the Polynesians over 1000 years ago. Then in 1982 Hurricane Iwa hit … and the winds destroyed most of the Island’s coops and blew countless chickens out of farms, scattering them from coast to coast.” Ten years later, in 1992, hurricane Iniki hit, further scattering the chickens. The locals don’t bother eating them as their meat is notoriously tough and untasty. Which begs the question, why would you bother trying to catch a wild Kauai chicken?

We sure ran into a lot of them on this trip, one path in particular, a wooded trail beside the Westin Resort. Megan and I walked it several days in a row, just to check on the little chicken families we had become attached to, the industrious hens and their tiny broods.

I imagine about every waking moment of a young chick’s life is a learning experience. We humans could learn a thing or two about tough love from these seasoned mother hens. Like in this video. Mother showing them how to forage for food, but lets build in another lesson

Now you listen up little chicks. You could be knocked on your ass in an instant! And if you get kicked to the curb ….

Pick yourself up and try again!

You could also call on daddy to intervene

Here he comes to save the day! (Turn your sound up, especially if it’s sunrise)

Okay, in case you haven’t had enough videos of feral chickens on Kauai to last you a lifetime, or you don’t care for videos, I’ll throw in some photos.

Yeah, good try little one getting over that curb in the picture cut from the video. You didn’t make it, did you?

Enough already on these chickens! Yeah, I guess I should add a sunset or something.

Did I mention that Kauai has palm trees?

With this, I’ll call it a wrap! Huh, what’s tomorrow’s theme? Wild boars?

Finding Spring

May 9, 2022

I’ve always lived in northern climes, experiencing the distinct changes in light and weather over the four seasons. Here in southeast Idaho winters are long, and much of spring can feel just like winter.

This past winter was colder and drier than normal. We were walloped with snow in late December, with a couple more storms in January and February, and it pretty much stayed on the ground till March. Here’s a photo I took on March 5.

March roars in and intermittently melts and refurbishes the winter snowpack. It’s a strange experience to stop in traffic on a main thoroughfare in town and find yourself alongside a large snowcapped mountain peak of shoveled snow. How did all that snow turn so black? Surely the parking lots are not that filthy! How much of that soot and grime was deposited by the wind over the last three months?

Mount Filthydomarro

But we’re thawing out and hopeful for signs of spring. By March 12 a local canal thaws into a puddle big enough to accommodate two ducks! But you have to look carefully to see them.

By March 15 our Christmas lights come down.

But on March 16 it feels like Christmas again

And by March 20 we’re back to December.

Do you see the squirrel? He’s back there somewhere

Idaho Falls, March 20

By April 4 the tulips are up and crocuses are blooming!

Things haven’t changed much by April 12. Except we’ve hung a couple bird feeders.

Rudy keeps an eye on things. In between naps.

Can we make you more comfortable, Rudy?

Yeah, well, time to wake up from our long winter’s naps and search for more signs of spring!

What say you Squirrel? No, you’re not getting on the bird feeder.

Oh wow! It’s May 1st and we have a daffodil blooming out front. Yes, one daffodil. Can you see it?

Here’s a better view.

Awesome. A daffodil!

Yeah, find the other hundred daffodiIs I planted last fall. They’re poking up, but hey, what’s the rush? As I said, sometimes in southeast Idaho you have to look carefully for signs of spring.

Can you find the tulip sprouting up in our rock bed? Why of course, I planned it that way.

It’s May now and all the lawns in the neighborhood are greening up. The chickadees keep us busy refilling the bird feeder.

Two ducks have become regular workhorses in our backyard cleaning up the birdseed the chickadees keep flipping out of the bird feeder.

They could almost be disguised as yard art. Notice the proliferation of three daffodils now blooming in our back yard.

The ducks have others joining the team to clean up the mess from the chickadees. Enter, squirrel and mourning dove:

Eurasian doves are helping too. But they all have to be on constant high alert for predators, specifically, raptors circling above. A couple of weeks ago we were passively gazing out our kitchen window at a Eurasian dove in our back lawn, when a hawk swooped in and snatched it up in front of our eyes, leaving only a scattering cloud of feathers. Now you see the Eurasian dove, and ‘poof’, now you don’t. Yikes.

The hawks are circling overhead alright!

Thank God they don’t prey on humans. They could sure ruin a good outdoor picnic, never mind the weather.

Yeah well try having a picnic on a windy day in April or May. Hold onto your sandwich and let the chips blow where they may.

Just last week I was out in the yard in a 20mph wind when I spotted squirrel. Hold on there, buddy!

Morph yourself to a tree limb to keep your bearings!

Can you spot the chickadee in this next photo?

Hint: It’s nearly dead-center (no, not dead) in the arborvitae. Safe from hawk and wind! That’s a May tree by the way, above the arborvitae, so named because they usually bloom by the first of May. Yeah, well it’s May 9th, and it hasn’t bloomed yet. Haven’t seen even one May tree in bloom in town.

Well I guess I should put a wrap on this. Not too motivated today to take a walk and look for spring. Here, I just took a screenshot of our weather app today. High of 44 and cloudy with a wind advisory.

I stepped out and took a photo of our back yard this morning.

More than 3 daffodils blooming in our center garden there! (ya, I knew I planted them last fall). Hopeful signs. The tall lilacs along the fence are shooting out leaves and I swear that flowering crab in the center garden has flower buds. One warm spell and everything will pop!

