This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm
April 24th, 2006

For the Birds

We weren't fishing today - most of it was spent on the computer working on this issue. But since it was in the high 60s outside it was just too darn nice to stay inside.

JC had scheduled a trim job on our front deck ceiling. This 'ceiling' is evergreen clematis growing on the rafters. It needs a really good haircut about every other year. This requires good clippers, loppers, ladder and someone (me) to rake all the cut pieces up and take them to the backyard to our burn pit. It took over two hours for JC to trim, and another hour for me to get all mess cleaned up...(It's not done yet, bonfire tomorrow.)

We sat on the deck once everything was done and just enjoyed the yard. The lawn has been cut and trimmed, the tulips we planted last fall are just starting to bloom. Both the lace leaf and full moon maples are leafed out, and beyond we can see Hood Canal. And a Bald Eagle. He was circling about a block away, and then flew right up our street and past us. Close enough to see individual feathers. We do have eagles here, a pair of pileated woodpeckers, blue herons and tons of birds in general. We've left a section of our yard 'wild' so there is a place for birds. We've planted some bushes which have berries in the fall there, but no paths or clearing at all. On the opposite side of the yard there is a 'managed' woods. Paths, birdhouses, bird baths, several feeders including suet.

We are highly rewarded. We have three resident squirrels. One is a Douglas squirrel (who we named Douglas) another Douglas which we call "other squirrel" and the third is a night creature, a flying squirrel we named "Rocky." (Yes, from Bull Winkle.) Plus all the birds who live around here and the transients who find us as well. We go through a large amount of various bird feeds.

Last night we had a special visitor. We were just falling asleep when we heard a very strange sound quite close to the house. We both were aware of it and listened intently. We heard it again, and again. An owl. Not usual here. The first we've heard since we bought this house sixteen years ago. Frogs are usual, not owls.

This morning JC went through our northwest raptor book and concluded it was a Spotted Owl. Ya, right. We had heard it very clearly, so JC googled up a web site with the calls of all the owls. Really, there is one. It took a while, but the call of a Spotted Owl is very distinctive. We're convinced, although from what we have read we don't seem to be living in their ideal habitat. I did send an email to my friend the 'bird lady' who writes a weekly column for our local daily newspaper asking her opinion.

The response from the 'bird lady' came; "we have no records of spotted owls for this area but the barred owl, its look-a-like, is moving in more and more. When you hear the bird the next time, see if it sounds something like, "who cooks for you?" They aren't shy and if you hear it, you can probably get a good look at it." JC went back to the owl website and we both listened to the call of the Barred Owl. No question, it indeed was a 'barred' and not a Spotted.

We also have fish, indoors and out. Since we tend to overdo things, we had to give away some of our indoor fish this past week, we just had too many to maintain a healthy place for them. Plus it takes considerable maintenance time to have twice as many fish as an aquarium is supposed to hold. Gratefully they went to a good friend who set up an aquarium just for them.

So while we didn't fish this weekend, (and to be honest we generally don't fish on weekends anyway, Saturday and Sunday are work days here), we still are connected with the outdoor world. In fact, if you were here, you might be surprised how connected. ~ The LadyFisher

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