By Chuck Wiser, I write the words to share what my eyes see and my heart feels
My Photo-page featuring a 3-day love fest for the May onslaught of feathered friends can serve as a colorful Mother’s Day gift to all of the mother’s out there. After all, each of the birds shown herein had a mother who deposited them in a nest and kept them warm and nurtured until they could make it on their own. Not unlike the mothers that we all had. Although fatherhood could be challenged, if need be, there is no denying who the mother was. That statement is not meant to be exclusive to biological mothers as there are many who weren’t but still proved to be a mother far above and beyond perhaps what was the ability or desire of the birth mother. Come Father’s Day, as I have done in the past, I will also feature my mother, as she was also my father.
Going off track a little, but still close to the same path traveled, I had several surrogate mothers, the first of whom was my sister Sue. Given that my birth mother was a single parent who worked every day, my sister, only three years older, still, adopted a nurturing manner toward me at a very early age. Sue was forced to grow up fast, and in some cases perhaps a little too fast, but never too fast to have time for me. Stepping into the role of Mother #2 in my school age years was my Aunt Claire (Mrs. Henry) Miles.
By this time, we had all congregated into or around the little hamlet of Nile. “Hank,” and Claire were the first to move there followed a few years later by Fran (my mother) and Paul Miles. Claire was a stay at home, except on an ambulance call, as she was very involved in the Friendship, NY Emergency Services, service. I guess her nurturing and nursing nature spread throughout her life.
Enough of the nostalgia. Fast forward to this past weekend. Friday, I had what I had previously mentioned to some, as minor surgery. Turns out that it wasn’t as minor as I thought it was. I had experienced what was truly “minor” foot surgery on a couple of previous occasions where calcium deposits and arthritis had caused my big toe to develop painful additional growth. No problem. I was back on my feet teaching my Alfred State classes, even in the Machine Tool 3-hour labs and hourly (50 minute) lectures within about a week of the surgery, despite having to wear loose fitting special footwear. I never seem to learn, and the treating doctors don’t seem obligated to point out, that I should investigate the details of these processes. I won’t go into the potentially excruciating (to have, or to read about) details of my procedure but if you are medically curious you can Google it and learn from that, as I failed to do until “post-surgery.” Search for the following term if interested or curious: Bunionectomy with Metarsal Osteonomy. There are a couple of procedural options, and I won’t find out which one was followed until my follow-up appointment next Thursday. Perhaps I can Wramble into the gaps of full disclosure next week.
This is a good place for a page turn and segway into my “Wonderful Weekend Wildlife Wramble.”
The Migrating birds that bless us with their presence through the spring and summer typically come in during or at the end of the first week of May. Sunday, May 7th, was that day. Being immobilized as I was, on this wet but intermittently sunny “Sun-Day,” I was sitting in our Sunroom in hopes of seeing some aviary visitors. BOY! Did I!
The first to arrive were the male and female Rose Breasted Grosbeaks. We have re-built and added onto our back deck, necessitating re-orienting the feeders. It didn’t take our “resident migrating” feathered friends to figure things out. Very soon after, a bird seemingly strange to us appeared and sent us scrambling for our bird book. As it turns out it wasn’t a bird that we hadn’t seen before, but never had seen one in that form, or at this time of year. The first of the species was an immature female Evening Grosbeak. Later on, that one must have moved on, as an adult or sub-adult of the species showed up and blessed us with its presence with numerous visits all day Sunday and followed on Monday and Tuesday. The coloring of the various stages and/or gender of birds is always intriguing, and the Evening Grosbeaks didn’t disappoint us. The first was nearly all white with greenish- and olive-colored streaks. The males and adults pick up a predominant olive color with shades of black and yellow thrown in. This species seldom stays, but rather just stops, eats once or twice, and passes through. But, this time, they blessed us with an extended 3 day stay. Shortly after the Rose Breasted Grosbeaks came, a pair of Baltimore Orioles stopped by…and then there were more Grosbeaks, and more Orioles. We lost track of which were paired or singled and lost track of new versus old and the entire day was spent watching the birds come and go, almost like shaking a snow globe to watch the activity. Monday continued new arrivals but typically featured the females, as the males were predominant on Sunday. Upon the first arrivals the feeding was in a frenzy. Fly in, grab a beak full and fly off. They definitely were hungry. As the days progressed everything slowed down. The Orioles in particular, were very methodical and unhurried. They would alight, look around, bend to take a bite, sit up, look around again, and repeat.
The coloring of the birds, by gender, reminds me of the dichotomy between humans and the animal kingdom in general. Other than in the days of pirates and their colorful costumes, the human male gender is typically more conservative, might I say bland, in their choice of apparel, whereas females are usually more colorful. In the animal kingdom that colorful characteristic switches to the males. The males, especially among the aviary component of the kingdom, are far and away the more colorful. The females are colorful “in their own right” but nowhere near as flamboyant as the males. One of the most startling contrasts is that of the Indigo Bunting. My wife commented the other day that she hadn’t seen any female buntings. “Yes, you did” I replied. “Remember the other morning when you told me you saw the Bunting go down on the ground next to a plain brown bird?” “That was the female.” When I told her how non-descript the female bunting was, the more she thought about it, and the more she came into agreement. Although named an “Indigo” bunting, they aren’t actually blue, but rather black, with a coloring pigment that makes the black “irridesce” (my word) into a beautiful blue color. Ruby throated hummingbirds have the same type of color effect going on. The buntings were the last to appear.
Not to be outdone, our annual resident Cardinals competed with all others for their time at the feeders. The Cardinals, and there are many, remain favorites, due to their loyalty and presence.
I will leave room for my pictures and your appreciated attention, by mentioning a couple of Public Service announcements.
May is Motorcycle Month. The driver alerts always warn vehicle operators to be courteous and mindful of the motorcycles now in number, on the road. I also add this note to the Motorcycle riders. Be courteous in turn to the vehicles that share the roadway with you. If you approach them from behind at an excessive speed, they don’t have time to be mindful of you.
Stay tuned for the introductory column and notice in next week’s Wramblings featuring the Genesee Valley Chorus production of Music and Love, Sunday May 21st, at the Trinity Lutheran Church in Wellsville. The concert, directed by Norene Ferris, will feature songs that represent the theme of the program and a dedication and words expressing our love for former Director Norma Bartlett, who passed away and joined the heavenly choir on Christmas Eve this past December.