Oh, and did I mention the robins? We have one tough dude hanging around who thinks he’s a hawk.

A Spring Tail

April 5, 2022

How wonderful the blossoming of spring after a long cold winter! The sweet month of April has arrived, the crocus are blooming, and the summer birds are back to establish their breeding grounds. I spotted our first robin high in a May tree on March 13.

… chirping away as I retrieved the morning paper. I came back out and took a video so you can hear it too.

We have gray squirrels scampering across our back yard all winter long, see all those nests up there in those ancient trees behind our house?

A veritable scurry of squirrels. Okay, so I know squirrels are rodents, part of the scientific order Rodentia. https://www.westernexterminator.com/blog/are-squirrels-rodents/

And they are certainly considered by many humans to be pests and a bit of a nuisance. They chew on things like telephone wires, electrocute themselves on transformers and knock out power lines. They scurry on your roof when you’re trying to sleep and might chew their way into your attic, but hey, they’re just looking for tree nuts and acorns and maybe a place to nest. You have inevitably flattened a squirrel while driving because they are a bit OCD about crossing the road, dang it, make up your mind which direction you’re going there, Mr. Squirrel! Darned if you’re going to slam on your automobile brakes to avoid running over a squirrel.

But I love watching the squirrels in our back yard. It’s a pretty sweet spot for them on account of we have an ever bearing flowering crab apple tree planted right in a center garden. The tree should bloom in the next few weeks, beautiful dark pink blossoms, the fruit comes late summer and hangs on the tree all winter. To feed the squirrels and birds. I love to watch them!

I captured a video of the squirrel from inside the house when our dog decided he was thirsty. A weird soundtrack. Don’t worry. The dog is not sloshing water from the dog dish onto your shoe and you really don’t have to let him out to chase the squirrel.

By mid March the bird feeders come out. What species will we attract? Small woodpeckers perhaps? The chickadees. Yellow warblers?

Squirrels. Let the bird feeder wars begin!

He’s on!

Yes, but I’ve got a solution. Watch this video for the big reveal:

Rabid squirrel-chaser dog. Okay, but I have to step up my game here. Feeder situation not tenable.

I head to my friend Rene’s house. She’s way ahead of me in all areas garden related. She has birds on her feeders. An Audubon book to identify them. Huge trees in her back yard, and at least three gray squirrels foraging around all the time. She thought she had outsmarted them hanging her bird feeder 12 feet down from a tree limb. We were standing at her back door enjoying her utopian garden landscape when suddenly a squirrel leaped from a limb onto the hook 3 feet above the feeder and dropped right down on the feeder. Easy peasy.

Stealthy little bugger!

A few days later Rene looked out her back door and there lying on the ground near the feeder was a tail. Just a tail.

Oh no! A tail without a squirrel attached to it? How did that happen? Is the squirrel dead and eaten? By a …. raccoon? No. Surely they are too slow for squirrels. A hawk? Did a large raptor swoop down and snatch the squirrel? No, would the tail be sitting here right by the back door, then? A cat? A wily quick snatch of its claws, torture and kill, the body eaten, save for the tail. (And a kidney. Is there a squirrel kidney splayed out on a neighbor’s back stoop dropped there as a trophy from the kill, compliments of the cat?)

I just can’t stop thinking about that tail. As it turns out, it isn’t that uncommon for squirrels to lose their tails. Not like lizards lose their tails, where they drop off and bounce on their own to confuse a predator and then the lizard just grows it back. Squirrels can get their tails caught in fences. A predator can rip it off, but once the tail is gone, it’s gone. But I just can’t imagine being a lowly rodent squirrel going forward in life without that bushy tail. A squirrel without a tail? Lowlier than a vole!

A disturbing spring tale.

Here’s a Google link with interesting facts about squirrels losing their tails, not surprising, on a “squirrels at the feeder’ site (you can find anything on the Internet)

Squirrels can live without their thick, bushy tails, albeit, at a higher risk for early death. Their fluffy appendage helps with balance, regulates body temperature, breaks their falls, and serves as a parachute in the air (yeah, we know). A squirrel’s tail is an important thermoregulatory device. Did you think about the tail providing a source of shade for the squirrel in warm weather? The squirrel can wrap its tail around itself in the winter to keep warm and use the tail to protect itself from rain. A squirrel can control blood flow to the tail – rushing blood to the tail to disperse body heat or reducing blood flow to the tail to conserve heat. During a fall, the hairs on the tail separate in order to catch as much air as possible. This slows the squirrel’s fall and provides time for the squirrel to orient its body to land safely. You know, verses falling to its death with a splat from a high tree limb with no tail or a rat tail.

I dunno. This is a dumb squirrel story. I did feel pretty sad thinking about that squirrel tail, obviously belonging to a squirrel, likely a dead squirrel. Rene has been watching out in her back yard for a tail-less squirrel. She hasn’t seen it yet. If alive, it’s likely hiding out somewhere, utterly devasted and depressed over losing its fine bushy appendage. Rene certainly won’t see it on the bird feeder.

Yeah, that thick bushy tail is a pretty dang fancy appendage, for any living thing to lose. Even if the living thing happens to be a medium-sized rodent foraging for tree nuts and acorns, and otherwise, a bit of a pest and, on most accounts, a general nuisance.

Picture taken of our flowering crab, May 7, 2017