Whitesburg KY
Mostly sunny
Mostly sunny
57°F
 

Taking stock of swallows, other critters



I have several editors who find it less than endearing when I get long winded because they can’t “sing me down” the way Old Regular Baptist Church congregations of my youth used to do for preachers of whom they’d heard enough sermon to last them until next Meeting Time.

Points East

In the meantime, the big flock of barn swallows that puts on daily aerial acrobatics shows in our yard and through our front porch are feeling a bit slighted because they were left out of the paper last week, as are a few other fur and feathered friends, who make my life more enjoyable than it would be without them.

The swallows all live in nearby barns, but I’d bet that at least three of them were born on our front porch three years ago when their parents built a nest on the porch above our bedroom window.

A swallow’s nest is not a pretty thing unless you believe that a huge pile of mud and sticks glued to your siding makes the house look more appealing. But the nest was built in only a few hours and we didn’t have the heart to tear it down. Since that time we’ve used a water hose to discourage them as soon as they first show up to start construction.

Now, every evening, well over a dozen swallows feast on gnats, moths, wasps, mosquitoes and any other insects that happen to be flying about a couple of hours before twilight. When the light is perfect, I can actually see insect wings come trickling down after a swallow has swallowed its more edible parts. Even the normally fearless mockingbirds take cover during the 30-minute swallow assault.

Sometimes, but not every day, the swallows are joined by a few purple martins, but it’s not unusual to see the martins at any given time throughout the day. I have no idea where they’re coming from but erecting a purple martin apartment house near ours is on my bucket list, if I can talk my brother, Andy, into helping me pull it off and get my wife to agree.

About the time the winged “early birds” start stirring, we usually have up to half a dozen gray and/or fox squirrels perched atop fence posts or browsing around the place in search of last year’s walnuts. The fox squirrels, especially, seem to consider freshly sprouted black walnuts to be gourmet delicacies.

There’s a black walnut tree in our backyard with a sizable (18- 20 inch diameter x 10 feet) log on it that I’d gladly give someone if they’d cut it down and pile the brush up. Problem is that our electric service wire runs through it so getting it down is not going to be an easy task.

In the meantime there are many holes dug around it where two fox squirrels that are as big as house cats have dug up walnut seedlings. I often see them sitting atop fence posts gnawing on nut shells that have 6- to 10-inch sprouts attached. Loretta worries that a walnut will sprout in her day lily bed and that a fox squirrel will dig it up and develop a taste for lily tubers.

Early evening visitors also include a fat ground hog that I need to “relocate” before the tomatoes commence ripening. Last year he/ she/it figured out that the solar powered “critter ridders” were all bark and no bite.

But cutest of all the daily visitors is the chipmunk that regularly shows up to bask in the last rays of sunlight touching the top of the old rock wall that fronts our place.

A few years back the little ground squirrels all but disappeared when we had a cat on the place that made life in the neighborhood miserable for them. Said cat is no longer with us.

This one has discovered that Fancy, my 11-year-old Maine Coon, poses absolutely no threat nor interest to its wellbeing and I’m already past my allotted verbosity.



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