Tuesday, July 25, 2006


It's happened again. Only this time we were prepared for the abruptness of their departures. Some of our summer birds are gone. First it was the hummingbirds. I am still changing the sugar water for them, but it's already been several days since the last one sat at the feeder. It was a fluttery thing too, fanning those whirring wings every few seconds while it perched and sipped. It has a long journey ahead, and we're glad to see it stop here for a quick snack. We're like a little mom and pop convenience store for birds. Open 24 hours. Come for the sugar water, stay for the raspberries or sunflower seeds.
Then it was the swallows. It all happened so fast, one day they were here, the next day gone. First, we watched the alpha leave the nest. It flew out and took off. Right away it looked like all the rest of them, swooping and turning on a dime, and then out of sight. The beta stuck its head out of the nest box. It was smaller. Its little yellow mouth so tiny compared to the larger alpha. For two days it finally was getting all of mom's attention, and this one was much more gregarious than the other. Then it too was gone. We didn't see it make the necessary gesture, the flight out of the box. But there was no activity on Friday, and none on Saturday.
So, we opened the nest box and found it empty. Just the pile of twigs we watched them carry in, and all the feathers. A perfect feather bed. Now all of our swallows are gone. For months we've had a dozen of them dipping and diving about the yard everyday. No more. It feels slightly eerie, but then we remember that they arrive the same way-- unannounced and abruptly.

Monday was still very warm here. We went to the beach to see if there were cooler temperatures to be found. Nope. The only birds we saw were crows. Not an eagle anywhere. We checked the two places we almost always see them. Nothing. So the pair we saw the last time we took a minus tide walk (July 11) may have been it for the year. Some eagles stay in Washington, while others migrate. The pairs we've become familiar with leave. We may not see them again until February. But when they return it is with their dazzling amorous energy. Their calls to each other have become our new harbinger of the season, sounding even before the first daffodils break ground.

Are you seeing any signs of the changing seasons?

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