Tuesday, August 5, 2014

August Phenology

August is the time to check your sugar supply and break out your hummingbird feeders.  After their first hungry arrival, the hummers got busy making babies and raising their families.  During that time they were busy collecting protein-filled insects for their broods, stopping only occasionally for a sugar fix.

Now they and their broods are stocking up on high energy food, building up some fat reserves for their southern migration.  Soon we will be facing the onslaught of hummers from northern states, their exodus triggered by the decreasing daylight hours.  Surprisingly, this occurs even though there is an abundance in nectar sources.  Unlike me where a few extra pounds produces lethargy, once the bird has enough stored fat it migrates.*

August is also the season for rodents to set up housekeeping.  Young gray squirrels are chasing each other around the deck but will now start seeking out their new home territories.  Thirteen-lined ground squirrels are beginning to gorge on spilled bird seed in preparation for winter.

Last week a groundhog stood on our deck, paws on the sliding glass door, peering in at me.  He ambled slowly off as I took his picture.  More groundhogs are tunneling all over our garden field and in the old barn, expanding their burrows into an extended condo.  These will soon be available for adoption if you are interested in sheltering some lovable chubby herbivores.

Turkey nesting is complete and the young birds are now chicken size.  It is now safe to hay the fields as they will flush like quail at the sound of a vehicle.  Another kind of turkey foot is in the field.  Big bluestem clumps are head high in our warm season grass fields, displaying the seed heads which give them their common name, turkeyfoot grass.

Black bear collaring comes to an end as they swear off day-old pastries in favor of a healthy diet.  Gray dogwood and poke berries, sumac fruits, and wild grapes ripen, their main diet until they start to fatten up on acorns in the fall.  Hard as it is to imagine, autumn will soon be here.

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