Wednesday, May 31, 2006


We've been watching a young energetic tree swallow build her nest. She isn't satisfied picking up one dried piece of grass at a time. If she's got one, she wants two. When the grass is too wide for the nestbox opening, she flies in from every angle she can think of until she is successful.
She knows exactly what to do. Her mate waits on top of the box for her. They do not flee when we walk around with wheelbarrels full of shingles, or when they hear the sound of compressed air shooting staples into those slices of cedar. There is no question for them. They are doing the things that are written into their cells, and they know how to read that message.
Here on a bigger nest, the eagle dries her feathers. She has probably just come from the bay after finding a meal for her babies. Her mate flies the shoreline. They will know at some point when it is time to leave their babies. Just abandon them. The eaglets will have already stood on the edge of the nest testing their wings. After they have wailed and cried for a two or three days, they will leave the nest to find food for themselves. They will have no choice. We heard David Hancock, an eagle biologist, on NPR today, say that the timing for the eaglets is just perfect because it coincides with the salmon spawning. There will be plenty for them to eat, even if they can't really hunt yet. Perfect timing.
We took a break from shingling and walked the minus tide today. It's where we saw the eagle. There were also hundreds of tiny silvery fish jumping everywhere along the shoreline. I asked dpr if he thought the eagles might try to grab some. He said no, but he offered that it was likely something below the fish was hunting them and making them leap that way. Sure enough, a little further down the beach I notice this little fellow sticking his nose out of the water.

I started college when I was 30 years old. I tried to imagine a seal explaining that to her parents.

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