Sunday, July 09, 2006

All God's creatures

I spent much of the 4th of July week up at Mom and Dad’s place on the North Shore. It was a good time as always, with lots of food, fun, and of course, wildlife.

We took daily hikes, and even went to Oberg Mountain one day to enjoy lots of birds and spectacular views. There too many things to talk about, so I will settle on three topics!

Butterflies, butterflies, everywhere

Picture of a White Admiral



One of the joys of being outside in the summer is seeing all of the “flying flowers!” The butterflies, that is. My parents have a wildflower garden in their yard, which attracts these beautiful insects, and they are also prevalent along our hiking routes.

A beautiful Great Spangled Fritillary



This time of year, the Great Spangled Fritillaries and the Atlantis Fritillaries are out in full force, as are the White Admirals and the tiny little Harris’ Checkerspots. Gorgeous creatures!

Oh, deer!

While on one of our hikes, we encountered something strange. While Mom and Dad were preoccupied with a butterfly or a flower or something, I looked down the trail about 20 yards from us and saw a buck. So I said, “Hi, deer!”

This made Mom and Dad look too, and here we all were face to face with this beautiful deer with his velvety summer antlers growing.

Dad is a photographer, so he was scrambling to get his camera ready in hopes of getting a few shots. To our surprise, the deer didn’t run.

Mom and Dad with “Bucky”



In fact, he even came a little bit closer. Dad started talking to him and he stood there, happily munching away on his moose maple leaves, not threatened by us at all. Dad was able to take all the pictures he wanted!

Even stranger, as we decided to leave him be, he started to follow us a little ways, eventually turning back up into the woods. This was a really odd thing, as deer are usually so skittish, especially in the summer. Perhaps he recognized Dad (since he is out in the woods all the time!), or maybe he just liked us. Who knows? But what a rare treat to see him so close in his natural surroundings like that!

Feathered heroes

Most of the time people don’t look twice when they see the common Chipping Sparrow. After this week, the Chipping Sparrow should command an awful lot of respect in the bird and animal kingdom.

On Wednesday, my sister-in-law, Blythe, drove up to the house. I was out in the yard, and she emerged from her car, clutching something in her hand, and said, “I need help!”

Blythe had rescued a baby bird from the middle of the highway. His entire family had been wiped out by a passing car, but he was unscathed and the lone survivor.

Dad came outside and we took a look at the little guy. He was a cute little nondescript fledgling songbird, and Dad figured he was a baby sparrow of some kind.

We were trying to think of what we could do to help this little bird, what we could feed him, who we could call, etc. But as it turned out, help came from a surprising source.

The little bird was hopping around in the grass and peeping away. Within minutes, a Chipping Sparrow landed in a nearby branch. This bird had clearly heard the baby’s call.

We all decided to back away to see what would happen, and what occurred next was one of the most rare, precious, and wonderful things I have ever seen.

The Chipping Sparrow came down to the baby and ended up leading him into the woods. I was looking through my binoculars and saw the sparrow cramming food into the mouth of the hungry youngster. We had just witnessed an adoption! The two continued off into the woods together.

How amazing! This mother Chipping Sparrow heard a cry for help, dropped everything, and came to the rescue of this little bird with no questions asked. By the way, this whole ordeal, from the time Blythe arrived until the baby bird went into the woods with his new mom, took perhaps 5 minutes at the most.

The next day while Dad and I were hiking, we encountered a mother Chipping Sparrow feeding a solitary young one. Of course, we have absolutely no way of knowing for sure, but I wanted to believe that was the little guy that Blythe rescued.

I feel as if I am in Disney cartoon when I visit Mom and Dad; butterflies all over the place, deer just hanging out, birds adopting other birds, squirrels chasing each other, and there is a mother fox that comes to take a nap on the hillside near the house. What a special place!
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