Circle of Life 😊

I was enjoying a mockingbird at my suet feeder all day on Friday. Saturday, I took my cat Ed out on his harness for that most important morning mole hunt. I saw something at the back of the yard, and after putting Ed inside for the day, went to look. It was the large field of feathers, as shown in the photo below.

They were plain grey and tan, without notable spots that would identify them as a mourning dove’s, and I didn’t see the mockingbird Saturday. So I thought I’d lost him to a hawk. Today (Sunday) I saw the nest above in my sweetgum tree, even though the nest appears constructed with pear branches. Last year the Cooper’s hawks built an abortive nest in the pear. This year they seem to have made a better choice of location, but their preference of leaf type is interesting. Probably it’s because the sweetgum isn’t fully leafed out yet, or because its sap is too aromatic for their taste.

Today, the, or a, mockingbird was at the suet feeder, meaning either a new one has taken over the territory already, the old one is fine after all, the female got taken instead of the male, or the feathers belong to a different bird altogether.

 

Here are all the feathers. This type of display tells you the predator was likely a hawk. A cat carries its prey off to a secret place to eat, and isn’t likely to sit pulling feathers while vulnerable (so the cat feels) to having its prey stolen. But to a hawk, taking off with a bird fully-feathered would be like trying to run carrying an open umbrella.

 

Several of last year’s nicotiana, nominally annuals, have come back from the roots this year. As famous gardeners Joe Eck and Wayne Winterrowd advised, it’s worthwhile pushing your zones. You don’t know what you may get away with growing. Southeastern Ohio not only straddles zones six and seven these days, but has the sort of hilly woodland environment that provides microclimates readily. Where there are tree roots, where water runs underground, where shrubs and grasses make shelters, where even small humps and bumps alter air currents, hardy annuals and hot-zone perennials can last late into fall and even return in spring.

 

The last of the three types of tulips I planted last fall: Apricot Beauty, Dordogne, and this one, Salmon Impression. This one is really on fire, with lots of richness in its orange-shading-to-salmon coloration. And I’ve done well with tulips overall, despite the deer, after taking a few precautions.