Tuesday, September 05, 2006

It’s raining fish!

Nature Notes

Nature and outdoorsy stuff always play a big part of my trips up north.

My Mom and Dad’s bird and animals are the friendliest creatures around. I had black-capped chickadees landing on me to take their sunflower seeds. Hummingbirds were dancing around my head as I attempted to refill their feeder. And I had chipmunks crawling all over me. As I have said before, I feel like I am in a Disney cartoon when I am up there!

I'm unsure if this was Chip or Dale... ;-)

We did a couple of hikes, and the leaves are really starting to change rapidly. The birch leaves were turning a bright yellow, and the other trees will not be far behind. We could see it in the woods, and we could see it on the golf course (yes, I played my first round of golf this year...a crowd-pleasing 54 at the Superior National “Mountain Course”...ugh!). It could be an early fall this year.

There were a number of warblers still hanging around, getting ready to make the long journey south. Blue jays were flocking together, which is always a sign of the changing seasons. And I got to add a Northern Waterthrush to my life list. Dad even rescued a young ruby-throated hummingbird who hit one of the windows and got knocked goofy. The hummingbird sat on Dad's hand for about 15 minutes before he regained his bearings and flew off to inspect the geraniums, apparently no worse for wear. A great weekend for birds.

A recovering hummingbird

Speaking of birds...

Look, up in the sky...

All apologies for the picture below, but it is the only photographic evidence we have of "the incident." I can’t possibly describe this, but I will try...

We were enjoying a leisurely Monday afternoon in the yard. The sky is blue, the weather is perfect, and I had a beer in my hand. What could be better?

Suddenly we hear a loud “thud” on the roof that startles us. Then an osprey and a bald eagle come flying over at rooftop level. This also startles us because they were so close. The eagle vanishes into the woods, but the osprey circles back a couple of times before departing. We walk around the house, and Dad discovered a half-eaten, headless pink salmon carcass. What the heck is going on?

The "flying fish"

A quick bird lesson will help to explain our detective work...

The osprey is a fish hawk. He catches fish, and eats nothing but fish. Watching one of these guys in action is a thing of beauty because they will dive into the water from great heights and at high speeds to catch their prey. An osprey would never lower himself to eating a fish he did not catch. The bald eagle, on the other hand, is pretty much a scavenger. He will eat virtually anything and is not known for catching live fish to eat.

That being said, this is what happened; the osprey caught this pink salmon in Lake Superior. He must have partially eaten it when this eagle butted in and tried to take the fish. The osprey grabbed the fish and took off with the eagle in hot pursuit. A midair tussle ensued, causing the fish to fall from the sky, slam into Mom and Dad’s roof, and eventually tumble to the ground. The osprey was obviously looking for the fish, but couldn’t see it. All that was left up on the roof was a glowing pile of salmon eggs that fell out of the carcass!

So, I am officially chalking that one up as "something you don’t see every day." I am just glad it didn’t land on my car, or perhaps more importantly, on me! Could you just imagine me sitting on the lawn and enjoying a beer on a beautiful Labor Day only to get pummeled by a pink salmon that fell out of the sky? Wow...

You have to love nature.
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