Monday, April 9, 2007

I found the vireos!!

ding! ding! ding! and they were so not where I expected. (more about the later)
This day started better, the birds where singing more naturally again, and while doing my paperwork and waiting for sunlight to finally hit the holler I heard the chickadees and phoebes and yellowthroats breaking the cold silence and I made the decision to do "the walk" first before rather than after work.
A good nights sleep left me with a less emotional and a more scientific attitude to the disruption/destruction and I found myself searching for the upside in everything I found, could be Buddhist leanings, or my sometimes irritating pollyannish outlook, who knows..
Anyway, in my mind, things will probably be B.C. (before cold) and A.C. for me for the rest of this season, and I will be watching everything closely for recovery efforts.

I have unprofessionally categorized the tree species response to the 27 degree, followed by 19 degree, followed by 25 degree nights into 4 levels of damage; "singed, toasted, burnt and fried". With fried being that the plant will have to start all over again. The maples are only toasted, but their seeds are fried. The cherry leaves, interestingly, are in good shape, but the cherries are fried, pawpaw leaves burnt, the flowers fried. Yellow poplar leaves are fried, but they hadn't begun blooming yet, so that is good. Hickory leaves and blossoms fried, same with the beech and beech blossoms. Young walnut leaves burnt, blossoms not out yet. The only really fried thing I saw that I am not sure will come back at all are the persimmons on the first bench, even their twigs don't look so good. Overall, it doesn't look so good for the mast crop. Will the trees try again?
On the ground is a different story, most of the ground plants just hunkered down and waited it out, to stand up straight and victorious, like this patch of wild larkspur, cheerfully standing under a thicket of fried paw paw saplings.

If we could get some rain.....


Bill April 10, 2007 at 8:01 AM  

Good news, then. We'll see how things go. Red-eyed vireos are due here soon. Our maples are a mixed bunch, some having leafed-out others not. They are usually a big attraction to the arriving vireos. Hopefully I'll sharpen my eyes with some new obsevances due to these strange circumstances. It take a lot of noticing to be aware of a songbird's difficulties!

Cady May April 11, 2007 at 9:07 AM  

Hi Bill I guess we are (were) farther along than you, and you just reminded me that I forgot to tell about the vireos, which I will have to do now!

Bill April 12, 2007 at 10:16 AM  

Man it has been a gloomy afternoon. The day before yesterday rain dripping from dead leaves. Wind has been blowing out of the north for nearly 24 hours. Yesterday afternoon I was thinking holocaust, heard little to nothing over the wind. Watched a gnatcather flutter in its apparaently desperate way around the seemingly barren maples. Don't know. Nothing to be done anyway. Hillsides are near total brown. Never seen anything like it. Seems very possible there will be a huge sonebird die off. Heard a Parula this morning and still gnatcatcher sounds from the maples. So hard to know what to make of it all. Time will tell. Don't seem to be any insects, but I don't really know how to look for them. Did look a little in low branches--none. Could the gnatcatcher be eating dead inesects? Still attached to the branches? Stunned insects? Did you hear the Julie Zicklefoose piece on NPR two days ago? Not a fun listen. Guess I'm glad the vireos weren't here yet. Mostly it has been Parulas-they are always early and thick--one or two yellow-rumpeds.
Those vireos you found could be in trouble yet. Purple martins apparently in trouble but I don't know anything first hand. Do you know anyone else blogging about this?

Cady May April 12, 2007 at 8:59 PM  

Bill, No, I did not hear the npr peice. I am self employed and stretched thin trying to keep up with work and trying to get out in the woods as much as possible, kind of silly, but I feel like I am attending the "viewing" at a funeral or something.
One thing to conisider to heart is that Indiana and Illinois are farther behind us, they share habitat and species, what we lose, they can eventually replace, as populations do shift and repopulate. We just don't know what all shifting is going to take place as the climate shifts,I just know that for now, in some quiet woods in Indiana near where my friend Hunts Poorly lives, the songbirds are returning slower, the weather is more normal, and they are not greeting the same damage. Loss on such a large scale unmourned is so tragic though.

Bill April 12, 2007 at 10:42 PM  

Thanks for your news about good prospects. Julie Z said it took a purple martin about a week to die of starvation--I think the frost first hit last Saturday night so it hasn't been a week. All very dramatic. I think I find my own interior anxieties, which stand perfectly well on their own, reflected in this frost situation. Were I without fear I could look on the event with the detachment of Apollo.

This should be the NPR piece:

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